Time to be a grown up church

Professor of the History of the Church, 
in the Theology Faculty, 
St Cross College, Oxford
Compulsory celibacy is wrong and damaging for all clergy – straight or gay

Not everyone called to the priesthood is also called to celibacy

So says Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch in The Guardian. (Further Guardian comment here.)

It's not rocket science - as my continually exasperated Latin teacher used reiterate. It's just common sense.  All our understanding of humanity, spiritual guidance, pastoral care and psychology, our understanding of groups and politics says the same thing: a falsehood at its heart corrupts everything.

This particular falsehood - that there are no gay clergy in the Church of England and, if there should be any, then they're all celibate - is so blatantly untrue as to be obvious to anyone. 

Perhaps the Church of England is so used to living with internal contradiction, wilful blindness and avoidance of what's right in front of its face that it can maintain this duplicity without batting an eyelid.

But I would much rather have a grown-up church. One that takes sin seriously in all its forms: sexual, relationship, financial, political and otherwise. One that recognises human frailty not only in our visible failings but also in our inordinate desires to be in the right and to bend other people to our conception of what they ought to believe and do. And I'd hope for a church too that looks for, even evokes, the maturity which comes from the continual process of understanding, forgiveness and acceptance of both self and others. 

I believe that we are both loved and judged by God. Love is a capacity which, however inadequately, humanity shares with God though it can sometimes seem to be in short supply. But, sadly, we are often all too keen to take the task of judging other people off God's shoulders. Any organization needs rules: but if it is to thrive than it must remember that rules are made for people, not people for the rules.

On the other hand, I never did learn Latin.

No comments:

Post a Comment