Conservatives Under Fire Ahead of Crucial Anglican Meeting

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:14 PM EDT

Pacific Rim Bureau ( - Conservative Anglican leaders' opposition to the appointment of homosexual bishops and same-sex unions was compared Tuesday to Hitler's treatment of the Jews.

Martin Reynolds, a Welsh Anglican priest and homosexual campaigner, said in an interview on Australian radio that approval of an anti-homosexual stance was "really the last vestige of evil left in our society."

Some 40 Anglican leaders from around the world are meeting in London this week for a crisis meeting over the homosexuality issue, amid warnings of a schism in the Anglican Communion, which boasts more than 70 million members.

The U.S. Episcopal Church's ratification of the appointment of Canon Gene Robinson, a homosexual, as bishop of New Hampshire, and the blessing of same-sex couples by Bishop Michael Ingham of the Canadian diocese of New Westminster, have drawn strong reaction from conservatives.

A leading voice among those objecting to the trend is Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia's largest city.

The London meeting, called by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, will be attended by 38 "primates" - national or regional heads of Anglican and Episcopal churches.

Jensen, who is not a primate, will not be participating. But the influential clergyman has made his views clear.

In an address to Sydney's Anglican Synod this week, he said "immorality" - both heterosexual and homosexual - should disqualify a person from active church ministry.

"These are salvation issues, and we cannot falter in making our opposition clear, even if it were to cost us everything we hold dear," he said.

Jensen also repeated a warning that the issue could result in "realignment and even dismemberment" of the church.

"It is not a welcome thought, but those who created the situation by innovation must bear some of the responsibility."

Reynolds, the Welsh priest, told Australian radio that those Anglicans who believed homosexuality was wrong in the sight of God were themselves "completely and absolutely wrong."

"It's just like saying, you know, being black is wrong in the eyes of God, or being blond-haired is wrong in the eyes of God."

He called opponents of his views "fascists" and said singling out homosexuals was "nothing short of the sort of evil that went on in the 30s."

"Everybody thinks that their prejudice is okay. I'm sure Hitler thought that his prejudice of the Jews and everyone was okay."

Reynolds predicted "a disaster" at the London conference. "The Anglican Church will fracture," he added.

Responding to his comments, Jensen said Tuesday he did not think "labeling people fascists or likening then to Hitler" was helping the situation.

"It's not a matter of homosexuality as such being condemned, it's the practice of sexual relations by homosexual people or heterosexual people outside the rules that God had laid down."

Reynolds is also a spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) in Britain, which is organizing a conference in Manchester next weekend.

According to the group's website, the gathering is to be addressed by the two men at the center of the worldwide controversy - New Hampshire's Robinson (by satellite) and Ingham of New Westminster.

However, plans to have Ingham preside at a special church service in Manchester Cathedral as part of the conference program have been scrapped, following "huge critical reaction" from congregants and clergy, the LGCM said in a statement.

It had now accepted an invitation from another Anglican Church in the city instead.

See earlier story:
US Anglican Group Repudiates Episcopal Church's Homosexual Policies (Oct. 9, 2003)

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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow