I’ve refrained from commenting much on the Lambeth Conference as there has not been anything official to react to and media reports do not give a good flavour of what is essentially a closed event.
However, now we have a published address from Rowan Williams.
At first sight, it seems reasonable enough. Indeed, he is making an honest attempt to hear and articulate the feelings and emotions of two hypothetical voices on either “side” of the debate.
The fact is, it is the conception of the Communion as having these two sides that is the real problem.
I don’t actually think that the attempt to sum up the “liberal” side comes anywhere near to my position at all.
The things is, its all about human rights, Rowan. This is not just about the rights of gay and lesbian people in the US, it is about all of us. It is about the rights of people in all parts of the world to self expression, to practise their religion, to live freely with dignity before God. It is about the whole people of God, (you know, the laos, you must have heard of it, you’ve read a bit of theology) being able to speak in decision making in the church. It is about women and men being treated as equal human beings. It is about the western church standing up for persecuted brothers and sisters wherever they are. It is about having the confidence that Muslim and Anglican can live together in the same street and not attack one another.
Sometimes, that means standing up to bishops, such as condemning the inflamatory remarks made by Akinola connected with inter-religious rioting in Nigeria. We’ve not yet heard any condemation from the Lambeth Conference of the circumstances which caused the UK Government to offer policial assylum to a gay Anglican this week because of the violence and persecution he could expect from his home church. That shames the whole church.
It is only when a human rights agenda gets woven into all of this that there will be dignity for all those affected.
We need human rights missionaries. We need to interfere in other jurisdictions until all God’s people are free and safe in their societies and in their churches. We need to set those high, inclusive moral standards amongst all Anglican peoples. That Covenant you are suggesting is not a patch on that vision. It is a step in another direction altogether.
Any covenant which allows anything less than treating all the baptised as equally enriched and empowered by the potential of God’s grace will result in non-juring Episcopalians again in Scotland. That would be communion breaking, not communion making. You might have some problems with it even closer to home than Scotland too.
What is proposed is not a solution. What is proposed is the problem.