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Why is the Church obsessed with gay sex? The Archbishop is being turned into an Anglican Pope

Parishes are bleeding their power (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Parishes are bleeding their power (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)


July 28, 2022   4 mins

Every ten years, bishops from all over the global Anglican Communion meet up in Canterbury to argue about gay sex. They are supposed to be talking about other things as well — after all, there are 90 million Anglicans worldwide and there is much to discuss: poverty, global warming, famine, war, even secularisation. The theme for this year’s conference is “God’s Church for God’s World: walking, listening and witnessing together”. But the only witnessing they are doing is to the brokenness and divisiveness of the Communion. Out in the parishes, the best we can hope for is that our parishioners won’t notice. We are all praying for a busy news week.

The Anglican Communion is the product of empire. As the map of the world came to be covered in red, missionaries from the Church of England piggybacked upon the whole imperial project to convert indigenous peoples to the joys of the Book of Common Prayer. And they were remarkably successful at it: Cranmer proved surprisingly popular in Kigali. Not only that, but the worldwide Anglican Church — especially in Africa — continues to grow at an incredible rate. As churchgoing collapses in the UK, and in the West more generally, in other places it is rapidly expanding. In 1970, there were 7.7 million Anglicans in Africa. By 2015, that figure had risen to 57 million and continues to grow. In numerical terms, Anglicanism is thriving — it is currently the third largest group of Christians in the world. Never before have there been so many people in the pews. Mostly, they are in their thirties, female, black, and conservative.

It may be no surprise, therefore, that the Archbishop of Canterbury has proposed that the worldwide Anglican Communion ought to have a greater say in choosing his successor. It used to be that the global communion supplied just one of the 17-member group that passed a name to the Queen. Last month, it was agreed that it should be five — with local representation from Canterbury being halved. The Church of England was formed on the basis that “the Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England”. Yet in the years to come, the Bishops of Nigeria will play a decisive role in choosing the most senior member of the British establishment outside the royal family, and ex officio member of the House of Lords. Which is why it is likely that the next Archbishop will be even more conservative on matters of sexuality than his — and yes, it will inevitably be a him — predecessor. The fabric of the Communion will continue to tear, with the shrinking liberal West at continual ideological war with the burgeoning Global South, the hot button issue remaining that of homosexuality.

The organisers of this year’s Lambeth Conference were especially keen that the world’s bishops would not get derailed by more endless arguments over gay sex. But however hard they tried, the question could not be managed away. Somehow, a text that claimed “it is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that same-gender marriage is not permissible” found its way into the official papers. Given that a number of the bishops are themselves in same-sex marriages (their spouses were not invited), this was slightly tricky. Late on Monday night, just hours before all the purple shirts were due to gather, Justin Welby intervened to allow liberal bishops to express their disagreement with this statement. But the damage was already done. The Conference was preceded with lots of talk of reconciliation. Planners had been “cooing in our ears about fellowship”, said the Bishop of Los Angeles. But all that feels a very long way away now. The Anglican Communion has long been a recipe for perpetual rancour. And the only way to take all the acrimony from the debate is to stop Canterbury being the focus of the global Church.

How a small and rather uneventful town in Kent became the centre of a worldwide religious community is a story that develops from the earliest conversion of England, through its popularity as a pilgrimage site because of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, to the rapid expansion of the British Empire. These days there is no reason for Canterbury, or its Bishop, to be so important. But bishops don’t vote to make themselves less important. And the inclusion of worldwide representation for choosing the next Archbishop, while ushered in under the banner of greater inclusion, is actually a way of making the Archbishop into a kind of Anglican Pope. Motions at the Lambeth Conference that speak of the “mind of the Communion” only reinforce the deeply un-Anglican but increasingly common idea that the Church is some top-down structure where people are told what to believe by a gathering of (mostly) men in pointy hats. Parishes are bleeding their power to dioceses; local national churches are being told what to think by meetings in Canterbury. Power is centripetal.

Unfortunately, Christianity has this thing about centralisation. Perhaps it’s the whole “one God” thing that creates a desire for “may they all be one as your heavenly father is one”. This thirst for oneness is an excellent thing when understood spiritually as the universal coming together of human beings, our fundamental solidarity under God; but organisationally it is a recipe for domination and bitterness. The idea that the latter can force the former is a terrible idea. The more power that gets located at the centre, the more there is to fight over.

