When the Pope visited the U.K. and met with Dr Rowan Williams, Mr. Williams was quite cordial. Though maybe the reason is that he is so adept in compromising with everyone, or at least attempting it. Damian Thompson reports.
From behind the Times’s paywall, the sound of an Archbishop of Canterbury digging a hole for himself so deep that it will soon swallow him up.
Dr Rowan Williams has given a disastrous interview to the paper today that leads his interviewer, Ginny Dougary, to describe his position on homosexuality as “both confusing and rather revolting”. Well, she’s certainly right on the first count. Here’s my paraphrase of the Archbishop’s current position:
Does he still think it’s OK for gay couples to have sex, as he wrote years ago? “That’s what I wrote as a theologian, you know, putting forward a suggestion. That’s not the job I have now,” he tells Dougary.
No gay bishops, then? Actually, gay bishops are OK, as long as they don’t have sex. (The same prohibition doesn’t apply to lay people, for reasons lost in the mist of time.)
So it’s appropriate for the celibate Jeffrey John to be a bishop? Here Rowan really squirms, saying he “let down” John by blocking him as Bishop of Reading. But we don’t discover why, this year, the still-celibate Dean John unexpectedly disappeared from the candidates’ list for Southwark.
But does the Archbishop hope that one day gay bishops can have partners? “Pass”.
Yes, he really did say that. Now, you may regard Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality as wrong, amounting to a declaration that it’s OK to be left-handed but not to write with your left hand, but it is at least clear. It’s inconceivable that Benedict XVI would produce the game-show reply “Pass” to a question about sexual morality.
What will it take, I wonder, for my liberal Catholic friends to recognise that – irrespective of your views on this matter – Rowan Williams emerges from this debate neither as a radical prophet nor a defender of biblical morality, but as a source of confusion and anxiety?
I never realized Dr. Rowan Williams was such a funny guy. “That’s what I wrote as a theologian”, funny stuff that. If he was being serious it would be quite a strange thing to say as if the theologian part of him was a multiple personality. It is much more charitable to think he is a funny guy, because how else can you explain “Pass” to a question on sexual morality?
From the Anglican Catechism:
Chastity and homosexuality
Damian Thompson is exactly right in that you would never get such a game show answer from Pope Benedict XVI. But I guess it is much easier to give coherent replies when you are theologically consistent. The problems with Dr. Rowan Williams are a reflection of the problems within the Anglican Communion itself which are not internally consistent and display multiple personalities. Within the Church and it’s various Rites there are many different emphasis on theological points, not contradicting theologies. Though the progressives do try to take up the Anglican slack in presenting such theologies.
For an Anglican “What comes after Benediction? Contradiction.”