A priest visited our all-age worship yesterday. He has recently resigned from the leadership of a congregation. For a long time he had stood for what he understands to be Gospel imperatives. In the face of some opposition from his congregation (a few of whom left to go to other churches) and his bishop, he stood pretty much alone in his diocese. Yet he is a pastorally-hearted person, with a concern for both scripture and tradition. He and his wife feel pushed out, rejected and with little future in the Church. Unlike those clergy who who have entered same-sex Civil Partnerships (and who presumably see themselves as being in some sense married). Or those who conduct blessings of such partnerships using the new Scottish Episcopal Marriage liturgy (can someone please confirm that this isn’t happening?).
I’ve expressed my concerns about this kind of thing before: how can we ensure that those who take a traditionalist line on matters of sexuality, women’s ordination, etc, are both included and honoured in the life of the church? How can we ensure that having such views is not a bar to ordained ministry? Or will it be the case that only those that hold to the new way of thinking will be allowed to function in ministry? And I don’t mean that they should be tolerated as dinosaurs who will soon die out.
Any settlement of these issues in the Anglican Communion (or the Scottish Episcopal Church for that matter) needs to ensure that both reappraising and reasserting views are held in tension. At the moment, it remains a ‘winner-takes-all’ scenario, with neither side willing to allow the other a canonically protected place in the church.