Don't erect walls of exclusion

The Bishop of Cork's address to his Diocesan Synod, 10 June 2006.

(Church of Ireland press release)

from Signs of the Times, No. 22 - Jul 2006

Gay people are tantamount to scapegoats in the current Anglican row.

No point in next Lambeth conference unless all Bishops are invited.

"Anglicanism runs the risk of becoming something wholly unattractive and unrecognisable to those who are drawn strongly to its sometimes exasperating breadth, untidiness and inclusiveness," according to the Right Reverend Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork in his address to the Cork, Cloyne and Ross Diocesan Synod in the Rochestown Park Hotel, on Saturday, 10 June, 2006. 

He was referring to the current crisis within Anglicanism and said that any response to the row which resulted in the impetuous erection of "walls of exclusion on the fuzzy edges of Anglicanism would, to my mind, be a negation of the essence of Anglicanism and also of the Church of Ireland."

Bishop Colton also said that what he, and he believed many likely him, found attractive about being a member of the Church of Ireland are its breadth and its "smudgy-edged inclusiveness".

"What is inspiring," he said, "is the fact that people who think so hugely differently about the things of God, can nonetheless belong together within the same church; journey side by side; worship, pray, work and announce the good news together; and discover, in spite of their differences, a friendship in faith that they wouldn't probably otherwise have."

Bishop Colton also said that gay people were tantamount to being made scapegoats in the current row:

"... because the presenting issue of the controversy within Anglicanism appears to be human sexuality, one result is that gay people have become scapegoats in what is a more deep-seated constitutional crisis. Therefore, gay people in lay and ordained leadership as well as in voluntary work in our churches, or simply in our pews, or those have been driven away by a sense of rejection, together with gay people in the community outside the Church need to know and to hear our apology. Gay people in the Church have been caught in the middle of a row which is primarily about the way different Anglicans read, approach and understand the holy Scriptures, the Bible.  Had it not surfaced on the back of the sexuality debate, this dispute would have emerged sooner or later on an entirely different issue."

Referring to the planning for the next Lambeth Conference of Bishops, Bishop Colton said that the conference would be "impoverished" and "pointless" unless all Anglican bishops are invited to it and on an equal basis. The conference "... would also be uselessly compromised if it were to descend to a type of ecclesial and political world cup where resolutions are propounded and fought over; and which supplant discovering that friendship in faith with the trophies of sectional victory: golden cows won and lost and which consolidate or even catalyse division."