These are difficult times. I seem to be in fairly constant movement at the moment – apart from being available for the Bogstead crisis – so I am having difficulty keeping up with all the blogs and websites. But it looks pretty febrile.
I came away from our General Synod continuing to ponder what I think is one of the key challenges of leadership in a situation of conflict like this. We all have personal convictions and values which we wish to assert. If one is to do that, I think it has to be done somehow without being partisan and without excluding others.
In my past life, I did much reading on sectarianism. Not so much the ‘in your face’ stuff. But the more subtle [and more dangerous] forms of it. ‘Overlooking’ is what happens when you speak of your own group as if no other group existed. Ian Paisley used to refer to ‘the people of Ulster’ as if the catholic population didn’t exist. The Pope came to meet ‘the young people of Ireland’ as if the protestants didn’t exist.
And every time I hear somebody say, ‘We are a liberal church’ – that’s what I hear. We are a church which has within its life the divisions which are present in world anglicanism. We may be liberal in our ethos – but we are not exclusively so. And we have to keep finding ways of saying that so that we honour and respect those whose ethos is more conservative.
I told you it was difficult.