Archbishop Has Audience with Sandi

Archbishop has Audience with Sandi

What the Actress Said to the Bishop

The Archbishop of Canterbury has had his promised ‘coffee and chat’ with TV personality and prominent lesbian campaigner Sandi Toksvig. This invitation by Lambeth Palace was issued in response to an open letter posted on Twitter by the broadcaster and author last August. She took the Archbishop to task for reminding the Lambeth Conference of its 1998 Resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality: “It was a sin in 1998 and you just wanted to make clear in 2022 that no one in your finely frocked gang has moved on from that. Seriously, with the state the world is in, that is what you wanted to focus on?”

Ms Toskvig, who is in a same-sex marriage, explained that she would be going to her local church for a concert in aid of Ukrainian refugees, but that after that she would “never set foot” in an Anglican church building again. She is a patron of Humanists UK.

“Call me, Justin. Let’s have coffee,” she concluded her letter. “Let me talk you round. You never know, I might even forgive you.”

Whether drawn by the offer of coffee or the offer of forgiveness from a media personality, ‘Justin’ responded and this conclave over a cuppa was duly arranged for January 25th. In the end, tea was served, rather than coffee, at this long-awaited theological consultation between the Primate of All-England and primus inter pares of the Anglican Communion and the woman who used to play Ethel on 1980s kids’ TV show No. 73.

A Lambeth Palace spokesperson described it as “a private, friendly, and honest conversation.

“Their conversation included the recent proposal by Church of England bishops to welcome same-sex couples with prayers of dedication, thanksgiving, and for God’s blessing in church — a proposal the Archbishop fully supports. As he acknowledged last week, the Archbishop said that while this proposal goes too far for some people, it does not go far enough for others. But it reflects the diversity of views in the Church at this time, and will be debated at General Synod in early February.

“The Archbishop will continue to listen, learn, and engage in conversations like the one he had with Sandi.”

According to Ms Toksvig’s video posting on Twitter, the Archbishop had advised her that any change in the Anglican Communion position of homosexual activity was likely to be ‘glacial’. She made a plea for him to ‘come out for love’, presumably mistaking a difference of opinion for ‘hatred’, and advised that the Church of England was there to represent British society, presumably mistaking the Church for the BBC.

At the end of her video communique, the former presenter of The Great British Bake-Off issued this ultimatum:  ‘I do not intend to wait upon the Church. In the next few weeks, I will be reaching out to the LGBT+ community and all our allies to see what can be done.’

A week later Ms Toksvig launched an online petition calling for the removal of all the bishops from the House of Lords, presumably mistaking one of the oldest established Western liberal democracies for the violent revolutionary theocratic state of Iran.

TV scriptwriter Gareth Roberts commented on Sandi’s much-anticipated ‘cuppa with Justin’, “A chinwag with the affable host of QI over a couple of flat whites at Costa were, it seems, not enough to overturn millennia of Judeo-Christian teaching.

“Does anything better demonstrate the turnabouts in the status of institutions in Britain – the diminishing of the Church, the upraising of TV celebrities – over the last half-a-century than this meeting? For the Archbishop of Canterbury to come running when summoned into the presence of an atheist BBC2 quiz show host to receive a moral ticking-off?”

Christian commentator Glen Scrivener made a similar point in his video response, that it revealed those who were now the elite in society: “the actress is now preaching to the bishop.”