Commission will soon wrap up its work

Published September 1, 2004

ECUSA Bishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Communion Network

Archbishop Robin Eames has dismissed criticisms that the Lambeth Commission tasked to find ways of maintaining unity in the fractured Anglican Communion has been partial only to some voices.

?Very few people have actually had the opportunity to speak to the commission in person. But I must say that there has been absolutely no intention of listening only to particular voices, or even the loudest voices,? said Archbishop Eames, chair of the commission, in an interview with Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS). He also said that the commission has read and has taken ?very seriously? all the submissions it has received ?from a wide spectrum of the Communion.?

During its meeting in June in Hendersonville , N.C. , the commission listened to opposing views within the Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA) regarding the effect of the ordination of a gay bishop in New Hampshire .

During the meeting, Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the Anglican Communion Network of Dioceses and Parishes (ACN) outlined six recommendations to the commission, which included the disciplining of ECUSA ?sufficient to return it to recognizable Anglicanism.? (Twelve Episcopal dioceses opposed to the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire formed the network last January.)

ECUSA presiding bishop Frank Griswold, for his part, said he and other ECUSA leaders ?sought to give a full and accurate picture of the present state of our church, and to dispel a number of misapprehensions.?

?As presiding bishop of the whole church it was important for me to make sure that I, along with my colleagues, sought honestly to represent the breadth of views and the depth of feeling that exists in different parts of our household,? said Bishop Griswold in a statement. ?At the same time, we sought to make it clear that the overwhelming reality of the Episcopal church is the diverse centre in which differing views are held in tension because of our common desire to live together in the communion of the Holy Spirit, and to manifest Christ’s reconciling love to our divided and broken world.?

In the ACNS interview, Archbishop Eames also acknowledged that, ?it would not be putting it too strongly to say that there is a sense of betrayal in parts of the Communion about the actions in North America .? He said that the Anglican Communion ?has become deeply polarized by? what happened in ECUSA and by the diocese of New Westminster ‘s decision to allow same-sex blessings. But he underscored the importance of continuing dialogue. ?I believe, from my experience in Northern Ireland , that division, when honestly confronted and understood, can so easily be turned into opportunity for the future.? (Archbishop Eames, who is primate of the Church of Ireland , has been involved in the peace process in Northern Ireland .)

He said that the commission expects to complete its work by the end of this month and would submit its report to the Archbishop of Canterbury during the standing committees of the primates’ meeting in mid-October. The group is trying to find ways of maintaining ?the highest degree of communion possible? among members of the Anglican Communion who are split on the consecration of Bishop Robinson and the granting of same-sex blessings in the diocese of New Westminster in Canada .

In a statement published on the ACN Web site, Bishop Duncan also asked the commission to acknowledge that schism has occurred and to ?observe that the minority in North America is at one with the majority of the Communion.? The network asked that the Archbishop of Canterbury ?give immediate protection and provide structural relief to the minority.?

Meanwhile, more than a week after the commission meeting the Church of England Newspaper reported that Bishop John Chane of Washington officiated at the church blessing of a union between one of his clergy, Rev. Michael Hopkins, and his partner, John Clinton Bradley. Mr. Hopkins is past president of Integrity in the United States , a group of gay and lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters.

The newspaper reported that Archbishop Greg Venables, primate of the Southern Cone, reacted strongly to the blessing, saying, ?It is a very sad day when a bishop chooses to flagrantly reject the pleas of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the primates of the Anglican Communion and it’s an even sadder day when he uses biblical language to promote disobedience of the Bible’s teaching.?

Bishop Chane defended his decision to bless the relationship saying, ?I am mystified by the controversy over same-sex blessings, but I am confident the power of grace and love that brought John and Michael here today will see the church through this change.? .


Keep on reading

Skip to content