Ethics and policy for invitations to Lambeth 2020

May 14, 2019 by

from Anglican Ink:

Andrew Goddard writes: Last month Archbishop Justin made his first public statements about his invitation policy for the Lambeth Conference in 2020.  He is reported as having told The Times:

Well over 90 per cent of the Anglican Communion are conservative on issues of sexuality. I’ve invited all the bishops, including those in same-sex marriages. And I had to consider…getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible. It’s a lose-lose situation. I had to take what is a really difficult and painful decision to say, in order for the conference to be as representative as possible and get all the bishops there and not have the risk of some provinces not coming because they felt I was pushing the envelope too far, that I couldn’t ask all the spouses.

Instant reactions on social media showed this brief explanation and justification was unlikely to satisfy the many people, across the range of views on sexuality, who were unhappy when the decision was originally announced (see for example Marcus Green’s blog). It is important to consider why that is the case, what these comments reveal about how decisions are being reached, and whether there is a better way forward.

In making difficult decisions as a leader of a community, in deciding what it is right to do, and in communicating that decision and its rationale there are many different approaches that can be taken.  One spectrum is between a calculating pragmatism and a conviction-based policy. There are parallels here to the contrasting poles in moral philosophy between consequentialist ethics in which the end justifies the means and deontological ethics based on simply doing what one ought to do even when it appears likely to have unpleasant consequences.

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