Live: Sudanese primate calls on Robinson to resign (updated)

fourth version, includes response from Bishop Robinson's spokesman

By Jim Naughton

The Primate of the Church of the Sudan, the Most Rev. Daniel Deng called on the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson to resign to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion.

“God is not making a mistake creating Adam and Eve,” Deng said, asserting that homosexual activity contradicted Biblical teaching. “He would have created two Adams if he wanted.”

Deng said Robinson’s resignation would allow the bishops who are not at the Lambeth Conference to reconcile with the Communion. He claimed to speak for 150 bishops from 17 provinces who had held a meeting during the conference.

“Gene Robinson should just go away from the Anglican world and be a normal Christian,” said Deng. He said he could not predict the future of the Communion if Robinson did not resign.

Robinson's spokesman Mike Barwell said the bishop would not respond until he had seen a transcript of Deng's remarks.

"There have been calls for his resignation since the day he was nominated. He has been very clear he would not step down... and that even if he did, the whole issue of gay clergy and gay bishops would not go away," Barwell said.

Many Episcopal bishops could not comment on Deng's press conference because they were unaware it had taken place.

Deng said he hoped that the Lambeth Conference would make a decision on homosexuality that Archbishop Rowan Williams would enforce.

Asked whether there were homosexuals in Sudan, Deng said, "They have not come to the surface, so no, I don't think we have them."

Deng’s comments were made in the media room at the Lambeth Conference in an interview arranged after two statements from his church appeared in the media room this morning. The other statement concerned the civil war in the Sudan and the genocide in Darfur.

His comments came as a surprise to Episcopal bishops at the conference. The Churches of Sudan, Burundi and Tanzania are to be guests of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church at a wine and cheese party on Saturday evening on the conference grounds.

A spokesman for Deng said he believed that Sudanese bishops would attend the party. "It's nothing personal," he said.

Deng and Jefferts Schori recently spent time together in Salisbury during the pre-Lambeth hospitality initiative.

The Church of Sudan has extensive relationships with Episcopal churches maintained through American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan.

Following Deng's statement, the Rev. Dr. Chuck Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop who had also come to the press room, said the Episcopal Church wanted to continue to work in partnership with other provinces on the mission and ministry of the church.

An Episcopal bishop said he believed conservative American bishops were involved in publicizing the statement, but Deng's spokesman denied that.

In a related development, Bishop Jack Iker of Forth Worth, called on the bishops of his own church who supported Robinson to go home.

To shorten this post the Sudanese statement can be found here.

Look for updates to be added here.

Anglican Journal reports here.

The Guardian article is here

Ruth Gledhill of The Times reports here.

The Rev. Susan Russell, President of Integrity, responds here.

What is news is that the Archbishop of the Sudan helped make the case on Tuesday that the schism facing the Anglican Communion is the direct result of hard-line reactionaries who will stop of nothing short of compliance with their narrow, exclusionist agenda as their criterion for being in communion.

Louie Crew, founder of Integrity, writes here.
From TEC the Sudan needs our love and our money..

Episcopal Life reports the story here.

Thinking Anglicans continues to update with new links here.

Comments (16)

Looks like Ahmanson's cash is calling the tune at Lambeth.

"go away from the Anglican world and be a normal Christian"?

Everything that has come to my mind on reading this is so uncharitable that I don't dare post my thoughts...other than to say "May God have mercy on all of us, for our blindnesses and hardness of heart."

Paige Baker

"Gene Robinson should just go away from the Anglican world and be a normal Christian."

It's odd to find this fragment of acknowledgment of something Gene's friends and supporters know and celebrate in Archbishop Deng's impatient prooftexting. Gene is a normal Christian and in fact, if Archbishop Deng would talk to him, he might learn that Gene is a very compelling witness for Christian faith as well.

How could being a normal (ordinary?) Christian prevent Gene from being an Anglican or the bishop to people who elected him?

Beyond this odd rhetorical twist, I find myself wondering what it will take to get us all - Anglicans worldwide - to listen to one another in serious, responsible conversations about how we read the Bible, what it says verse by verse, and how the unfolding process we see there of faithful people discovering (often against their own intuition and received previous teaching) that God's mercy is truly constant and God's embrace of us all unfailing.

What a travesty it would be for Gene to resign, what an appalling declaration that to be Anglican meant valuing 'unity' over any Good News that God may be speaking to us.

Asked whether there were homosexuals in Sudan, Deng said, "They have not come to the surface, so no, I don't think we have them."

This is perhaps the most important and telling part of this whole statement. As far as this primate and millions of Anglicans around the world are concerned, this is Someone Else's Problem.

The Sudanese statement:

" In view of the present tensions and divisions within the Anglican Communion, and out of deep concern for the unity of the Church, we consider it important to express clearly the position of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) concerning human sexuality.

We believe that God created humankind in his own image; male and female he created them for the continuation of humankind on earth. Women and men were created as God’s agents and stewards on earth We believe that human sexuality is God’s gift to human beings which is rightly ordered only when expressed within the life-long commitment of marriage between one man and one woman. We require all those in the ministry of the Church to live according to this standard and cannot accept church leaders whose practice is contrary to this.

We reject homosexual practice as contrary to biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS. We strongly oppose developments within the Anglican Church in the USA and Canada in consecrating a practicing homosexual as bishop and in approving a rite for the blessing of same-sex relationships. This has not only caused deep divisions within the Anglican Communion but it has seriously harmed the Church’s witness in Africa and elsewhere, opening the church to ridicule and damaging its credibility in a multi-religious environment.

