Listing ‘violators’ of Lambeth Conference resolution is ‘outrageous’, says Bishop
A LIST that names people in the C of E who are said to have violated a Lambeth Conference resolution on sexuality has been labelled “outrageous” by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam.
The list was compiled and circulated by the conservative Anglican group GAFCON as evidence of how widely the Church of England is deviating from Lambeth 1.10, a resolution passed at the 1998 Lambeth Conference which rejected same-sex blessings and described homosexual practice as “incompatible with scripture”.
LGBT Christians have described the GAFCON list as “a pretty shoddy attempt” and responded by producing their own. The “Rainbow List”, compiled by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM), includes LGBT Christians and “straight allies”. The organisation said that, within hours of the publication of the original list, there was “a growing chorus of inclusive voices asking one question: ‘Why am I not on that list?’”
The GAFCON list appears in a briefing to sympathetic Primates, published on Sunday, headed “the situation in the Church of England regarding attitudes, teaching and practice on sexual ethics, official and unofficial”. It says that the C of E has “crossed the line by allowing a culture to develop where violations of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 are increasingly prevalent”.
Those accused of having violated the Resolution include priests who have entered civil partnerships or same-sex marriages, and those who have officiated at ceremonies for such or blessed them. It gives examples of people who “openly advocate for breaking Lambeth 1.10”, and states that “ordination committees and bishops are overlooking violations of Lambeth 1.10, handing out insignificant disciplinary measures”. The list of violations is “partial”, it says. It calls on the House of Bishops and the General Synod to “take constructive steps to rectify the numerous . . . breaches that have been strategically taken by some to undermine the teaching of the Communion”.
In a letter to the Church Times (Letters, page 17), the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, calls the list “outrageous”, and cites passages from scripture in his rebuke. “To name individuals in this statement is wrong, creates a climate of fear, and opens them to personal abuse,” he writes. The list also includes a “great deal of inaccuracy”.
Bishop Holtam quotes Lambeth 1.10’s call to “minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals”, and notes GAFCON’s “repeated violations” of the resolution’s statements on how Provinces relate to one another.
“Though the institutional Church has at times seemed to find their very existence an ‘inconvenient truth’, God made LGBT people, loves them, and preserves them,” he writes.
Among those listed is the Deputy Senior Chaplain at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who described it on his blog as “an open invitation for people to harass those named in it. . . Yet the targets are proud to be named there, having nothing of which to be ashamed.” The “lazy, inaccurate and vindictive little essay has proved a rallying point for the forces of love, inclusion, and change”.
Jayne Ozanne, a member of General Synod, listed as someone who “openly advocates for breaking Lambeth 1.10”, said that the list had proved that “the world hasn’t stopped turning or the Church fallen apart. God is still sovereign in his Church, and working powerfully through his people — gay, straight, civil-partnered, married, and single. The blessing is there for all who have eyes to see.”
The LGBTI Mission said that it was “confident that the bishops will recognise this bullying tactic for what it is”.
Nominations for the LGCM list are being canvassed until 9 December. Permission from all nominees will be sought before publication.
Is GAFCON getting so desperate it feels the need to ‘OUT’ Gays who are part and parcel of the clerical staff of the Church of England? Is this part of a process towards a takeover bid for the soul of the Anglican Communion?
In what would appear to be a declaration of war on the Mother Province of the Anglican Communion, the Gafcon Primates have stooped to the level of ‘outing’ anyone in the Church of England who has been brave enough to admit the fact that they are, by nature, intrinsically gay-oriented.
Quite apart from the propriety of such a move, what on earth is to be achieved by opening up the possibility of calumny and persecution of a minority group in the Church who have, themselves, braved both public and Church discrimination – against something they have been ‘gifted’ with – their sexual difference from the majority.
There is, of course, much more at stake for the Gafcon Primates. In order to promote their own version of so-called Christian piety – by demonising LGBTQI people in the Church of England – they hope to gather worldwide Anglican support for their prejudice against such people, even though the modern world does not agree with their diagnosis of what they see as a delinquent minority in the Church that seeks to ‘promote’ a way of life that Gafcon does not agree with and which they see as contrary to the message of the Gospel. They really believe that Gays have a choice – to be Gay or heterosexual!
The recent statement by a local Pentecostal Pastor in New Zealand, self-proclaimed ‘Bishop’ Brian Tamaki; that recent earthquakes here in Canterbury, New Zealand. are the direct evidence of the ‘wrath of God’ against ‘sexual sins’ (especially homosexuality) – including the New Zealand Government’s legalisation of same-sex marriage; has met with a storm of righteous indignation – from both Churches and local communities.
This is just the sort of scandalous behaviour on the part of a ‘Christian’ Leader that brings Christianity into disrepute. And it is precisely this fear-induced paranoia that fuels the activities of homophobic groups like the Gafcon Primates, and others who discriminate against a class of people that has no other way of being, that enables the persecution of Gays in countries like Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya (all territories with the Gafcon enclave) that fail the standards of modern jurisprudence and civil human rights.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand