Bishops seek unity while admitting diverse views on homosexuality

Published January 1, 2000

Ten Anglican bishops from around the world, including Terence Finlay, Bishop of Toronto, met recently to begin talks aimed at bridging the wide gulf over views on homosexuality in the Anglican Communion.

The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold, hosted the November meeting at the Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York. The group issued a brief statement afterward saying, “the process of dialogue fostered a deep sense of the Spirit’s presence in the midst of diverse convictions.”

Three facilitators helped the group identify areas of convergence and divergence, Bishop Finlay said in an interview. Like the Archbishop of Canterbury who requested the meeting, the bishop said he wants to move the discussion forward, “recognizing the diversity that there is in the Anglican Communion and discovering and exploring how we maintain our unity in the midst of that diversity.”

Other bishops at the meeting were from the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, Brazil, England, Nigeria and Tanzania. Bishop Finlay said a report from the meeting was given to the Archbishop of Canterbury who will then decide on any further steps.

The Lambeth Conference last year exposed the fundamental differences among the world’s Anglican bishops over the issue of homosexuality. The human sexuality subgroup at Lambeth produced a report accepted by the approximately 60 bishops who worked on it, Bishop Finlay said.

Section members had hoped to simply report their findings to the conference without preparing resolutions because members didn’t feel they were at a point where resolutions would be helpful, the bishop said.

“But Lambeth is also a place where people are looking for resolutions and signs and it was then that things began to unravel and that was unfortunate,” Bishop Finlay said. “If you read the subsection’s report, you get a sense of the enormous diversity there is in the Communion, and that was as far as we got in the subsection.

“That was after about two weeks being together, which I think points out that this is a conversation that requires an extended period of time and a willingness to listen to one another, and to try and hear the insight and understanding that the different people bring to the conversation.”

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