Intervention from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, during the General Synod debate on lesbian and gay Christians.
[Note: The debate was initiated by the Revd Mary Gilbert from the Lichfield diocese in the form of a private motion. The intervention came when amendments to the main motion were being debated; the Archbishop’s contribution was intended to address the possibility that, if both amendments and the substantive motion were all defeated, the Synod would end up being heard to say nothing on this subject.]
The Archbishop’s intervention:
“I hadn’t intended to speak in this debate, but as the discussion has evolved I’ve been aware of a sort of looming dilemma which I would imagine to be in the minds of quite a number of people in this hall.
It’s quite clear that a number of us, that includes a very large number of the bishops as you will gather, are unhappy about the preamble to the motion as submitted, and unhappy about the background paper. Hence the amendment suggested on behalf of the House of Bishops. But I’m more and more aware of what message we would send by simply rejecting Mary Gilbert’s motion and having nothing in its place. That’s why I want to speak in support of the amendment, and indeed the amendment as amended.
I don’t want us to be in a situation which I guess practically nobody in this hall would want, that is to be rejecting outright any statement of this Synod’s commitment to listening , to compassion, to creating a safe space. And I’m afraid that if the amendment proposed by the Bishop of Gloucester is not accepted many will be in something of a cleft stick over where and how they should vote on this, that’s why I’m supporting the amendment.”
[Following debate, an amendment to the original motion was moved by the Bishop of Gloucester; this was further amended, and was carried by the Synod in the following form:
'That this Synod
(a) commend continuing efforts to prevent the diversity of opinion about human sexuality creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion;
(b) recognise that such efforts would not be advanced by doing anything that could be perceived as the Church of England qualifying its commitment to the entirety of the relevant Lambeth Conference Resolutions (1978: 10; 1988: 64; 1998: 1.10); and
(c) welcome the opportunities offered by these Lambeth Resolutions, including for the Church of England to engage in an open, full and Godly dialogue about human sexuality;
(d) affirm that homosexual orientation in itself is no bar to a faithful Christian life or to full participation in lay and ordained ministry in the Church and acknowledge the importance of lesbian and gay members of the Church of England participating in the listening process as full members of the Church.']