From the Revd Brian Cranwell
Sir, - I have just read what I believe to be the most
uninformed and uncharitable attack on a senior churchman which I
have ever read in this paper.
In attacking the Archbishop of Canterbury by accusing him of
"allowing himself to be subject to moral blackmail" (News,
11 April), the Revd Andrew Cain shows complete ignorance of the
pressures, prejudices, and sacrifices endured for their faith by
our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.
Groups such as jihadists in West Africa or Sudan, justifying
their persecution by distortions of their own faith, or dictators
such as Yoweri Musuveni in Uganda (who is intolerant of any
political criticism), see homosexual marriage in our churches as
providing them with a ready excuse to pursue their persecution of
Christians, by persuading their own followers that this is being
encouraged for all.
That is not to say that some bullying and corrupt bishops do not
exist: I have known one or two in Africa; but most are hard-working
with limited resources, unpaid in times of famine, and faithful to
Whether one agrees withsuch unions in the Church or not, there
seems to be a delicious irony in asking for their introduction.
Having spent the past 20 years successfully clamouring for equality
of civil rights in such partnerships, many, not all, now want to
join an institution that from time immemorial has been for
9 West View Close
Sheffield S17 3LT
From the Revd Andrew Cain
Sir, - So, our Bishops are now arguing for the retention of
civil partnerships. Apart from the very noticeable anomaly that
they now fulsomely support what they bitterly opposed when they
were being introduced (every working bishop in the House of Lords
voted against), and have used them to browbeat and to insult clergy
and laity ever since, they have also now made yet another
significant error of fact.
They are keen to support civil partnerships in part because
"there is no presumption that the relationship is sexually active."
The Bishops and their advisers should have read the legislation
introducing equal marriage more carefully, and they might then have
avoided some of the agonising and public shame that they are now
experiencing. Same-sex marriage does not presume or require
Such a requirement was specifically excluded from the
legislation - partly because when one of the senior Lords argued
for it in private talks, he was told quietly that to do so would be
"to legislate for buggery". He pretty soon backed down, and the law
was passed without it. Gay and lesbian couples who marry cannot be
"presumed" to be sexually active: that is entirely a private matter
for them, and no part of the legislation, unlike previous marriage
Had the Bishops and their advisers noticed this, they might have
saved themselves yet further embarrassment, and have found
themselves at least some leeway in facing the undoubted troubles
that they have brought on themselves.
St Mary's Vicarage
134A Abbey Road
London NW6 4SN
From Heather Ford
Sir, - How, as Christians, can webe complicit in oppressive
administrations and regimes? That is exactly what we are doing if
we agree with the stance taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury in
suggesting that an Anglican Church's celebrating same-sex marriage
would contribute to Christians' being killed in Africa.
There is no doubt that Christians around the globe face
intolerable persecution because of their faith. History has
demonstrated, however, that it is the very act of standing in the
face of humanitarian atrocities and directly challenging oppressive
actions instead of being complicit in them that brings about
Where would we be if those brave men and women who stood up to
apartheid in South Africa, worked underground for the resistance
movement to fight Nazism in Europe, or worked towards democracy in
Burma had been complicit? It was because they took a stance against
these regimes, many at a cost to their own lives and those of their
family and friends, that things changed.
49 Denton Avenue
From Penny Gardiner
Sir, - Let us hope that it takes the House of Bishops every
bit as long to decide what to do with the clergy who either enter
into or bless same-sex marriages as it has taken over the question
of women bishops.
20 Southcot Place
Bath BA2 4PE