The Church bangs on about decolonisation when it comes to things like statues. But when it comes to power, the central Church keeps on accruing more to itself. It would not be constantly derailed by pointless arguments over gay sex if there wasn’t any theological or administrative power to claim. I would be perfectly happy for the world’s bishops to have a jolly to Kent every ten years: they could meet for lunch, go to the pub, worship in the Cathedral. They could meet other bishops, share a bit of gentle ecclesiastical gossip, sometimes have difficult chats about their differences. But they absolutely shouldn’t sit in meetings and pass motions. And there mustn’t be some chief wizard whose favour they are all seeking to curry.

The Anglican Community needs to become a much looser federation of churches where theological difference is not able to derail a sense of common endeavour. Only a powerless centre can become a focus of unity.


Giles Fraser is a journalist, broadcaster and Vicar of St Anne’s, Kew.

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Matt M
Matt M
1 year ago

Personally I would rather hear that the Anglican Church was still against gay marriage than that it thought men could turn into women as Welty said last week. At least the gay marriage position is status quo. Welby is falling for every woke fad that comes along. I say the Church should embrace the African traditionalist ascension.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt M
Christine Hankinson
Christine Hankinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

Well he says ‘of same gender’ so if one of the homosexual partners wishes to identify as of the opposite sex then there is no issue? Is that what he means? or is he just careless with the terms?

It is one of the drivers of trans-activism in the US where church people find it easier to erase homosexuality by embracing trans ideology, with a change of gender of one of the same sex partners.
I assume it is because transsexual behaviour is not explicitly banned in the bible? All very literal. In this context choosing the term ‘same gender’ , and not ‘same sex’ can be seen as homophobic
 or is he just victim of Stonewall’s diversity brainwashing?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

Ha! Ha! One can change gender and then they could be in a legitimate male female marriage? I don’t think so.

M. Jamieson
M. Jamieson
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

Rowan Williams has apparently fallen down that rabbit hole as well, which pretty clearly quashes any claims of him being a real intellectual.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  M. Jamieson

I don’t think being an intellectual immunises one from foolishness or a lack of wisdom.

Jeanie K
Jeanie K
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Indeed so Judy. Generally most of a high intellect are the ones most lacking in common sense.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Of course it doesn’t.
We have all heard of the educated idiot who makes a god of their intellect.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

It appears that the Anglicans can only be saved by the Africans. May that day come soon so we can get rid of this Welty woke mess. Don’t they read their bibles?

David Werling
David Werling
1 year ago

This should be no surprise. African Christianity is overwhelming “conservative”. When Catholic missionaries competed with Anglican missionaries, the deciding factor among many tribes came down to their “conservative” notion of masculinity. Unmarried men didn’t align with the outlook among many tribes people in Africa that it was unnatural for men not have a wife (or wives), so many leaned into Anglicanism instead of Catholicism over the issue and notion of life long celibacy of her prelates.
African Christianity has always been opposed to the liberal trajectory of their fellow religionists north of the Mediterranean, especially in regards to sexual morality. Western Christianity is heavily influenced by democratic ideals, but this is not true among many religionists in Africa, who often openly criticize the notion that Christian churches should be democratic at all. Concepts of authority and governance in religion are very different in Africa than they are in England, and its rather surprising that the communion hasn’t split a long time ago. I think this is a testament to Anglicanism’s ability to hold together in the face of some fairly difficult cultural obstacles, but one can’t expect it to get easier as the West moves more and more toward a liberal understanding of Scripture, morality, and doctrine.
I think the notion that organizationally a desire for “oneness” is somehow bad or “a recipe for domination and bitterness” comes from a liberal Western bias. Failing to understand African culture and thought, then facially labeling it centrism, and rejecting it out of hand is totally unfair. It comes from a certain arrogance that is all too common among affluent white, liberal Christians. This attitude, more than the attitudes of Africans, is what causes division, diversion, and infighting.
Perhaps what is needed is a return to tradition. You can’t vote away reality, but that is what the Anglican communion has been doing for a century. Changing long standing church tradition at the whims of western sensibilities is exactly what the African communion is so opposed to. If you keep looking at this as “they want centralized power”, you are missing the point. What they, the African communion, wants is for you northern whites to stop changing everything according to every and any popular and modern conception of what is right and wrong. Africans see you as weak minded, faithless adherents kowtowing to secular society instead of listening to the Word of God.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  David Werling

