Saturday, 25 September 2010

Archbishop asks to pass...

Dearie, dearie me! Rowan Williams has just given an interview and made the mistake trying to say something wise and sensible about gay bishops! This venture is clearly doomed to failure on the simple basis that the official line taken by the Church of England, and its conduct to its openly gay clergy is illogical/ inconsistent /hypocritical/ cruel/offensive/ laughable (delete as applicable.) The interview itself is behind a pay wall, so let's be thankful for small mercies, but there have been quite a few ascerbic reports already, my favorite being this article from Damian Thompson.
It seems that the ABC has, with his usual gift for prevarication, said something along these lines ...
"Well, I like them really, especially if they don't have sex- it's so much easier for everyone else if they don't, I'm sure we're all agreed on that one! Yes, yes, I did once think God was alright with them having sex, but holding those views just isn't my job anymore, it's in the job description you know - must pretend (after all, that's what I'm asking them to do every single day... ) Have I changed my views then?.. pass... Is it actually wrong for them to have sex?...pass...Will it be alright one day?....pass...
So, I think that celibate bishops are just hunkydory, absolutely fine with it, no discrimination whatsoever! So, why didn't I support Jeffrey John in becoming a bishop? I know, it wasn't very nice was it? I felt really bad about it. But it wasn't anything to do with me, you know, it's the church that just wasn't ready to cope with Jeffrey John. And the Church still isn't ready to cope with the thought of gay bishops actually having a relationship with someone they love instead of spending a lifetime alone. The cost is just tooooooooo great. That's the cost to the church you understand, we're not going to worry about the cost to them.

Is that very Christian of me? Pass...

Er.. do you have a bowl for me to use to wash my hands?

Rowan Williams is a lovely man. From what I saw and heard at Synod, which took place just after the Southwark debacle, he was deeply harrowed over the treatment of Jeffrey John. He is genuinely tormented over the divisions about sexuality and women bishops.

It seems almost wrong to parody him, but I really can't take this sort of thing seriously. My burning question is; how can he?


  1. In short, I think the passing of further questions seems to stem from Dr Williams's belief that he is charged to defend the "unity" of the Anglican Communion at all costs. Just as interesting was the leader article in the same day's Times, calling on Dr Williams to undertake more "prophetic" leadership of the Church of England.

  2. I am trying not to laugh at the thought of a prophet who says "pass" when asked a difficult question!

  3. I feel terribly sorry for Williams. Another fine fellow has risen above his level of competence, and now will not be remembered well, which is a great pity, for he should have been remembered with great affection and admiration had he never become the ABC. How foolish is ambition!

  4. I wouldn't like his job though. It makes me think of that Aesop's fable about the man who tried to please everyone and pleased no-one. This interview will do exactly that.

  5. It's so sad altogether, but from where I am (ie outside of the Anglican Communion) it has seemed to me that any Archbishop of Canterbury learns to sit on the fence in a dismayingly short time. Makes me wonder who is pulling the strings. Sorry if that sounds harsh. Every Blessing

  6. Sounds very perceptive to me, Freda. Thanks!

  7. Jesus said "pass" sometimes -- about the baptism of John, for example.

  8. Could you be a bit more explicit when you say that Jesus said "pass" about the baptism of John? Do you mean he said John baptised with water, but he would send the Holy Spirit?

    Very fond of RW, not quite sure I see him as that similar in approach to Jesus.

  9. "Could you be a bit more explicit when you say that Jesus said "pass" about the baptism of John? Do you mean he said John baptised with water, but he would send the Holy Spirit?"

    Hello Suem. Could I gently suggest that if you don't know your Bible well enough to recognise instantly what "Anon" meant, it would be well for you to take a brief sabbatical from the blog in order to pep up a little? I mean no offence, honest.

  10. Hi Bibliotekari,
    My first response was that anon was probably making a reference to Jesus refusal to answer the religious leaders, "neither shall I tell you by whose authority I do these things" - (as you can see because I then blogged about it.) However I thought that if it WAS a reference to that passage, then it was neither clear, nor accurate and might have been confusing - as my reply tried to point out. Jesus was not even asked about the baptism of John, and he did not "pass" on that question.
    No offence to anon, it was potentially an excellent point (although I disagreed with it) but it was sloppily referenced and not explained.

    Of course, it may well be a reference to something I missed entirely and you've noticed, in which case feel free to tell me what you thought it was.

  11. Suem I think Anon. put it rather elliptically, but there could still be no doubt at all as to what he was on about: there's only one place in the Gospels where Jesus passed on a question and the baptism of John comes into it.

    Perhaps Rowan could have taken a leaf out of Jesus' Good Book and replied with a tough question for the interviewer, e.g. do they have a problem with the CoE maintaining its current line.

  12. I don't agree, it was inaccurate. Jesus didn't "pass about the baptism of John" and was not asked about it. He refers to the baptism of John several times, including his rather vague answer to John's question as to why Jesus wasn't baptising him, not the other way round?

    I also think that Jesus often answered questions with questions, or told stories or gave indirect answers. He rarely answered "yes" or "no", even to closed questions - some might see this as passing on the question.

    It would have been interesting if Rowan had replied with that question about is there a problem with the current line? I don't think he would, because I think he secretly hopes that the C of E will change its line one day- but he feels this is not the time.