Monday, 30 August 2004

RW at Greenbelt

The Times, the Guardian and the Telegraph all have reports of what Rowan Williams said at the Greenbelt Festival yesterday. The headlines are remarkably diverse. Picture from The Times

Ruth Gledhill The Times
Archbishop says he’s failed to live up to expectations

Stephen Bates Guardian
Archbishop shows frustration over church’s divisive homosexuality row

Jonathan Petre Telegraph
Muslims can go to heaven, says Archbishop

Two extracts, first from the Telegraph

In a rare glimpse of his anger over the row that has overshadowed his first two years at Canterbury, Dr Williams said the debate had lacked grace and patience.

He said that this had been aggravated by pressure groups with entrenched positions who posted instant reactions to events on their websites.

…During a wide-ranging discussion, Dr Williams reflected his disappointment at the tone of the debate on homosexuality, and his dismay at the vitriol of many of the e-mails he had received.

“It is not so much that we have disagreement in the Church - that happens,” he said. “It is more to do with how those disagreements are conducted. The dismissiveness, the rawness of the anger . . . need to be worked with.”

Speaking about the furore that followed the appointment of the gay cleric Dr Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading, a post from which Dr John later withdrew, Dr Williams said that both sides had suffered shock.

…The Archbishop said: “On both sides of the debate as it evolved, quite a lot of people had to learn that the Church of England wasn’t just them, because what I heard a lot of on both sides of the controversy was ‘we thought the Church of England was us and people like us and maybe one or two others who don’t matter very much’.

“I was intrigued by the mirror imaging that went on there. There was a sense on both sides, therefore, of shock and dispossession, that it is not all ours after all. It is not full of faithful evangelicals, it is not full of enlightened liberals.”

And now from The Times

Among the most dispiriting aspects of the job was the tone in which debate was conducted. “It is not so much that we have disagreement in the Church — that happens. It is more to do with the way those disagreements are conducted.” Referring to “the dismissiveness, the rawness of anger” he said: “Somebody some day ought to write a thesis on the spirituality of email because that has something to do with all this. That is what most dispirits me.” Dr Williams continued: “While we may disagree, we have need to learn how to do it with a bit more grace.”

The Archbishop then went on to refer directly to the debate over homosexuality, which culminates this October with the report of his commission into the crisis. He said: “On both sides of the debate as it evolved, quite a lot of people had to learn that the Church of England wasn’t just them because what I heard a lot of, on both sides of the controversy, was ‘we thought the Church of England was us and people like us and maybe one or two others who don’t matter very much’.

“And I was intrigued by the mirror imaging that went on there. There was a sense on both sides, therefore, of shock and dispossession. It’s not full of faithful evangelicals, it’s not full of enlightened liberals. Now have we digested that yet, and what do we do with it when we have. I am not sure I know but that is the kind of work that remains.”

He added: “Very very quickly pressure groups can form and settle and decide where they stand and invest in where they stand. We haven’t had an effective forum in which that process can be slowed, not just for the sake of putting things off but for the sake of mutual understanding. We haven’t found that forum yet. It is not the General Synod, it is certainly not the trading of websites. Where is it? Perhaps where it is or should be is much more at the local rather than the national level.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 30 August 2004 at 8:30 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion
Comments

“We haven’t found that forum yet. It is not the General Synod, it is certainly not the trading of websites. Where is it? “
I wonder whether the Archbish has discovered the spirituality of blogs yet?

Posted by: maggi at August 31, 2004 08:55 AM
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