Well said.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  David Werling

:…a liberal understanding of Scripture, morality, and doctrine” can be more concisely said by “rejection.”.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  David Werling

Excellent points, but your understanding of Giles Fraser’s point about ‘centrism,’ is the precise opposite of what he was arguing – that the Anglican community doesn’t or shouldn’t be obsessed with a single theological position or have the equivalent of a ‘primus unter pares’ Bishop much the same as the Catholic Pope.

Anyway, if that is insisted upon, the worldwide Anglican communion cannot hold in the longer term.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

As an atheist, I struggle to understand people’s need for religion. But if you’re going to be an adherent of one of the world’s many faiths, the least you can do is stick to the rules.
Christian scripture makes it perfectly clear that sexual activity should be confined to marriage and that marriage is an arrangement between one man and one woman. If that doesn’t work for you, choose another religion or start your own.
I’ve had the impression for a long that the ABofC doesn’t actually believe in God and this debate merely confirms me in that view.

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
1 year ago

It’s far from clear what the Bible teaches about sexual activity, and even if it were, the Church stands as the creator and interpreter of scripture. I have many differences with the Archbishop, but have no doubt of the depth and sincerity of his faith.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Toby Forward

It is quite clear to me. It is good for a man not to touch a woman. For this reason let every man have his own wife. Men leaving the natural use of the woman burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful. It is perfectly clear in the old and new testaments. If a minister contradicts things like that then we are responsible to know the word ourselves.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
11 months ago
Reply to  Toby Forward

Wrong. (1) It is pretty clear what the Bible teaches about sexual activity. (2) The church is NOT the creator of scripture. In human terms (leaving God out of the argument) the creators of scripture were (a) for the Old Testament mostly (or wholly) prophets; (b) for the New Testament apostles or (in a few cases) their associates. The church is subject to scripture and its teaching: it is the church’s duty to obey it, not alter it or reinterpret it or add to it or ignore bits of it.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

Well said Dougie. You are exactly right and have noticed the compromise many C of E’s have made regarding the bible.

TERRY JESSOP
TERRY JESSOP
1 year ago

Interesting article. I always remember being amused when Sir Humphrey Appleby told his Minister Jim Hacker that many Anglican bishops didn’t actually believe in God, and that it is when they become non-believers that they start calling themselves “modernists”. When we heard Sir Humphrey make this pronouncement some thirty years ago it was good for a hearty laugh, but these days it’s not just cause for a good laugh; it is probably true of at least some of that group that Giles Fraser calls “liberal bishops”. Giles goes on to point out (and he would know since he is himself an Anglican minister) that the class of “liberal bishops” also contains quite a few in same-sex relationships themselves. As an unbeliever myself I would think that the “modernist”/non-believer stance is probably the more correct on the question of God’s existence, yet at the same time it does have the taint of hypocrisy – why even be a bishop in the Anglican Church if deep down you do not actually believe in God or subscribe to other key parts of biblical doctrine. As an atheist do I really care one way or the other? Probably not, but as I am generally against hypocrisyI think I will side with the African bishops on this one.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

In any large organisation that exists for more than a generation those that like to ‘manage’ drift to the top. The organisation then increasingly reflects the career concerns of those managers. Despite all the re-launches, reorganisations, and earnest conferences the same players remain on the board and the original purpose remains subdued.
Sorry Giles, a powerless centre is a most unlikely outcome.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Agreed. A powerless center can hardly lead to solidarity in any endeavor.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

It sounds like they are looking for democracy rather than truth. He who loves the world is at emnity with God.

tom j
tom j
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Giles is right, the Anglican church is not a ‘large organisation’, it is a collection of stand alone churches led by individual & autonomous clergy, with a common book of prayer. Bishops are not bosses and the Archbish is not the CEO.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

Anglican Christianity in Africa is a colonial import. Like many of the innovations brought in by the colonisers it appeals to many Africans. However, now secularist Anglicans in the UK have decided that one of the traditional beliefs concerning the nature of marriage (namely that it is the union of one man and one woman) should no longer apply. In colonial fashion they want this change to apply in Africa too despite the fact that it is a very recent change. However, Africans can see the change to be a secular one rather than one derived from scripture and are not so keen on this new neo-colonial innovation.

