Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Related Categories: Lambeth LC2008
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has today sent a letter to the bishops of the Anglican Communion, setting out his personal reflections on the Lambeth Conference.
The full text of the letter can be found below:
As the Lambeth Conference of 2008 comes to an end, I want to offer some further reflections of my own on what the bishops gathered in Canterbury have learned and experienced. Those of you who have been present here will be able to share your own insights with your people, but it may be useful for me to add my own perspectives as to where we have been led.
For the vast majority of bishops, it seems, this has been a time when they have felt God to have been at work. The Conference was not a time for making new laws or for binding decisions; in spite of the way some have expressed their expectations, Lambeth Conferences have never worked straightforwardly in this way. The Conference Design Group believed strongly that the chief need of our Communion at the moment was the rebuilding of relationships - the rebuilding of trust in one another - and of confidence in our Anglican identity. And it was with this in mind that they planned for a very different sort of Conference, determined to allow every bishop's voice to be heard and to seek for a final outcome for which the bishops were genuinely able to recognize an authentic account of their own work.
I believe that the Conference succeeded in doing this to a very remarkable degree - more than most people expected. At the end of our time together, many people, especially some of the newer bishops, said that they had been surprised by the amount of convergence they had seen. And there can be no doubt that practically all who were present sincerely wanted the Communion to stay together.
But they also recognized the challenge in staying together and the continuing possibility of further division. As the proposals for an Anglican Covenant now go forward, it is still possible that some will not be able to agree; there was a clear sense that some sort of covenant will help our identity and cohesion, although the bishops wish to avoid a legalistic or juridical tone. A strong majority of bishops present agreed that moratoria on same-sex blessings and on cross-provincial interventions were necessary, but they were aware of the conscientious difficulties this posed for some, and there needs to be a greater clarity about the exact expectations and what can be realistically implemented. How far the intensified sense of belonging together will help mutual restraint in such matters remains to be seen. But it can be said that few of those who attended left without feeling they had in some respects moved and changed.
We were conscious of the absence of many of our colleagues, and wanted to express our sadness that they felt unable to be with us and our desire to build bridges and restore our fellowship. We were aware also of the recent meeting in Jerusalem and its statements; many of us expressed a clear sense of affinity with much that was said there and were grateful that many had attended both meetings, but we know that there is work to do to bring us closer together and are determined to do that work.
The final document of Conference Reflections is not a 'Report' in the style of earlier Conferences, but an attempt to present an honest account of what was discussed and expressed in the 'indaba' groups which formed the main communal work of the Conference by the Reflections Group. But although this document is not a formal Report, it has a number of pointers as to where the common goals and assumptions are in the Communion. Let me mention some of these.
First, there was an overwhelming unity around the need for the Church to play its full part in the worldwide struggle against poverty ignorance and disease. The Millennium Development Goals were repeatedly stressed, and there was universal agreement that both governmental and non-governmental development agencies needed to create more effective partnerships with the churches and to help the churches increase and improve their own capacity to deliver change for the sake of justice. To further this, it was agreed that we needed a much enhanced capacity in the Communion for co-ordinated work in the field of development. Our Walk of Witness in London and the memorable address of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom formed a powerful focus for these concerns. And the challenge to every bishop to identify clear goals for developing environmentally responsible policies in church life was articulated very forcefully indeed: information was provided to all about how the 'carbon footprint' of the Conference itself might be offset, and new impetus given to careful and critical self-examination of all our practices. We were reminded by first-hand testimony that the literal survival of many of our most disadvantaged communities was at risk as a result of environmental change. This enabled us to see the issue more clearly as one of justice both to God's earth and to God's people
Second, on the controversial issue of the day regarding human sexuality, there was a very widely-held conviction that premature or unilateral local change was risky and divisive, in spite of the diversity of opinion expressed on specific questions. There was no appetite for revising Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth 1998, though there was also a clear commitment to continue theological and pastoral discussion of the questions involved. In addition to a widespread support for moratoria in the areas already mentioned, there was much support for the idea of a 'Pastoral Forum' as a means of addressing present and future tensions, and as a clearing house for proposals concerning the care of groups at odds with dominant views within their Provinces, so as to avoid the confusing situation of violations of provincial boundaries and competing jurisdictions.
Importantly, it was recognized that all these matters involved serious reflection on the Christian doctrine of human nature and a continuing deepening of our understanding of Christian marriage. A joint session with bishops and spouses also reminded us that broader moral issues about power and violence in relations between men and women needed attention if we were to speak credibly to the tensions and sufferings of those we serve.
Third, there was a general desire to find better ways of managing our business as a Communion. Many participants believed that the indaba method, while not designed to achieve final decisions, was such a necessary aspect of understanding what the questions might be that they expressed the desire to see the method used more widely - and to continue among themselves the conversations begun in Canterbury. This is an important steer for the meetings of the Primates and the ACC which will be taking place in the first half of next year, and I shall be seeking to identify the resources we shall need in order to take forward some of the proposals about our structures and methods.
