There are of course two key issues which stand between us and the Church of Uganda. The first obviously is how we respond to human sexuality issues. They probably are not aware that our church actually has a diversity of response. But I doubt if even the most traditionalist and conservative strands of SEC life would want to sign up to the Ugandan approach.
The second issue is that of authority – ecclesiastical polity to give it the posh name. And I believe that the two issues are inextricably linked. The Church of Uganda speaks unmistakably clearly because bishops exercise a authoritative leadership on behalf of the whole. Our situation is very different. I cannot simply look into my own heart and declare that what I find there is the view of the SEC. The cost of that – as Laurene implies – is that we often don’t speak clearly or respond quickly. We believe that our College of Bishops should be …. collegial. And we believe in careful synodical process which aims to ensure that what is stated as the ‘mind of the church’ is nothing less than that.
I’ll explain more about what actually happened. But this polity issue is fundamental to what has happened in the Anglican Communion. I’m thinking particularly about the suggestions that ‘commitments were made and not delivered’ – particularly around the Primates’ Meeting. The reality I think is that different parts of the Communion have been operating with very different understandings of authority and leadership. And the effect of that has been to produce mutual incomprehension and misunderstanding at the moments when it mattered most.
You may agree with that .. or not. But I think that one of the unintended effects of it – and this partly explains why we decided that I should accept the invitation – is that we see each other as either impossibly liberal or impossibly conservative. It’s always going to be more subtle than that. Certainly more subtle in Scotland and maybe – just maybe – more subtle in Uganda.