A little ‘sorry’ clears us

I am not about to apologise for the Iraq war. I was one of those who walked the streets in protest against it at the time. I am not about to apologise for the treatment of queer folk either, I have spoken up for the value of same sex relationships all my life.

I’ve done dreadful things, all right, and for them I am really sorry. We none of us get through life without making a mess here, there and everywhere. We all need forgiveness and to forgive. That is part of being adult. Also part of adult responsibility is speaking up loud and clear against every abuse of power, every instance of evil that we see, when even we see it, as soon as we can speak.

Failing to do so, considering some things more important than truth and love, was in part what landed the Catholic Church in Ireland in such a terrible position, ruining lives – apparently with the spurious aim of protecting the good name of the church. Presumably they thought that a good insurance policy and a ‘sorry’ would, like Lady Macbeth’s ‘little water’ clear them of this deed.

And now legalisation is being brought forward in Uganda to punish, even more severely, sometimes with death, those who are gay and in relationships, and those who even know of these relationships. And the Anglican church in this country is saying: nothing. Nothing at all.

Handicapped by a fear of making things worse, burdened by the guilt of a colonial past, the hierarchy is silent. But silence will not do. Whatever our fears for the present, whatever our guilt for the past, everybody with a voice, high and low, important and barely heard, needs to speak now.

Keep ‘sorry’ for the messes you will not avoid, not as water to wash your hands free of public guilt.


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