Bishop attacks Islamic-style Church zealots

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The Independent Online
THE BISHOP of Edinburgh, the Right Rev Richard Holloway, yesterday added further controversy to the Anglican Church's internal clashes over sexual orientation, saying the debate on homosexuality at the Lambeth Conference illustrated just how "Islamified" the Anglican Church had become.

Still reeling from the uncompromising resolution against homosexuality, which was overwhelmingly supported by African and Asian bishops at the conference, Bishop Holloway said: "We tried to understand that they live in Islamic countries and therefore Islamify Christianity, making it more severe, Protestant and legalistic.

"None of them could understand that we too operate in a context. In northern Atlantic countries we live in a post-traditionalist society in which you can't simply apply anything by authority. You have to offer reasons."

He said the definition of a fundamentalist was "someone who refuses to negotiate", adding "we've seen a lot of that in the last three weeks ... [Wednesday's] resolution represents a shift of gravity towards the South - and that's fair enough because historically it was the other way round."

Fundamentalism had taken a grip, he said, "because we live in a period of accelerated political, social and economic change. One reaction is to retreat behind the drawbridge and go back to a particular paradigm."

Bishop Holloway, who is Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said that he had felt "lynched" during Wednesday's debate on homosexuality. "There are a lot of people around this conference serving the bishops who mugged them yesterday. They are feeling fed-up, broken-hearted, and wondering whether they belong in this communion."

Bishop Holloway dismissed as "pathetic" Dr Carey's contribution to the homosexuality debate. Dr Carey was among those who voted for strengthening the motion to include an additional clause rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with scripture.

Before the vote, Dr Carey made a speech in which, while urging the need for both sides to listen, he said: "I stand wholeheartedly with traditional Anglican orthodoxy. I see no room in scripture or Christian tradition for any sexual activity outside matrimony of husband and wife."

Bishop Holloway commented: "I think he was trying to provide a nice, fluffy epilogue. It would have been better for him to remain silent."

He said he sorely regretted the conference had not concentrated on the key question of how scripture should be interpreted: whether the Bible should be treated as the literal word of God, or interpreted afresh for every generation.

"If someone gets up and quotes a Bible verse, we have to get at the theology behind that," he said. "We have to use big themes in scripture to judge the lesser themes."

Just as with divorce, he said, "the gospel of forgiveness overrides the rule that you shouldn't remarry", so with same-sex relations "the greater themes about love and generosity should override the legalistic stuff".

Bishop Holloway was among several bishops who yesterday released statements expressing their dissatisfaction with the resolution and indicating that same-sex unions would continue to be blessed and lesbians and gays ordained.

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