Church in Wales recommends action against 'homophobic' clergyHis full post is here
UPDATE: the full report is here
The relevant paragraphs would appear to be 22, 29 and 35:
22. It is necessary to provide a policy with guidance to clerics on the dangers of emotional abuse arising out of the inappropriate use of pastoral supervision or theological teaching.
29. The cleric as role model, as seen by children and young people is significant. This needs to be fully recognised and appreciated by the Church in Wales. Inappropriate and unacceptable conduct such as discriminatory behaviour involving aggression, bullying or attitudes such as homophobia should not be tolerated and can in some instances be emotionally abusive. This should be a professional development issue and where necessary, subject to disciplinary procedures.
35. Reference has been made earlier to the need for policy and guidance in relation to certain approaches to ministry within the Church in Wales (see 21 and 22 above). It would be appropriate to initiate a debate on the subject which would include exploring the importance of ensuring responsible attitudes towards age appropriate emotional and spiritual growth. This would ensure that the Church in Wales exercises its duty to protect children and young people from spiritual and emotional abuse.
I'm not sure these kind of reports are something to be unduly alarmed about. Like most documents of this kind, it seems to be a combination of the unexceptional and the highly questionable. It is worrying only in so much as it displays in full measure the irresponsible trend within our communion to make sweeping and politicised declarations in areas where the authors seem to be have (one hopes) little awareness of the theological implications of what they are proposing.
It does also highlight the rather unpleasant habit of modern ecclesiastical management's 'professional development' structures (how ever did we get here?) to trust the clergy less and less, and to feel the need to justify their existence by these kind of attempts to 'micro-manage.'
I don't need to point out that this is also illustrative of Anglicanism's (long-standing but now resurgent) instinct to follow the zeitgeist first, and reflect theologically later, if at all.
If it is really felt that these kind of issues are a major problem for the Church (and not just a rather craven attempt to be seen to be on the right side of secular liberal opinion) the solution would seem to lie in the selection and formation (remember that word?) of candidates for the priesthood. But the truth is that this is a smokescreen.
Before we go any further, it would seem necessary (and, moreover, just) to define exactly what is meant by "homophobia," or 'discriminatory behaviour.' To some, such an attitude would include the kind of aggressive, bullying and abusive behaviour we would all wholeheartedly deplore and agree should have no place in any Christian community; to others, it could include merely a robust (or even not so robust) defence of the Church's traditional moral theology or its historic theology of holy order.
"Homophobia" and "discrimination" are clearly offences which are in the eye of the beholder, and that is what makes them such dangerously subjective and nebulous concepts to include in any discussion of clergy discipline. Fear of giving offence is perhaps not the best disposition in which to approach the proclamation of the Gospel, and attempts to change the Church's stance on controversial issues are best undertaken honestly and directly and not by stealth.
It's hardly surprising that some of us are increasingly (made to feel) uncomfortable in our present ecclesial home.