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The Anglican Communion and Homosexuality

Preparations for the 2008 Lambeth
Conference: mid-2007 to mid-2008

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2007-SEP: Snapshots from the official Lambeth Conference website:

As noted above, not represented at the Conference will be the Anglicans of New Hampshire and those of the breakaway Convocation of Anglicans in North America. Their bishops, Gene Robinson and Martyn Minns have been excluded from the Conference.

Curiously, the main Lambeth Conference website continually refers to "all bishops" and spouses of bishops, rather than "all but two bishops" and "all but two bishops' spouses." 1

Another curious observation is that none of the postings to the Lambeth Conference blog which started up in 2007-APR contain the words/names "homosexual," "Robinson" or "Minns." 1

We did find one reference to Bishop Robinson on the Conference web site. It was a "clarification regarding a recent Times article" posted on 2007-JUN-29. The posting said:

"From a spokesman at Lambeth Palace:

" 'In relation to the Times report of 29th June that 'Gene Robinson is to be invited to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church next summer' it should be noted that there is no change to the Archbishop of Canterbury's decision not to invite the Bishop of New Hampshire to the conference as a participating bishop; it is still being explored whether Bishop Robinson might attend in another status, but no invitation has been issued." 2

2007-SEP-20: Archbishop of Canterbury & American Bishops meet:

The bishops from the Episcopal Church, USA, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and international Anglican representatives met in New Orleans from SEP-20 to 25. Bishop Robert O'Neill of Colorado told a news conference at the end of the first day: "It was an open and forthright conversation marked by respect, courtesy and honesty." An anonymous source commented that a couple of exchanges directed at Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, were "painful" in their honesty. One topic discussed was the rejection of Bishop Gene Robinson's attendance at the Lambeth Conference by Williams.

Six conservative dioceses out of the denomination's total of 110 have rejected the leadership of Katharine

There are rumors of rather heated exchanges over topics related to sexual orientation at the second day of the meeting. Archbishop Williams said that the 2007-SEP-30 deadline given by leaders of the Anglican Communion was not an ultimatum. The leaders had asked the Episcopal Church, USA to "... make an unequivocal common covenant that (they) will not authorize any rite of blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses" and to confirm a bishop living in a committed same-sex union "... unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the communion." The leaders had simply timed their deadline to match the bishops' meeting in New Orleans.

  • Jefferts Schori noted that that the U.S. bishops would be "framing a response" next week after a "stimulating and productive conversation" this week.
  • Bishop Mouneer Anis, primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, said the Episcopal Church USA's more-liberal stance on homosexuality causes it to be seen as "... a different church -- even a different religion."
  • The Anglican Journal reported:
"Archbishop Williams said recent consecrations of conservative American priests as bishops in African Anglican churches who will care for disaffected American churches presents difficulties for the communion. 'There is a very long history of unease over bishops wandering over other jurisdictions. I would prefer to hope and work for a local solution. Canonically, this is a muddle and it is getting worse. It makes it harder to find a constructive solution here,' he said."

"However, he added that he was 'struck by the sheer will to continue to engage with one another. I don't despair of unity.' Responding to a question about why the Anglican Communion matters, Archbishop Williams said it is 'for the glory of God. It is a particular cluster of churches within the body of Christ. We can demonstrate that it is possible to be a global communion without a central authority. If we get this right we will have done something for the entire Christian family'." 2,3

2007-SEP-25: Bishops move to meet primates' request:

At the conclusion of their meeting in New Orleans, bishops of the Episcopal Church, USA pledged to "exercise restraint" in approving additional gay bishops, and pledged to not approve an official prayer for blessing same-sex relationships. Presumably, the clergy will be able to continue blessing the house, car, yacht, etc. of same-sex couples; they are only forbidden to recognize same-sex relationships, even if the couple has a marriage license or is already married. 5

2007-OCT-04: Reactions to American church's statement:

Conservatives within the Episcopal Church, USA and the rest of the Anglican Communion rejected the New Orleans statement, contending that the American bishops had merely restated its past positions and had not met all of the Primates' demands.

