Saturday, November 05, 2005

Openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire praised at London church

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From News London Cheers Gay American Bishop by Peter Moore, London Bureau Posted: November 5, 2005 5:00 pm ET Seal of the Anglican Communion(London) A packed St Martin-in-the-Fields church has given a standing ovation and cheers to the first openly gay bishop in the worldwide Anglican Church. Gene Robinson, the bishop of New Hampshire, told the congregation at the historic church in Trafalgar Square that he wasn't there to talk to the "homosexuality challenged" but to his "very special friends". The congregation was mostly made up of gays and their supporters - many of them not regular members of the church and some not even Anglican. They had turned out to see the man who is accused of attempting to break up the worldwide faith. The service marked the 10th anniversary of Changing Attitude, an organization for gay Christians. Seal of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.; the American Province of the Anglican ChurchPrior to his arrival in Britain, Robinson was told he could not conduct services or administer communion. During a meeting Thursday with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the worldwide denomination, Robinson was given permission to address the Changing Attitude but only if he did not wear his vestments. (story) During the service Robinson, wearing his clerical collar and a suit, sat in a chair on the alter. In his address following the service he delivered a simple message. "I'm here to encourage you to talk about God," he said to the largely gay congregation. I am not here to talk about a social agenda. I am not here to grind any axes, I am here to do the thing that Christians do, that is to witness to the good of God," he said. For those who would deny gays a place in the Anglican Communion Robinson said that, "we belong in the temple, it is exactly where God wants us to be." The service and Robinson's appearance at it angered church conservatives. The London Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship, which includes senior lay and clergy members had urged the Archbishop of Canterbury to cancel it. Thursday's meeting between the Archbishop and Robinson also angered conservatives around the world. The discussion was held at Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop. A spokesperson for Williams said the one-hour meeting was "friendly, but candid," No other details were provided. Robinson is in Britain for an Oxford Union debate on the role of gays in the church. Original Source: click here


The thing that struck me when reading this was that it seems Archbishop Williams fancies himself Pope Rowan I. What right does he have to tell another bishop not to celebrate Holy Communion and not to wear his vestments? Is he still the "first among equals" or is he just the first?
posted by Blogger Nate at 11/05/2005 09:37:00 PM  
In my opinion... I think Archibishop Rowan Williams should take a more powerful role within the Church... I would not be opposed to him having more authority.
With ++Williams, I might concede a more powerful role, but having been Roman Catholic, what happens when the next Cantuar is someone less palatible? I think we need to hammer this out more rather than simply set up a singular authority. Just look across the Tiber to see that mistake. I think a response to Windsor like the one I proposed would reduce our internal strife and open way for us to continue at the Table together in hammering out processes and structures.

We do need to work through structures, but a conciliar model would be more in accord with Anglicanism's Trinitarian polity, a model that had various bodies of converse and canon legislative abilities involving all four orders. That doesn't mean ++Williams or primates or bishops wouldn't play a powerful and better defined role, but as the principle participant in the Keys of Peter within the Communion, his primary work in that participation is of a reconciliatory (even between bishops) and will be difficult, and should be as the symbolic head (and by symbol I mean filled up with our unity, not merely a figurehead). His manner may teach a Pope a thing or two. I suspect he doesn't want simply a more powerful role, but he needs the support to facilitate the role he already has. That he has backed off from his views makes sense to facilitate reconciliation and bonds of affection, that he has not spoken up when grave things have been said with regard to queer folk is another matter.

As for not celebrating Holy Communion or wearing vestments, 1) a visiting bishop must always have permission of the local bishop to celebrate any rite of the Church, per Nicaea; that ++Williams forbade +Robinson from doing such things makes sense given the uproar that would have followed given the delicate position he is in having just returned from Egypt, 2) vestments are primarily for liturgical celebration, and since +Robinson would be doing none of that, it makes sense to have forbade this as well. Note, he wore his collar at the talk. Such is perfectly acceptable as clergy in their everyday duties.