Archbishop Rowan Williams, the Anglican Communion leader who’s previously sought a compromise between acceptance of gay clergy and conservative Anglicans who want them pushed out, seems to have found his middle ground: He’s got no problem with clergy who are attracted to the same-sex, so long as they never act on it.
Historical standards require bishops to be celibate, regardless of their sexuality, Williams told the London Times.
Archbishop Williams went to great lengths to explain why he stands with conservatives against gay clergy when it comes to doctrine. He said he had to decide against endorsing gay relationships for clergy and bishops because “the cost to the Church overall was too great to be borne at that point“. The Archbishop said that since his appointment eight years ago he knew the gay issue as “a wound in the whole ministry“. “To put it very simply, there’s no problem about a gay person who’s a bishop. It’s about the fact that there are traditionally, historically, standards that the clergy are expected to observe,” Archbishop Williams said.
In Britain, the Telegraph was quick to call the interview “disastrous.”
Does he still think it’s OK for gay couples to have sex, as he wrote years ago? “That’s what I wrote as a theologian, you know, putting forward a suggestion. That’s not the job I have now,” he tells Dougary.
No gay bishops, then? Actually, gay bishops are OK, as long as they don’t have sex. (The same prohibition doesn’t apply to lay people, for reasons lost in the mist of time.)
So it’s appropriate for the celibate Jeffrey John to be a bishop? Here Rowan really squirms, saying he “let down” John by blocking him as Bishop of Reading. But we don’t discover why, this year, the still-celibate Dean John unexpectedly disappeared from the candidates’ list for Southwark.
But does the Archbishop hope that one day gay bishops can have partners? “Pass”.
Naturally his conservative opponents, who are busy driving wedges inside the Anglican Communion and forming splinter groups, aren’t so thrilled with his comments. But he’s also letting down the gay liberals, like the always outspoken Peter Tatchell: “Yet again, Rowan is sitting on the fence regarding gay clergy … I don’t know how Rowan sleeps at night.” Not with a man, I know that much!