Monday, May 11, 2015

Loving and caring relationships recognised and cherished in a culture of difference?

Who said this?

"A pluralist society can be creative in finding ways in which people of same-sex orientation have their rights and their loving and caring relationships recognised and cherished in a culture of difference, while respecting the uniqueness of the male-female relationship."

Was it one of our Kiwi bishops? One of the more trendy CofE bishops? An African bishop speaking anonymously? Some avant-garde Anglican blogger?

No! It was the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. With H/T to Ron Smith's KiwiAnglo blog, you can read the Tablet report here of the Archbishop's address here. (Delivered in the context of Ireland holding a referendum on same sex marriage).

There are at least two things to ponder in response, I suggest.

First, is the Archbishop thinking responsibly as a theological leader of a church which cherishes both truth and compassion?

Secondly, if a leading Catholic episcopal leader can be appreciative of same sex 'loving and caring relationships' while maintaining the distinctiveness of male-female marriage, what does that say about how conservative Anglicans might engage with shifting tectonic plates in global theological discourse about social issues such as same sex relationships?


Father Ron Smith said...

You make two very good points, here, Peter! The answer to your first question might be a resounding YES!.

Your second question will require a lot more 'sorting out' for those implacably opposed to any sort of relationships for Same-Sex-attracted Christians. It will probably take an unprejudiced openness to a new understanding of socio-biological implications for theology - such as has here been expressed by, not only the Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin, but also Pope Francis himself. But then, that's the Catholic Church. What else could one expect??

Bryden Black said...

Hi Peter, Confining ourselves to the second for the moment (as the first is irreducibly Gospel): some questions.

Is it the case that we are actually dealing with a global church situation? The numbers of traditional theologs would suggest otherwise. As for tectonics: yes, there appears to be a decided cultural shift - but what's it predicated on? And can the Church side with such an anthropology? I don't think it can. Which of course parallels once more the classical world's view of deity, one that the Church had to radically revise even as it borrowed terminology to do so.

All in all Peter; the larger and longer scale view is needed - even if it precludes simple and simplistic approaches.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
Yes and amen AND I stand by my tectonics plate etc language: this is an Archbishop of the church of the catechism of the 'intrinsically disordered' understanding of homosexual orientation speaking ... (and its the Irish part of that church, until now known for, shall we say, a certain staunchness!)

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
When Anglo-Catholics are enthusiastic about Rome it seems as though the banks of the River Tiber are coming into the foreground ... and it is just a little swim across to the other side :)

Bryden Black said...

To be sure now; that was factored in! That's what makes your first so vital.

Father Ron Smith said...

I suppose, Peter, remembering our very different provenance of Anglicanism, your remark here might be understood.

However, the very fact that IO am not a roman Catholic is predicated on the accident of my birth and upbringing in the U.K., where a far larger majority of parishes have a 'catholic' ethos than we have here in the Christchurch diocese.

As an Anglican, I know I am part of the world-wide Christian family of churches; with a faith based on the historic Creeds, Scripture AND reason - which I believe the Roman Catholic Church has begun to entertain as part of its face to the world. I do thank God for Pope francis, who, like his predecessor, Pope John XXIII, is, I believe, God's choice for leadership of our sisters ans brothers in that part of the Body of Christ.

It cannot be helped if I resonate more with Pope francis than I do with, say; the Anglican Archbishops of Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. At least, He is not demonising gays!

Father Ron Smith said...

" can the Church side with such an anthropology?" - Bryden Black -

Unfortunately for your argument, Bryden; the Church is saddled with the anthropology that reflects the truth as it exists - not as the moralists might wish it to be.

As a recent Roman Catholic writer has said: doctrine is not necessarily immutable. It has been know to change in tune with cosmic discovery. Nor should it remain static just to shore up any theory of 'moral' prejudice that contravenes common justice.

Bryden Black said...

Well Ron; let me be more specific re any “anthropology”, as you seem to have not appreciated what’s afoot.

It is not simply a question of what you’ve often mentioned in the past here on ADU - that so-called “science” has now shown us a new(er) appreciation of human being. On the contrary, science per se is never value free. One crucial example, from Australia: I recall well a doco in which a molecular scientist determined that even if we should find a gene associated with same-sex attraction (a so-called gay gene) - which we might not be able to do anyway, given the complexity of multiple genes and forms of behaviour - then that does not in and of itself imply that that person will become gay, he said. And BTW; that molecular scientist happened to call himself gay too. And even if in the end, we might be able to discover the entire complex of genes, coupled with the multiple epigenetic factors involved, that in and of itself does not cast any light upon the morality of the form(s) of behaviour. Morality is precisely of a different order of being.

Furthermore, anthropology as a discipline is also not value free; in fact, it is loaded with philosophical premises - even prejudices, in the technical sense. For example, when considering the move from structuralist to post-structuralist views of human being, from the likes of Claude Lévi-Strauss to the likes of Michel Foucault (both of whom I have read a fair bit), then we can discern how ‘morality’ becomes a function precisely of what the respective practitioners wish to claim is determinative of their own schemas. It is no different when we encounter even “Queer Anthropology”. Nor, and this too is vital, is Christian Anthropology any different: when we claim, as Christians, that human being is “imago Dei”, this is a massive moral claim inherent within our scheme of things.

The crux is this Ron. Is human being, as deemed by most anthropologies since the late 18th century, an autonomous self-positing personal subject? Or; is human being indeed “imago Dei, and so answerable to the Creator? Morality per se will look VERY different depending upon one’s answer.

Father Ron said...

"Furthermore, anthropology as a discipline is also not value free; in fact, it is loaded with philosophical premises - even prejudices" - B.B.

Precisely, Bryden. Just like theology - rarely free from prejudice - sometimes to the detriment of common justice.

God has gone up with a merry noise, Alleluia! He has gone up with trumpet blast! Alleluia, Alleluias!

("When the Spirit comes, He will lead you into ALL Truth! Alleluia!

Bryden Black said...

Technē, Ron, technē! [Viz. technology, technique, technically, as English derivatives from the Greek]

Your omission of the qualifying phrase of my original quote is telling! For technē grants us the possibility of discovering the veracity or otherwise of our base assumptions/premises/“prejudices”.

As I say, the crux is our assumed view of human being. And your avoidance of that crux betrays also your inability to establish what is in actual fact any form of “common justice”.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden/Ron
That is the ability of the argument Ron mounts to arrive at common justice, not the inability of Ron the man ... lest we stray into ad hominem territory!

Bryden Black said...

I am duly cautioned Peter.

For the argument I'm trying to make counters indeed some assertions ...