Moreover, coming from societies where Muslim and traditional polygamy have prevailed they are rather keener to preserve the traditional union of one man and one woman as once you proceed on the basis that marriage is simply between people of whatever sex that love each other what is to prevent the concept of marriage as a union of multiple people who love one another. Polygamy is not currently a popular demand in Anglican Christianity but who is to say it will not be the next minority agitation. Traditional polygamy may be resisted on the secularist grounds that it represents a patriarchal structure but would a polyandrous union meet such objections if the union was infused with Christian love? Would the church resist the logic that to deny the sanctity of such a union was to betray yourself as a hater of such holy love. Love is the thing. That is all you need to know.

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

You are correct that in the West, churches are allowing the secular to impact the sacred, which in itself serves to undermine their separateness; adding-in the broader implications, i.e. that Western Christians increasingly ignore the Bible, it’s completely unsurprising that divisions are occurring and proceeding apace.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

Considering the number of “rainbow” and BLM flags that hang outside modern Western churches, one can only imagine with horror what the future holds. What colors would the pedophiles and polygamists like to add to that ever changing “flag”?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

The Skull and Crossbones, most likely.

Tiddles Bilbo
Tiddles Bilbo
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Absolutely. No “holes” barred. God must despair.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

It has to fall unless revival comes.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

After church-sanctioned polygamy will come the embrace of bes tiality.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

That’s happening already in Sweden.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

as a practising Roman Catholic, I am far more concerned about the predatory gay sex ” culture” that has been covered up for decades in our schools and elsewhere, and the new mantra on and doctrine on ” climate change”: We need married priests and a merger with the high end of the Anglican Church, so much of which I love and admire.

Matt M
Matt M
1 year ago

As a Catholic born and bred and now a practicing Anglican, I can barely tell the (high church) service and the RC mass apart. I take communion at both when I am attending.

Lee Robinson
Lee Robinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

Receiving communion at the RC mass is a making a statement with your body that you believe all that the Church teaches and that you are in full communion with the Church.

The RC Church and Anglican church hold incompatible beliefs on the Eucharist, both cannot be accepted at once. At the core, this is about belief and not aesthetics.

In charity, I ask you to consider what you believe and above all consider the dignity of our Lord before joining yourself to Him at the mass.

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
1 year ago
Reply to  Lee Robinson

I think that you exaggerate the differences in the doctrine of the Eucharist. Depending on where you live I’m sure that there will be an Anglican Church you can pop into for Benediction.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Lee Robinson

I don’t make a statement that I believe all the church teaches when I break bread. Jesus said simply do this in remembrance of me but I would be careful in what church I did it in as it is also a corporate thing.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
11 months ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

The “this” that churches do these days is nothing like the “this” that Jesus demonstrated and told his followers to do. Doing what churches do these days is NOT doing what Jesus modelled and commanded.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
11 months ago
Reply to  Lee Robinson

The mass has no connection whatsoever with the New Testament model of how to do church. The mass does not feature in the New Testament. Any christians seeking to follow the practice of the apostles in the 1st century churches will ignore the mass and have nothing to do with it. The danger with reading the New Testament is that it provokes the challenge: “Are you now going to reform the ways of your church to bring them into line with the practice of the apostles that you’ve just read about?”

Tiddles Bilbo
Tiddles Bilbo
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

“The road to hell is paved with good intention”

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

They are both equally distant from the New Testament model, where both (a) the breaking of bread and drinking the wine and (b) worship and teaching all took place in the context of the common weekly meal.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
1 year ago

The important issue in the quote is the term ‘same gender’. Does the Church marry people of the same sex if one of them is pretending to be the other sex? If so, as Christians presumably believe that our bodies are made by God and he doesn’t get things wrong, same sex marriage is already happening and cannot be rejected just because the participants are being honest about it.
Either marriage is between one man and one woman for the procreation of children or it isn’t. The ‘gender’ nonsense does not provide a get out clause.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