The Conference was richly blessed in its guest speakers, who all testified to their appreciation of the Anglican heritage, while asking us searching questions about how flexible and creative our evangelistic policies were, about the integration of our social passion with our theology and about the nature of the unity we were seeking both within the Anglican Communion and with other Christian families. Our many ecumenical representatives played a full and robust part in all our work together and we owe them a considerable debt.
Finally and most importantly of all, we were held within an atmosphere of steady and deep prayer by our Chaplaincy Team. The commitment of the Conference members to daily worship was impressive; and this has much to do with the quality of that worship, both in moments of profound quiet and in exuberant celebration. It mattered greatly that we were able to begin with a period of retreat in the context of Canterbury Cathedral; the welcome we received there was immensely generous and we all valued the message clearly given, that this was our Cathedral, and that all of us were a full part of the worshipping community that had been here since Augustine came to Canterbury in 597.
I know that all present would wish me to express thanks once again to all who planned and organized the Conference, to those who composed the Bible Studies, those who devised and monitored the work of the indaba groups and all others who served us so devotedly in all sorts of ways - not least the Stewards, whose youthful energy and commitment and unfailingly supportive presence gave all of us great hope for the future. Thanks to all of you - bishops and spouses - who attended, for the great commitment shown and for the encouragement you have given each other.
But together we give thanks to God for his presence with us, his faithfulness to us and his gifts to our Communion. As was said in the closing plenary session, we believe that God has many more gifts to give to and through our Communion; and we ask his grace and assistance in teaching us how to receive what he wills to give. 'He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.' (2 Cor. 9v10)
Your servant in Christ
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Saturday, August 09, 2008
August 9, 2008
The vital importance of working for church unity
Many bishops believe that the Archbishop of Canterbury has been misrepresented
Sir, As bishops in the Church of England, we wish to protest in the strongest possible terms at what we regard as a gross misrepresentation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
First, your front-page story (August 7) and the further material inside were presented as though he had just made a fresh statement, whereas the letters now leaked were written, in a private and personal context, between seven and eight years ago (this only became apparent six paragraphs into the report). One can only wonder at the motives behind releasing, and highlighting, these letters at this precise moment – and at the way in which some churchmen are seeking to make capital of them as though they were ‘news’.
Second, Dr Williams did not say ‘gay sex is good as marriage’ (your front-page headline) or ‘equivalent to marriage’ (your inside headline). In his first letter, he concluded that a same-sex relation ship ‘might . . . reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage’. This proposal (whether or not one agrees with it, as many of us do not) is far more cautious in content, and tentative in tone, than is implied by both the articles and the headlines. In the second letter, Dr Williams stresses that same-sex relation ships are not the same as marriage, ‘because marriage has other dimensions to do with children and society’.
Third, the Archbishop has said repeatedly, as he did in one of the letters, that there is a difference between ‘thinking aloud’ as a theologian and the task of a bishop (let alone an Archbishop) to uphold the church’s teaching. He has regularly insisted, as he did in his closing address at Lambeth, that the church is right to have a basic ‘unwillingness to change what has been received in faith from scripture and tradition.’ He has spoken out frequently against the ‘foot-in-the-door’ tactic of divisive innovation such as the consecration of the present Bishop of New Hampshire. As he said in that same closing address, ‘the practice and public language of the Church act always as a reminder that the onus of proof is on those who seek a new understanding’. Nor, despite regular accusations, is this prioritising of the bishop’s task mere pragmatism or the pursuit of a ‘quixotic goal’ of Anglican unity. It expresses what Jesus himself taught: the fundamental and deeply biblical teaching on the vital importance of church unity and of working for that unity by humility and mutual submission.
Fourth, Dr Williams has also stressed in many contexts that the church must be prepared to stand out against social trends where they do not reflect or embody the gospel. Mary Ann Sieghart’s extraordinary suggestion that the church ‘must eventually reflect the society within which it works’ is a recipe for a blatant Erastianism, against which the Archbishop has resolutely set his face. It is ironic to hear those who would hate to see the church being the Tory party at prayer insisting that it must now be New Labour at prayer.
Fifth, the Archbishop pointed out, in an interview with a Dutch newspaper two years ago, that ‘inclusion’ – that regular mantra of gay lobbyists – is not ‘a value in itself’. We do not, he said, simply welcome people into the church without asking questions. ‘Conversion’, he said, ‘means conversion of habits, behaviours, ideas, emotions.’ In that same interview he pointed out that the views he had earlier advocat ed ‘did not generate much support and [raised] a lot of criticism – quite fairly on a number of points.’
