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One gay activist said bitterly that he hoped you liked your newfound friends, but it strikes me that you don't have many. Your position seems very sad and lonely.
It feels burdensome, of course. And making decisions that will lose you friends, compromise people's perception of your integrity that's very hard. On the other hand, that is only a part of the reality. First and foremost, I'm a priest and a bishop, and what I have to do is to celebrate sacraments, to pray, to try to convey the reality of God. I don't spend all my days in self-pity.
Do you see it as the taking up of a cross?
Well, of course. And anybody who expects to go through a Christian life without a cross is deluding themselves.
Last month, you signed onto a report by the Church of England citing a litany of errors in the War in Iraq. Why?
We proclaimed we were going into Iraq with the intention of creating a democracy, forgetting that democracies happen when certain conditions allow them to.
And you thought Britain was too subservient to the U.S.?
I was deeply saddened by the apparently uncritical way in which our government accepted the case for going around the U.N.
One of the things you also said was that perhaps if Blair and Bush had prayed together, they might have come to a different conclusion?
I believe good religion is good for people because it teaches you to be repentant, to believe your actions are always fallible and resting on mixed motives, that you need grace and mercy. Bad religion tries to persuade you that God is invariably and automatically on your side.
The Western world is struggling to come to terms with Islam. Where should we start?
We Christians, Westerners, whatever perceive the Muslim world as large, aggressive, successful, expanding. Muslims in the U.K. see themselves as small, vulnerable, under attack, suspected by everybody. When you have something like the Mohammed cartoons in the Danish papers, ask yourself what it feels like if you're a member of an economically depressed, rather isolated Muslim community, in a majority non-Muslim environment.
When you return from study leave, you'll focus once more on the problems within Anglicanism. Some people have already decided to stay away from the Lambeth Conference and possibly begin a process of division.
I don't particularly want to be I wouldn't say blackmailed but pressured by either extreme on this. I think they'd lose by not coming. I think they need to talk to each other and listen to each other without prejudice.
Are you optimistic?
I'm hopeful. Not optimistic.
"Hopeful" is a safer word?
It's a safer word.