Thursday, July 30, 2009

Analyzing Rowan

The sun is out today. Finally! Recently, the Archbishop of Canterbury published a reflection on the actions of the 2009 General Convention. Here are but a few words from the larger writing found here....

1. No-one could be in any doubt about the eagerness of the Bishops and Deputies of the Episcopal Church at the General Convention to affirm their concern about the wider Anglican Communion. Their generous welcome to guests from elsewhere, including myself, the manifest engagement with the crushing problems of the developing world and even the wording of one of the more controversial resolutions all make plain the fact that the Episcopal Church does not wish to cut its moorings from other parts of the Anglican family. There has been an insistence at the highest level that the two most strongly debated resolutions (DO25 and CO56) do not have the automatic effect of overturning the requested moratoria, if the wording is studied carefully. There is a clear commitment to seek counsel from elsewhere in the Communion about certain issues and an eloquent resolution in support of the 'Covenant for a Communion in Mission' as commended by ACC13. All of this merits grateful acknowledgement. The relationship between the Episcopal Church and the wider Communion is a reality which needs continued engagement and encouragement.

2. However, a realistic assessment of what Convention has resolved does not suggest that it will repair the broken bridges into the life of other Anglican provinces; very serious anxieties have already been expressed. The repeated request for moratoria on the election of partnered gay clergy as bishops and on liturgical recognition of same-sex partnerships has clearly not found universal favour, although a significant minority of bishops has just as clearly expressed its intention to remain with the consensus of the Communion. The statement that the Resolutions are essentially 'descriptive' is helpful, but unlikely to allay anxieties.

3. There are two points which I believe need to be reiterated and thought through further, and it seems to fall to the Archbishop of Canterbury to try and articulate them. To some extent they echo part of what I wrote after the last General Convention, as well as things said at the Lambeth Conference and the ACC, but they still have some pertinence.

Archbishop Williams then goes onto say some very disturbing things about how gays and lesbians ought to be treated in the Church. Things that contradict in very harsh terms the positive statements he has made about the place of gays and lesbians in the Church in the years before he became Archbishop. I will not try to argue or explain the changes he has made--he must do that on his own--but I would like to reprint part of an analysis about +Rowan's statement...

Now again, Williams is a smart man. If he fails to nuance any of this, he does so willingly and willfully. It is not choice that bothers, but what Williams leaves unsaid (the nuance) and what he then goes on to say (the consequences) in drawing his conclusions. No, if he fails to nuance, he does so purposely. I can only conclude that he chooses to tell half-truths about us and our lives. And to justify his own behavior toward us. And that his pitch is meant to denigrate even to lie about us (for that is finally what half-truths do—they lie), throwing about as he does tired themes about gay and lesbian persons that do not fit either the evidence, nor the stereotypes (or even his own former writings and their recognition of such nuance, including that marriage is no guarantor of Christian virtue). That is all to say, Rowan Williams knows better. He knows this is not how we understand ourselves, and neither does the best dispassionate research findings or those who get to know us as persons in relationships. And that makes his words morally culpable, indeed, guilty of Christ's flesh by taking swipes at the lgbt members of His Body--members who are quite vulnerable in most parts of the world, including in Williams' own corner, the United Kingdom, where hate crimes against lgbt persons are a regular feature in lgbt news feeds there. And knowing better, Williams is morally culpable. To use the Lord’s Name to justify all of this, indeed, to suggest that God is on his side in treating lgbt persons like this in the Body, is damnable.

This is a must read if you are interested in what has gone on at General Convention and global reaction to it. Christopher's reflection is a powerful piece 0f writing, and it can be read in its entirety here...

No comments: