John Wraw is Bishop of Bradwell, in the Chelmsford diocese. A letter from him has been published on the diocesan website, prefaced by this note:
John Wraw took up his role as Bishop of Bradwell in the Diocese of Chelmsford five years ago. He was diagnosed with cancer two years later. The type of cancer he has is incurable.
Bishop John has always been open and honest about living with his condition.
Writing a moving letter to the Clergy of the diocese today about his prognosis, he reviews developments in the Church and Diocese, and he discusses his hopes for a well-founded theology of relationships, friendship and marriage leading in time to a full acceptance of same sex marriage.
The letter can be read via this link. I do recommend reading it all, as it is very moving. But the last few paragraphs read as follows:
…However, the current debate in the Church, which has become almost totally focused on same sex marriage, means we have not championed the fundamental and core values of commitment, fidelity, openness, trust, intimacy and indeed faithfulness, both within the Church and more widely in society. This has severely weakened our contribution to the life of the nation and those conversations have suffered through the lack of our voice.
There are very differing views on this within the Church of England and across the Anglican Communion, but there is much more we hold in common. Unity in Christ is a fact, a command, a promise; not simply something we can opt in and out of as we pick and choose. We need to live with our differences, not simply listening to those who see differently but offering true
attentiveness. That was the value of the Shared Conversations, but not clearly reflected in the Report from the House of Bishops as reflected in the Synod Vote.
I have no desire to criticise my fellow Bishops and recognise the reflection, prayer and care that has been given to offering leadership and teaching in this. However, there is still a lack of pastoral understanding and care shown in public pronouncements and a lack of venturesome and creative theological reflection on the nature of relationships and the place of marriage within that.
More time does need to be given to a well-founded theology of relationship, friendship and marriage which I hope will lead in time to a full acceptance of same sex marriages in the Church of England. That will take time. However, that should not hold us back in the immediate from proper recognition through prayers, blessing, celebration and affirmation of all that is good and wholesome in a wide variety of relationships including stable, faithful, committed and God given same sex relationships.
Easter and ordinations are very much about new beginnings, born out of journeys which are often very challenging but ultimately held under God. I pray for a Church rediscovering its calling under God as herald and first fruits of God’s Kingdom lived out in that pilgrimage through the challenges of Holy Week, the defeat and desolation of Good Friday and the renewed joy and hope of resurrection we celebrate week by week, which is founded on Jesus rising to new life that first Easter Sunday.
There is also an interview with the bishop on BBC Essex which can be found via this link.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento (T.A.) on Sunday, 26 February 2017 at 6:40pm GMT
This post, by Simon Sarmiento, of ‘Thinking Anglicans’ UK website, gives testimony to a Bishop of the Church of the Church of England who, faced with terminal cancer, expresses his hope and prayer that a solution will soon be found for the urgent need to accommodate the possibility of Same-Sex Marriage within the Church in England.
Contained within the context of preparation for the coming penitential season of Lent, leading up to the sorrows and joys of Holy Week and Easter; Bishop John Rawe pleads for a new understanding of the Church’s need to “live with the differences” of relationships that are faithful and reflective of the love of God that is far more generous than we human beings can ever emulate.
Faced with the imminence of his own transition from this world to the next; Bishop John is determined to place before the Church the need for justice and mercy, rather than the exercise of judgement and intolerance, as reflected in this statement:
“I have no desire to criticise my fellow Bishops and recognise the reflection, prayer, and care that has been given to offering leadership and teaching in this (Bishops’ Report’). However, there is still a lack of pastoral understanding and care shown in public pronouncements and a lack of venturesome and creative theological reflection on the nature of relationships and the place of marriage within that”.
May God richly bless this Bishop as he lives out the remainder of his life on earth, exercising the conscience he has been given to advocate for the Church’s application of the ‘Good News’ of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to the poor and marginalised.
Father Ron Smith