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Anglican Covenant and sexuality issues

19 December 2011


From the Revd Jean Mayland

Sir, — You quote extensively (News, 9 December) from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent letter, in which he strongly defended the Covenant, and challenged those who opposed it to offer alternatives.

I would maintain strongly that the Anglican Communion must regain its ability to live with difference and to recognise that it is essential that provinces be free to carry out their mission in ways appropriate to their circumstances.

For example, in England, if Parliament holds firm on registering civil partnerships in religious buildings, the situation comes nearer when the General Synod will be pressed to allow this in the Church of England. Surely, the Synod would not be prepared to move forward in this way only to be told “we cannot do this or we will break the terms of the Covenant.” We need to minister here and not in Nigeria.

I set out below a number of alternatives to a Covenant, which I see as a deeply flawed, and, by its own self-confession, an ineffectual effort at conflict-management.

First, I would put first the responsibility of the Churches of the Communion to be active in mission in their own way and in their own setting. This mission would be carried out on the basis of the Covenant for Communion in Mission from IASCOME.

Second, we should continue to provide fora for the sharing of views between provinces, as in the Continuing Indaba and Mutual Listening Process.

Third, we should encourage inter-Church visits across provincial boundaries to seek information and open up dialogue, but not to interfere in other provinces.

Fourth, we carry out our mission in each and every place together with other Christians. Our ecumenical relations should not only be with Roman Catholics and Orthodox, but with the Methodist, Reformed, and Lutheran Churches.

Fifth, we must maintain our Communion as a communion where authority is dispersed. We are not a papal Church, nor one that is governed by a curia.

5 Hackwood Glade, Hexham
Northumberland NE46 1AL

From Dr Lisa Nolland

Sir, — The Revd Dr Andrew Goddard and Professor Glynn Harrison (Comment, 9 December) helpfully point to the hitherto-neglected aspect of bisexuality, and especially female bisexuality. People are beginning to appreciate the fluidity of human sexuality, and that the innate, “born-gay”, “once-gay-always-gay” line of thinking is deeply flawed.

There are further critical issues related to other sexualities and “orientations” (e.g. the polyamorous and minor-attracted people). We should not be misled into thinking that, once LGBT demands are met, it will be business as normal.

The whole argument needs to be framed to take into account fluid sexuality and a much wider spread of kinds of sexuality. Whether these new sexualities should gain the status now accorded to LGBT sexualities is an important testing ground for the validity of much LGBT advocacy.

6 Phoenix Grove, Henleaze
Bristol BS6 7XY

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