Uganda – the Archbishops’ dilemma

At 07.20 this morning, having said the morning office from Jim Cotter’s ‘Into the Silence’, I gazed through my east-facing window before closing my eyes to meditate. The dawn light was gentle and delicate and I imagined the infinite, tender love of God, flowing through creation and through my own body, God’s love and energy, goodness and wisdom. I sat in my awareness for half an hour and then prayed, for gug in Uganda, Archbishops +Rowan and +John, the work of Changing Attitude, the supporters, diocesan groups, trustees and patrons, for the people I was in conversation with yesterday and those I will meet today. I prayed for my conflicting emotions about the church, her leaders, and the needs of LGBT Christians across the Communion.

I recognize the dilemma faced by `the powers that be’ in Lambeth and Bishopthorpe. Brenda Harrison commented to me this morning: “It’s the same dilemma often faced by the Foreign Office when there is public clamour for action which takes no account of what the FO might be doing behind the scenes.” But she added: “I’m not too sympathetic. The FO just get on with it, it’s time the Ecclesiastical Powers did the same without being so sensitive.”

I experience similar dilemmas. I feel for people who are conflicted in their roles, especially between what the interior self knows and feels and the role demanded from the public self. In my time of contemplation and prayer every morning, I open myself to God’s place in my heart and my place in the heart of God’s creation, and in there and from there, live through the day with its ambivalent demands. I know I am not alone.

Changing Attitude has a responsibility to keep the plight of our Ugandan brothers and sisters in the public eye – if that discomfits the Powers, so be it. Keeping Uganda in the frame and keeping the pressure on those who will determine the future of the Bill is critical for LGBT people in Uganda.

It is also critical for us here in the UK and for our place in the church. As the hierarchy maintains silence in response to Anglican sensitivities so as not to upset African primates and bishops, they send an unfortunate message to UK society. UK Anglicans appear to be tolerating the proposed Bill. I know that isn’t true, and Bishop Mike Hill’s response is proof that it isn’t true. I am assured that representations are being made to people in Uganda who can offer the best advice and wisdom to try and ensure that the Church of Uganda restrains herself from wholehearted support for the Bill at worst, and at best, might even offer a critical response based on Anglican policy and teaching.

UK Anglicans are trying to find a way to live with integrity in our church, honouring our loving relationships by contracting Civil Partnerships when and where possible. This is a huge dilemma for those who are ordained or licensed. We should honour our love, follow the Christian call to fidelity, and register. But for those subject to a bishop’s license the alternatives are to register and keep it secret or tell the bishop and risk your future in the church. Many priests facing this dilemma contact Changing Attitude.

None of us, however, are confronted with the dilemma facing gug and others in Uganda: “I lived deeply in the closet for a long time. Now, the door is barely open, but I may be forced back. Back to denying myself.”

But as he says: “This is no longer about me or Uganda. This is about humanity. This is about being human. I don’t like the fact that it is my country drawn up in defiance on its sovereign right to kill and imprison me for my sexuality- but it is a hugely wider battle, of a people, a minority against a majority that chooses to believe weird, lurid rumours of xenophobia and the ‘wicked other’ to persecute some of its own people. And many gay people, all over the world are joining hands in solidarity.”

Comments

  1. Leonardo Ricardo says

    Outposts of gross discomfort regarding LGBT Christians/others are not only to be found in gug´s Uganda. Preaching and singing praises of degradation and hate against LGBT people at Church are sung, and have been endlessly, at different octaves in different cultures including Vatican City (and often by LGBT people as well as the abusers of LGBT people)…demonizing LGBT Christians is mostly about the fear of ¨sexually embracing a leperlike person¨ and then catching THE leperlike non-disease (remember the ¨Gay¨ disease?)…unfortunately, neither The Archbishop of Canterbury nor The Archbishop of York, or most of the other Anglican Primates have ANNOUNCED, clearly/openly, that we are NOT DEALING WITH A EPIDEMIC OR A DISEASE (spiritual, emotional or physical)!

    WE ARE NOT DEALING WITH ONLY A ILL THOUGHT OUT LAW PENDING AT THE PARLIAMENT IN UGANDA!

    The ABC and York have been busily issuing statements about the safety of ¨drinking¨ from a ¨common cup¨ at Communion because of Swine Flu…I submit that we, LGBT people, have ALWAYS shared the ¨common cup¨ and there has been no plague, no downfall, no Swinelike creature from the Darkest of Lagoons sweeping down on us or any of you because of our place at the ¨table¨ of Christ (we´ve always been there right NEXT TO YOU in the pew too)…LGBT Anglicans/others are just as vulnerable to evil, emotional tangents, greed, sin and disease as the rest of humanity…no more no less (and if UGANDA intends to kill habitual sex offenders and AIDS patients who have unprotected sex, I do hope they will expand their law to include heterosexuals with the same record of violating other human beings viciously)…but, let´s not get carried away.

    Look at the facts. We are dealing with a relatively simple, yet possibly deadly, situation. The Parliament of Uganda has been misinformed, on purpose and on a ongoing basis, regarding the true ¨nature¨ of sexuality by non-expert American ¨witnesses¨ they pay to pontificate about their fear/hatedriven idea regarding a LGBT Worldwide Agenda¨…Uganda, apparently was selected as a ¨target¨ because Ugandan citizens like to think of themselves as especially holy and religious (while corrupt at the core, experiencing human sacrifices and civil war)…a suggested ¨listening process¨ never occured for Bishop Orombi, except a very selective, a polluted anti-LGBT group of ¨family¨ friends. Bishop Orombi quietly, and not so quietly, continued his domestic/overseas anti-LGBT selective Scriptural Campaign…Bishop Orombi refused to ¨share¨ REAL Churchliving experience with other Bishops at the Lambeth Conference and has pretty much remained a instigator of trouble for ALL OF US at the Anglican Communion and especially while losing court case after costly court case for poaching on Church parishes at The Episcopal Church in The United States.

    I think all of that needs to be addressed.

    Bishop Orombi is NOT a expert on human sexuality or even basic morality and is proving himself to not even abide by universal ideas of right and basic wrongdoing.

    There may be many more ¨diplomatic¨ ways of handling this out-of-control dangerous and pogrom initiating lunacy at The Anglican Communion at Uganda and BEYOND UGANDA…so, let OUR ANGLICAN LEADERS speak…if they don´t, especially York with bonafide refugee background escaping despotic/deadly regimes, they really don´t have much to share with us on any level of Christianity at Church or at The Anglican Communion. They become worthless spiritual advisors.

    As a group of Christians we can NOT turn our backs on tormented, persecuted, murdered and slaughtered Anglican people in Jamaica, Uganda, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and Iraq. We can not be expected to be spiritually guided with legions of ¨carefully worded¨ joint political statements on the proper and tidy use of Communion Cups as the blood of our families flows unchallenged by Canterbury, York and Gomez!

  2. Anonymous says

    Amen to that. Lets here of Changing Attitudes concerns for Christians in Jamaica, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and Iraq.

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