Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday, 19 June 2005

New Archbishop of York views gays as 'sinners'

Like everyone else in the UK yesterday who heard of it, I was interested to hear that the Church of England (CoE) had apppointed to its second most senior position John Sentamu, until now Bishop of Birmingham. Mr Santamu immigrated to this country from Uganda many years ago, as a result of a dispute with the then Uganda dictator Idi Amin, and is the first black Archbishop in Britain. So far so good. The spin being put upon the appointment by the BBC was that the appointment was universally to be welcomed because he represented a 'modernising' and 'unifying' influence at a senior level within the CoE. I was vaguely uneasy at this, even when his appointment was loudly praised by CoE 'top dog' Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, himself supposedly a 'reformer' too, but I didn't have the material readily to hand to identify quite why this 'spin' was making me uneasy.

The blog Tottyland is excellent in a number of ways, specially for gay men, but Bill (at Tottyland) often injects a serious and pointed note into his entertaining posts and he has done so once again in this post. He points to an article in Friday's Scotsman which clarifies exactly why my unease arose, whilst highlighting the 'whitewash' linked to above, that the BBC had indulged in. According to Richard Kirker, general secretary of the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement:

"I cannot pretend that we are anything other than disappointed that a person that has not shown himself to be a particular friend of the lesbian and gay community has been appointed.

"We would have preferred someone willing to openly challenge homophobia and advocate justice for all whatever their sexual orientation."


Mr Kirker, a former curate in the Church of England, said alarm bells began to ring after the Bishop:
"presented a very anti-gay motion at the 1998 Lambeth Conference".

I suspect that the way Archbishop Sentamu may seek to further a resurgence in attendance at CoE services may be to appeal to an increasingly evangelistic wing of the Church - and this may well have negative implications for the gay and lesbian communities, even those who are not themselves church-goers, because of the undue influence that the CoE, as the 'established' Church in England, is still able to wield.

UPDATE: (Sunday 19JUN05 09.50 BST) It seems that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams may be attempting, cautiously, to introduce a slightly less virulent tone on LGBT matters into his Church by higlighting, during an interview with Melvyn Bragg, to be screened at noon today on ITV, the "plain prejudice and bigotry" of which he says there is an "awful lot" (thru a brief report in today's Sunday Telegraph) - well, its an overdue start, I suppose.

2nd UPDATE (Sunday 19JUN05 13.55 BST) I have now watched Melvyn Bragg's lengthy (hour long) interview with Rowan Williams. The segment devoted to 'homosexuality' was around 12 or 13 minutes, in other words most of one part of the programme between ad-breaks, but it must be stated in all fairness to him that he dealt with the matter carefully and sympathetically. It seems clear where his own sympathies lie, even if he is attempting to 'manage' a very difficult situation in his Church. Not that this will stop me speaking-out vociferously when I feel he seems (again) to be black-sliding. (Unfortunately ITV do not have online streams of their programmes)

3rd UPDATE (Monday 20JUN05 13.50 BST) Archbishop John Sentamu appears to be moving to disown his earlier somewhat 'frosty' attitude towards homosexuality; whilst this is welcome, it remains to be seen how this will affect practical policies within the CoE - for example, the CoE's exemption from recent employment discrimination laws which outlaw discrimination against homosexuals in employment, or the disgraceful treatment meted out to the former Canon Jeffrey John when he had been nominated as a Bishop. Of course, no-one likes to be called nasty names, but the old saying "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me" springs immediately to mind. I can live with nasty names, but it's the Sticks and stones in the form of the discriminatory policies of various kinds that the CoE still indulges in that need to stop. NOW!
(Note: This 3rd UPDATE also appears as a new post on 20JUN05 (here), as I wanted to high-light it, and my reaction to this news, more clearly)

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