Anglican Consultative Council declines to go along with ‘consequences’

Decision was small part of day that saw action on many issues facing communion, world

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, left, and Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, Episcopal Church Anglican Consultative Council bishop member, converse April 18 as ACC members read over the 45 resolutions they were due to consider. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, left, and Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, Episcopal Church bishop member of the ACC, converse April 18 as ACC members read over the 45 resolutions they were due to consider. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Lusaka, Zambia] An April 18 Anglican Consultative Council marathon resolution-passing session saw ACC members take stands on climate change, gender justice, safe church environments, youth involvement in the communion, solidarity with persecuted people, and interfaith and ecumenical relations, among other issues.

And the council declined to endorse or take any action similar to the primates’ call in January for three years of so-called “consequences” for the Episcopal Church. The primates’ call was in response to the 78th General Convention’s decision to change canonical language that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorize two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).

The primates had said that they were “requiring” that for those three years the Episcopal Church not serve on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee, and “that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision-making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

The ACC did pass a resolution (dubbed C34) that received the Archbishop of Canterbury’s formal report to it on the primates’ gathering and affirmed the primates’ commitment to walk together. The resolution also committed the council “to continue to seek appropriate ways for the provinces of the Anglican Communion to walk together with each other and with the primates and other Instruments of Communion.”

The resolution was passed early in the session with no debate because it was placed on the consent calendar, a new approach for the ACC that allowed for a single up-or-down vote on all of the included resolutions. Another resolution, labeled C35, began the day on the consent calendar, was removed so that the council could discuss it and, as the afternoon session began and before it was discussed, was withdrawn from consideration. It was a one-sentence statement by which the ACC would have said it “welcomes” the primates’ communique.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby told the ACC that he would be “very glad” if C35 was withdrawn because C34 “covers the issues we need to cover.”

Welby went on to say that when he had met the previous day in Harare with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, the notorious African leader had asked him about the communion’s stance on same-sex marriage. The archbishop said he told Mugabe that while Anglicans have “widely differing views … the majority opinion is that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and woman.

“And that the unanimous opinion of the primates’ meeting was that the criminalization of LGBTIQ people is entirely wrong.”

“I don’t think it would be fair to say that he entirely agreed with me,” Welby added.

Welby reminded the ACC that his report to them told how the primates dealt with a number of other issues of “absolute supreme importance” and that the ACC, as well, is “deeply committed” to issues such as evangelism, to opposing religiously based violence, to the care of refugees and to the work of climate change response.

In the future, Welby said, “When I talk to people I am going to be honest. Let’s never pretend that things are other than they are. We are not entirely united on the issues around human sexuality. We have profound and important divisions among us. It’s clear what has been the majority opinion among us. It’s also very clear that, when it comes to criminalization, that we are deeply committed to combatting that in every place where we find it and not supporting those who support it.”

Unlike recent ACC meetings when members began considering resolutions early in the gathering, ACC-16 saw 45 resolutions all presented on the last full day of the April 8-19 meeting at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka.

The April 18 sessions constituted the only formal business conducted at the ACC-16 meeting, other than April 15’s election of Hong Kong Archbishop and Primate Paul Kwong as the council’s next chair. On April 18 the members also elected Church of England lay member Margaret Swinson as vice chair and five representatives to the communion’s Standing Committee.

Summaries of all resolutions passed April 18 are here.

Read more about it

ACC background is here.

Ongoing ENS coverage of the ACC is here.

The House of Deputies News page is also posting stories about the meeting.

Tweeting is happening with #ACCLusaka.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Comments

  1. Sean Storm says:

    I think the members of the ACC have shown us the true way to handle these sensitive issues. We need to be adults, stop worrying about human sexuality, and get on with other more important issues.

    • Ian Looker says:

      “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3

      • Are there not levels of agreement (especially in the context of this verse?). Can we disagree about an area of ethics, but still demonstrate a desire to agree about the person and work of Jesus? I should hope so, myself!

    • Professor Asoka Ekanayaka says:

      How pathetic that when the Archbishop of Canterbury is asked about a matter of sin by Mugabe all he can say is that some (Anglicans) say this and some say that but the majority view is such and such, where the most important thing is not to criminalize it. I suppose if the ABC had asked Mugabe about a matter of abuse of power the latter could also have answered in similar vein ” some say this and some say that but the majority say it is okay – the important thing is not to criminalize it”. Nowhere in the bible is sin ever identified in terms of a consensus view. Sin whether homosexual practice or any other is not to be sanctified. Nor does the bible hesitate to criminalize sin in all its manifestations. The path to salvation is not an apologetic accomodation with the moral fashions of the world using clever intellectually pretentious language that is all things to all men – but rather the frank acknowledgment of sin, repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

      • The Bible says Noah gathered all the species in the world in a boat, and only the people and animals on the boat survived this mythical flood. That was a worldview back then, based on the traditions, culture and limited knowledge of people including the authors of the bible.

