15 Jan 2016

The Anglican Church’s issues with sexuality

Canterbury – sparkling in cloudless, lucid, winter skies.

“You should film that,” says a passing local. “That” turns out to be a stone-carved image of a woman with a notable penis in the centre of the main entrance arch to Canterbury Cathedral.

Allegedly it was because the stone mason wasn’t paid enough, so chiselled his revenge forever on the HQ of the world Anglican communion. Allegedly…

So it is that even in its own backyard the Anglican Church has issues with sexuality.


Today is billed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, as a success, a compromise of sorts to begin ending the church’s 39 years of bitter squabbling over whether gay marriage is right or wrong.

Critics on both sides say it’s wishy washy and won’t hold as any kind of deal.

Liberals outraged, accusing the church of siding with what they would see as African homophobic bishops to try and prevent a split.

Giles Fraser, a liberal priest in London and canon in Ghana, said he was “thoroughly ashamed to be an Anglican”.

The African bishops – the Ugandan walked out – saying ominously this is the beginning of their intention to oust liberal churches from Anglicanism.

The Africans have campaigned for years to have sanctions imposed on the US Episcopal Church, which accepts same-sex marriage. Now they’ve got it.

That church is effectively banned from decision making in Anglicanism for three years, with the Global Anglican Future Conference, representing conservatives, warning that “this action must not be seen as an end, but as a beginning”.

Canterbury thinks it may, hopes it may, have seen off a schism. The Africans are sending rather different signals. So too are liberals across Europe and the US.

Canterbury wants to talk poverty, global warming, exclusion… but this issue keeps making the headlines.

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