Changing Attitude England regrets that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has not yet extended an invitation to the Rt Revd V Gene Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire, to attend the Lambeth Conference in 2008. This is a cruel exclusion which serves yet again to remind faithful lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Anglicans that we are not fully included in the church and are repeatedly excluded from the debate about human sexuality. In the church’s discussion about what it means to be fully human we are treated as second-class citizens. The bishops cannot discuss the listening process, a major theme of Lambeth 2008, without bishop Gene and other gay bishops being present, visible and audible.
The Reverend Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, said today, 23 May 2007:
“I regret the decision not to invite Bishop Gene to attend the Lambeth Conference as a full participant for a number of reasons.
“Bishop Gene, although he would be reluctant to accept the responsibility, represents tens of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Anglicans. We have longed to see ourselves visibly represented at the next Lambeth Conference by a bishop who is an openly gay, faithfully partnered man. Like Bishop Gene, we are faithful to God, to our local churches, to the Anglican Communion and to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Bishop Gene embodies much that we aspire to – to be faithful, prayerful, orthodox, mainstream Anglicans.
“Bishop Gene was elected by the people of the Diocese of New Hampshire who voted prayerfully for the person they believed God was calling to be their pastor and prophet. If the church believes that the Holy Spirit truly guides the hearts and minds of people in prayer, then Bishop Gene was chosen and appointed through the power of divine inspiration. Why then, should he be excluded from the councils of the church?
“There will be other gay (and possibly lesbian) bishops present at Lambeth 2008. For a variety of reasons their sexuality will remain hidden. They will be invisible to their brother and sister bishops. We respect their decision to be discrete. Many of us know what it is like to live in the closet, and some of us know the liberation which comes when we are open and honest about ourselves.
“In comparison with other gay bishops, Gene Robinson is being penalised for being who he is, open and honest about himself and his relationship. He embodies Christian virtues of love, fidelity, honesty and integrity which are slowly being hard-won for LGBT Anglicans in the west but remain as yet a distant dream for the majority of LGBT Anglicans in the Global South. They live under oppressive and homophobic political and ecclesial regimes.
“We know there will be other gay bishops and possibly lesbian bishops attending Lambeth 2008. It is very unlikely that any other bishops will be open about their sexuality. The failure to invite bishop Gene Robinson means that the bishops of the Anglican Communion will address the listening process with no lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered voices present to speak directly of our experience. This is intolerable.”