In his invitations to the Lambeth Conference, Dr Williams insisted that he saw the Windsor Report (2004) and the proposed Anglican Covenant as the tracks along which the Communion should move. Neither of those in any way points in the direction your articles indicated. In his final Presidential address to the Conference, he articulated clearly and sharply where we now are as a church: the reaffirmation of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life; the reaffirmation of the previous Lambeth resolution on sexual behaviour; the moratoria on same-sex blessings, on consecration of any more practising homosexuals as bishops, and on the incursions by bishops into one another’s territories; the Anglican Covenant; and some key interim arrangements while that Covenant undergoes further drafting. He presented these, in the context of a powerful and clearly thought out address, as the fresh articulation of the mind of the church, not as an opinion which he was bound to express but from which he privately wanted to dissent. He has our full and unqualified support in his magnificent leadership both of the Church of England and of the Anglican Communion as we seek to obey God’s call to take the gospel to the whole world.
The Right Rev Dr Tom Wright
Bishop of Durham
The Right Rev David Urquhart
Bishop of Birmingham
The Right Rev Nicholas Reade
Bishop of Blackburn
The Right Rev David James
Bishop of Bradford
The Right Rev Graham Dow
The Bishop of Carlisle
The Right Rev John Gladwin
Bishop of Chelmsford
The Right Rev Geoffrey Rowell
Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe
The Right Rev Anthony Priddis
Bishop of Hereford
The Right Rev Jonathan Gledhill
Bishop of Lichfield
The Right Rev Graham James
Bishop of Norwich
The Right Rev John Pritchard
Bishop of Oxford
The Right Rev Kenneth Stevenson
Bishop of Portsmouth
The Right Rev John Packer
Bishop of Ripon and Leeds
The Right Rev George Cassidy
Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham
The Right Rev Nigel Stock
Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich
The Right Rev Stephen Platten
Bishop of Wakefield
The Right Rev John Stroyan
Bishop of Warwick
The Right Rev Michael Scott-Joynt
Bishop of Winchester
The Right Rev John Inge
Bishop of Worcester
Friday, August 08, 2008
On Same-Sex “covenanted and faithful” Partnerships and the Love of God, as seen from the See of Canterbury.
A DISCUSSION STARTER
May I ask my reader to be patient, and come with me on a brief journey of clarification, by setting a broad context, to try to get some perspective on this question before we answer it.
(a) In the world of industry, I may work for Ford making trucks and join with my fellow-workers in saying how great are Ford trucks; but it may be my private conviction that GM trucks are best and thus I buy such for my family. Nothing wrong with this, except I miss the discount in buying Ford!
(b) In the world of sport, I may live in a certain city and join with family and friends in the public and vocal support of the local baseball and football teams, as though these were the only teams for me; but in my heart my favorite teams may be those of the city where I was born, a thousand miles from where I currently live. Nothing wrong here, except if my local friends find out I may pay a price!
(c) In the world of weekly church attendance, I may go with my family and friends to a certain evangelical church where I feel comfortable and accepted, where the preaching and singing/music are robust, and where there is a strong sense of service to the community. To my friends I appear reasonably or even fully contented; yet in my heart I long for a different kind of religious experience, weekly attendance at the fullness of the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church (of which I have read in Russian novels and seen on DVD). Nothing wrong here’ except if my friends knew this they would probably think me very odd indeed and needing counseling!
Now we need to look at some examples involving moral and spiritual principles, which apply both privately to a person and in and for the group in which he is involved.
(1) Take the pastor, who regularly organizes his people to go on “pro-life” marches and demonstrations, insisting in his exhortation that human life begins at conception and the baby (foetus) in the womb must be treated as a human being with rights and be protected. However, there is another side to this pastor’s moral principles. When he found that his wife was pregnant and that it was clear that the baby would be born with major defects and problems, he insisted that she have an abortion quietly and in a center far away, for they could not on their busy schedules care for a severely handicapped child.
Such events have a way of leaking out and people getting to know. And in this case when it does then the moral leadership of the pastor disappears.
(2) Take the rector who regularly meets heterosexual couples who are living together, and who come to him to discuss the possibility of baptism for a child, church-membership or marriage. If he takes the strict view of the meaning of fornication found in the New Testament and Moral Theology, it is possible that he will urge them to separate, to change moral direction, and later to marry (if that seems right) and be church members. However, it is also possible that such are the societal pressures on him that he will forget his high principles, will welcome them, make no critical reference to “their living in sin” and proceed to do for them whatever they ask of him.
When this rector has compromised a few times and a growing number of people know, he will not any longer be able to preach with power and conviction the moral laws and commandments of the Lord our God. Why? Because he will know that many of his people know that he does not really believe these commandments of God, except perhaps as ideals for a different age!
(3) Take the Anglican Bishop who, as a member of the College/House of Bishops, is thereby committed to their agreed policy of not allowing a divorced person, whose spouse is alive, to be married in church. His own view would make various exceptions and is more liberal; but he refuses to implement it in his diocese because he believes it is duty to implement the joint-rule of the whole House.
In this case the difference between the doctrine/policy of the House and his own position is a difference within a given spectrum, not a wholly different doctrine. And the Bishop presumably can stand before Jesus the Lord with a clear conscience in this area. This is because he holds the full doctrine of Christian marriage as right, good and true, and teaches the same: however, how to care pastorally for those who have failed and after penitence wish to make a new start is not of easy answer, and various possibilities are open, and it is here where he differs from others.
