Archbishop of Canterbury slams those `disgusted’ by homosexuality

By Al Webb
Posted Jun 29, 2012

[Religion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams criticized some Christians for feeling so “embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted” over homosexuality that they seem unwelcoming to outsiders and convey a lack of understanding.

Addressing a group of Christian teenagers at his Lambeth Palace residence in London, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion said Anglicans and other Christians are still in “quite a lot of tangles” about homosexuality. The confusion sometimes leaves the church “scratching its head and trying to work out,” Williams said.

His comments came barely two weeks after he slammed the British government for its plans to legalize same-sex marriages — something that Williams said would be a mistake. The Anglican Communion itself has been deeply divided over homosexuality.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Williams said that “what’s frustrating is that we will have Christian people whose feelings about it are so strong, and sometimes so embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted, that it just sends out a message of unwelcome, or lack of understanding, or lack of patience.”

“So whatever we think about it,” Williams added, “we need, as a church, to be tackling what we feel about it.”

Williams, who is retiring as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of this year, also spoke about the upcoming Church of England General Synod, in York, England, July 6-12, where the controversial issue of women priests is expected to take center stage, on July 9 (information here).

Such much debate has resounded over that one subject, the archbishop said, that the impression is left that sex is “the only thing the church is interested in.”

Williams also told his youthful audience that some non-Christians might consider Christians to be “weird,” “mad” and “primitive.”

“As somebody who doesn’t spend all his time with other Christians, I’m quite conscious, too, of the fact that people think we are weird,” Williams said.


Comments (11)

  1. Oh for heaven’s sake. He really can’t have it both ways. Speaking out of one side of his mouth to the British government (and fundamentalist Anglicans) and the other when speaking to young people who he very well knows are the future (and present) of the Church!

  2. Michael Neal says:

    The new “Canterbury” in Jerusalem or Alexandria is looking better all the time…………press on…..

  3. The Rev. John T. Farrell says:

    I’m sure this is a great comfort to Jeffrey John.

  4. Harry Coverston says:

    There are bishops in the Anglican Communion who have found the courage to call this what it is. To wit:

    “The real abomination lies in using the Bible to justify homophobia much in the same way that some still use selected passages from the Bible to justify slavery, racial discrimination, xenophobia and misogynist ideas. What better time than today, Trinity Sunday, to be reminded that God and all of God’s creation is much larger than our limited imagination? We tend to place people and things in our limited mental boxes either to control them or to explain that any deviation from heterosexuality is sinful.”

    This is the Trinity Sunday sermon of The Rt. Rev. Leo Frade of Southeast Florida. What is remarkable about the bishop’s sermon is that he has found the candor and the courage to engage in truth telling here without the party gloves. The problem is homophobia. It’s precisely the irrational response that expresses itself those who hold this prejudice as being “embarassed and ashamed and disgusted.” And such irrational responses could hardly generate anything except a decidedly unwelcoming church.

    Until we find the courage to call this prejudice what it really is, we are part of the problem because we deny ourselves the language necessary to even talk about the problem. That’s not terribly different from the process of recovery where the inability to engage in fearless truth telling about oneself is called being in denial.

    1. John Neitzel says:

      Harry, what an articulate, thoughtful and accurate commentary. Churches (both Protestant and Roman Catholic) have justified horrendous, non-Christian behavior that Jesus would have slammed by quoting biblical passages out of context or in a context of ignorance. Thanks for speaking up.

  5. The Rev. Bob Spencer says:

    You are beginning to sound more like the Bishop you were before you became the Archbishop. As an American gay priest, I say thank you.

  6. Trevor Faggotter says:

    God sent his Son Jesus into the world to live, die for us – take our sins away  on a cross  – and rise from the grave, pour out the Holy Spirit, and to make our life new.. with an extraordinary capacity for change … when this is the main message given by the Archbishop, to youth, then we will be closer to the liberating Word for humanity than we are with some of Rowan’s unhelpful public speeches.

  7. Asher Douglas says:

    I appreciate the Bishop’s statements, but I agree with those who have expressed that his ideas seem conflicted. Even though American Christianity has become so divisive and seemingly hateful, it’s nice to know that the Episciopal Church has not only become a leading progressive voice in the Anglican Communion, but also for Christianity as a whole. My diocese split because of the deciision to support gay and lesbian priests and bishops in committed relationships. And, though smaller, they continue to work toward the goal of all American dioceses accepting and supporting same-sex marriages in their parishes.

  8. Donald Frye says:

    I can appreciate Rowan’s words for what they are, BUT why is it that those who find me, my partner, and other LGBT followers of Christ so disgusting do not voice that they find equally disgusting divorced people, sex addicts, alcoholics, liars, hypocrites, adulterers, drug addicts, unwed mothers, gluttonous persons, etc. Oh yeah, they would have to point fingers at themselves and the rest of humanity (NOT GREAT PR FOR GOD or THE CHURCH). Jesus NEVER ever spoke to those in broken relationship with God the way many of our leaders speak and teach. Jesus’ harshest criticism was for those who believed they were holier and better than others. Maybe Rowan and those who describes as being embarrassed, frustrated, and disgusted need to follow Jesus’ example of love (love as behavior and not feelings) rather than following the god of power, control, manipulation, etc. God DOESN’T NEED archbishops, bishops, priests, deacons, or lay leaders to defend God. All of us need to focus on the true message of Jesus the Christ – God so loved the world PERIOD, and GOD did not come to judge or condemn the world, but that we might all be reconciled PERIOD. What is so hard about this or am I missing something in Jesus’ life and teachings?

  9. tom van alen says:

    It is sad indeed that Rowan speaks in forked tongue when he speaks to a younger generation who generally are so much more tolerant and Christlike than he has chosen to be during his Episcopate. I know how difficult his position has been, but he accepted it willingly and then retreated from the Christlike leader he promised to be. God bless him in his retirement.

  10. Tod Roulette says:

    I cannot wait to the ‘Chief among Equals’ is gone! And how cowardly of him to resign in the first place. What happened to his favorite phrase of ‘staying at the table’. Ha!

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