The following apology by Bishop Stephen Andrews, principal of Wycliffe College in the University of Toronto, appeared earlier today in The Morning Star in response to our Anglicanism, Christian Unity, and Same-Sex Love: Responding to Catherine Sider Hamilton and Ephraim Radner.
The episcopate of the Orthodox Church in the United States and Canada would be well served to follow the example of Christian humility, sensitivity, and dialogue set by their brother bishop—especially as the countdown to the Sunday of Forgiveness and the beginning of Great Lent has begun.
Bishop Stephen Andrews, Principal, Wycliffe College
by Stephen Andrews
The last week in January an article appeared in the Morning Star which some found objectionable and others found personally hurtful. I want to apologise to our community. We should have been more careful in asking ourselves whether the community newsletter was the right place to publish something that had the potential of causing pain. We want to maintain an environment of charity and mutual respect at the College, and we regret that publishing the article in that format did not contribute to these ends. I would invite anyone who was hurt to speak to me personally, and I want our community to know that we are reviewing the mandate and the protocols of the Morning Star.
Professor Sider-Hamilton’s article does in many respects reflect the position of the College on the matter of marriage. But the subject remains controversial and divisive in our Church and in our College. And it is difficult to know how to talk about such matters in a way that builds up our community. The Anglican Church of Canada has staged debates, study sessions, and forums of ‘holy listening’. And yet, the action of General Synod this past summer was agonizing.
Every year since I became Principal, I have had discussions with members of the Student Council executive about how we might address our disagreements on marriage and Christian unity. But it always seemed to everyone concerned that in staging a public event the risk of hurting or dividing the community was too great. So we continue to try to imagine how a constructive conversation might happen at the College, and I have asked students to reflect on what the goals of such an event ought to be.
In the meantime, I have found that the best sorts of conversations are the individual and personal ones. These encounters can be hard and require charity on every side. But if our conversation builds up mutual understanding and respect, then we will be the better for it and we shall discover unity at a deeper level. As Professor Radner writes in one of his books, ‘One learns to be “one” by learning to be other than oneself’ (Brutal Unity, p. 395).
St Paul says that we are ‘made one’ (Eph 2.14), which is another way of saying, in part, ‘You can’t choose your family.’ The kingdom we seek is not built on consensus, affability or mutual affection, and certainly not on dogmatism and self righteousness. It is, rather, built on our fellowship with Christ in his sufferings (Phil 3.10). This Lent would be a good time for us all to ask ourselves what this means, and to beg God to cultivate a spirit of humility within us. For we have all fallen short of the glory for which we were intended, and it is only the Crucified One who can make us whole.
See the Anglican Church and Same-Sex Marriage, Bridging Voices, Fifty Years after Stonewall, Sexuality and Gender, and Warwick Files sections in our Archives 2017-19 and/or Archives 2020. Consider submitting an article or letter to the editors on this topic.
Bishop Stephen Andrews is Principal of Wycliffe College. He holds a PhD from Cambridge University and a DD from Wycliffe College.