(4) Take the Lutheran pastor, who has come to the remarkable conclusion through his own individual study, that salvation is wholly by works (good deeds) and faith is a good work. However, he knows that to preach or teach this will cause many problems in his circle and so he decides (a) to keep it to himself and a small group of friends and (b) to preach and teach the official Lutheran Confessional Doctrine that Justification is by Faith alone on all public occasions.
Here we have a case where what the Lutheran minister really and truly believes is that “salvation of wholly by works;” but that he is willing to keep this to himself and offer to his congregation and denomination the traditional Lutheran line of “faith alone.” Here what is true for himself is not what is true for others!
Dr Rowan Williams
The Archbishop of Canterbury has made it known himself, and others have confirmed it, that he has actually long believed that a same-sex couple in a faithful, covenanted partnership can be a genuine manifestation of the love of God; and thus this union is not contrary to the moral law of God or a threat to Christian marriage.
This he describes as his personal, private opinion, which he generally keeps to himself and does not publicly propagate, except in remarks and comments in restricted circles.
In contrast, he also holds in his capacity as the Primate of all England and the “titular head” of the Anglican Communion of Churches a responsibility to teach and propagate the doctrine of sexuality approved by a large majority at the Lambeth Conference of 1998, and further approved by individual Provinces, and taken as a base-line and developed by The Windsor Report. Here it is important to be very clear that this public, official Anglican doctrine has no place whatsoever in it for same-sex relations/partnerships within the Church—indeed they are always wrong whatever their quality.
Thus in his public capacity Dr Williams teaches and propagates a traditional doctrine which includes within it the condemnation of the doctrine that he holds as a private person. One can only speculate as to the conflict that this causes in his soul.
The question arises: Which of the two doctrines does Rowan really believe? Which one is for him the bringing into a meaningful form both the truth of God from Scripture and what reason tells us about the human condition as sexual? Which of the two teachings is truly in his heart as well as his mind?
One may never know the answer to this question!
However, one can see in recent decisions made by Rowan and through commitments of his, what seem to be evidence for the changing priority of each of his views. For example, the fact that he invited (a) all the American consecrators of Gene Robinson and (b) all the USA bishops who have been allowing the blessing of same-sex couples in their dioceses, to Lambeth 08 seems to proclaim one thing. But the strong and passionate call he made at Lambeth 08 for a moratorium on both same-sex blessings and the electing and consecrating bishops in same-sex relations points in another. Of course, one can read these decisions politically and leave the matter there.
My own reading of the human heart is that a doctrine held with conviction cannot be hidden all the time. It will make itself known in all kinds of little ways, and sometimes in big ways. Thus if Rowan does hold with inner conviction the doctrine that same-sex couples can and do exhibit the love of God then this indicates who he is and where he is. And, therefore, however hard he pushes the public doctrine and the policies of Lambeth 08 on moratoria, it will always be the case that he is internally fighting against himself. And he will never be able with full heart, mind and will to press the official Anglican doctrine.
Dr Peter Toon August 8, 2008 email@example.com
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
August 6, 2008
Rowan Williams: gay relationships 'comparable to marriage'
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
Rowan Williams believes that gay sexual relationships can “reflect the love of God” in a way that is comparable to marriage, The Times has learnt.
Gay partnerships pose the same ethical questions as those between a man and woman and the key issue for Christians is that they are faithful and lifelong, he believes.
Dr Williams is known to be personally liberal on the issue but the strength of his views, revealed in private correspondence shown to The Times, will astonish his critics.
The disclosure threatens to reopen bitter divisions over ordaining gay priests which pushed the Anglican Communion towards a split, as conservatives seek uphold the Biblical opposition to homosexuality.
As Archbishop of Canterbury, he recommitted the Anglican Communion to its orthodox position that homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture at the Lambeth Conference which closed on Sunday.
In an exchange of letters with an evangelical Christian, written eight years ago when he was Archbishop of Wales, Dr Williams describes his belief that Biblical passages criticising homosexual sex are not aimed at people who are gay by nature.
Instead, he argues that scriptural prohibitions are addressed “to heterosexuals looking for sexual variety in their experience”.
He says: “I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness.”
Although written before he became Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002, Dr Williams describes his view in the letters as his “definitive conclusion” reached after 20 years of study and prayer. He refers to it as his “conviction”.
He draws a distinction between his own beliefs as a theologian, which are liberal, and his position as a church leader for which he must take account of the traditionalist view of the majority of Anglicans. He has stuck to this position ever since.
“If I’m asked for my views, as a theologian rather than a church leader, I have to be honest and admit that they are as I’ve said,” he writes.
The letters, written in the autumn of 2000 and 2001, were exchanged with Dr Deborah Pitt, a psychiatrist and evangelical Christian, who lives within his former archdiocese in south Wales and wrote challenging him on the issue.
