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This page last updated 6 March 2005
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Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

Alas, we cannot publish every letter we receive. And we won't publish letters that are anonymous, hateful, illiterate, or otherwise in our judgment do not benefit the readers of Anglicans Online. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.

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Letters from 21 to 27 February 2005

Like all letters to the editor everywhere, these letters are the opinions of the letter writers and not Anglicans Online. We publish letters that we think will be of interest to our readers, whether we agree with them or not. If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

Socialist and 'tankie'

Fr Conrad Noel was a great Catholic and a great socialist, as was his son-in-law and successor at Thaxted, Fr Jack Putterill. The latter spectacularly shared the one blind spot of many good socialists of his time: while magnificently progressive at home, he was an unwavering Stalinist in foreign affairs, a convinced "tankie" who wholeheartedly supported the Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslavakia and who was almost certainly the only English country vicar to be photographed reviewing the tanks in Wenceslas Square!

I am interested to learn from Fr Leech that Noel disliked the term "Anglo-Catholic". Paradoxically, so did many of the "Anglican papalists" from whom Fr Leech believes Noel to have been distancing himself. They would have seen "hyphenated Catholics" as watering down the faith.

Alan Harrison
S. Mary the Virgin, Hayes, Diocese of London
Uxbridge, UK
21 February 2005

Holy Spirit is not part of this debate

I believe that the issues of the ordination of homosexuals and same sex marriage are in essence only the latest flash points in the ongoing historical struggle within the Anglican Communion about the nature of the Church - whether tradition holds sway (as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be), whether faith trumps reason, and whether a literal interpretation of the Bible supercedes understanding Scripture in the light of contemporary knowledge and culture. The controversies really boil down to a struggle over whether the Anglican Church should be conservative or liberal in its faith, doctrine and practice.

Those who take the Bible literally in order to argue that the word of God deems homosexuality to be an abomination, will also have to turn back the clock and oppose divorce, and also support slavery, polygamy, racism, discrimination and sexism. Biblical literalists cannot pick and choose - if they believe that the Bible is true and infallible, then they must accept all its precepts and teachings. However, I was taught that the Church's guiding light is the teaching of the Word of God, and that that word is fulfilled in a Person, not a book. Jesus had not a word to say about homosexuality, but he had a lot to say about love.

I would hope that the Church can find a "middle way" on these issues, as it has in the past on other controversies. However, this requires good will and a good dose of the Holy Spirit, both of which, unfortunately, seem to be lacking in the current debate.

R. C. Symes
Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA
23 February 2005


I like your site and appreciate your distinction between churches in full communion with Canterbury and those which are not. Let me suggest, however, as a member of the Joint Commission of the Canadian Anglican and Lutheran Churches, that a page listing the websites of those Lutheran churches with various provinces are in full communion would be appropriate, perhaps including the website of the Lutheran World Federation.

(The Rev'd Dr) Richard Leggett
Vancouver School of Theology
Vancouver, British Columbia
24 February 2005

The primates should resign

As far as the infamous communique of the Anglican Communion Primates' Meeting is concerned, spot the difference:

"14. Within the ambit of the issues discussed in the Windsor Report and in order to recognise the integrity of all parties, we request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference. ..."
"17. In reaffirming the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 as the present position of the Anglican Communion, we pledge ourselves afresh to that resolution in its entirety, and request the Anglican Consultative Council in June 2005 to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process which has been the subject of resolutions not only at the Lambeth Conference in 1998, but in earlier Conferences as well."
In other words, we are committed to listening, but we don't want to hear from you in our Consultative [sic] Council.

It's a farce. We should tell the so-called primates, one and all, to resign.

William de Villiers
25 February 2005

The Church doesn't matter to the real world

I am a female, sexually attracted to females. I actively seek to gratify this attraction.

