Archbishop attacks Anglican hypocrisy over gay relationships

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The leader of the Anglican Church in Wales has said he is hopeful there can be resolution among the worldwide Communion on the issue of gay priests and same-sex relationships.

Archbishop Barry Morgan warned that an attempt “to force Provinces to make decisions, when they are not ready to decide, it will all end in tears.”

He also questioned why so much attention is given to the issue of gay people in the church.

Presenting a report to the 144 members of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales on the recent Lambeth Conference, he had some stark questions for the gathered bishops, elected clerics and lay people.

“Why is it that as far as Anglicanism is concerned, we do not interpret the Scriptures literally when it comes to issues such as usury or marriage and divorce to name but two, but insist on a literal interpretation of texts that allegedly deal with homosexuality?” he asked.

“It is difficult to believe that we have boxed ourselves into this particular corner.

“Allegorical, symbolical and mythical interpretations are allowed and have been allowed from the time of the early church Fathers to the present day for every part of the Bible, except for those that deal with homosexuality and one is also left wondering why there cannot be diversity on this issue as on so many other moral issues.

“We need to remember that one of the glories of Anglicanism has been about being held together by our beliefs as contained in historic creeds and formulas but not by agreement to particular statements about that faith in each generation.”

Earlier this month leaders of the Anglican Church in Wales played down suggestions that a prominent gay man could be selected as the next Bishop of Bangor.

While the names under consideration are secret, a spokeswoman for the Church said that the electoral college would be advised by the bishops in Wales to respect the “moratorium on the consecration of bishops in same-sex partnerships.”

The ban on new gay bishops was requested by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, at the Lambeth Conference in August.

The revelation that respected theologian Dr Jeffrey John is being considered for the Bishop of Bangor vacancy outraged traditionalists.

Dr John was forced to step down as Bishop of Reading in 2003 by the Archbishop of Canterbury after conservative Anglicans objected to the fact that he was in a gay relationship.

He is now Dean of St Albans.

He entered into a civil partnership with another Anglican clergyman, the Reverend Grant Holmes, in October 2006.

Under House of Bishops guidelines, clerics are allowed to enter into a civil partnership as long as they are not engaging in sexual relations.

In his Presidential address to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, Dr Morgan described the Lambeth Conference as being about process, rather than results.

“This Conference enabled Bishops, many for the first time, to experience the reality of what it is to belong to the Communion and to appreciate what it is in the words of Archbishop Rowan to have ‘new habits of respect, patience and understanding’,” he said.

“For my own part, I believe this Conference has shown us the way forward. The real value of the Communion lies in deepening person to person relationships, diocesan partnerships and a sense of mutual affection.

“I wish that we could now sit still and do nothing.

“The Bishops who were at Lambeth 2008 need time to let the nature of that conference sink into their bones. Sometimes in the Church of God, we want to rush into making decisions.

“We would do well just to stop and reflect.”