In reply, Dr Williams describes how his view changed from that of opposing to gay relationships when, in 1980, his mind became “unsettled” by contact as university teacher with Christian students who believed the Bible forbade promiscuity not gay sex.
Dr Williams, who was ordained priest in 1978, became a lecturer at Cambridge two years later and was appointed Dean of Clare College in 1984.
He writes that by the end of the 1980s he had “definitely come to the conclusion” that the Bible did not denounce faithful relationships between people who happened to be gay.
He cites two academics as also pivotal in influencing his view, one of whom ironically is Dr Jeffrey John, the celibate homosexual whom he later forced to withdraw as Bishop of Reading after an outcry from conservative evangelicals.
Until now the clearest statement of Dr Williams’ liberal views was an essay, The Body's Grace, published in 1989 in which he argued that the Church’s acceptance of contraception meant it acknowledge the validity of non-procreative sex. This could be taken as a green light for gay sex.
But he provoked criticism from liberals in the Church of England, and the United States in particular, for seeming to backtrack once he became Archbishop of Canterbury.
Liberals have been bitterly disappointed that a man they regarded as chosen to advance their agenda instead abiding by the traditionalist consensus of the majority.
Liberals from the US Episcopal Church, who see the issue as one of justice for an oppressed minority, were particularly distressed at the Lambeth Conference when the Archbishop appeared to blame them for the growing rift in the Church.
His leadership at Lambeth was a success because, while he failed to resolve the differences in the Church, he avoided outright schism. In spite of everything he has done to maintain unity, however, conservatives are still reluctant to trust Dr Williams because of his theological stance.
In the correspondence, he writes of his regret that the issue has become 'very much politicised' and is treated by many as 'the sole or primary marker of Christian orthodoxy.'
Asked for a response, Lambeth Palace yesterday quoted a recent interview the Archbishop told the Church of England Newspaper: “When I teach as a bishop I teach what the Church teaches. In controverted areas it is my responsibility to teach what the Church has said and why.”
'Marriage is a gateway into family life, and family life, in turn, is often a gateway into church attendance.'
A dramatic decline in marriage, particularly among young adults, has led to a decline in church attendance over the last three decades, according to a study by Robert Wuthnow, a sociology professor at Princeton University.
Men are 57 percent less likely to regularly attend church if they are not married. Single women are 41 percent less likely to attend church than their married counterparts.
"It exaggerates only a little to say that Americans in their 20s and early 30s divide into two groups of about equal size: those who are married, the majority of whom participate in religion; and those who are not married, the majority of whom do not participate," Wuthnow said at a conference at The Heritage Foundation.
Brad Wilcox, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, said the biggest factor driving the decline in church attendance is delayed marriage.
"Marriage is a gateway into family life, and family life, in turn, is often a gateway into church attendance," he said. "The longer people postpone marriage, the less likely they are to attend church at a given age, and also the less likely they are to attend church down the road."
Wuthnow estimates in his book, After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings are Shaping the Future of American Religion, that American churches would have 6.3 million more young adults today if young people started families at the same rate they did 30 years ago.
Wilcox said the Church needs to be more intentional about promoting marriage at an earlier age.
"One thing churches need to do is to really encourage their teenagers and their young adults not to buy into this culture of 'hooking up' and even the culture of dating or just hanging out," he said. "(Churches need) to create a culture of courtship that puts them on a path to marriage, for those who are called to marriage.
"I think connecting young adults to families who have different priorities and different challenges and different joys would help them see the world a little bit differently, and hopefully grow in their faith at the same time."
Monday, August 04, 2008
Lambeth Conference Q&A: What has it achieved?
By Martin Beckford The Daily Telegraph
Last Updated: 11:27PM BST 03 Aug 2008
Why was this meeting so important?
The Lambeth Conference, a gathering of all Anglican bishops, only takes place once every 10 years. At the last one, a resolution was agreed stating that homosexuality goes against the Bible's teaching. But since then, the American church elected an openly gay bishop while the church in Canada ruled that same-sex unions could be blessed publicly.
So what new resolutions were made in Canterbury over the past three weeks?
None. The organisers felt it would be more constructive to allow the bishops to talk about their differences rather than cast votes or draft documents. They spent most of their days in small 'Indaba' groups of 40 talking about a range of topics, rather than in large sessions making statements.
Does that mean that nothing happened?
No. Most of the bishops feel they have benefited from the opportunity to discuss their differences, and some progress has been made on projects that the Archbishop of Canterbury believes will keep the 80 million-strong Anglican Communion together.
Although the conference was damaged by the decision of about 200 (one in four) bishops to stay away in protest at the presence of the liberal Americans, there were no walkouts or major new crises during the meeting. Meanwhile, a repeated call has been made for a halt to all ordinations of gay clergy, same-sex blessings and 'poaching' of bishops from other provinces.
What are these rescue projects?
Firstly a set of guiding principles of Anglicanism, to which all the 38 provinces are expected to agree, known as a Covenant. Those which do not agree to it may lose their place at important gatherings such as Lambeth.
