Lambeth Perspective - No Vote on Kuala Lumpur

Canterbury: Friday, 7 August 1998

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 - No Vote on Kuala Lumpur

This report mainly covers Friday's plenary proceedings. I will return to earlier events at a later date.

Yesterday I wrote about the Kuala Lumpur statement in anticipation of today's plenary. Today the conference did not vote at all on either of the resolutions relating to this. Here is what occurred.

The Resolutions Committee placed this matter as the last item before lunch, stating that they did not wish the afternoon session to contain any controversial matters. It was explained by the chairman, the Bishop of Sao Paulo and Primate of Brazil, Glauco Soares de Lima, that both motions IV.26 and V.23 would be taken together as a single item of business, and that the Archbishop of South East Asia, Moses Tay, had asked for Resolution IV.26 to be handled via the Agreed List procedure, meaning that no discussion and no amendments would be allowed. As he himself had tabled an amendment to add the words "and as an authentic expression of Anglican moral norms" to the end of the IV.26 resolution, this meant that he was offering to withdraw that additional wording if the conference would pass the resolution. (There were a couple of other amendments to the detailed wording which had been proposed by others.) He had already stated that he would withdraw Resolution V.23 if his amendment to IV.26 was carried. Here is the wording of the two resolutions, in case you threw away my earlier post.

IV.26 (on behalf of Section IV) This conference, 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 contribution of the 'South - South Encounter' to the Anglican Communion.

V.23 (on behalf of the South East Asia Region) This Conference receives the Kuala Lumpur Statement on Human Sexuality with gratitude as an authentic expression of Anglican moral norms.

Anyway, we never found out what the conference thought about his proposals, or about the resolutions, never mind any amendments, because the Bishop of Guildford (England), John Gladwin, proposed moving to next business, saying "we've gnawed at this bird long enough".

The chairman then took several points of order. Rowan Williams, Bishop of Monmouth (Wales) asked for and obtained confirmation that if it was discussed under the Agreed Procedure it was impossible to make any amendments at all. Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford (England) asked, and the chairman did, read out the full wording of the relevant clause from the resolution passed on Wednesday which contains references to the Kuala Lumpur statement and to all the other resolutions then before the conference which related to homosexuality.

At this point an African bishop made a point of order that he and many of his colleagues were completely confused. This turned out to be because the chairman had passed over the previous item on the notice paper, a wholly unrelated motion from Section I, relating to the political situation in Northern and Western Uganda, without making clear why. The reason was that the resolutions committee had further work to do on the wording before presenting it to the conference, and it would be taken after lunch. Once this was explained, the discussion on procedure resumed.

Brian Hanson, the Legal Adviser (day job legal adviser to the General Synod of the Church of England, and the only man wearing a jacket and tie despite the heat), explained carefully that moving to next business meant that the whole discussion ceased, without any votes being taken, and that if the agreed resolution proposal was adopted that meant that no amendments would be considered anyway.

The Bishop of Manchester (England), Chris Mayfield, then asked for and obtained clarification that the references made in the resolution already passed on Wednesday to these resolutions would still stand despite any move to next business.

At last the chairman called for a vote on the motion of the Bishop of Guildford. The motion was carried by 331 to 202. Thus the debate never began.

After lunch the Resolutions Committee chairman, Michael Nuttall, Bishop of Natal, made two further statements to clarify the position. He said that in the final report, the status of the various resolutions would be made clear. Those which were referenced but had not been voted upon would appear in the form of a footnote or an annex. He also confirmed that the vote to move to next business also caused the failure of V.23 since the chairman had made it quite clear at the time that this was the case. There would therefore be no further vote on V.23. A bishop from Tanzania rose to object to this, saying it had not been clear, and alleging that "we were misled". However, the chairman of that session, the Primate of New Zealand, went on with the next item of business.

During the afternoon session, one of the motions passed was V.13 from the North American Region on Episcopal Responsibilities and Diocesan Boundaries. The wording of this had been rather significantly changed from the original, which read:

This Conference:

(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.

In the revised version, clause (b) reads instead as:

(b) Requests the primates to encourage the bishops of their province to consider the implications of Resolution 72 of the Lambeth Conference 1988.

In moving his revised proposal, the Primate of Canada, Michael Peers, appealed to 2 Corinthians as authority for having both doctrine and discipline in the church. He commended "this expression of collegiality" to his fellow bishops, noting that within any province diocesan boundaries were a constitutional and canonical matter which bishops already took oaths at ordination to uphold. In time to come, he said, this expression of collegiality, even when canons do not apply, may be even more necessary than it was in 1988. Two English bishops, John Broadhurst (Fulham, London) and Edwin Barnes, (Provincial Episcopal Visitor, Canterbury - though resident in St Albans Diocese) said that although the change of wording was a great improvement they would still vote against this, as they felt it would impede the work they do in England in some dioceses under the special arrangements that apply here. Michael Peers said that of course those arrangements were not affected. After some further debate, a Nigerian bishop attempted to move, and the Archbishop of Sydney on his behalf succeeded in moving, a next business motion to prevent a vote. This was lost on a show of hands and the resolution was then adopted.

Among other resolutions adopted was one calling for a review by the UN Security Council of economic sanctions against Iraq and Libya and one calling on the government of Pakistan to repeal the Blasphemy Law (sections 295 B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code) and to release all prisoners unjustly accused under this law. This latter motion was passed unanimously.

In other matters, the Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, issued a statement which reads:

In a wide-ranging interview with a number of journalists on Thursday, August 6, I gave my reaction to the resolution by the Lambeth Conference on homosexuality. I was asked what I thought of the speech made by the Archbishop of Canterbury just before the resolution was voted. I replied: "Pathetic". I was referring to the speech and its impact, not to the Archbishop himself. I now acknowledge that the word I used in my pain and frustration was ill-judged and hurtful and I hereby unreservedly apologise for using it.

A letter was circulating among the bishops today for signature, which is headed 'A Pastoral Statement to Lesbian and Gay Anglicans'. The number of signature at around 11 am Friday was around a hundred, half of whom were not Americans, and it included the primates of Canada, Ireland, Brazil, Wales, and (hardly surprisingly) Scotland. It had also been signed by twenty English bishops, including eight diocesans, which is a bit more of a surprise, at least to me.

I have not had space here to cover the Archbishop of Canterbury's remarks at the news conference on Friday morning, but I am sure the report in the Times will be an accurate reflection of his views, since the Lambeth Palace press secretary was seen in the press room today checking the copy. My next report will not be sent until Sunday at the earliest. The full texts of all the resolutions are to be published on the official conference web site during the course of next week.

Copyright © 1998 Society of Archbishop Justus.
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