Comments: responses to Rowan Williams interview

Never read 'Benny's Blog' before. It's great. A blast of fresh air and honesty.

Posted by John at Monday, 27 September 2010 at 3:43pm BST

Yes Benny's blog is indeed a blast of fresh air !

Sister Rosemary's words quoted on it, really really hit the nail on the head.

Why oh why can't she be archbishop ? The men have messed it all up too much.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 27 September 2010 at 4:27pm BST

So if a brother and sister choose to set up a household as partners (economic or whatever), they dishonor marriage? The authors of the piece for Anglican Mainstream stoop to this kind of drivel? This borders on lunacy; I can't even regard this idea as rational thought. My 85 year old mother and her 96 year old sister live together in my mothers house to provide each other comfort and assistance. They share bills; they used to take turns cooking. My aunt is now blind and nearly deaf, so she can't do those things any more. Does this arrangement somehow dishonor "marriage?" Cannot two friends of opposite sex do the same without "dishonoring marriage"? Does human kindness mean nothing to these people? Apparently not for Messrs. Giddings and Sugden. What a dim view of humanity they must have.

Posted by David Bieler at Monday, 27 September 2010 at 5:13pm BST

"Messrs. Giddings and Sugden. What a dim view of humanity they must have."

And tragically, an even *dimmer* view of God.

Posted by JCF at Monday, 27 September 2010 at 11:11pm BST

"If we consider a parallel situation to that of a homosexual priest and a partner, namely that of a male priest setting up home with his woman partner, that household would not honour marriage, even if the relationship were celibate." Anglican 'Mainstream' blog -

Messrs Gidding and Sugden are seriously suggesting that any male Roman Catholic priest who has a live-in houskeeper is in some way 'dishonouring' the sacrament of Marriage!!
So fixed are they on their fear of homosexual relationships that they here compromise and live-in relationship between a male and a female as being detrimental to the sacrament of marriage.
Such hoohah realy is beyond logical reasoning - never mind insulting to all live-in arrangments that are not bonded in marriage. Shame on them!

What they need to take on board is the Scriptural injunction: "Perfect Love casts our FEAR". I think this blog-site ought to be re-named, to suit it's irrelevance: 'Anglican Slipstream'.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 12:30am BST

Why can't Rowan be candid?

Because he's a technocrat, a politician, a *liar*.

He, and these Sugden-Giddings-Okoh-Minns-Duncans-types are clogs in the arteries of Humanity's salvation.

Anyone got any Coumadin?

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 5:44am BST

Anglican Mainstream seem to be saying that Christian leaders have to be married (heterosexually), no other option, even celibate, will do. By their logic a monastery presumably "would not honour marriage" either. Come on, Sugden and Giddings, say it.

And then what about married Christian leaders who might (horror of horrors) be a bit more imaginative in private than merely making babies for Jesus... You could like awake all night trying not to think about it.

Posted by Matthew Duckett at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 7:58am BST

I thought the Sugden-Giddings posting was almost unhinged. But that's good - fewer and fewer people are going to pay any attention to that kind of rubbish.

Posted by john at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 8:29am BST

Anglicans, even thinking ones, seem to be going round and round in circles on these gay issues. Now, in the wake of the papal visit, it seems that true advances are being made by none other than the RCC. One blogger writes: " In a series of interviews before and after the visit, Archbishop Vincent Nichols has said that the primary characteristic of a Catholic is not blind obedience to Church authority, but a conscientious search for the truth. With specific reference to the Soho LGBT Masses, he insisted that it is not for the priest to judge the conscience of anyone presenting for communion. In a clear reference to our regular protesters outside, he suggested that they “hold their tongues.”(This emphasis on conscience supports one interpretation of the Newman legacy which after all was the purpose of the papal visit in the first place.) Nichols also said that the English bishops do not necessarily disapprove of gay civil partnerships, and that they did not oppose the legislation. I have found myself re-thinking my take on Newman and on Benedict himself, given his obvious deep respect for the newly Blessed John Henry. There is one further reason for local progressive Catholics to be pleased with the state of the English Church after the papal visit: the rule book Catholics, to judge from their army of bloggers, clearly are not."

