Listing 'violators' of Lambeth Conference resolution is 'outrageous', says Bishop

18 November 2016

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A LIST that names people in the C of E who are said to have violated a Lambeth Conference resolution on sexuality has been labelled “outrageous” by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam.

The list was compiled and circulated by the conservative Anglican group GAFCON as evidence of how widely the Church of England is deviating from Lambeth 1.10, a resolution passed at the 1998 Lambeth Conference which rejected same-sex blessings and described homosexual practice as “incompatible with scripture”.

LGBT Christians have described the GAFCON list as “a pretty shoddy attempt” and responded by producing their own. The “Rainbow List”, compiled by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM), includes LGBT Christians and “straight allies”. The organisation said that, within hours of the publication of the original list, there was “a growing chorus of inclusive voices asking one question: ‘Why am I not on that list?’”

The GAFCON list appears in a briefing to sympathetic Primates, published on Sunday, headed “the situation in the Church of England regarding attitudes, teaching and practice on sexual ethics, official and unofficial”. It says that the C of E has “crossed the line by allowing a culture to develop where violations of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 are increasingly prevalent”.

Those accused of having violated the Resolution include priests who have entered civil partnerships or same-sex marriages, and those who have officiated at ceremonies for such or blessed them. It gives examples of people who “openly advocate for breaking Lambeth 1.10”, and states that “ordination committees and bishops are overlooking violations of Lambeth 1.10, handing out insignificant disciplinary measures”. The list of violations is “partial”, it says. It calls on the House of Bishops and the General Synod to “take constructive steps to rectify the numerous . . . breaches that have been strategically taken by some to undermine the teaching of the Communion”.

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In a letter to the Church Times (Letters, page 17), the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, calls the list “outrageous”, and cites passages from scripture in his rebuke. “To name individuals in this statement is wrong, creates a climate of fear, and opens them to personal abuse,” he writes. The list also includes a “great deal of inaccuracy”.

Bishop Holtam quotes Lambeth 1.10’s call to “minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals”, and notes GAFCON’s “repeated violations” of the resolution’s statements on how Provinces relate to one another.

“Though the institutional Church has at times seemed to find their very existence an ‘inconvenient truth’, God made LGBT people, loves them, and preserves them,” he writes.

Among those listed is the Deputy Senior Chaplain at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who described it on his blog as “an open invitation for people to harass those named in it. . . Yet the targets are proud to be named there, having nothing of which to be ashamed.” The “lazy, inaccurate and vindictive little essay has proved a rallying point for the forces of love, inclusion, and change”.

Jayne Ozanne, a member of General Synod, listed as someone who “openly advocates for breaking Lambeth 1.10”, said that the list had proved that “the world hasn’t stopped turning or the Church fallen apart. God is still sovereign in his Church, and working powerfully through his people — gay, straight, civil-partnered, married, and single. The blessing is there for all who have eyes to see.”

The LGBTI Mission said that it was “confident that the bishops will recognise this bullying tactic for what it is”.

Nominations for the LGCM list are being canvassed until 9 December. Permission from all nominees will be sought before publication.

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