It’s not only for the procreation of children. There are many wonderful facets in a marriage.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

I want to agree with you Giles. BUT, but I think we also need some way to preserve the symbolic significance and importance of Canterbury in terms of it’s history, traditions and music, and that involves a focus of power, a hierarchy in fact (I appreciate hierarchies personally).
Also surely Anglican theology must be discussed somewhere, why not Canterbury ? Just because the C of E has gone spinning off in a woke whirl I should think a shed load of vociferous disagreement (alongside love and friendship) from across the world is a very good thing. The more the better.
I admit I don’t know much about the workings of the C of E, I’m just a dismayed onlooker, but that’s how it seems to me.

Last edited 1 year ago by Claire D
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

I think they think they are being tolerant but they trample the sacred truths of the bible in the process.

Mark Vernon
Mark Vernon
1 year ago

In fact, an exemplary powerless centre and focus of unity exists already, in the Church of England at least. The Queen is supreme.

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Vernon

She is merely the Titular Head.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Vernon

Then you will get Charles the defender of the faiths plural.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Vernon

Was.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
1 year ago

I really don’t understand the relevance of the title, except as clickbait. The subhedline is much more relevant.

Henry Haslam
Henry Haslam
1 year ago

I have no objection to the changes to the composition of the body that appoints the Archbishop of Canterbury, but a more valuable change would be to enable the Anglican communion to be led by by someone other than the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Going back a few years, for example, Desmond Tutu would have been an outstanding leader of the communion – from Cape Town, not from Canterbury.

Margaret TC
Margaret TC
1 year ago

Glad to see that Unherd has at last got round to publishing a piece on this issue which is doing more damage than Giles recognises. Over a year ago I proposed a piece on it entitled: “The new forcers of conscience”: (un)civil war in the Church of England” which pointed out how the liberal wing of the Church is exerting enormous pressure on conservatives some of whom do not feel safe in their own churches.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Margaret TC

And doesn’t that tell you that there’s something rotten at the very core of the Church of England? Whilst Protestantism originated due to something being very rotten at the core of the Church of Rome, it’s gone the same way, i’m afraid.
Whilst i’d prefer it if people felt able not to believe in a god, that’s their business as individuals. All this institutional nonsense is, in a rather sad way, quite predictable and if something can be both sad and comical at the same time, this article encapsulates it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Emily Brown
Emily Brown
1 year ago

They most definitely should not sit in meetings and pass motions. Very messy.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Emily Brown

Agreed. And didn’t Giles add something about curry flavour?

Terry Tee
Terry Tee
1 year ago

Giles would rather kick the problem into the long grass. But the problem is part of a wider issue, namely what do Anglicans believe? About the sacraments, for example? An honest answer would have to be along the lines of ‘some believe X, some believe Y.’ If you doubt that compare and contrast, say, Anglo-Catholic New Guinea with Low Church/Evangelical Kenya. People will naturally ask what you believe as a communion. It’s unreal to pretend otherwise.

Simon White
Simon White
1 year ago
Reply to  Terry Tee

Rather than “what do Anglicans believe”, should not the question be “what does (Anglican) Christian doctrine teach”?  The beliefs of the followers might be many and varied, but for true communion the teaching should be consistent.  Or maybe, as an atheist, I’m missing the point.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon White

Trouble is that Anglican doctrine seems to be out of step with the bible. Not all of them mind you. It seems to be especially bishops. So far from the new testament.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tony Conrad
M. Jamieson
M. Jamieson
1 year ago

I am very sympathetic to the problem of increasing power accruing to diocese at the expense of parishes. It’s a serious problem which suggests that diocese don’t understand their role in relation to parishes.
I think Giles is mistaken to see some level of theological unity through the same lens. The question is, what does it actually mean to be “in communion? Why am I as an Anglican outside the UK in communion with parishes in Canterbury, or Nairobi, or Calcutta, in a way I am not with an Orthodox or Catholic parish down the road from my house? Why am I, apparently, in communion with the Lutherans who are down the road?
Pragmatically I think it means that I should be able to go to any one of these places and receive the Eucharist, which will be understood and treated as a sacrament, meeting all the requirements for that, I can be married and have my marriage recognized in any Anglican place, and so on.
In fact, because of the loss of theological unity this doesn’t function. If I go to a Lutheran parish the minister may not be someone ordained in apostolic succession, or in the UK the priest might be a woman who perhaps in my country could not be a priest at all, or if I am married to a person of the same sex in the US my marriage might not be recognized in much of the Anglican Communion.
What Giles is talking about is just another way that the diocese is losing t’s proper function, which is to create the necessary conditions in terms of theology and practice that makes the idea of being in communion meaningful. The reality is that as an Anglican in a western country I can’t go into an Anglican church that is unfamiliar to me and have any confidence that they have anything like an Anglican theology or practice at all, or that their sacraments are what they purport to be.

Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
1 year ago
Reply to  M. Jamieson

Surely the only constant here is the agreement of who/what God is. So, why all angst and hand-wringing about arbitrary man-made rules in whatever club(?) you happen to belong to. If you believe in God and how you want to live your life according to what you feel is right, just, moral, etc, then why belong to the club where you disagree with the arbitrary rules. All these opinions are so far removed from the teachings of Christ.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  M. Jamieson

I understand your problem. Of course, the Apostles and Nicene Creed don’t cover any of these issues and I suppose should be the basis for any unity.

Robert Rennick
Robert Rennick
1 year ago
Reply to  M. Jamieson

Why am I as an Anglican outside the UK in communion with parishes in Canterbury, or Nairobi, or Calcutta, in a way I am not with an Orthodox or Catholic parish down the road from my house? Why am I, apparently, in communion with the Lutherans who are down the road?
This is still living within the confines of the papal bull Apostolicae Curae in 1896, where the Church of Rome declared Anglican Orders “null and void”. This was a political document at the time when Anglican clergy rushed off to Rome to be “validly ordained”. The lie to this is best described by an article published on 24 May 2017 in The Tablet written by Clifford Longley who said . . .
 It was an entirely intentional insult to the Church of England, designed to trigger an exodus of disillusioned Anglican clergy into the Roman fold such as would change the demography of religion of England and elsewhere. In that, it failed. But it succeeded in what may have been its ultimate purpose – to stop dead any possible ecumenical rapprochement between Catholics and Anglicans.
And he added . . .
Its principal author was Rafael Merry del Val. This English-born and educated Spanish aristocrat later became Cardinal Secretary of State and Ă©minence grise behind the papacy of Pope St Pius X – he of the modernist crisis, one of the most unhappy chapters in the history of theology. With him in charge, the outcome of a cursory and tendentious tour of the arguments was a foregone conclusion. Merry del Val’s views, not least his anti-Semitism, would place him to the right of Marcel Lefebvre (of SSPX fame).
He was closely associated with Cardinal Herbert Vaughan of Westminster, for whom a papal condemnation of Anglican orders was a prize devoutly to be worked for. 
Longley finishes by saying, “But answers based on absolutism and legalism – not to mention triumphalism – are no longer good enough.” The Gospels show that Jesus often railed against such attitudes.
It is now time to get out from under the shadow of Apostolicae Curae, and it goes further than this . . . Christians of all denominations ought to be made welcome everywhere and offered Communion (if they wish and for those who think the sacrament is important). Some of us will know the hymn “All are welcome . . .in this place” and it is no longer good enough for people to sing this . . . and at the same time, to be at a church where it is made clear by those running it that, “If you aren’t one of us, go away.” Or less politely, “We like you, but piss off!” . . . a message that is a recipe for insanity.
 

M. Jamieson
M. Jamieson
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Rennick

Neither the Catholics nor the Orthodox have any interest in welcoming Anglicans wholesale, and certainly not their clergy. While many might be happy to say some of our clergy may have valid orders, it’s quite clear to them that they can’t depend on that.
Many Anglicans, and even Anglican priests, have no belief in the sacraments in general or Eucharist in particular. They are indeed happy to give it to whomever appears at the communion rail, even dogs. So perhaps the scenario you hope for already exists in Anglicanism. Somehow it doesn’t seem compelling to many though, Anglican churches in the west are losing parishioners hand over fist.

