28 March 2007

Rowan says church must be a "safe place"

Today Rowan Williams has issued a statement about the Listening Process, recent statements, and present conditions in the church. Stressing the ongoing need for listening, +Rowan says that the church must be safe for people to express who they are. Also, for the first time (someone correct me if I'm wrong), Rowan has spoken out against anti-gay legislation of an extreme form, such as that in Nigeria. He has reminded everyone that the Lambeth resolutions provide protections for GLBT persons as well as theological statements about them.

Now, we might wish that he had named Nigeria and +Peter Akinola by name, but this is a positive step in the struggle for an inclusive church. While we are disagreeing about theology and ecclesiology, we must absolutely protect the lives and dignity of GLBT persons. This is crystal clear in the Lambeth resolutions and in the Windsor Report. Thank you, Rowan, for this reminder. I'm sure I'm not alone in hoping to hear more about our need to provide pastoral care, support, and dignity to all members of Christ's church.

Here are choice excerpts from Rowan's statement.

The commitments of the Communion are not only to certain theological positions on the question of sexual ethics but also to a manifest and credible respect for the proper liberties of homosexual people, a commitment again set out in successive Lambeth Conference Resolutions over many decades. I share the concerns expressed about situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten these proper liberties. It is impossible to read this report without being aware that in many places -- including Western countries with supposedly 'liberal' attitudes -- hate crimes against homosexual people have increased in recent years and have taken horrifying and
disturbing forms.

No-one reading this report can be complacent about such a situation, and the Church is challenged to show that it is truly a safe place for people to be honest and where they may be confident that they will have their human dignity respected, whatever serious disagreements about ethics may remain. It is good to know that the pastoral care of homosexual people is affirmed clearly by so many provinces.

Yesterday brought news that the summaries of work done on the Listening Process from across the Communion have been published. I've had a glance at them, but I haven't had time to write up a post with reflections, rants, and kneejerk reactions. I'm hoping to do that soon. Suffice it to say, that it is clear that the Listening Process has not even begun in several provinces, including Nigeria. Rowan's statement is a reminder that listening to the voices of GLBT members of our church should not be an optional exercise.

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