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The oh-so-adaptable God

By Diogenes (articles ) | Oct 12, 2003

The Tablet reports on the recent meeting between the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams:

In a halting, breathless voice, the Pope gave thanks for the progress in dialogue between their Churches but noted "new and serious difficulties" which "have arisen on the path to unity". These difficulties, he said, "are not all of a merely disciplinary nature" but "extend to essential matters of faith and morals". In case the point was lost, the Pope added -- in words that became increasingly garbled -- that, faced with secularism, "the Church must ensure that the deposit of faith is proclaimed in its integrity and preserved from erroneous and misguided interpretations".

Dr Williams listened attentively. He believes that the Church will in the future accept loving gay relationships as in the past it accepted the right to charge interest on loans, but for the time being he is siding with the conservative majority who want to uphold the agreed view of the 1998 Lambeth Conference that homosexual acts are sinful. While in Rome he told Vatican Radio that the Anglican teaching on homosexuality was the same as the Catholic Church's, and that he would be "very surprised indeed" if it were different following the primates' meeting.

Dr. Williams's stance is mind-numbing in its incoherence. In the future (he believes) the C of E will teach that God's will embraces loving gay relations. For the present, he throws in his lot with the 1998 Lambeth majority ("the agreed view"), that God's will rejects gay relations, loving or otherwise. Notwithstanding the admitted precariousness of the C of E's voting patterns, and (surely?) aware that the Catholic Church insists that moral doctrine is immutable as God is immutable, Williams claims that Anglican and Catholic teaching on homosexuality are the same. Gibberish.

Not that Catholics have reason for smugness. Archbishop Williams is of one mind with Cardinal-designate O'Brien on these matters. For both men sodomy, like skirt length, falls under no fixed judgment but must be gauged by reference to changing fashions, seasonally determined by arbiters of style. Today it's frowned upon by the unimaginative middle class; tomorrow it will be humdrum.

The Tablet reports that Dr. Williams said his wife, Jane, left the papal library in tears. Doubtless she's a better theologian than her husband.

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  • Posted by: RC - Oct. 13, 2003 12:40 AM ET USA

    Whom is the Tablet writer kidding? "[B]oth knew that any decision by the Anglican Communion to allow its provinces to endorse homosexual acts would drive a coach and horses through the creeping acceptance by Rome of Anglican orders." What creeping acceptance? I won't hold my breath waiting for evidence of that.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Oct. 12, 2003 10:13 PM ET USA

    St Thomas More, St Edmund Campion and the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman are no doubt assisting; and prayers can only help. I hope no one told Archbishop Williams not to lose his head over the matter; he may have found the joke a little less than funny. Perhaps, even, in poor taste; as he does sodomy, for now.

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