Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, February 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 29 Comments
Has my gracious lord of Canterbury grown a spine?
Dr Rowan Williams has refused to be drawn on the issue publicly, but has broken his silence to tell MPs he is not prepared for the Coalition to tell the Church how to behave.
He told a private meeting of influential politicians that the Church of England would not bow to public pressure to allow its buildings to be used to conduct same-sex civil partnerships.
The comments are the first time he has spoken since the Coalition unveiled plans to allow religious buildings to be used to conduct homosexual partnership ceremonies.
While the Church has been bitterly divided over the role of its homosexual clergy, he said it held a clear position that marriage is between a man and a woman and would not consider changing this stance.
The tough line taken by the archbishop will frustrate liberals in the Church who have become increasingly disillusioned by his support for a conservative approach to controversial issues.
Some C of E liberals sound like they’re ready to throw in with the Episcopalians.
Although Dr Williams told MPs that the Church of England would not host same-sex unions, other senior clergy, including Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, and the Dr Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, have said this would represent discrimination.
Giles Fraser, canon chancellor at St Paul’s cathedral, criticised the Church for failing to embrace the steps to greater equality for homosexual couples.
“Gay relationships are perfectly capable of reflecting the love of God,” he said.
“Which is why the church should respond more imaginatively to the idea of same-sex blessings being celebrated in church.”
But Dr. Williams isn’t budging.
Dr Williams’s comments echo the line taken by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, who said clergy should not be forced to conduct same-sex civil partnerships.
A Lambeth Palace spokesman said: “The Church still believes on the basis of Bible and tradition that marriage is between a man and a woman and does not accept that this needs to change.”
It’s tough to know what to make of all this. After all, Dr. Williams has no problem at all staying in communion with Anglican provinces who are quite comfortable with marrying homosexuals. So will this matter?