I believe -- no, I KNOW -- that God exists, and that He loves us all. I am sure that He has all sorts of hopes and expectations and requirements of me, and that I shall go on letting Him down terribly because I am human. But I try, and, like anyone else, I need some help here. So the Church can help support me, advise me??

Ooops, sorry, no, there is no place for your sort here. Understand, says the Church, it is not your hair colour (purple, as it happens) nor your taste in music, nor your political views. It is the fact that you happen to enjoy sexual encounters with people who are the same gender as you.

So you don't fit it. And we don't want you. Try elsewhere.

This is what all the silly, narrow, bigotted debate on the Gay Bishop ordination says to people like me. But BUT more than anything else, it says that you, the Church, simply don't matter any more. Well, not to the real world anyway.

Goodbye and God bless you all.

South West Wales, in the United Kingdom
26 February 2005

Instruments of unity, or authority?

Brian McKinley, of Canberra, Australia, writing here on February 20, makes a very good point in regard to 'We do not need international government.'

Our Intstruments of Unity, so called; the Primates' Meetings; the Anglican Consultative Council; the Anglican Communion Office; Anglican central media of various sorts; the joint commissions; and all the other forms of Pan-Anglican pro-government beyond the Lambeth Conference, all of it, needs to be called into question in light of the events at this last primates' meeting in Newry, Northern Ireland.

Indeed the role and function of the Lambeth Conference itself, together with the enormous burdens placed on the shoulders of the Archbishop of Canterbury, need to be called into question and seriously be put up for reconsideration. This is not my brain child, but simply my notice of the centripital forces that have come to put increasing pressure on the notion of an Anglican Communion central authority which was never intended to bear such weight.

Globalism, the electronic media and superficial, secularized thinking, all tend to reinforce the notion of the Archbishop of Canterbury being a kind of Anglican pope with a Lambeth Vatican and the primates as cardinals. This subtle notion has increasingly taken hold in place of the less easily grasped hard work required for mutual undertanding of divergent cutural and ethical differences encountered in workings of the independant Anglican churches. Worse still, this notion brings with it the seductive fantasy, magically funded with Trinity Church Wall Street dollars, which fuels an engine of increasing expectations from a constituency that expects more and more in the way of magical results from centralized Anglican authority.

Archbishop Longley's acceptance of the Canadian bishops' plea for dealing with the scandal of the renegade Bishop Colenso was met with the bright idea of a conference at Lambeth in 1867. We know that conferences are not a bad ideas in and of themselves, after all. But they are a very bad idea, and they are inimical to the Anglican spirit, when they are used as the basis of a convenient centralized authority and for the supression of dissent. Dean Stanley of Westminster Abbey, a thorough theological liberal, saw that clearly at the time, and he refused use of the abbey for the conference. Bishop Colenso was indeed condemned by the conference, by the way.

We face the same issues today. How are we to deal with the reconciliation of the divergent views of idepenpendent Anglican churches, in this case regarding same-sex relationships, without dishing up yet more energy and resources into the hungry maw of incipient Anglican central government? How are we to increase communication between Anglicans without changing the Anglican Instruments of Unity into instruments of authority which can be used to stifle dissent and to promote a magisterium of dogma: One size fits all.

Robert Zacher
in the Diocese of North Dakota
Fargo, North Dakota USA
26 February 2005

The marginalized can find space

It is rather sad to watch the disunity playing out among the Primates of the Anglican Communion; but I am impressed by the leadership of Archbishop Williams. It is very rare in Church history where authority works in the way that subverts the way in which the 'world' exercise power. There is so much giving up of the self that the marginalized of the Church can find space and pattern in the movement of God where the proud are cast down and the downtrodden raised. But when the downtrodden are raised - what happens to them? Perhaps this disunity can provide space enough for everyone in various ideological strifes to find vulnerability in themselves where the grace of God shines through. Thanks for being an icon of God, it remains for us to contemplate the foolishness of the cross.

Lee Tuck-Leong
St Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
26 February 2005

Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our archives.


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