However the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion studied the New Orleans statement and concluded:

"We believe the Episcopal Church has clarified all outstanding questions. ...[and has] "given the necessary assurances sought of them."

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, head of the Episcopal Church, USA said:

"The Joint Standing Committee report has recognized the hard work of the House of Bishops. ... and that our responses reflect our repeatedly expressed desire to remain in full communion with the rest of the Anglican Communion."

A conservative committee member, the Most Rev. Mouneer Hanna Anis, primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, complained that his input was not included in the report. He said:

"The response of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church represents a superficial shift from their previous position. Therefore I strongly disagree with the report."

The report was sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury who forwarded it to the primates and members of the Anglican Consultative Council, a body of bishops, priests and lay persons within the Anglican Communion. They are to respond to the archbishop by the end of October. 6

2007-OCT-09: Church of England bishops threaten to boycott Lambeth:

The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester in England, said that he would find it difficult to attend the Lambeth Conference if American bishops who had consecrated or approved the appointment of the Anglican Communion's first openly gay bishop were there. There is speculation that his beliefs are shared by about 25% of his fellow bishops. He criticized the Episcopal Church, USA for including elements of other religions -- e.g. Buddhism and Hinduism -- into their services, and treating the Bible as a human creation that can be rewritten, instead of a revelation from God. He said:

"My difficulty at the moment is not with a particular person, such as Gene Robinson, but with those who felt it right to approve and to officiate at his ordination. Unless they are willing to say that what they did was contrary to the Gospel, and we all of us from time to time need to repent about what we have done wrong, I would find it very difficult to be with them in a council of bishops."

Some African archbishops have called for an emergency meeting of all of the primates to decide whether to discipline the Episcopal Church and/or postpone the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

Meanwhile, Dr. John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, suggested that any conservative bishops who boycotted the Lambeth Conference might be expelling themselves from the Communion because they would have broken their links to the Archbishop of Canterbury. 7

2008-JAN-21: Archbishop of Canterbury launched Lambeth program:

Dr. Rowan Williams launched the official program for Lambeth Conference 2008: "Equipping Bishops for Mission." He said, in part:

"The first Lambeth Conference was called by Archbishop Charles Longley in 1867 -- partly, as it happens, in response to a crisis about the limits of diversity allowed in the Anglican churches around the world; so there's nothing so very new about a Lambeth Conference meeting in a climate of some controversy. ..."

"In spite of the painful controversies which have clouded the life of the Communion for the last few years, there remains, as many people have repeatedly said, a very strong loyalty to each other and a desire to stay together." 8

2008-JUN-22 to 29: GAFCON: a rival Anglican conference:

Over 1,000 senior conservative leaders of the Anglican Communion, including about 289 bishops from Africa, Latin America, Asia, and North America, attended the eight day Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem. This was in reaction to the unresolved division in the Communion over the role of homosexuals and biblical authority. More details


  1. The official website of the Lambeth Conference is at: http://www.lambethconference.org/
  2. Webmaster, "Clarification regarding a recent Times article," Lambeth Conference, 2007-JUN-29, at: http://www.lambethconference.org/
  3. Soulange de Santis, "U.S. bishops challenge Archbishop of Canterbury on first day of meetings," Anglican Journal, 2007-SEP-21, at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/
  4. Soulange de Santis, "No ultimatum in request for September response, says Williams; 'Room to maneuver' in primates' request," Anglican Journal, 2007-SEP-21, at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/
  5. Stuart Laidlaw, "Anglican split gains ground," Toronto Star, 2007-SEP-26, Page AA4.
  6. Neela Banerjee, "Panel Says Episcopalians Have Met Anglican Directive," New York Times, 2007-OCT-04, at: http://wwrn.org/
  7. Jonathan Petre, "Church of England gay clergy row intensifies," The Telegraph, 2007-OCT-09, at: http://wwrn.org/
  8. "Launch of Lambeth Conference 2008," Anglican Communion News Service, 2008-JAN-21.

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Copyright © 2006 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2006-MAR-11
Latest update: 2008-JUL-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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