Robert Pigott, the BBC’s religious affairs correspondent listened to the argument at Saturday’s Forward in Faith event in London. He recorded the Rev Dr Geoffrey Kirk, Secretary of FiF, who said:
“The Church of England is in the view of many of us ceasing to be the church of Jesus Christ and becoming the church of political correctness – not only over the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate, to which we object, but also in many attitudes to human sexuality from divorce and remarriage to homosexuality.”
I understand Geoffrey Kirk to be saying that the church is wrong to change from a conservative to an accepting attitude towards gay people.
These last three months have been momentous for me, marking the moment when the rank hypocrisy of Anglicans such as Geoffrey Kirk reached a climax. It started with the Reflections on General Convention issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury which the Bishop of Durham and others then spun in a way which distorted and corrupted the Archbishop’s words. Earlier this month Bishop Peter Selby issued a devastating criticism of the attitudes held towards the Episcopal Church and towards women and LGBT people and all who support the full inclusion of both groups in the Church of England.
Then the Pope revealed his master plan this week, with little or no consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, perpetrating further abuse on another Christian leader. Now Fr Geoffrey Kirk follows up with further misogyny, abuse, hypocrisy and dishonesty. Fr Kirk knows at first hand that Forward in Faith is an organisation with a massive gay male membership. They campaign together against the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. Now they are campaigning against themselves, the hundreds of closeted gay priests who live in corruption in the church, secretly engaging in sexual activity while pretending to be pure and holy and accusing the rest of the church of not following Jesus Christ and being ‘politically correct’.
How dare Fr Kirk accuse those of us in the church who have always been open and honest about our sexuality with our bishops and congregations accuse us of ceasing to be the church. I had a conversation with Geoffrey three or so years ago in Church House during a February General Synod meeting. I felt incredibly angry as he denied that the issue of homosexuality had anything to do with himself or members of Forward in Faith.
The Church of England is sick, not because it holds in its midst members of WATCH, LGCM, Changing Attitude, Courage, Accepting Evangelicals or the Evangelical Fellowship of LGB Christians but because of the pernicious attitudes of organisations from both the evangelical and catholic extremes who hold such prejudiced attitudes towards women and LGBT people.
The disaster of the Church of England lies in the naive failure of people to know who they worship next to and who they are led by – the gay Primates, bishops, priests, deacons and readers of the church, LGBT members of General Synod (some of whom, but not all, are visible), those lesbian and gay people, lay and ordained, who hold senior positions on the councils of the church and in Church House.
In today’s Times, Frank Skinner writes: “The Anglicans knocking at the door of the Vatican are doing so, it seems, because they don’t have much respect for women or gay men.” “It feels … like they’re seeing my Church as a safe haven for homophobes and misogynists. “I was hoping that the Church’s antipathy to female and openly gay priests would, in time, weaken and dissolve. Now instead, it seems, a whole lot of bigoted reinforcements are arriving to galvanise those more unpalatable aspects of Roman Catholic doctrine.”
That is what we in the Church of England live with ourselves and what we are in danger of exporting to the Roman Catholic Church on one hand and to GAFCON and FoCA on the other – people who have little or no respect for women and gay men, homophobes and misogynists.
Today’s Forward in Faith event may have strengthened their resolve to leave the Church of England for fairer pastures. It’s a fantasy. When I was a priest in Wandsworth, one of the local Roman Catholic priests tried to seduce me. Is the Roman Catholic Church gay free, pure and holy? No it isn’t.
I want to be a member of a church that is honest and truthful, open and loving, and properly faithful to Jesus Christ and all of God’s children, and I will now work and campaign with even greater resolve for a church in which women’s ministry is valued at all levels and LGBT who live with the highest commitment to love and fidelity can also live openly and truthfully. To hell with the Forward in Faith closet!