Larry Jay
Larry Jay
1 year ago

I think that we have to question whether the Anglican Communion is fit for purpose any longer. I don’t see why I as a professing member of the Church of England, should be compelled by bishops from GAFCON to deny what I believe about same-sex marriages. And yes, I can say about my parish church: Never before have there been so many people in the pews. Mostly, they are in their thirties, female, black, but I am not seeing a wish to limit marriage to two people of the opposite sex. In fact I can never remember it even being discussed in my church. I do wonder whether these bishops have forgotten Jesus’ commandment to his disciples “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another”. Are we really loving one another, if we tell people that they cannot marry the people who they love? The bishops’ rules seem to be more like the Laws of the Pharisees than anything that Jesus Christ taught.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Larry Jay

I doubt if GAFCON would endorse same sex marriage.

John Solomon
John Solomon
1 year ago

“Only a powerless centre can become a focus of unity.”

So do you mean that the Anglican church should be more like islam?

Henry Haslam
Henry Haslam
1 year ago
Reply to  John Solomon

As I understand it, Islam has no recognised central authority? The Muslim Council of Britain, for example, has no authority – or so I understand? It speaks only for those who wish to agree with its pronouncements.
That makes it very difficult to negotiate with any Muslim representatives.

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
1 year ago
Reply to  John Solomon

There’s no such thing as the ‘Anglican Church’. That’s the heart of the issue. It’s the Anglican Communion.

Margaret TC
Margaret TC
1 year ago

To follow up on my earlier post it is worth quoting the written statement issued in the landmark case of Maya Forstater in June 2021: “Just as the legal recognition of civil partnerships does not negate the right of a person to believe that marriage should only apply to heterosexual couples, becoming the acquired gender ‘for all purposes’ within the meaning of GRA does not negate a person’s right to believe, like the claimant, that as a matter of biology a trans person is still their natal sex. Both beliefs may well be profoundly offensive and even distressing to many others, but they are beliefs that are and must be tolerated in a pluralist society.” Over the last couple of years a teacher, an actor and a magistrate have all been suspended for expressing this belief about marriage and conservative clergy harassed to breaking point on social media. Why is there no push to make this a protected belief? The line drawn between the two beliefs is entirely arbitrary.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
1 year ago

I think you over rate the amount of attention the people in the pews pay to the ABoC, the bishops more generally and even to their parish priests. This sort of fuss over some bishops disagreeing is a long way removed from the cheerful muddling along that goes on in even small congregations (egos, gossip, kneeling, standing etc.). I love the sentiment of your piece. Welby has governed more or less ecumenically – all you need to do is look at Pope Francis for the other option – much like his predecessor. The only massive blot on his reputation will be the locking down of churches and to a lesser extent the hashed attempt at rural closures (hopefully consigned to the bright ideas box/bin)..

Graham Strugnell
Graham Strugnell
1 year ago

Is Giles bashing the bishop again?

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
1 year ago

Beneath you… ooh matron!

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

If the Anglican communities in Africa, India, the Phillipenes, wherever want to “decolonise” from the C of E then they will find a way to do that. Maybe they don’t want to. If “decolonisation” were to be imposed on them from Canterbury or Lambeth Palace then that would be another, sort of, act of colonialism.

Last edited 1 year ago by Claire D
Henry Haslam
Henry Haslam
1 year ago

The answer to the question is that there are two opposing points of view about gay sex, both of which can be argued from a Christian standpoint. And there is no possibility of compromise, no middle way.
After tussling with this for while, I wrote an article some years ago proposing a Christian, moral and rational outlook which could validate both viewpoints.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
1 year ago
Reply to  Henry Haslam

How interesting. What was this outlook?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago

If the CofE was really serious about its decolonisation agenda, the powers of Canterbury over the worldwide communion would pass to Lagos, Nairobi or Kampala.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago

The Scriptures are unequivocally opposed to homosexuality.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jerry Carroll
Clive Billenness
Clive Billenness
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Yet, oddly, not to slavery. Nor, in the Old Testament, to polygamy or to rape.
Speaking as a 35-years married heterosexual male I have no skin in this game except that I have decided to love all my neighbours and not to judge others but instead to wish them all well.
I think we should follow what Jesus said about homosexuality. Oh wait, he didn’t say anything.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

But He validated the old testament that did. Also the writing apostles did as well.

