Archbishops Statement on Homophobia

From Lambeth Palace.

John Sentamu and Justin WelbyDear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

In recent days, questions have been asked about the Church of England’s attitude to new legislation in several countries that penalises people with same-sex attraction. In answer to these questions, we have recalled the common mind of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, as expressed in the Dromantine Communiqué of 2005.

The  Communiqué said;

‘….we wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people.

The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by Him and deserving the best we can give – pastoral care and friendship.’

We hope that the pastoral care and friendship that the Communiqué described is accepted and acted upon in the name of the Lord Jesus.

We call upon the leaders of churches in such places to demonstrate the love of Christ and the affirmation of which the Dromantine communiqué speaks.”

Yours in Christ,

+Justin Cantuar   +Sentamu Eboracensis

Quite right too. Some of the stories coming out of Nigeria are shocking.

Now, how about a clarification from Andrea Minichiello-Williams about her “homosexuality and paedophilia” claim in Jamaica.

20 Comments on “Archbishops Statement on Homophobia

  1. I am not sure that I agree with this:

    “We assure homosexual people that they are children of God,”

    Aside from one instance in Acts when Paul is citing a pagan author, the phrase “children of God” in the Bible only refers to those who belong to the Jewish or Christian covenants; e.g. John 1:12 “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” The word become implies that they were not children of God before they received him; but are changed to that status on receiving him. If the archbishops statement only referred to Christians with same sex attraction (rather than everyone with same sex attraction), then fine. But that doesn’t seem to be what they are saying.

    • I suspect it’s sloppy phrasing from busy people who have a lot of documents based on warm-and-fuzzy theology passing across their desks. It is very similar to language that Ebor used in 2009* and my impression is that his theology has a lot of warm-and-fuzziness and not a lot of hard edges. Cantuar knows better but probably thought he has bigger battles to fight – it’s just not worthy quibbling with his brother over a technical point when the underlying meaning (God loves gay people in some vague way) comes across.

      Summary: cock-up and kindness, not conspiracy.

      *http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/2040/archbishop-speaks-out-regarding-proposed-ugandan-anti-homosexuality-laws last para

  2. As well as “clarification” over Williams’ general defence of the existing criminal law in Jamaica, which is known to be one of the harshest places in the world to be gay.

  3. What can be the purpose of this letter? I note that it has been sent to all the primates of the Anglican Communion as well as the Presidents of Uganda and Nigeria. The latter can probably be justified, but are they accusing the Primates of homophobia? They are not going to take very kindly to that, especially as much of the violence against gays in some countries comes from Muslims. If they think this is building bridges, I suspect it will have the reverse effect and put their backs up. The Gafcon Chairman, Eliud Wabukala, has already declared ‘We cannot therefore allow our time and energy to be sapped by debating that which God has already clearly revealed in the Scriptures’. And why would they, seeing what division it has caused in the West. They have too many problems of their own without importing ours.

    And why dredge up Dromantine, when so many other communiques have been ignored? This goes right back to Lambeth 1:10 which the then Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold signed up to, then went straight back home and consecrated Gene Robinson as bishop.

    • Do you think the new laws in Nigeria are reasonable? Do you think Anglican clergy supporting them is reasonable?

      Do you think a Christian leader saying there is a link between homosexuality and paedophilia and then not providing one shred of evidence to support this claim is reasonable?

      • I have just edited my post to add a final para about legislation in Nigeria and Uganda before I saw this.

        You are changing the argument, Peter. I have no idea what Andrea said about homosexuality and paedophilia, and am not particularly interested, having no evidence one way or the other (YET!). I didn’t even mention it. But this has nothing to do with the Archbishops’ letter.

        I think what they are doing here is trying to cover their backs from the angry mob at home as JW embarks on a tour of Africa.

        • What is the point of this letter? Usual fence sitting. Does the church support this abhorrent legislation in Africa or not?

        • Jill, do you think it right to criminalize homosexual acts (except, of course, in cases where equivalent heterosexual acts would also be criminal, such as rape and child molestation)? Do you consider it reasonable for Christian clergy to support such legislation? Why won’t you tell us?

          • Because, dear Gugli, I have told you about a squillion times already. But we are not here to discuss what I think, or what you think. My post is about the purpose of this letter, and what the African primates are likely to think. I spoke to enough African bishops at Gafcon 1 to know that they are not ‘homophobic’ in the way that you understand it. To them, homosexuals are people who engage in homosexual acts. They did not understand the concept of ‘loving consensual same-sex relationships’, (I do not claim to speak for any one of them in particular, and of course some might have changed their views in the intervening period). Not one of them would have supported violence against any person.

            But you do have to understand that they have a big problem with AIDS, aqnd they look to the West and see that AIDS rates have soared since being gay became popular, and naturally they don’t want their problem to worsen. You just have to see the logic in this.

            The Abps must know all this. If they don’t, they jolly well should before they shoot off letters likely to give offence.

