Losing faith in bishops over LGBTQ+ rights and their lack of empathy | Letters

Though I welcome the changes to the text of the Lambeth conference “call on human dignity”, removing the offensive and wrong-headed attempt to reaffirm a resolution from 1998 and its homophobic attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ people and our relationships, I am left distressed and bruised, like so many faithful members of the Church of England (Justin Welby forced to allow Anglican bishops to reject statement on sexuality, 26 July).

For years we have listened to our bishops apologise for the hurt caused by the C of E’s stance, and lived in hope as we have worked our slow way through a process of “shared conversations” and most recently the Living in Love and Faith project. We have been promised that our voices would be heard, that all people are equally valued and that we have a secure place in the C of E as baptised and faithful followers of Christ.

All human relationships, both personal and ecclesial, are based on trust – and trust requires honesty, openness and truthfulness. None of these are evident in the recent actions stemming from Lambeth as the car crash of recent days has unfolded. There remain significant questions about how the previous wording was approved and whether the archbishops knew in advance. None of the responses from Lambeth have addressed these pressing questions, and it is hard to see how trust can be restored unless some answers are given.

But what is perhaps worse, and a sign of a deep malaise at the heart of the church, is that the vast majority of bishops in the C of E have remained silent, and those few who have commented have studiously avoided any apology or humility in recognising the hurt caused and the damage done. I find it deeply depressing and yet sadly familiar that those who lead the church are so incapable of genuine human expressions of pastoral care. I love the Church of England; in its parishes and communities there are vast resources of kindness, care and compassion. I struggle to understand what happens to our bishops that they seem to lose basic human empathy and understanding of others as soon as they don the pointy hats.
Andrew Foreshew-Cain
Acting head of welfare, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford

Your editorial (25 July) on the culture war around sexuality that threatens to paralyse world Anglicanism credits Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, with a wise attempt to head off a toxic debate at the Lambeth conference. In fact he does better than that. In his new book Reconciliation, he puts forward his conviction that Christians need not be ashamed of their profound differences but must learn to live and work together in reconciled diversity – to differ well. This is certainly not just about sexual ethics in a world threatened by wars, mass poverty and our spoliation of nature.

A few weeks after the Anglican bishops meet in Canterbury, the next assembly of the World Council of Churches will meet in Germany in the midst of bitter conflict. Will the delegates of the Orthodox churches of Ukraine and Russia even be prepared to talk to each other?

In a recent article, Dr Susan Durber, chair of the WCC’s faith and order commission, challenged the world church to become a movement of the heart rather than an organisation engaged in a futile process of ironing out its differences. If the example of Jesus to love friend and foe alike is not practised by his alleged followers, what then is the point of the church? To love conditionally is not to love at all.
Canon Dr Paul Oestreicher
Wellington, New Zealand

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