Archbishop of Wales in strong attack on his own Church.
The Archbishop of Wales yesterday launched an astonishing attack on his own Church. Dr Barry Morgan, pictured, said it was now difficult for the Anglican Church, including the Church in Wales, to be taken seriously because of constant confrontational infighting.
He even questioned whether the Church could call for compassion, peace and justice while members did not show such virtues towards each other.
And on the eve of the Pope's funeral, when Christianity was being given such a high profile, he:
Said it would be better not to have a meeting of church leaders in June if it degenerated into a 'slanging match';
Enraged traditionalists by seeming to promote a liberal view on homosexuality;
Accused the Church of not being able to conduct a civilised debate;
Warned church leaders against having a 'theological rant' or 'throwing verbal grenades', and
Spoke out on the issues of nuclear weapons, the treatment of refugees, and of UK and worldwide poverty.
Dr Morgan's presidential address to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales in Aberystwyth came at a critical juncture for the Anglican Church: just days before a controversial royal wedding; a month before the General Election and two months before a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council poised to examine the issue of sexuality.
'What is needed at the ACC is not a theological rant or a throwing of verbal grenades at people who happen to disagree with our particular positions, but a reasoned, balanced discourse of some of the issues involved and the giving of space and time to every viewpoint,' he said.
'It would be better not to have a hearing at all in June if it is going to degenerate into some kind of verbal slanging match.'
Dr Morgan added, 'If the church of God can't conduct a debate in a civilised way when it claims to be a reconciled and reconciling community - what message does that give to the world?
'We cannot as a church call for compassion, peace and justice in our nation and in our world if we as Christians do not exemplify those virtues in our own lives and in our dealings with one another.'
He also criticised the meeting of Anglicans seven years ago that overwhelmingly upheld the Church's traditional ban on the ordaining of active homosexuals and the blessing of gay marriages.
Dr Morgan said, 'I raise all this because in 1998 the Lambeth Conference in plenary session had a discussion, if you can call it that, on human sexuality and the fallout has been with us ever since.'
His comments have precipitated a row with conservative elements in the Anglican Church unhappy with his apparent empathy for a 'cultural' interpretation of the Bible's take on homosexuality rather than accepting it as 'God's literal word'.
Traditionalists also perceived his criticisms as being aimed squarely at them.
The Rev David Phillips, general secretary of influential pressure group The Church Society - who believe homosexuality is against the will of God - said, 'Christians have accepted the teaching of the Bible for 2,000 years, but the Archbishop seems to be saying you have to make things up as you go along.
'The Church of Wales lost four out of 10 members in two decades, which is the sharpest decline in the Anglican Church on these islands.
'If he thinks he's right can he show us any church which is growing by giving this message? Those that are growing are those that are not giving compromising messages.'
Stephen Green of Carmarthen, who spearheaded the protests against Jerry Springer - The Opera, mischievously suggested it was the liberals in the Church who were the source of the bitter infighting.
'The Archbishop is right that in the past the liberals have just resorted to slanging matches against people who hold to the truth of the Bible,' he said.