This report was filed by Simon Sarmiento, on the scene in Canterbury.
Other Anglicans Online coverage,
with links to many other articles, is on the web at
Lambeth Perspective: Spinning Out of Control
Tuesday saw an extraordinary series of events surrounding the resolutions related to Human Sexuality.
The Blue Book published on Monday contained one three-clause resolution from the sub-section officially charged with this matter, one from Section IV, and no less than four other resolutions submitted by regional groupings namely: Central and Eastern Africa (six clauses), Latin America (one clause), South East Asia (one clause receiving the Kuala Lumpur statement with gratitude), and West Africa (two clauses).
At the 10.00 Press Conference a completely new six-clause resolution, replacing the three-clause one, was issued and a full hour briefing given on this by four bishops representing the full spectrum of views, and with considerable detailed discussion of the nuances of the wording. Bishop Duncan Buchanan said that the group report had originally included no resolution, but that he had personally drafted the initial three-clause version. The new, longer resolution was presented to the press as the considered work of the section chaired by Bishop Buchanan, and the members of that group were portrayed as fully in support of this work.
We were also told that a meeting on Tuesday afternoon would consider all the other sexuality motions and how best to handle them in the plenary discussion on Wednesday afternoon. The timing of that session was to be brought forward an hour from 15.30 to 14.30 to allow a full two hours for the session. This would of course also make life massively easier for the UK press to meet Thursday publication deadlines.
However, during the afternoon we learned that the Steering Committee had met and had decided that the original three-clause motion was to be the only one put forward formally at that session. Any other wording, including the eight clauses on which we had been so fully briefed, would have to be proposed as amendments.
Then at the opening of the first plenary the Secretary, John Peterson, announced that the time would revert to 14.30 as the change would disrupt the rehearsal schedule of the Spouses pageant 'Crowning Glory' (I am not making this up).
At the end of the first plenary, several bishops of varying points of view rose to make points of order complaining about the decision of the Steering Committee to reject the work of the section members. There are clearly very strong feelings about this across the board and threats of more formal protests are being heard. These relate to the lack of notice given of the Steering Committee's action, and the short deadlines applied for the submission of amendments (after all, one has to know what the original motion is in order to submit an amendment). It is so unclear right now what will happen next that I shall omit a detailed analysis of the six-clause version for now, and provide instead the current raw wording of the main competing resolutions. Further amendments of all kinds are likely to be thrown into this pot before tomorrow afternoon. Those covering the conference are all quite amazed at what has happened today.
Here is the current wording of the two "official" drafts. First the three-clause version.
(a) In view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between one man and one woman in lifelong union, and believes that celibacy is right for those who are not called to marriage; nevertheless,
(b) Calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to others irrespective of their sexual orientation and to condemn homophobia, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and comercialisation of sex.
(c) Requests the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources among us.
Now the six-clause version.
Resolution 1.10 Revised resolution of the sub section on Human Sexuality
a) commends to the Church the sub-section report on human sexuality;
b) in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong unnion, and believes that chastity is right for those who are not called to marriage;
c) recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and ordering of relationships. We wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;
d) calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn homophobia, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;
e) cannot advise the legitimizing or blessing or ordaining of those involved in same gender unions;
f) requests the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources among us.
The Section IV resolution is as follows.
Noting that no province of the Anglican Communion has voted to change the traditional ethical teaching on homosexuality, in order to have and promote credibility with our brothers and sisters in New Churches and Independent Christian Groups, receives and recognises the Kuala Lumpur Statement on Human Sexuality as a contribution of the 'South - South Encounter' to the Anglican Communion.
Among the other resolutions, the South East Asia one reads:
Resolution V.23 On Kuala Lumpur Statement
This Conference receives the Kuala Lumpur Statement on Human Sexuality with gratitude as an authentic expression of Anglican moral norms.
Turning to other matters . . .
The first plenary session today dealt with Section IV resolutions. The many "agreed list" resolutions from that section were passed without objections. The section report was accepted and the three resolutions listed for debate were passed with minor amendments. The only contentious proposal was an attempt by one bishop from Uganda, Wilson Mutebi from Mityana, to remove most of the wording of the Resolution on Unity within Provinces. This was passed as originally proposed and reads:
(a) notes with gratitude the ministry of support which the Archbishop of Canterbury has been able to give in Sudan and Rwanda, and recognises that he is called upon to render assistance from time to time in a variety of situations;
(b) in view of the very grave difficulties encountered in the internal affairs of some Provinces of the Communion, invites the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Commission to make recommendations to the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, as to the exceptional conditions and circumstances and conditions, under which, and the means by which, it would be appropriate for him to exercise an extra-ordinary ministry of episcope (pastoral oversight), support and reconciliatioin with regard to the internal affairs of a Province other than his own for the sake of maintaining communion within the said Province and between the said Province and the rest of the Anglican Communion.
The session went on to deal with Section II resolutions. I will report separately on this later, but the most challenging aspect of the session for many was the use of French throughout by the session chair, Archbishop Michael Peers. It was the English speakers who had to reach for the headsets.
Among the upcoming resolutions, only twenty were listed for formal debate, but there are a few others proposed for the "agreed list" that have attracted the fify objectors needed to force a debate. These include resolution V.13 Episcopal Responsibilities and Diocesan Boundaries. This, from North America and Caribbean Region, reads:
(a) Reaffirms Resolution 72 of the Lambeth Conference of 1988 "Episcopal Responsibilities and Diocesan Boundaries"; and
(b) Requests the primates to oversee compliance with this resolution by the bishops of their Province both within and beyond the Province.
Archbishop Michael Peers, in the regional report, notes:
As the majority of the members of this Conference are new, it seems appropriate to commit ourselves once again to our mutual obligations in these matters.
Another one that has been objected to is concerned with a Decade of Transformation and Renewal and is from East Central Africa. I am not sure why.