Paul Boire
Paul Boire
1 year ago

You seem to miss the point that the condemnation of sodomy is because God cares about these young men and those who learn from the “adults” around them. It is a crime to deny the relationship of boys and girls with their own bodies. You’re not a friend of anyone but your posing persona. Sometimes being a friend takes some guts.

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Up to a point, Lord Copper.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Of course they are. We ignore them at our peril.

Paul Boire
Paul Boire
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

God knows a little bit about biology. Sodomy has killed over a million young men in the west. There is no natural relationship between spermatozoa and the contents in our lower bowels. And neither is there any protection from the effects of tissue damage. And we should hope Monkey pox , being spread by sodomy at orgies doesn’t transfer to the animal rodent population which is a possibility that could effect the whole human race.

John Tyler
John Tyler
1 year ago

“ The Anglican Community needs to become a much looser federation of churches” In my opinion, that is where the last paragraph should have ended.

Ian Howard
Ian Howard
1 year ago

His coronation must be the reason he’s not retiring as thought

David Bennet
David Bennet
1 year ago

‘Only a powerless centre can become a focus of unity.’
Indeed, but there’s the rub. Otherwise known as God the Creator. Unless God is actually the Created.

Caro 0
Caro 0
1 year ago

Presume McKinsey billing the Almighty, not the penniless faithful, for that Mission Statement.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

All thinking christians know that the world has got into the Anglican church apart from some churches who make a stand against this stuff. When I say a stand I mean for ourselves not to force others but we are free to vote with our feet and leave the mess.

Paul Boire
Paul Boire
1 year ago

As a Roman Catholic I must confess to finding this article as predictable as it was disappointing. The problem with gay sex is that there are no gays, the lifestyle is not gay and it is about sodomy, a lethal practice that cannot be safely undertaken. It is counter to our actual nature which is neither accidental nor unteleological.
And its interesting to note the unavoidable problems of a church without a visible and divinely willed center and head. “He who hears you, hears me.”
Sodomy should be on the agenda as long as it is an issue in the church and its effects in the priestly scandals in the Roman Catholic church are manifest despite the frank lies of the media coverage ignoring the nature of the vast majority of offenses which were homosexual in nature.
This article was farcical.

Paul Boire
Paul Boire
1 year ago

As a Roman Catholic I must confess to finding this article as predictable as it was disappointing. The problem with gay sex is that there are no gays, the lifestyle is not gay and it is about sodomy, a lethal practice that cannot be safely undertaken. It is counter to our actual nature which is neither accidental nor unteleological.
And its interesting to note the unavoidable problems of a church without a visible and divinely willed center and head. “He who hears you, hears me.”
Sodomy should be on the agenda as long as it is an issue in the church and its effects in the priestly scandals in the Roman Catholic church are manifest despite the frank lies of the media coverage ignoring the nature of the vast majority of offenses which were homosexual in nature.
This article was farcical.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
1 year ago

There are a lot of inconsistencies in the C of E . It’s easy to imagine Welby with a hair shirt over his upper body ( just in case he’s knocked over by a bus ) and the most exquisite silk lingerie lower down ( because he’s worth it )

Deirdre RYAN
Deirdre RYAN
1 year ago

AM a confirmed member of C of E, but loudly proclaim MY choice of SHINTO if I have to name ” my religion”.
I am appalled that the Bishops are in same sex “marriages” what perverted thinking and Archbishop brought that change of doctrine into the C of E?
I do know that Welby is a “Climate change” admirer and millions of Parishioners cash has gone into his stock buying schemes, while the needs of the Churches are ignored and buildings crumble. Signs of the times? Lovely photo Welby of you ringing in the days trade in NY Stock Exchange! must not miss the photo ops?? with the WEF and other adherents’.
Where was Welby in hte COVID PLANdemic?
NO I am one of those formerly brain washed Australians – UK Mother Country???
ROYAL FAMILY – what in heavens name do they do for The People? besides running the City of London for their and other Oligarchs sick-minded benefits, manipulating people and keeping them in a state of subservient type thinking? Where Charlie tart marries him and everyone is supposed to be fooled that they were adhering to the C of E Rules and that QE11 and Charlie are upholding the Church of England as their nominal heads of..- what a joke?
Give me Shintoism where one every minute proves by their thinking and actions they are on this Planet for the betterment of all.