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LAMBETH: Williams Offers Ambiguous Response to Sexuality Question

LAMBETH: Williams Offers Ambiguous Response to Sexuality Question

By David W. Virtue

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams offered an ambiguous response to a direct question posed to him about sexual behavior saying that sexual sin is defined as "any relationship outside a public covenant of mutual support and love in the presence of God," seeming to endorse committed same sex arrangements. Williams then followed his first statement saying."Sex outside marriage is not as God purposes it."

VirtueOnline posed this question to the ABC, "What counts for you as wrong in sexual behavior," at a press conference today, Williams added that the "Anglican Communion has made its position clear. That is where I stand and the discipline I am committed to." By "public covenant", is Williams supporting gay marriages?

While his commitment to the 1998 Lambeth resolution 1:10 is clear, it appears in his answer that he is giving solace to those homosexuals in committed same-sex unions in the Western Anglican Church. He did not publicly condemn homosexual behavior and he is on record publicly affirming his openness to homosexual partnerships in his booklet, "The Body's Grace."

Questioned on why Gene Robinson, the openly homoerotic Bishop of New Hampshire, was not invited to Lambeth, but his consecrators were, Williams said there had been difficulty with those who consecrated Robinson with some saying they wished they had not done so, some had retired. Many CAPA (African) bishops said in conscience they could not come with the result that the voices of the majority of Anglicans are not at Lambeth, "The House of Bishops asked for forgiveness for offence caused last year."

Williams said he circulated a letter to all Anglican provinces on whether this was a satisfactory response. Mrs. Jefferts Schori and 50% of the provinces said that it probably was all right. "Therefore we did not want to go down the list (and exclude) the consecrators."

Williams acknowledged divisiveness in the church with many "sensitive issues", but he hoped a Covenant and the Windsor group would help achieve unity "not by coercion but consent." This vision is worth working for and sharing, he said.

Questioned on the validity of Indaba as a method to find unity, Williams said that it did not look like an effective way of addressing tough issues, but it did allow every single voice to be heard. "We did not want to rely too much on particular cultures."

Asked what his message was to the more than 200 absentee orthodox bishops, Williams replied, "We are sorry you are not here. The great pity is not to have those voices in the discussion. They would have been healing and helpful." Will it devalue the legitimacy of Lambeth's conclusions? "If they want their voice incorporated this is way to do it. Have they a coherent alternative to what the Communion gathered here will say or do? These provinces have not said they will pull out. It has to be responded to and engaged with in the years ahead."

Questioned about the Covenant that pilgrims to the GAFCON Jerusalem had rejected, Williams replied, "We argue and continue to make the case. We are not at the end of the process yet. We want to achieve government by council."

Acknowledging the pain caused to Anglo-Catholics by the recent vote on Women's Ordination, Williams said there is a huge bit of unfinished business for the Church of England after Synod, as many people felt grieved by the step taken. "It has made us enter this conference as a bleeding hunted animal."

Williams said the appearance of the Ecumenical participants would deepen the journey into the divine. Asked about Rome's response to the covenant and Cardinal Bertone's critical response to women's ordination., Williams said that some in the Church of England will recognize women, "it is not a deal breaker."

The Rev. Mario Bergner in a fringe event addressing "Pastoral Care After the Sexual Revolution" said the sexual revolution was a way of casting off restraint. "Two institutions have been cast off - families and the church. We have to understand the fallout. Because of family there will be family fallout and in the church with a resulting spiritual fallout."

Bergner said with the inability of relationships to be stable, we need live role models of family life. "This has spilt over into the church. People also said we want to do what is right in our own eyes. If the church did this in reaction then it has assumed this sexual revolution is too messy for God."

The church has a crisis of confidence in the cross. "If there is no understanding or any remedy for any of those roots through the cross, how dare we offer anything else? For example, we are not ashamed to call in a plumber or take our car to a mechanic. They do not put shame on me. We feel ashamed for admitting to the wear and tear in life and needing help. Owning issues of sexuality becomes incredibly difficult in many areas of the church.

"If you do not want the addiction you have got, it is often difficult to get help from the church," said Bergner.

"Does the cross have any power? Is there any real salvation for real domestic issues? Is the cross a mere symbol or an impotent theological concept? If the cross has no power we are of all men to be pitied. We will have the appearance of godliness but are denying its power."


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