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 10:13am BST

Abp Nichols in The Telegraph:

Should the Church one day accept the reality of gay partnerships? "I don't know. There is in the Book of Nature an inherent connection between human sexuality and procreation; and those two things cannot ultimately be totally separate. People who are of a homosexual orientation say: 'Well, hang on a minute. How is the Book of Nature written in me?' The most important thing the Christian tradition says is, don't see yourself simply as an isolated individual but as part of a wider family. The moral demands on all of us made by that tradition are difficult. That tradition says human sexuality is for an expression of total self-giving in fidelity in a way that is open to the creation of new life. Now, that's tough, that's a high ideal. I'm not sure many people have ever observed it in its totality, but it doesn't mean to say it has no sense."

The old language – of mortal sin, for example – was, he says, a misguided attempt to motivate the faithful.

"Fear is never a good motivation. The whole point of the Catholic journey is that it is a journey, and we try to hold together high ideals and understanding. That is the same for people who struggle in whatever way with their sexuality. It's an aim."

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 10:21am BST

Oh, for heaven's sake. Whatever could possibly be wrong, in this day of overpopulation, stretched resources, human-caused species extinction and climate change, with preferring the virtues of friendship to those of procreation?

I understand Archbishop Nichols cannot speak plainly, but someone within one of these religious traditions must show some leadership in the unprecedented situation humans are facing on this planet. (We already know it won't be Archbishop Williams!)

The virtues of friendship are exalted within Christian tradition; it's not as though there's nothing to build on here. Would the Catholic hierarchy prefer a Western version of China's one-child policy? I think not.

Posted by Charlotte at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 1:19pm BST

Archbishop Nichols reveals himself as a wise and humane pastor within his own Church's teaching. But when it comes to the "open to the creation of new life bit" how does that relate to those marrying late in life where childbearing is impossible, or to those male or female who marry knowing they are unable to have children, or to those with some psychological or physical disability who might decide to marry despite knowing full coital relationships within marriage are impossible.. ? Which is more important-self giving in total fidelity or openess to new life?

Posted by Perry Butler at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 2:09pm BST

That's Nichols. He, it seems to me, has clearly 'progressed' on the particular issue. Would the Pope have said these things? Surely not. Hardline RCs of course dismiss Nichols and the English RC bishops in general as 'liberals' or even crypto-Protestants. So the question is: how far do such sentiments represent 'Catholic thinking'? Answer: they do and they don't. To the extent that they do, that's great, but they won't become 'official thinking', and they only mark a more dramatic form than the congenital gulf between what most Catholics think and what the Vatican tells them.

Posted by john at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 2:43pm BST

BBC Radio 4's Today programme last Saturday featured the Times story, so I parted with £1.50 at my local newsagents.

"Gay bishops are all right by me, says Archbishop" was the front page splash, which is of course grossly misleading, especially online - the paywall won't allow you to beyond this headline without paying - but then "single, celibate, preferably virgin and never once promoted gay equality" would have made a clumsy headline.

The magazine article, based on an interview with the Archbishop is wide-reaching and written in a way very sympathetic to gay people in the Church. It is followed by an extract from his latest book "Crisis and Recovery: Ethics, Economics and Justice" in which he says "Theology does not solve specific economic questions (any more than it solves specific political or scientific ones)".

Williams' willingness to speak on a whole range of issues makes his silence on the issue which has marked his term in office all the more stark. "I'm not elected on a manifesto to further this agenda or that" he says - yet he has been at the forefront - along with the RC heirarchy - of opposition to the introduction of the Equality Bill and its impact on the Church, as well promoting the idolatrous and implicitly anti-gay Anglican Covenent.

It is a shame that he simply repeats assertions made in Lambeth 1:10 but does not challenge the intellectual incoherence, lack of theological imagination, institutional misanthropy and pastoral negligence inherent in this policy. It might help the Ugandan bishops understand the error of their ways better than simply turning a blind eye to their rhetoric.

Williams gives the impression of wanting to keep the horse on track before handing over to someone else. He doesn't want to carry on in post until he is 70, which would suggest bowing out before the next Lambeth conference.

So who WILL move us on from this impasse?

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 3:29pm BST

Vincent Nicholl's new readings of RC positions including mortal sin, seems to me to make a good deal of sense, now.

He compares favourably with another archbishop in The Times.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 6:20pm BST

Wow reading Sugden et al I really didn't know whether to guffaw, sob, or yawn and turn the page in search of something truer and more nourishing that conservative bell jar word games. Can it really, common sensically be true that Sugden and Giddings and similar cannot distinguish between lying, murder, forgetting to shine your shoes before going out, and pairbonded queer folks (who are often these days, raising children?)?

Ditto, for the tired repeat business that limiting the full size, height, depth of sex in human embodiment exclusively to reproduction is helpful, let alone essentialist-comprehensive, let alone salvific? Surely the common sense human point is to parent the children conceived, as in "It takes a village to parent a child"? And surely the straight couple who let babymaking consumer their entire marriage will be fated to the oddest paradox of emptiness?

This reproduction-only trope is NOT a high ideal shining a glorious divine light upon the better angels of our nature, but rather, an increasingly impoverished sense of sex, human embodiment, pairbonding, and parenting - rendering parents as cud-chewing pastorals, all threadbare in one fell swoop of closed thinking/discernment. (Apologies to cows in the fields)

Thanks for the Lesley bit, I discovered ASBO Jesus. Go ahead, make my day.


Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 6:49pm BST

He doesn't want to carry on in post until he is 70, which would suggest bowing out before the next Lambeth conference.

Doesn't he ?
Will he ?

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 6:56pm BST

Interesting that several are praising Archbishop Nichols . . . and our most prolific RC poster here (at TA) falls radio silent? ;-/

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 7:13pm BST

Rowan still wants large basic solid gold credit for defending the human rights of queer folks, globally; when in truth all he has done is dimly echo British (western? Euro?) government, law, policy which continues to be much clearer and more assertive. Dim, timid comes even more to the fore when one considers that Rowan seeks to bask in the reflected glow of human rights/fairness credits, while at the same time he damns fundamental ideas as secularist with faint praise indeed, less than worthy when compared to theological ideals and doctrines of God's supremacy (not least, as wrathful?).

That such a keen mind should lead in doing such poor theology continues to puzzle and amaze me. He really seems to grasp his work assignment as a dramatically dumbed down Anglican version of his former professorial-theological calling.

Not auspicious omens, no, not at all. Intellectually, he's coming across as the same old ripoff; one surmises he has never read, or perhaps cannot at the moment recall, King's Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Changing for the better as gobal Anglicans, we will simply have to do without Rowan Williams as friend and champion, period. If/once the new fangled covenant is passed, expect a dimmer conformist sort of conservative to become archbishop? Changing for the better will thus have left the global Anglican house?

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 7:58pm BST

You can choose Vincent Nichols or the Universal Catechism, and I know which I take.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 8:44pm BST

The so-called Universal Catechism is a very mixed bag, with some parts bordering on biblical fundamentalism. I think it would be unwise to treat it as a document putting an end to critical reflection and debate.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 2:59pm BST

"Universal" Catechism, RIW?

I choose a different universe! *LOL*

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 1:37am BST

"In his (the ABC's) apparently open minded comments on the suitability (or not) of homosexuals to be priests and bishops, he has once again treated their sexuality as optional 'add-on' to life by insisting that while he would have 'no problem' with a celibate gay bishop, he regards the issue of homosexual relationships as 'a particular choice of life'.

- Benny's Blog -

Surely, Benny is right here - to protest about the ABC's particularity in saying 'Yes' to clergy and bishops being homosexual, and yet 'No' to their exercise of their sexuality.

If the ABC were to advocate the sexual abstinence of both hetero- and homosexual clergy and bishops then he would just be echoing the Roman Catholic line on clerical abstinence. However, as a red-blooded Anglican clergy-person, who does not go along with sexual abstinence as 'de rigeur' for Anglican clergy and bishops (being himself a husband and father) his argument falls gravely short of justice for those of us who happen by virtue of our inbuilt sexuality to be gay.

Sexual abstinence is not a requirement for either clergy or bishops within the Anglican Communion.
So why should it be a requirement for homosexual clergy or bishops whom Rowan declares he has *nothing against*?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 2 October 2010 at 12:38am BST
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