THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION AND HOMOSEXUALITY
The Windsor Report by the Lambeth Commission on Communion:
A brief summary
The worldwide Anglican Communion is severely split along North-South lines.
||Anglicans in North America and Europe tend to be more liberal; many approach the homosexual issue as a matter of elementary human rights.
||The rest of the world, particularly Africa and Asia, tend to be more conservative; they
generally approach the homosexual issue as an abomination,
hated by God.
This is, of course, an over-simplification. There are members and clergy in
every Province of the worldwide Anglican Communion who hold diverse beliefs
about the issue. Unfortunately, many hold these beliefs with an absolute
certainty. Dialogue is quite rare. Few seem willing or able to modify their
The Lambeth Commission on Communion was created by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury -- the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican
Communion -- in 2003-OCT. Its basic goal is to find ways by which Anglicans can
agree to disagree by preventing schism of the Communion over the question of homosexuality.
On 2004-OCT-18 the Commission's 92 page report was released to the public. 1
In his foreword, the Most Reverend Dr. Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh and
Chairperson of the Lambeth Commission noted that "Since the 1970s
controversies over issues of human sexuality have become increasingly divisive
and destructive throughout Christendom." Since:
||The Episcopal Church, USA confirmed the election of bishop Gene Robinson
to the Diocese of New Hampshire and
||The New Westminster diocese of the Anglican Church of Canada authorized
a Rite of Blessing for couples involved in a same-sex union,
there have been discussions of "crisis, schism and realignment" within
the Anglican Communion.
Dr. Eames noted that the current crisis over homosexuality is far more
divisive than earlier conflicts, like the ordination of women. He wrote in very
diplomatic language: "The depth of conviction and feeling on all sides of the
current issues has on occasions introduced a degree of harshness and a lack of
charity which is new to Anglicanism. A process of dissent is not new to the
Communion but it has never before been expressed with such force nor in ways
which have been so accessible to international scrutiny. Not all the opinions
voiced have been expressed in ways which are conducive to dialogue or the
encouragement of communion."
A very brief summary of the report's findings:
||The archbishop of Canterbury should be regarded as "the central focus
of both unity and mission" of the Anglican Communion.
||A "council of advice" composed of "suitable persons, who would
possess a knowledge of the life of the communion" would be helpful to
advise and support the Archbishop during major conflicts.
||The commission recommended that each Province should adopt a covenant
which would describe its common identity with the rest of the Communion and
include mechanisms for handling disputes within the Communion.
||Synods and Provinces should review the broader consequences whenever it
consecrates a new bishop.
||The Episcopal Church, USA, is "invited to express its regret" for
the pain that the election of Bishop Robinson caused within the Communion.
||No future consecrations of bishops who are living in a committed
same-sex union should be made until a "new consensus in the Anglican
||The bishops involved in Bishop Robinson's consecration are "invited
to consider...whether they should withdraw themselves from representative
functions in the Anglican Communion."
||The Archbishop of Canterbury should "exercise very considerable
caution in inviting or admitting [Bishop Robinson]...to the councils of the
||Bishops should not authorize public rituals for the blessing of same-sex
||Bishops in Canada and the U.S. who have authorized such rituals should
"express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection
were breached." Until they apologize, they should "withdraw
themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion."
||The report calls for a study of biblical and theological aspects for and
against same-sex unions.
||For those Anglicans who cannot accept liberal decisions by their
bishops, as a last resort, a "conditional and temporary provision of
delegated pastoral oversight" should be implemented. Bishops who have
already intervened in other jurisdictions without permissions are asked to "express
regret for the consequences of their actions...affirm their desire to remain
in the communion... effect a moratorium on any further interventions...[and]
seek an accommodation with the bishops of the dioceses whose parishes they
have taken into their own care." 2
Copyright © 2005 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-FEB-25
Author: B.A. Robinson