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Smug Git
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Schism in Anglican Church averted?

I've been watching the potential schism-producing appointment of an openly gay canon to the post of Bishop of Oxford; Jeffrey John was in an active homosexual relationship, which he says is now celibate, but has refused to condemn his previous behaviour (being gay is OK by the church, but a sexual relationship with another man is not). Parts of the African Anglican churches were set to leave the Anglican communion over this matter, and several churchmen in Sydney, Australia were very scathing of it, too (said that supporters of this appointment wouldn't be welcome in their parishes). Anyhow, the guy has turned down the appointment now, 'in the interests of church unity'; it has been strongly suggested that he was told to by high-ups within the church. It is worth remembering that the Church already lost a fair few members and priest to the catholics, when the General Synod voted to allow women priests (which are now a fact).

quote:

Gay priest Canon Jeffrey John has said he will not take up the post of Bishop of Reading.

It follows weeks of bitter argument within the Anglican Church about whether or not he should be allowed to hold the position, because of his sexuality.

Dr John said he made the decision because of the "damage" his consecration might cause to the "unity of the Church".

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, praised his "dignity and forbearance" and made clear that homosexuals "are full and welcome members of the Church", despite "unsavoury" comments during the row.

But Dr Williams said it would not have been acceptable to see the Church split, particularly from congregations in the developing world, and that it was time for members to reflect on what had happened.

'Great sadness'

Dr John will now seek the permission of the Crown to withdraw his acceptance of the job, according to a spokesman for the Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, who made the appointment.

Bishop Harries said he accepted Dr John's decision "with great sadness" but was aware of the "immense pressures" he had been under.

In reply to Dr John's letter of resignation, he wrote: "I would like you to know that not only did you have my unswerving support, but also that of a great many others in the diocese."

Dr Williams, who was recently forced to deny claims that homosexual clergy were being promoted to change Church policy on the issue by stealth, said the question of homosexuality in the Church had not gone away.

"Canon John's withdrawal should not be taken to mean that the church can now stop being concerned about how it discerns the will of God in this area of ethics," he said.

The Archbishop said he had been contacted by many members of the church and a number of the letters "displayed a shocking level of ignorance and hatred towards homosexual people".

Break ties

Dr John, who was due to be consecrated on 9 October, has been in a relationship with a man for 27 years, but says he is now celibate.

The decision to make him the Bishop of Reading prompted a crisis within the church, with nine senior bishops writing to national newspapers to express their anger.

The Archbishop of Nigeria, the leader of the world's biggest Anglican community, threatened to break ties with the Church if the appointment went ahead.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was accused of turning his back on clergy in the developing world after he said he raised no objection to Dr John's appointment.

'Unswerving support'

Answering his critics recently, Dr John said: "My own view is that there is a sound argument from scripture and tradition in favour of Christians accepting same-sex relationships, provided they are based on a personal covenant of lifelong faithfulness."

He had the support of at least eight bishops, who wrote to Dr Williams to say they backed the appointment, but the row had been expected to dominate this week's meeting of the General Synod, the Church's parliament.

Conservative members of the Church welcomed Dr John's decision.

Joel Edwards of The Evangelical Alliance said: "Our initial thoughts are relief that the decision has gone this way. It is definitely in the interests of the church."

But gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell warned: "Having scored this victory, anti-gay evangelists are looking to step up their campaign against gay people in the church."

'Honourable people'

Dr John's announcement came after the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said he ordained two bishops he "suspected" were gay in the 1990s.

His acknowledgement marked his first intervention in the row within the Anglican Church over the appointment of Canon Jeffrey John.

However, Dr Carey said he had "never knowingly ordained a practising homosexual".

He said he was against the appointment of Dr John and would stop an ordination if he learned the person was in a homosexual relationship.



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Old Post 07-08-2003 11:53 AM
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squee
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Um.

I don't want to sound like a bigot here...
But...the Church of England in England strikes me as anemic and lax.
The African branches would probably do well to split from them since their evangelism is actually going strong.

I mean...really...if they don't stand up for standards from the start, then what reason do they have for sticking to them at a later time?
They need to decided if, in principle, having gay clergy and so forth is ok, and then stick by the decision no matter what public opinion says.

That's directed at quite a few churches, not just the Anglicans. I would offer as another example of a problem Church the Presbyterians, in their myriad incarnations in the US. The protestants are falling apart over here because they don't stand for anything and churches make really shitty social clubs.

At some point it's going to be nothing but Catholics and Evangelicals/Gnostics (ie, Baptists, Pentacostals, etc.) and Muslims. Maybe. I dunno.

