By Hilary White
CANTERBURY, August 28, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) –Â Rowan Williams, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and titular head of the Worldwide Anglican Communion, said that homosexual activity is contrary to the teachings of Christianity and that homosexuals must change their behaviour if they are to be welcome in the Anglican church.
In an interview last week with a Dutch journalist, Williams, who admitted to knowingly ordaining an active homosexual to the Anglican ministry, said that homosexual persons need to be “welcomed” but their activity could not be “included,” in the normal life of the church.
“I don’t believe inclusion is a value in itself. Welcome is. We don’t say ‘Come in and we ask no questions’. I do believe conversion means conversion of habits, behaviours, ideas, emotions,” Williams said.Â He said he has backed a resolution which says that homosexual practice is incompatible with the Bible.
The Worldwide Anglican Communion has been in a state of disintegration since the action in 2003 of the US Episcopal Church, (ECUSA), in ordaining as a bishop an active and unrepentant homosexual, Gene Robinson. Robinson has done little to mollify the volatile situation. In April 2005, he outraged Christians the world over when he suggested in a speech that Jesus Christ might have been a homosexual.
In the Dutch newspaper, Nederlands Dagblad, Williams said he has backed a resolution which says that homosexual practice is incompatible with the Bible. Williams said, “Ethics is not a matter of a set of abstract rules, it is a matter of living the mind of Christ. That applies to sexual ethics.”
The comments are being called a surprising turn-around from the cleric’s previous comments and liberal supporters of homosexuality are calling foul. One gay-supporting cleric, Rev Giles Goddard, the chairman of Inclusive Church, told the Telegraph that Williams’ comments were “astonishing. “The implication is that there is no justification in scripture for the welcome of lesbian and gay people. It appears that he has moved into the conservative camp,” Goddard said.
Williams condemned the American Episcopal Church, (ECUSA), for having “pushed the boundaries,” when it ordained Robinson.Â“It has made a decision that is not the decision of the wider body of Christ,” he said.
Some gay clergy are claiming that it was Williams himself who spearheaded the move, beginning in the 1980’s to accept homosexuality and gay clergy in the Anglican Communion.
In 1989 while a Divinity professor at Oxford, Williams wrote in a paper, “The pressure that some church figures put upon people of differing sexual identities is a greater disgrace than anything else seen in the church.” In that paper, he called for a “revision” of the Christian doctrine on marriage and sexuality to include homosexual relationships.
Despite the howls of protest at his comments from the supporters of homosexuality, some conservatives are sceptical about the Archbishop’s sudden alleged orthodoxy.
David W. Virtue, a conservative Anglican who maintains a website of news about the schism, said thatÂ Williams has remained “steadfastly in the middle,” on the issue, much to the disgust of the African Primate, Peter Akinola, who has led the revolt against the hold of the liberal majority in England and the US.
Virtue writes, “Many American orthodox priests and laity I talk to are none too convinced of Dr. Rowan Williams’ orthodoxy, and my talks with African Anglican leaders recently confirms that many on that continent do not think that Williams could lead a lost to soul to Christ if his pension depended on it.”
Despite the complaints of Williams’ sudden bout of orthodoxy, his comments reveal that his interest lies mostly in avoiding the schism that is brewing around the world.
He told Nederlands Dagblad, ““I don’t especially want to see the Anglican Church becoming like the Orthodox Church – where in some American cities you see the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Romanian Orthodox Church,” he said. “I don’t want to see in the cities of America the American Anglican Church, the Nigerian Anglican Church, the Egyptian Anglican Church and the English Anglican Church on the same street.”
He said his “nightmare” is seeing the various Anglican splinter groups going to court to retain church properties.
Since the start of the crisis, the Church of England confused the issue by agreeing last year to allow homosexual clergy to “marry.” While the Church of England still officially prohibits the ordination of homosexual persons, the move was accompanied by a concession to the ‘conservatives’ that a bishop who allows clerical same-sex “marriage” must extract a promise that the relationship will remain celibate.
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Anglican Church of England Will Allow Gay Clergy to “Marry”