Anglican unity needs to be given substance

by
16 December 2009

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From the Revd Dr Lorraine M. Cavanagh

Sir, — While the Rt Revd Gene Robinson may be correct in his assertion that the issue of consecrating a gay person to the episcopate need not be an impediment to “unity” (News, 11 December), he, and many other Anglicans, oblige us to think of unity purely in terms of a desirable objective.

Thinking of unity in this way reduces it to an ideal that is remote from human experience. It lacks the substance needed for it to be mean­ing­ful to the human beings who make up the Anglican Communion, to the rest of the Christian Church, and to a world much in need of God’s love.

Sexuality and gender have ac­quired a disproportionate signific­ance where Anglican unity is concerned, because all parties to this dispute are losing sight of the way in which these questions affect the unique status of the human person as a child of God and of the way in which scripture is constantly re­mind­ing us of that fact.

Unity is not, therefore, an end in itself, but a celebration of the fact that love between human beings is still possible, irrespective of deeply differing convictions about scripture. For this reason, the challenge that faces every single member of the Anglican Communion during this season of Advent concerns our shared will to be reconciled to one another.

It is as if Christ is asking us whether or not we want to be healed, a question that he once put to a para­lysed man (John 5.1-9). The man’s immediate response was to blame other people for his predicament.

Is it not time for all of us to cease blaming those with whom we disagree, look into the eyes of Christ, and allow him to ask us whether we want to be healed of the bitterness and hurt we are inflicting on one another? As Christmas approaches, is it not time to imagine what it could be like to be reconciled?

LORRAINE CAVANAGH
Cae Hedd, Talycoed Lane
Llantilio Crossenny, Abergavenny
Monmouthshire NP7 8TL

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