A group called the 'pastoral forum' will also be developed to deal with crises over authority as they emerge, while a 'holding bay' will be set up for parishes that have defected from their national church, in the hope that they can return home eventually. The forum will be set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and headed by a bishop whom he will appoint.
All eyes will be on this pastoral forum to see if it really can act as a 'rapid response unit' to resolve future disputes.
What happens next?
Each of the Anglican Communion's 38 provinces - even the ones that boycotted the Lambeth Conference - have been given until the end of March to comment on the Covenant. The final report will be discussed at a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, a body consisting of lay people as well as clergy, next May.
But the provinces will then each have to decide if they want to accept the Covenant. The approval of the Episcopal Church of the USA is crucial, but this may not take place until 2015 because of the timing of its general conventions.
What will happen in the meantime?
The orthodox Anglicans who formed the Gafcon movement at a summit in Jerusalem are likely to press ahead with the formation of their own council of Primates and a new North American province for traditionalists.
They insist they have not effected a schism but their absence from Lambeth, their dismissal of the current 'colonial' structure of Anglicanism and their establishment of new structures mean they are effectively operating a rival Communion.
August 3rd, 2008
A final reflection on the Lambeth Conference 2008 by Fr Warren Tanghe
Bishops of the Anglican Communion gathered on the campus of the University of Kent at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury on July 16th for the once-every-ten-years Lambeth Conference.
During their first half-week together, they worshipped, ate, and studied Scripture together, and met in the Cathedral Church of Christ in Canterbury to hear the Archbishop’s retreat addresses. The pace was relaxed: old friends reconnected and new acquaintances were begun, as the bishops were invited to look beyond themselves and what they were about, to the presence and power of the living God.
The Conference proper began with the official opening service in the Cathedral on Sunday, the 20th. The bishops started meeting in indaba groups, in a process meant to foster open and honest speaking and respectful and attentive listening on a daily topic, in which every bishop’s voice would be heard. These groups were complemented by Self-Select Sessions, which offered presentations and opportunities for discussion on specific aspects of these topics. Noted speakers presented plenary addresses on evangelisation, mission, the ecological crisis, and covenant.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
What is the MORAL STATUS of Not Crossing Provincial Boundaries? Is it the same as not performing Blessings of same-sex couples?
From the position of the Sacred Scriptures, their reading and interpretation in the Church over long centuries, and from the tradition of moral theology based on the Bible (and on natural law in some cases) what is being called for in two of the three “moratoria” is nothing less than the setting aside, the rejection, and the repudiation of immorality. For sexual relations between persons of the same sex are condemned outright in the Bible: in the New Testament it is stated that anyone involved in them will not enter the kingdom of God/heaven.
If the same-sex relations themselves constitute a sin before God for which the remedy is true repentance, what kind of an “act” is that of the local “Episcopal” church, which claims, in the Name of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, to bless these persons in same-sex “covenanted” partnerships? The answer used to be understood to be simple, but not easy for us to face: it is a blasphemous act: it is taking the Name of God in vain; it is making the God of righteousness into the God who blesses immorality and wickedness; it is a religious act of such a serious nature that those performing it deserve immediate divine condemnation.
And, in similar vein, the Bishops of a Province or National Church (by whatever means, legal or illegal) who elect or approve a person in a same-sex relation to be a Bishop, and then proceed to “consecrate” that person, likewise commit a blasphemous act, taking the Name of God in vain, making the God of righteousness into the God who tolerates sin and wickedness, and making of a mockery of the Church’s Ordinal!
Now, if it be the case--as some modern very liberal scholars claim---there is a way to read the Bible, to study Christian Tradition, and to interpret Moral theology, that makes their united and persisting voice against this supposed “sexual immorality” questionable, or even null and void, then, of course, the situation has changed! You can now proclaim both the rightness of same-sex relations and of the church to approve and bless them in various ways! In general this is what many in The Episcopal Church now seem to do. They proclaim that there are different ways of reading the Bible and that their way yields the results which they follow!
[To understand this, See the book, To Set Our Hope on Christ, that was produced for the Anglican Consultative Council by a high level Episcopal theological team, led by the last Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold. This attempted by novel interpretation to neutralize the Bible’s (supposed) clear witness and justify the innovations of TEC: I replied to it in Same-Sex Affection…, available at www.anglicanmarketplace.com or from 1-800-727-1928].
From a traditional perspective—and here classic Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Southern Baptist agree—sexual relations between two persons of the same sex is sinful and any approval or blessing by the Church of such a partnership is also itself sinful—more sinful than the sin of the persons in the partnership! Thus we see that position of the liberal progressives in TEC and other mainline Churches is wholly innovatory and religiously is a most serious matter before God the Judge of all.
But what of CROSSING PROVINCIAL OR DIOCESAN BOUNDARIES?