The unity of the Anglican Communion is of profound significance to us as an expression of our unity within the Body of Christ. It is not something we can treat lightly or allow to be fractured easily. Our unity expresses the essential truth of the Gospel that in Christ we are united across different tribes, cultures and nationalities. We have come to attend the Lambeth Conference, despite the decision of others to stay away, to appeal to the whole Anglican Communion to uphold our unity and to take the necessary steps to safeguard the precious unity of the Church.

Out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we appeal to the Anglican Church in the USA and Canada, to demonstrate real commitment to the requests arising from the Windsor process. In particular:
- To refrain from ordaining practicing homosexuals as bishops or priests
- To refrain from approving rites of blessing for same-sex relationships
- To cease court actions with immediate effect;
- To comply with Resolution 1:10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference
- To respect the authority of the Bible

We believe that such steps are essential for bridging the divisions which have opened up within the Communion.

We affirm our commitment to uphold the four instruments of communion of the Anglican Communion: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council; and call upon all Provinces of the Communion to respect these for the sake of the unity and well-being of the Church.

We appeal to this Lambeth Conference to rescue the Anglican Communion from being divided. We pray that God will heal us from the spirit of division. We pray for God’s strength and wisdom so that we might be built up in unity as the Body of Christ.

The Most Revd Dr Daniel Deng Bul
Archbishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan and Bishop of Juba

This is really getting tiresome. Maybe the North Atlantic churches (there are more than that, but...) are wrong about committed same-sex relationships. I don't think we are, but unlike some within as well as outside Anglicanism, I do not believe in my own infallibility. But whether we are right or whether we are wrong, this is *not* an articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae. It just isn't. And anyone who thinks so has a very peculiar notion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Archbishop Deng has enough problems to minister to in Sudan without spending his time on the Bishop of New Hampshire.

When someone says "why doesn't he just go away", well, I find it pretty hard to listen to very much after that. I think, rather, "Why don't you just go away?"

This is ridiculous. The reality is that there are a lot of emotional attachments to something that is as unreal as unicorns or basilisks. The Anglican Communion is finished, and constructive moves forward are what we need right now, not harmful attachments.

I rather like the implication that it's not possible to be a "normal Christian" in the Anglican World. There are days when one wonders, of course.

Hi,

Is there a web or printed source for the direct quotation posted as a part of this article:

“Gene Robinson should just go away from the Anglican world and be a normal Christian,” said Deng.

Thanks for any help.

Clemmitt Sigler

Thanks to help from another, I've found a video source for the quote I asked about above. My most careful transcript of the quotation in question, taken from an edited snippet at run time approx. 1:23 to 1:31 in a Ruth Gledhill YouTube posting, is:

"What we want is that Gene Robinson have to be away from the Anglican world, and be a normal Christian."

Please note that he doesn't use the words "go away," which would be most inflammatory. I believe this has a different connotation than the quotation posted in this article, but others might disagree. I have little experience in speaking with people from East Africa for whom English may not be their native language.

Clemmitt Sigler

This is the first of a series of statements and press-releases trying to polemize the issue around homosexuality that will be released throughout this conference. The Lambeth Conference this year was designed not to have any statement at all, and the pace of the indaba process has probably got on some people's nerves. Those people, who want to force their "shun X and Y churches" agenda, will try, repetitively, to force certain figures to release similar statements.

For those who know African culture(s), it's clear that most bishops in that context will be as opposed to homosexuality as our grandparents, or great-grandparents were. They are the easy target for those who want to push their agenda. They are not better or worse Christians than me or any of you. They just come from a different context. If we didn't have all this "behind the scenes" orchestra, we wouldn't see as much of the shunning spectacle.

The good feeling I have from what I've seen so far is that such desperate measures seem to me like extreme attempts of hijacking a power that does not belong to those who planned them anymore, and they won't probably have it again.

A commenter on Ruth Gledhill's blog noted that we should respond to what Archbishop Deng actually said, rather than what he is assumed to have said. Good point. So I watched Ruth's video of the news conference. Obviously Deng strongly disapproves of the "North Atlantic" actions on committed same-sex relationships (a subject about which he seems not well informed), but I am not hearing from him the level of hatred and bile that comes from some other Primates on this subject. Nevertheless he still seems to think that the way to solve the problem he perceives is to throw *somebody else* under the bus. That just won't do.

Slightly OT, for a very moving account of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan, see the documentary "God Grew Tired of Us."

The demand that TEC "cease court actions with immediate effect" makes it pretty clear who's calling the tune here.

It's tempting to get all up in a twist about this, but Jesus wanted us to forgive again. And again. And again. Until we get nailed to wood for doing it. And then again.

I'm reminded of Jay Bakker apologising for Christians. Abp Deng is still "one of us" from the outside looking in. And so we need to start apologising to the world for how we act. As Jay puts it, "We're sorry for being self-righteous judgemental bastards." It's going to take that kind of meta-confession for us to do Gospel and betaken seriously in the world. Look at the Pope asking forgiveness for the sins of his clergy. That should be us as well.

There is no "us and them" here. There is a world of broken humanity, some of whom participate in what we claim to be the solution to that brokenness. But we are broken as well. So we need to ask forgiveness for our brother Daniel - and all of us.

But I agree the Church should drop the lawsuits in secular courts. That's one part of St Paul I agree with 100%. When we take each other to court over property we are a laughing stock.

I know Archbishop Deng means "go be a layman", but the irony is strong. We need to be away from all this churchiantiy and political power plays and go be normal Christian for a while.

I was so sorry to read Bishop Deng Bul's comments, because my diocese (Chicago) has been in a relationship with his former diocese, Renk, for many years. Several parishes have sent delegations to the Sudan to volunteer there.

Also: it's important to check primary source material. Still, I'm surprised and sorry to read of this development.

I can only think that once again, it's a case of following the money, as we all learned here before.

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