Williams: Feel others' pain

14 May 2009

THE CREDIBILITY of Christianity itself could be at stake in the conflict in the Anglican Com­munion, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned in his presidential address to the ACC on Monday.

Dr Williams challenged the ACC to reflect on who they felt bore the biggest cost in the conflict. Gay and lesbian Christians were unable to “commend the Christianity they love and be­lieve in” because they felt bound up in a Church “where scapegoating and rejection are deeply ingrained”.

Those on the other side of the argument felt they “cannot commend the Christianity they long to share with ease and confidence with their neighbours because they feel fellow Chris­tians are somehow undermining their witness”.

Dr Williams asked: “How are they to come to­gether for at least some measure of respect to emerge, so that they can recognise the cost that the other bears, and also recognise the deep seriousness about Jesus and the Gospel that they share?”

A federation rather than a Communion would become inevitable if not all provinces signed up to the Covenant once it was sent to them for consideration, he suggested. “And I hasten to add that’s not what I hope.”

The Archbishop told the ACC: “It is the cease­less rhetoric of fear and competition directed backward and forward in the fellowship that are fatal to that life-giving exchange.”

But fatality was not inevitable, he suggested. He commended the ACC for achieving the “small things” that in critical times might be considered large achievements.

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