Thursday, October 05, 2006

Terence Finlay is a coward

Terence Finlay is the former Anglican archbishop of Toronto. This past June, he performed a marriage for a lesbian couple.

The Anglican church is divided on the issue of same-sex blessings --- let alone actual marriages, but Finlay's personal connection to the couple superceded his commitment to his church and his obligation to uphold the decision of the most recent synod, which put off a decision on same-sex unions and maintained a moratorium on same-sex blessings.

Courageous, no?


A brave man would have taken a stand when it meant something. A brave man would have announced his remarkable philosophical transformation regarding homosexuality before acting on it. (Finlay fired a priest in 1991 for being in a gay union, and in 2004, shortly before he retired, he reprimanded a priest for . . . you guessed it . . . performing a same-sex blessing).

Finlay took his stand when it conveniently cost him nothing. He is retired, so he can't be fired. His pension can't be revoked for an act that occured after his years of service (and likely couldn't have been even if he'd had felt strongly enough to perform a marriage/blessing prior to his retirement). And, although his actions undoubtedly carry symbolic weight, he is no longer in a position where he will have to take direct heat from members of his communion.

The only consequence for his choice to turn his back on his fellow Anglicans is that his license to perform marriages has been revoked --- until the end of 2006. Tragedy. He must be suffering.

Even Anglicans who support same-sex unions should be angry that Finlay chose to flout the decisions of synod and to do it weakly, timidly, and secretly, without personal sacrifice and without conviction.

His selfish actions only serve to exacerbate tensions in an already troubled faith community. Some will see Finlay as being a 'leader' in a cause. The timing of Finlay's ethical evolution suggests weakness, either a weakness of character that held him back from acting on, or even acknowledging his conversion to same-sex advocate or a lack of confidence in the doctrinal and spiritual validity and righteousness of his actions.