The Provost just cannot hope to get away with it

The case against; The Rev Geoffrey Kirk, of St Stephen's, Lewisham
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The Independent Online
That the Church of England is in two minds about homosexuality is hardly a secret. It is a church in which archbishops of York seem to inhabit grey areas, and bishops of Durham perhaps something altogether more colourful.

But the church is struggling to come to a common mind, and shows every sign of reaching a shared opinion, as it is bound by its title deeds to do, with a proper pastoral concern for all its members and in due deference to the authority of scripture.

Such a process of discernment is necessarily slow and reflective. The "rights" of homosexuals - if they are rights - are not the only issues at stake. As with other contentious issues - marriage discipline, for example, or the ordination of women - fundamental theological questions are raised. The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement has effectively decided most of these issues to its own satisfaction. It believes in absolute parity between homosexual and heterosexual relations in the ethical understanding of the church. This is far from the position of the General Synod or even of the House of Bishops in its document, Issues in Human Sexuality. Why then should the Provost of Southwark, Colin Slee, have allowed the movement use of the cathedral for a celebration of its 20th anniversary of campaigning to overturn that position?

Mr Slee argues that cathedrals in some sense belong to the nation, and that in an established church they should be open to all who wish to pray in them. He does not pry into the financial dealings of city companies who request carol services, and in the same way does not ask questions about what the members of the LGCM respectively, get up to under their duvets.

This bold and mendacious Erastianism must command a grudging admiration. But the provost cannot hope to get away with it. The Chapter at Southwark chose to favour, in an all-out political campaign for the soul of the Church of England, an opinion which the church at large has only recently rejected. If they uphold the principles and aims of LGCM let them say so unequivocally. Then at least they could hope to command a degree of respect.