Lambeth Palace, London SE17JU
10 July, 1998
Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch
Dr Richard Palmer has passed your letter of 22 July on to me and I am writing to say how sorry I am that you have decided, because of my recent stance against the lowering of the age of consent, to withdraw your acceptance of our invitation to address the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library at their Annual Meeting. As you know, I am a great admirer of your biography of Thomas Cranmer and I was greatly looking forward to hearing you in person.
I am saddened too by your accusation that I played a 'mischievous part in the House of Lords' wrecking of the legislation'. The fact is that, in seeking to express the deeply held concerns of myself and many others, I met up with senior ministers prior to the debate in the House and urged them to address issues concerning the protection of vulnerable young adults within the legislation. This they agreed needs to be done but it was the fact that it could not be done simultaneously that prompted me to write the article printed in The Times on the day of the debate.
May I also add that I strongly resist your description of me as 'homophobic'. Again, the reality is that I know many homosexual people and value the friendships I have with them. Even though I do not recognise homosexual acts as being on a par with heterosexual behaviour, I identify totally with our House of Bishops' desire to keep the discussion going with the homosexual communities inside and outside the Church and to resist homophobia in all its forms.
May I ask you therefore to reconsider your decision about giving a lecture at Lambeth under my chairmanship? Perhaps your willingness to do so - on a topic very different from our disagreement - may be seen as a signal that good can come from a situation where people may differ strongly in their views but remain determined to keep dialogue and communication open.