October 18, 2004 (updated Oct. 21)
for ending faith-based bigotry
homosexuality is only the presenting issue; at depth, the division is about authority
within the church and a fear - certainly among some evangelicals in the west -
that they are losing the argument with secular society. The fact that society
has changed, only confirms their belief that they are right. This is a debate
between different visions both of what the church should be like, but also what
society should do. It is made all the more fierce as the church has lost numerical
support and social authority in western societies."
"The decision by the 74th General Convention of the Episcopal Church (USA) to give consent to the election of bishop Gene Robinson to the Diocese of New Hampshire, the authorising by a diocese of the Anglican Church of Canada of a public Rite of Blessing for same sex unions and the involvement in other provinces by bishops without the consent or approval of the incumbent bishop to perform episcopal functions have uncovered major divisions throughout the Anglican Communion. There has been talk of crisis, schism and realignment. Voices and declarations have portrayed a Communion in crisis."
So begins the 93-page "Windsor Report 2004" from the Anglican Church's Lambeth Commission on Communion. The report is an attempt to prevent a split in the world-wide body of the church over whether faith should be used against homosexuals.
While acceptance of gays and same-sex marriage is growing in developed countries, the old taboos and suspicions still exist in the undeveloped nations. The problem is that these undeveloped nations are growth areas for Anglicans, while the church is becoming increasingly irrelevant in developed countries.
From 1992 to 2001 nearly 2.4 million Germans left Protestantism. (Deutsche Welle, September 30, 2004). Churches are turning into gay dance clubs in England (we have fond memories of dancing under the gothic arches and religious mosaics in London's Limelight, a one-time church in SoHo).
"All across Britain, derelict churches are being bought up by corporate chains and turned into superpubs with space for hundreds of drinkers," wrote Deutsche Welle, on September 30, 2004
It appears that Starbuck's franchisers, condo developers, and ravers will soon have new venues to develop.
"Because of the serious repercussions in the Communion," the Windsor Report says, "we call for a moratorium on all such public Rites, and recommend that bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation. Pending such expression of regret, we recommend that such bishops be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion. We recommend that provinces take responsibility for endeavouring to ensure commitment on the part of their bishops to the common life of the Communion on this matter".
Within hours of the report's release, Canada's Archbishop Andrew Hutchison was on CBC Newsworld saying he expected Bishop Ingham of New Westminster (the diocese that decided to bless same-sex unions) to issue an apology "quite quickly".
Canadian Anglicans have already begun a 3-year process to further discuss relationship recognition and marriage equality.
Reuters (today) reported Bishop Ingham told them, "I express regret for the consequences but not for the actions themselves."
It is sad that Bishop Ingham has been forced to submit, at least in part, to the demands of this report. We thank him for the contribution he has made towards ending spiritual abuse and discrimination within his faith, and beyond. His work has transcended the boundaries of his community, inspiring others who share his noble objective.
We encourage supporters to write again, expressing appreciation and support for Bishop Ingham, with hope that he, and others like him, will continue to be a champion for change.
Bishop Ingham has expressed his intention to continue allowing the blessing of same-sex unions, telling the Globe and Mail (Oct. 21) "that the commission carefully did not recommend he rescind authorization of same-sex blessings, merely that he express regret."
There seems to be a moratorium on moratoriums.
The Windsor Report will be considered in a meeting of Canadian Bishops next month.