Primates meeting Day 5 – Are Primatial attitudes changing?

It’s time to remember that Changing Attitude is here in Alexandria in the persons of Colin and Brenda primarily because we are working towards the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Anglican Communion. Has our goal been advanced in the course of this Primates’ meeting? If we are looking for moments of decision in which our cause has been advanced, then clearly not. This is a long, slow process, and very little (perhaps almost nothing) of substance has changed in the course of this meeting. Things haven’t got worse, but they haven’t moved forward either.

We have to look elsewhere for any signs of change Brenda and I have experienced here. We have had many conversations with Primates and those on the periphery of the meeting, the Communion office support staff, reporters and hanger on. These conversations have in many cases deepened friendships and understanding. The cab ride to a downtown fish restaurant provided an opportunity for George Conger and myself to learn more about each other. Conversations after press briefings and during the meal with Riazat Butt have illuminated understanding. Conversations with the Primates of West Africa, Southern Africa and Mexico have shed light on their lives as Primates at home, their patterns of ministry and the social and political background in their countries. I have learnt more from some Primates about the place of LGBT people in their culture. It is in these quiet, personal conversations, where friendships are made and deepened, that the most profound change happens.

We are also inside the Primates meeting. There are Primates who are gay, but understandably conceal their sexuality. One of the heterosexual Primates, the Archbishop of Wales, +Barry Morgan (who is here with his wife), is a patron of Changing Attitude and robust in his defence of a Communion which respects the listening process and is working to full inclusion. Our voice has been more confidently represented here than at any previous Primates’ meeting.

What hasn’t been discussed here in any detail is the listening process. Does the listening process continue? In some Provinces, the church is way beyond the need to listen, LGBT people are broadly fully welcomed and included. In England, some dioceses have just begun and others are tackling it again. In many Provinces little or nothing has yet been done. There may be a change of tactic from those responsible for monitoring the process, from advocating direct engagement such as we expect to happen in the west, to a more subtle approach. Changing Attitude will continue to encourage bishops and Primates to take listening seriously. We know what many Primates are blissfully unaware of – that in almost every Province, LGBT are present and increasingly aware, thanks to the internet, of the possibility of achieving change in their lives. We are a hidden, subversive presence around the Communion.

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