        The same with the evolution of humans from earlier species. The biblical authors didn’t know that concept. So there is strong precedent for believing that the bible needs to be read in context, and seen as profound but sometimes fallible. And that may apply to the love and commitment of gay and lesbian couples and their precious and decent relationships.

        That can make the bible more real, not less real. The key messages of love and grace still stand.

        Of course, you may in good faith believe gay sexuality is wrong. In that case, that’s your view – just don’t try to impose it on Christians who affirm gay and lesbian sex. Individuals, priests, and local churches should live out their faith in their own conscience, serving their own local communities. The Anglican Communion should have the maturity to exercise unity in diversity, instead of trying to impose one uniform view on everyone.

        The Bible is written in real world contexts. It is not always right on everything. But basically, we should seek grace to love one another, even when we disagree.

      • John Rawlinson says:

        Left-handedness is condemned in Scripture; should we criminalize and imprison left-handed people? The eating of pork is prohibited in Scripture. Are those who now eat pork be condemned. The Biblical affirmation is that everybody is a sinner. The traditional understanding is that being sinful is a part of human nature– and the man cannot be perfected. There is no clear evidence as to the cause(s) of homosexuality, but it seems to be a part of such a person’s nature. So, in the service of a loving God who calls us to be creative in our relationships with one another, you call on us to anathematize homosexuals, while allowing other sinners (imperfect people) to go free. How does that edify God?

        • Dr Christopher Shell says:

          The degree to which homosexual orientation is not inborn is so great that the percentage difference between homosexual and heterosexual on matters like
          molestation-when-young,
          difference between urban and rural evironments,
          and between college and non-college,
          degree of fluidity of self-designation,
          effect of culture on self-designation (even within the same culture at different dates),
          effect of being an identical twin,
          effect of being parented by lesbians…
          runs each time into the multiple hundreds of percentage points.
          So why should we treat homosexuality as any more inborn than a tendencey to smoking? Steps (not choices) once taken are difficult to go back on – they become habits.
          If you’re treating homosexuality as inborn rather than being largely the product of environment, culture and volition, you must justify that by evidence.

          • WSHesselgrave says:

            Well, for one reason, because the vast majority of gay people aver that their sexual orientation was NOT a choice. Secondly, in the biblical creation myth, God gives Adam the freedom to choose what constitutes a “suitable companion.”

          • Valerie Parkin says:

            I have a very close relative who is lesbian, a beautiful person. She has told me how confused she was in her teen years because she did not respond to the opposite sex like some other girls. People like Dr. Shell who approach this subject as if a gay person is a pedophile or was molested at some stage of their life, or came under the influence of some pedophile early in their life, does not have a clue what these people experience. This is not a habit like smoking. Any responsible member of the gay community will tell you that this is not an easy life-style.

        • Dr Christopher Shell says:

          typo ‘tendency’

      • So, sin is what you define as sin, right? You have evidence. Others don’t have evidence.
        Do I have this right?

    • More important issues than death to homosexuals? What would they be?

  2. Christine Moseley says:

    If you can suffer the death penalty for being the gay or transgendered person that you are- that seems to make it a pretty important issue. If we talk about care for oppressed peoples and don’t talk about LGBT experiences, we are being dishonest.

    • Exactly! Thank you Christine Moseley. Why are they able to overlook the “consequences” when they involve death to homosexual people and those who know them and won’t identify them?

      Is this not criminal in anybody’s language. And we are supposed to tolerate this?

  3. This a case of pragmatics. ‘Reality bites’ !

  4. In the future, Welby said, “When I talk to people I am going to be honest. Let’s never pretend that things are other than they are. We are not entirely united on the issues around human sexuality. We have profound and important divisions among us. It’s clear what has been the majority opinion among us. It’s also very clear that, when it comes to criminalization, that we are deeply committed to combatting that in every place where we find it and not supporting those who support it.”

    BINGO!
    FINALLY!
    REALITY JUST TAKES SOME GETTING USED TO!
    OUT OF THE DARK/SMOKEY BALCONY AND INTO THE FRONT ROW OF REAL LIFE!

    THE ARTFUL DODGING HAS STOPPED!

  5. Sean Storm says:

    It’s not about who is right or wrong, it’s about loving everyone and caring for everyone, and stop hating things and pointing fingers. No matter which portion of the Bible you may quote there is always Jesus Christ saying “Love each other as I have loved you”, and “judge not lest you are judged, and the same measure applied to you”.

  6. I totally agree, Sean. What matters is, can we open up to grace and love, even when people have different views. The real test of God may well be: can we love one another? can we co-exist, even with differences? can we find unity in Christ, even in the huge diversity of countless unique lives?

  7. Alda Morgan says:

    Amen! So may it be!

  8. my niece was baptisted as a baby and grew up gay.i believe as it was said at her baptistim she was signed with the seal of the cross and was GODS child forever.if not so why is this said.please let me know ok.

  9. Sharon Findley says:

    Susannah Clark thank you. well stated.
    how come it’s okay for the death penalty and they are not censored?
    truly confusing to me.

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