            I did hope it would be possible to have a sensible discussion about this without slinging accusations at me accusing me of positions I do not hold.

            • Jill why won’t you answer Gugli? Maybe you have told him a squillion times but I’m new here. Do you believe in criminalising acts between consenting adults?

              I don’t quite understand your comments on AIDS – the vast majority of HIV in Africa is transmitted by heterosexual contact. It’s organisations such as the Catholic Church that impede safe sex and use of condoms. and 50 percent of gay people (ie lesbians) are at a reduced risk of HIV transmission compared with African heterosexul people

              You have taken the easy way out concerning Ms Williams at Christian Concern. Please read her purported comments which she refuses to deny. If they are correct then they are truly appalling. Gay people live in constant fear in in Jamaica of persecution, whether they engage in sexual acts or not, and yet Ms Williams sees it fit to go there and inflame the situation, and Jill from Harrow is ‘not particularly interested’.

            • I haven’t accused you of holding any position, Jill. I just wondered why you wouldn’t answer Peter’s questions about whether you think that the new laws in Nigeria are reasonable and whether you think that it is reasonable for Anglican clergy to support them, and I wonder why you still won’t. It surely doesn’t require an excess of energy for you to say either “Yes” or “No”.

              I take it that the purpose of the Archbishops’ letter is to make it clear that the maltreatment of homosexual people is wrong and immoral, and that it cannot be justified or condoned by appealing to Christian doctrine. If the African bishops interpret that as implying that it is wrong to criminalize people for having gay sex, then so much the better. It IS wrong, and the Church should not be supporting it. The suggestion that the Archbishops should refrain from condemning anti-gay persecution for fear that doing so might “give offence” is not only absurd; it is morally reprehensible.

              There is no reason to believe that the AIDS rates in Africa would be reduced or even contained by persecuting those who engage in homosexual acts. When the AIDS crisis first erupted in the Western world, homosexual acts were still illegal and punished harshly in Russia and in many of the Soviet-bloc countries. Did they escape? Not a bit of it. It should also be borne in mind that most of the AIDS in Africa is transmitted heterosexually.

              Talk of being gay becoming “popular”, as though it were a fashionable hairstyle or garment or a pop song that has hit the charts, is sheer nonsense, so any argument based on it, no matter how internally logical it may be, is worthless.

              • Well, I have no intention of derailing this post by rehearsing old arguments which have been covered many times, and which most of the people here querying my motives already know the answers to. What I am trying to determine is the purpose of this letter, and what they think will be achieved by it.
                The Anglican Church in Nigeria, for instance, is huge and burgeoning, unlike the church in the West. They do a tremendous amount of good work among the poor and needy (I have seen for myself how the Mothers’ Union alone, which is huge, is actively engaged in this area). If the Primates started imposing Western mores (which they regard as Western imperialism) on their communities, the church would wither on the vine. The Church there is a bulwark against radical Islam. They are in constant danger from Islamists. I think those suffering ‘homophobia’ would suffer a lot more if it were not for the Church in those parts of the world. Think on that!

                Is nobody going to engage with the content of my original post instead of heaping these straw men upon my head? Try looking at it from a global perspective instead of a narrow Western one.

                • Jill, I know that you have conceded to me in the past, albeit after some probing, that you don’t want people here in the UK to be banged up for having gay sex, but the tone in which you write gives me the impression that you think, either that it might be OK to do that in Africa, or that even if perhaps it isn’t, we shouldn’t be so unconscionably tactless as to go and say so. If that impression is a mistaken one, I can’t understand why you need to be so coy about rectifying it.

                  If, as you say, the Anglican Church in Nigeria is doing a tremendous amount of good work among the poor and needy, that is of course a wonderful thing. I fail to see how good work of that kind in any way necessitates giving religious support to the oppression of gay people, or how ceasing to support such oppression will in any way obstruct that good work. Christians who approve or condone the persecution of gays are, in this PARTICULAR respect, aiding and abetting radical Islam. Think on that! Such persecution is immoral. You can’t somehow neutralize or dilute immorality by looking at it “from a global perspective”.

                  “Is nobody going to engage with the content of my original post?” you ask. Your original post asked “What can be the purpose of this letter?” I have already said in the second paragraph of my previous what I take its purpose to be. If you think that my interpretation is incorrect, please say so – and say why.

  4. @ Jill – what do you actually want gay people in Africa to do Jill? Importing problems from the west? Is that how you see the everyday struggle of a gay person living in such a hostile environment with laws criminalising any sexual expression of their desires? We all just have one chance at happiness on this earth and yet so often we see the concerns of a significant majority swept under the table and belittled. Christians should be strongly condemning these laws in Africa. As for Ms Williams comments in Jamaica- I note she does not have the courage to clarify or issue any denial.

  5. Thank God for our bishops! I have many questions about details but in 2 days they’ve taken unpopular positions on both same-sex ‘marriage’ and proper pastoral care of Africans with same-sex attraction.

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