Image by Catholic Church (England and Wales) via FlickrI can see why people compare the speedy Lambeth statement about the nomination of a gay bishop in Los Angeles unfavourably with its more apparently leisurely behind-the-scenes reaction to proposed draconian anti-gay laws in Uganda. As one Guardian commentator puts it.
I simply fail to understand how Rowan Williams can say to the liberals don't do that, you'll annoy the right, we must avoid schism at all costs, while saying to the right, um, yes, whatever, please don't go.Of course there are boringly obvious reasons why the two questions at issue don’t quite square up alongside each other: The Los Angeles one is an in-house bishoppy thing, where the Ugandan issue involves weighing into a touchy foreign legislature, incredibly still on the rebound from Empire after 47 years. It would be a bit odd if both were responded to in the same way. Still, the squirmfulness of all this is unavoidable.
A part of me would love the Archbishop to swing in, Pope style, with quick auto-da-fés all round, preferably enforcing my own eminently reasonable views of both matters. Bang a few heads together. Send the Ugandans to Los Angeles for six months, and the Angelinos to Uganda. That may not be such a bizarre idea... However, bishops in autocephalous churches don’t do autos-da-fé. Back in the third century, one Bishop of Rome who tried it on got this flea in his ear from Firmilian of Caesarea:
I am justly indignant with Stephen’s obvious and manifest silliness, that he so boasts of his position...That messy, mainly voluntarist place, is where the C of E has been since the Reformation, increasingly choosing the ecclesiastical methods of St Paul and the early Church rather than those of Pope Innocent III and the Holy Inquisition. It’s to be hoped, however, that all proceed with open eyes — remembering the simple fact that the motive for anti-discriminatory behaviour, as well as the deep revulsion people here feel about the Ugandan proposals, are moral objections with missional implications, not just some taste or lifestyle choice...