At first glance, most would judge that the question of the rightness or wrongness of crossing boundaries, without formal permission, is not in the first place (and probably not in the second!) a moral question at all. And the reason for stating this is usually this: there is no Biblical commandment that specifically relates to such a matter, and that is true. We all know that it is only—centuries after the time of Jesus— that there is in place an elaborate structure of church polity and organization; only then are there provinces with dioceses existing alongside other such entities, and having rules to govern the relations of dioceses to dioceses within a Province and then between autonomous Provinces.
However, when the body of rules (CANON LAW) of a Province are in place, they are obviously and necessarily of varying kinds and importance. Some of them are treated as if they were moral law: this is because such rules are based upon and spell out the content of actual moral law for life in the church. Yet others may relate to, say, the dress of the clergy and, though important for good order, are not of the same importance as those touching on the moral behavior of the clergy.
So does the Provincial rule/canon law that says to the clergy of one province: “To minister in another Province, you must be properly invited and approved” have moral force? Yes, it does and in this specific sense. The peace and good order of the Church is part of its genuine life and witness s required by the Lord, and any act from outside, that has the effect of disturbing this good order, is contrary to the commandment to love the brethren, and against the the koinonia (communion)of the Gospel and Church.
However, the whole scene changes when the entry is into a Province where it is clearly the case that heresy and immortality are being taught and practiced, and where a godly laity with its pastors are being persecuted and are calling for help. Here there arises immediately both a spiritual and a moral duty for the “orthodox” Province to seek to do whatever is within its power to assist the forces of biblical orthodoxy and holiness in that neighboring Province. Yet, so that this is done decently and in order, such an intervention by one Province ought to be after prayerful consultation with other godly Provinces that have similar concerns about the erring Province.
In terms of the three so-called “moratoria,” we may conclude that the two of them, relating to sexual relations, most clearly belong to the moral realm of the revealed Law of God and his Righteousness, and so the total avoidance and complete rejection of them by baptized Christians is wholly required and pleasing to God.
However, in terms of the third “moratorium,” the non-entry into another Province expect by invitation, this may be seen as belonging to the moral realm if, and only if, we have in mind two biblically-orthodox Provinces alongside each other. And love of the brethren is the moral basis by each of the two Provinces for not disturbing fellow believers in the other Province.
In contrast, entry is required as a moral duty by one Province (or several as the case may be), if and only if, another Province is teaching and practicing heresy and immorality, and there is a cry of “Come over and help us!”
One notes that in the official talk at Lambeth 08 about the “moratoria” talk of the moral duty of driving out heresy and immorality from the life and witness of a Province was generally taboo! And that is why there had to be a GAFCON in June, and why the GAFCON mindset and spirit will continue in one form or another alongside the official Lambeth 08 position, as the Anglican Way struggles to remain a consistent and meaningful part/branch of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of God the Father.
St Bartholomew the Apostle & Trinity XIV, 2008 Dr Peter Toon firstname.lastname@example.org
August 2, 2008
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
The Archbishop of Canterbury has the overwhelming support of bishops at the Lambeth Conference, according to a survey for The Times.
However, one quarter of Anglican bishops at the meeting in Canterbury, Kent, are unsure that he is providing the leadership needed to save the Church from schism.
Few bishops support the idea of solving the church's differences by changing the Anglican Communion to a looser federation.
Three-quarters of those at the conference are happy with Dr Rowan Williams' leadership.
The survey is published today as Dr Rowan Williams defended himself against the charge of being a relic of colonialism made by Uganda Primate, Archbishop Henry Orombi, in The Times.
Dr Williams said in an interview that most Africans had more important things on their mind than gay sex.
'The overwhelming concern of most Africans is clean water, food, employment, transparent governance.'
Dr Williams will tomorrow give more details of the proposed new Pastoral Forum, a body that act as a clearing house for future disputes in the Anglican Communion.
Religious Intelligence surveyed 100 of the 670 bishops at the conference for The Times. More than nine in 10 bishops at the conference feel there is still value in being in the Communion, despite its current difficulties.
Nearly one in four believes there would be value in being in a looser federation of churches instead, but the vast majority wants to remain in the more structured communion.
The survey does not reflect the views of the 230 bishops and archbishops, mainly from Africa, who have boycotted the conference, which ends tomorrow.
But of those present, it shows that three-quarters believe that Dr Williams is providing the leadership that is needed and nine out of 10 believe there is much to be learned from dialogue with different faiths.
Just one-third cannot remember a worse time for the church in their lifetime, athough four in 10 believe the church has been through a worse time in living memory.
One quarter support the recent declaration from the rival conservative Global Anglican Conference in Jerusalem. A similar number also believe there is no hope of a 'via media' solution for Anglicans, two findings which give possible indications of troubled times for Dr Williams in the months ahead.
The survey showed confusion among delegates about whether people are born gay or not. More than four in 10 said they were, a third said they were not and a quarter did not know.
More than half those surveyed were also critical of the Church's efforts in Zimbabwe, with 58 per cent saying the Church had not done enough to help the people there.
The bishops were equally divided over the founding doctrines of Anglicanism, summarised in the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. Four in 10 said they did provide a test of Anglican orthodoxy, but a similar number said they did not.