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Old Post 07-08-2003 04:50 PM
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Smug Git
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Having gay clergy is fine (as it is in the Catholic Church); this issue of a clergyman who was formerly sexually active as a homosekshual was a bit of a surprise, and it arose because one bishop, the Bishop of Oxford, chose to appoint him (as is his responsibility). Had the guy been claiming to be an active homosekshual today, that would have made a much bigger storm; had he condemned his own past behaviour, then it wouldn't have been such a big deal.

The Bishop of Oxford made a mistake here and it has brought to the fore a debate that was bound to happen sooner or later; the result has been that the more orthodox view has won out. Had it gone to General Synod, I would think that the appointment would have been widely excoriated.

There are still problems, though; at least one Canadian Anglican church has 'married' gay men to each other, and I think that some of the American Anglicans may have views on the issue that are rather too 'pro-homosekshual' for the beliefs of the mainstream Anglican Communion.

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Old Post 07-08-2003 05:01 PM
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Smug Git
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As regards Presbyterianism in the UK, that is going along fine on the very hardline tack, anti-catholic, anti-fun, that sort of stuff. What a bunch of dour bastards they are, even Cromwell fell out with them.

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Old Post 07-08-2003 05:02 PM
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Aydin
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Church of Scotland is Presbyterian over there, isn't it? My mom was Church of Scotland, and told me that it was the same thing as Presbyterianism in the U.S.

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Old Post 07-08-2003 05:06 PM
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Smug Git
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Church of Scotland is episcopalian, I think, and part of the Anglican Communion.

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Old Post 07-08-2003 05:14 PM
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skalie
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quote:
Originally posted by Smug Git
As regards Presbyterianism in the UK, that is going along fine on the very hardline tack, anti-catholic, anti-fun, that sort of stuff. What a bunch of dour bastards they are, even Cromwell fell out with them.


Oi, I'm a Presbyterianist, go wash thy mouth out with soap.

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Old Post 07-08-2003 05:18 PM
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squee
the amen break

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Yeah, well, what I notice is that churches which hold to principles attract and retain members while those who just go with whatever flavor of the month social trends are all falling apart.

Just an observation.

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Old Post 07-09-2003 12:41 PM
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Smug Git
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They certainly tend to keep their existing members, that is for sure. I think that the C of E will probably leave this issue alone for a while now.

Married priests in the catholic church will be an interesting debate in the nearish future, I think (and in terms of the bible it presents few problems to accomodate it (given that there already are some married catholic priests, too)).

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Old Post 07-09-2003 01:56 PM
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Mugtoe
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quote:
Originally posted by squee
Um.

I don't want to sound like a bigot here...
But...the Church of England in England strikes me as anemic and lax.
The African branches would probably do well to split from them since their evangelism is actually going strong.

I mean...really...if they don't stand up for standards from the start, then what reason do they have for sticking to them at a later time?
They need to decided if, in principle, having gay clergy and so forth is ok, and then stick by the decision no matter what public opinion says.

That's directed at quite a few churches, not just the Anglicans. I would offer as another example of a problem Church the Presbyterians, in their myriad incarnations in the US. The protestants are falling apart over here because they don't stand for anything and churches make really shitty social clubs.

At some point it's going to be nothing but Catholics and Evangelicals/Gnostics (ie, Baptists, Pentacostals, etc.) and Muslims. Maybe. I dunno.




They could always say that, while Truth remains constant, human understanding and discernment can change. A church is not about standards of conduct in society, though that is a by-product of a spiritually centered life, it's about belief and relationship and love and charity to the community. If you lower religion to the level of dharma you may achieve a more ordered and shame-based society, but you will lose a good deal of opportunity for union with God.

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Old Post 07-09-2003 04:59 PM
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Mugtoe
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That is not to say, incidentally, that homosekshuality is not WRONG and an abomination in the eyes of God. Never surrender on that one.

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Old Post 07-09-2003 05:00 PM
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Smug Git
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The anglican church in the US is about to appoint a homosekshual bishop it seems, so there may still be a schism.

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Old Post 07-19-2003 06:22 PM
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philjit
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the big difference with the US ghey bishop is that he is 'active' and very open about it, which does set him aside from Jeffrey John.

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Old Post 07-19-2003 10:48 PM
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Smug Git
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Jeffrey John refused to say that what he had been doing was wrong, though, which was what upset the Anglicans in Nigeria (as well as a fair number in the UK).

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Old Post 07-20-2003 12:59 AM
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