The Scottish Episcopal Church and the "Listening Process"

Seen this?

It is the response of the Scottish Episcopal Church to the “Listening Process” in the Anglican Communion.

We will leave aside the fact that although it is supposed to be a process of listening to lesbian and gay people there is nothing in the response about what any lesbian or gay person might think, believe or do.

Let us simply meditate on this paragraph:

A Study Guide entitled Human Sexuality was published by the Scottish Episcopal Church in December 2001. It is a careful and broad guide covering a range of areas and opinions. The guide has short, readable presentations on morality and ethics, the authority of Scripture and the interpretation of Scripture as well as science, human relationships and sexual relationships. It is a very useful guide.

It seems to me that glosses over rather a lot of tears that went into producing that document. It also glosses over the fact that that the General Synod which received it refused to commend it to every church for study. It ignores the fact that those who were responsible for it could not even agree on the text for the introduction and bickered in public over the one that was printed. It also seems to miss the point that the document itself contains such homophobic material that it is most unlikely that any gay person would ever consider using it for discussion. Indeed, there was such concern about it in some quarters that other material completely was produced.

The last time I discussed the document Human Sexuality with any of our bishops, the exercise of producing it was dismissed as a complete failure.

I wonder who wrote such a misleading paragraph and sent it in to the formal “Listening Process”.


  1. The Scottish and Australian churches have in common that most of their efforts (commendable in themselves) have been directed to talking through theological documents about gays and lesbians rather than listening to gay and lesbian people themselves. The Australian statement acknowledges, moreover, that attempts by some dioceses and parishes to conduct ‘listening’ have more often than not resulted in acrimonious arguments between opinionated participants.

  2. kennedy says

    I don’t know who wrote it but according to the ACNS, +Idris approved it.

    Each of the summaries has been compiled in cooperation with the Primate of that Province. “The summaries have drawn upon public statements and further research,” said the Listening Process facilitator Canon Phil Groves of the Anglican Communion Office. “Each Primate has approved the final text.”

    Each Province has submitted reports, statements and papers. In addition, Groves has taken time to speak with Primates and their representatives from each of the Provinces in order to produce these summaries. The Primates asked for the summaries to be “made more fully available across the Communion for study and reflection.”

  3. Roddy says

    I get a bit confused as to what the process of ‘listening’, in any sphere of modern life, means. What it so often seems to mean is, “We don’t really want to get involved or change, but we’d like to appear as if we care, even though we don’t.”

    I find the whole concept of being listened to a wee bit patronising, as it has overtones of being regarded as a bit of a nuisance but given a short period of attention to keep you quiet.

    I’m not gay but the whole debate about gays and lesbians in the Anglican Communion appears to be about control of a rather large minority in the church more than anything religious or spiritual. A much more daring approach for the SEC would have been to say the subject is a matter of disinterest to the Church; that is the argument of someone’s sexuality is now of minimal relevance to church life for either gays or straights and that there are better and more important things to do.

    Or have I got this hopelessly wrong?

  4. kennedy says

    Roddy said:
    ‘that is the argument of someone‚Äôs sexuality is now of minimal relevance to church life for either gays or straights and that there are better and more important things to do.’

    I think, and I hope, that that is what the American Episcopal Church is starting to say.


  5. vicky says

    I’m with Roddy on this one…it almost seems as if the Anglican Communion has become a one issue Church…and that issue is sexuality. it would be nice to have this level of debate going on about the beatitudes rather than sexual-attitudes………..

  6. I’m not a church goer, but was brought up one and can’t understand why the church – or anyone for that matter – gets so wound up about homosexuality. Dorothy L Sayers had it right when she wrote:

    ‘As I grow older and older, And totter toward the tomb, I find that I care less and less, Who goes to bed with whom.’

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