In an interview with Ecumenical News International, Dr Williams rejected Archbishop Orombi's claims that his position in the worldwide Anglican Communion is a left-over from British colonialism.
Archbishop Orombi wrote in The Times yesterday that the 'spiritual leadership of a global communion should not be reduced to one man appointed by a secular government'.
Dr Williams said: 'Archbishop Orombi isn't the first person who has used this language of colonial relics about the Canterbury relationship. I think it's a misunderstanding really. It would be fair only if Canterbury governed. Now, I don't govern the communion.'
He said that to accuse him of colonialism was a 'red herring'.
He criticised the obsession with sex and said it was being confused with morality. 'In the Bible, morality means justice, compassion, the defence of the needy. It means humility, realism, self-questioning, repentance and generosity. That's quite a lot to be going on with.'
He said the consecration of the openly-gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 meant little to Africans living in far-flung parts of the continent.
'Day by day, it means very little, even if they've heard about it. The only point in which it does impact on Mr and Mrs Average in Africa is when they have unsympathetic neighbours, Christians or non-Christians, who'd say - ' Oh, you're from the gay church, aren't you?''
He conceded that Mugabe in Zimbabwe was hostile to gays.
'I think you'd find other cases of gay people being attacked - not only in Africa - but throughout the world. It's not just a local problem. But the overwhelming concern of most Africans is clean water, food, employment, transparent governance.'
He said that he and other Anglican leaders were aware of growing frustration among young Africans about unfulfilled Western promises to help them climb out of poverty.
One of the most intrusive aspects of this Lambeth Conference has been the presence of gay activists. Integrity, USA is the umbrella organization, but six gay/lesbian organizations have come here, run a daily newspaper called the Lambeth Witness of Gay and Lesbian Christians, rented about 1/3 of the spaces in the Marketplace and provided speakers for many self-select groups for bishops and their wives. Additionally, these folks have sponsored about half of the evening fringe events.
They use all the advertising and promotional techniques that money can buy. They are better funded than any other organization here. Gene Robinson is also here, has been for almost a month now. He is seen daily walking on the campus and interacting with bishops that will talk with him. Of course, the TEC bishops are only too happy to do so and there are a few from a couple of other places that are also always happy to see him, like Michael Ingham from Vancouver, Canada. Remarkably, as the conference continued, there is less and less press about Gene. The gay newspaper keeps him on their front page; none other.
What does it do to morale in general? It is detrimental.
With 1/3 to ½ of the press identified with gay organizations, they are unhappy when they are not called on at press conferences. Of course, back in the states, they are usually among the first to be called on and given repeated questions. It has not been so here and there have been angry outbursts.
My second trip to the Marketplace was disrupted. The first booth on the corner by the door is the Integrity booth. They are handing out rainbow ribbons and increasingly these are showing up on TEC bishops, some wives and the gay press. When you walk into the marketplace, a watcher at that booth, akin to a Carnival barker, starts shouting about your rainbow ribbon. If you don’t have one, you are admonished to come and get one. If you are leaving the marketplace and still don’t have a rainbow ribbon, you are again told to get one. Dangerous? No. It is simply annoying.
At lunch break for the bishops on Thursday, there was a gay demonstration on the lawns outside the big blue tent and their closest lunch cafeteria. Gene was there at the beginning, but when they started kissing and acting out, he left. So did the bishops, hurrying their wives away.
They let you know they are from America and share almost unparalleled freedom to be gay. New protections in England mean their activities cannot be restrained. They let you know that by most standards, they are wealthy. They are staying in hotels and rented houses, not dorms. It is also clear that countries that repress homosexual activity, especially Moslem countries, are uneducated, unsophisticated and barbaric. They assure you that homosexuality is coming to all of these countries within the next decade.
So, what is the result? I believe the homosexual activists here have had a profound effect on the conference. Bishops and their wives who are not normally exposed to gay behavior have been offended by these antics. They uniformly complain about being shouted at when they wear purple shirts by gays who want to chat. If they do stop, the insistence is that homosexuality is an inborn trait, genetically controlled. Although that may be the present view in the US, it is far from an agreed upon norm in most other countries. Bishops have expressed disdain for the gay daily newspaper, which is at the door of every building on campus. There is avoidance of the gay fringe events and self-select groups (actually, there is avoidance of most fringe events as that is the only free time of the day.)
Every bishop I have spoken with, who is not from the USA, says that departure from the norm, or new development of the faith is not the issue here. The issue is the Scriptural teaching that Christians do no indulge in the culture, but live apart from it. Homosexual orientation or proclivity does not require indulgence. We are called to chastity, higher standards in moral and ethical teachings and encouraged to live holy lives. This applies equally to men and women of any persuasion. The Biblical and Christian norm is for sex to be confined within the boundary of the marriage of a man and a woman – there perfect freedom is found.
The effort to convert the Anglican world at this Lambeth has been the usual American extravaganza. And I believe it has failed.
Cherie Wetzel reporting from Canterbury, England