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Anglicans Online last updated 1 August 1999
BISHOPS' WORDS AND ACTIONS AT LAMBETH CAUSE GREAT PAIN AT HOME
Bishop's Diary / by Bishop Terence Finlay
Transcribed from the September 1998 issue of The Anglican, the diocesan newspaper of the Diocese of Toronto, until such time as that issue is available online on the Diocese of Toronto's web site.
I am writing this diary from Canterbury, England, where I have been working with 750 bishops from the world-wide Anglican communion for three long weeks.
Lambeth is an amazing experience with heart-breaking stories from the persecuted churches in Pakistan and the Sudan; worship from Papua New Guinea which filled my soul with refreshed spirituality; and always there is the wonder of the cultural diversity and inter-connectedness of our global church.
That diversity comes with a price when cultures meet head to head in discussions of issues and attitudes. One of the most difficult was around human sexuality, the subsection where I was slotted for working time.
It was not easy to be there. Bitter, hate-filled language was used. Even our conservative Canadians felt like "flaming liberals." Our subsection was not well served by the conference: the organisers had greatly underestimated the division that occurred. We had no resource material, no adequate process.
But we managed to come up with a document that was broad enough for general agreement in our very diverse subsection. It was when it went to the larger group that it was torn apart. The vehemence spilled out of the discussion room on to the street in front of news reporters and photographers. It was disgraceful behaviour by bishops who saw gay and lesbian people as less than human.
On the final day of the conference, I addressed our larger group and in an attempt to reach the hearts of the more fundamentalist bishops, I used the old image of bishops as shepherds of flocks. I told them that they needed to know that because of what they had said and done, members of my flock were in great pain.
I went on to say that people in the diocese of Toronto love and support the world-wide Anglican communion. There has always been a strong commitment to the life of the wider church.
"I need to tell you that in the past few days, some will have difficulty with our resolution on human sexuality. But many will be greatly offended by the reported behaviour of some of my fellow bishops. The image of a bishop shaking his fist at a young gay Christian and trying to exorcise another, is appalling. When speaking against same-gender commitments, a bishop suggested the next option will be dogs and cats. Our Anglican Communion has been wounded by such words -- deep offence has been given."
I thought that hope would be reclaimed in the morning worship when a bishop said, "In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free." I desperately wanted him to go on to say, "neither straight nor gay" -- but no such insight or apology.
I closed by saying, "And so, my brothers and sisters, our beloved Anglican communion has been wounded, particularly in my diocese of Toronto. Please pray for us, as we shall pray for you."
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