"Do you hear what I hear?" isn't just one of the Christmas carols echoing in the airwaves this week-before-Christmas.
It is also the question I'm asking about the responses we've gotten from Lambeth Palace regarding the "disconnect" between the Archbishop of Canterbury's readiness to issue a formal statement on the election of a bishop suffragan in Los Angeles and his reticence to "go and do likewise" on the draconian anti-gay legislation pending in Uganda.
Like many of you, I received a "boilerplate" response in an email from Marie Papworth in the Lambeth Palace office. (text posted below) If you "heard what I heard" in that response, you heard words like "unacceptable" and "deep concern."
My question is: how deep does concern have to be before the Archbishop of Canterbury uses his moral authority to speak out on behalf of gay and lesbian Ugandans who cannot speak for themselves? How unacceptable does it have to get before he says so?
And to be clear: a comment in response to a question from a journalist does NOT an "official statement" make.
Do you hear what I hear? In the email from Lambeth Palace and in the deafening silence on this pressing human rights issue I hear that speaking out to protect gay and lesbian lives in Uganda is less important than speaking out to protect the Anglican Communion from a lesbian bishop.
If you hear what I hear, you hear that the leader of the Anglican Communion is more concerned about preserving institutional unity than he is protecting innocent Ugandans.
If you hear what I hear, then I invite you to do what I'm going to do:
Send another email.
Write another letter.
Post another blog.
The Facebook group "Anglicans who want THIS statement from Canterbury" has grown to ALMOST 5000 members -- a truly awesome accomplishment.
Let's use the power of our collective voice to keep urging the Archbishop to use the power HE has as the moral leader of this worldwide Anglican family of ours to speak the truth of God's inclusive and abundant love for ALL people.
Let us urge him to send a word of hope to LGBT Ugandans who "mourn in lonely exile" that the Emmanuel whose coming we prepare to celebrate in a few short days came not just for the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Lambeth Palace warm ... but for those who shiver in the cold of dehumanizing homophobia.
O come, O come, Emmanuel!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009 4:50 AM
Dear Canon Russell,
Thank you for your message and for taking the trouble to write about this deeply painful issue.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is very clear that the Private Member’s Bill being discussed in Uganda as drafted is entirely unacceptable from a pastoral, moral and legal point of view. It is a cause of deep concern, fear and, to many, outrage. The Archbishop has publicly stated that “the proposed legislation is of shocking severity and I can’t see how it can be supported by any Anglican who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent decades”.
For its part the Church of Uganda has clearly restated its opposition to the death penalty. As the Ugandan Church continues to formulate its position on the bill as a whole, the Archbishop has been working intensively behind the scenes (over the past weeks) to ensure that there is clarity on how the proposed bill is contrary to Anglican teaching.
Press Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU,
Well, Susan, it appears you got the "bedbug letter." (An old story that's been making the rounds for decades: A person is travelling on a plane or sleeping in a posh hotel finds to his horror that his surroundingss are infested with bedbugs/cockroaches. An irate letter is sent, and soon, an appropriate bow-and-scrape "This has never happened before and won't again!" apology is received. Ruffled feathers are soothed, but then the complainer notices clipped to the back this note: "Send this nut the bedbug letter.")
Moral authority is something that can be squandered over time.
Well, I have posted a couple blogs. I doubt Dr. Williams cares. But I hope we all contribute to a climate that makes a difference. It is about all we can do at the moment.
Boy do I not like the new comments screen!
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