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Anglicans and practising homosexuals. (News in Brief: Great Britain).

London--November 11, 2002, was the tenth anniversary of the Church of England's vote to ordain women. Anglican offshoots elsewhere in the world had preceded this vote by several decades, but in 1992 the mother church finally surrendered as well. This has proved to be very divisive. Today, the Anglican community is divided by a second major rift, that of ordaining active homosexuals.

Dwight Longenecker, a former Anglican clergyman writing in the weekly, The Catholic Herald (Nov. 15/02), recalled that just before the momentous 1992 vote was taken, a letter to an Anglican paper came from the Gay and Lesbian Christian Movement. It read: "Dear Sir please note that all the arguments used for the ordination of women can also be used for the ordination of practising homosexuals."

That statement is correct, Longenecker says. The arguments for the ordination of women were of three types: sentimental, utilitarian, and political. The sentimental one went like this: "Suzy is such a compassionate person. . . .She is such a good person, not to ordain her is so hurtful." The utilitarian: "Janet is a good teacher and a bright theologian. She can do the job as well as any man. As a woman she brings special gifts to the ministry." The political: "This is an equal rights issue. Women can now do any other job in society. Why not the priesthood?"

Any appeal to the usual sources of Christian authority were whisked away with the sleight of hand of "interpretation." St. Paul said, "I do not permit a woman to have authority over a man in Church," but was this actually written by St. Paul?, the contenders asked. Besides, others argued, it is the duty of the Church to listen to fresh inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

The same rubbery attitude to Scripture and tradition is used today to condone the ordination of homosexuals. Do the Scriptures forbid homosexual activity? Again, St. Paul probably did not write the passages attributed to him. Besides, "Tradition must change as we come to understand more and more about human sexuality."

In contrast to debates conducted on such shaky foundations, Longenecker points to John Paul II's 1998 encyclical Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), exposing some of the fault lines in contemporary thinking. The Holy Father discussed four trends that contribute to relativism in religion: eclecticism, which picks and chooses whatever form of truth seems attractive; scientism, which dismisses the idea that there can be any knowledge apart from that discovered by the scientific method; historicism, which says ideas are always conditioned by the time in which they are expressed; pragmatic utilitarianism, which makes decisions by what seems convenient and useful.

Those who left the Church of England after the 1992 vote, Longenecker says, were not Freudian misfits or misogynists. They acknowledged the strength of the sentimental, utilitarian, and political arguments; but they simply did not believe that these were the only arguments. They realized that these reasons could be used for homosexuality as well as for women's ordinations--in fact, that, with a bit of ingenuity, they can be used to support anything.

"Those of us who left the Church of England did not leave just because women were going to be ordained. We left because a church that claimed to be Catholic did not have the tools in her toolbox to make such a historic decision properly." We came to a church, he said, that looked to more ancient and venerable sources of authority.

He ends his discussion by saying, "The Anglican Communion is now in massive crisis over this fresh issue. It is time for Anglicans of all stripes to see that the fundamental issue is not women priests or homosexuality, but where you turn for the answers."

Divorce--On November 14, 2002, the Church of England synod overwhelmingly voted to revoke the acts of convocation passed more than half a century ago, thus completing the process of enabling divorced people to marry in church. The last barrier was the prohibition of anyone remarrying in church when the former "partner was still living." With that stipulation gone, Prince Charles can marry Camilla Parker Bowles, whose former husband is still alive.

In 1936, Edward VIII was forced to abdicate as king when he refused to be separated from the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson (RNS, Prairie Messenger, Nov. 29.102).

Homosexuality--On November 26, 2002, the new Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, stated that in his opinion there is a case for "acknowledging faithful same-sex relationships." According to him, the Bible doesn't forbid all homosexual activity (LifeSite News, Nov. 26/02).
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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