Thursday, 7 August 2008

One Past Letter

Here is an extract from the first of the letters from Rowan Williams in correspondence:

...the scriptural prohibitions were addressed to heterosexuals looking for sexual variety in their experience; but that the Bible does not address the matter of appropriate behaviour for those who are, for whatever reason, homosexual by instinct or nature...

...and by the end of the 80's I had definitely come to the conclusion that scripture was not dealing with the predicament of persons whom we should recognise as homosexual by nature. I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had the about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness.

...I find myself in a difficult situation, between the pressures of a clear majority view in my Church, my own theological convictions on this matter (as someone who has no desire at all to overthrow the authority of scripture here, but wants to ask if it has been rightly read on this matter) and the complex needs for counsel and support. I don't see myself as a campaigner for a new morality; but if I'm asked for my views, as a theologian rather than a church leader, I have to be honest and admit they are as I've said.

The .PDFs are image files, and look like they have come through a fax machine. Presumably at some point Dr. Pitt, or who subsequently had them, sent them to the Times, and anyway they found their way to the Times to be stored for an opportune moment.

They are explicitly other than his pursuit now, and he has been dogged by the personal/ public difference all the time. It is a form of explicit duplicity, rather odd really.

But it is not just expediency: there is real enthusiasm for him building a Church on the basis of this exclusion, and I return to this deeply worrying piece of prose at Lambeth:

in the Zimbabwean woman beaten by police in her own church, in the manual scavenger in India denied the rights guaranteed by law; in the orphan of natural disaster in Burma, in the abducted child forced into soldiering in Northern Uganda, in the hundreds of thousands daily at risk in Darfur and Southern Sudan, in the woman raising a family in a squatters' settlement in Lima or Buenos Aires. This is the Catholic faith: that what is owed to them is no different from, no less than what is owed to any of the rest of us.

It is here the exclusion of the gay person beaten up in Africa, rejected by the Anglican 'Catholic Church' that makes this proclamation so duplicitous. No mention of the UK having to grant asylum to one of its Nigerian leaders, happening at the same time, as he builds on the backs of those not mentioned.

The problem is something like this. As you bury your private views, and you continue to imprint your public identity on something like the Lambeth Conference, you start to believe your own publicity, and you get enthusiastic about your role, and you make that ethical slip yet more intensively one more time and one more time again.

You build a Church that at the heart of it has the basis to oppress. Those who say, as has a comment maker at Thinking Anglicans (John on Thursday, 7 August 2008 at 9:35am BST), that it means Rowan would never betray this social group...

As for sensible liberals (like me, of course), we always knew that was his personal position and that for that reason he would never completely sell out gays.

This is just far too optimistic. He would build his Church. He would build its bureaucracy of Instruments further. He has form: he sacrifices people on this altar - his own project of Catholic centralisation - and this is why he is wrong.

For me, the project is wrong in itself. I oppose it and him in his policy. He would reduce the cultural connections of Anglicanism, the diversity of Churches in situation, in order to appease some of the worst of the fundamentalists trying to impose their understandings on others - the alliance of the Western hard right and some African Churches. This imposition has to be opposed, and he calls their tune all the time. But he does this enthusiastically when it meets his personal views and background on Catholicism. He forgets his personal and ethical views when it comes to who again needs to be sacrificed in order to pursue the project.

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