Episcopal church response to Windsor was ‘adequate,’ says monitoring group

Published February 16, 2007

The U.S. Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report’s call for a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops has been “adequate,” primates of the Anglican Communion meeting in Tanzania have been told by a sub-group, whose members include Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The sub-group charged with monitoring the American church’s response reached consensus that although it did not adopt the 2004 report’s language calling for a “moratorium” on the election of gay bishops, “it probably did the most that could have been done, and the response to that request has been adequate,” said Australia’s Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, during a media briefing at the end of the primates’ first day of meetings. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church adopted a resolution last year calling on its church to “exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” The sub-group noted that the majority of bishops with jurisdiction had indicated that they would abide by this resolution and that this marked “a significant shift from the position which applied in 2003.” The group said it believed that General Convention “has complied in this resolution with the request of the primates.”The sub-group said, however, that it was “not convinced about the rationale of why General Convention did not act explicitly” on the issue of the blessing of same-sex unions said Archbishop Aspinall. The sub-group said in its report that this was a question that “needs to be addressed urgently by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.” The sub-group noted that a resolution passed by the 74th General Convention in 2003 recognized that “local faith communities within its common life were exploring and experiencing such liturgies, and while, at provincial level, it has done nothing to authorize such rites, it has done nothing to check their development.” This situation “creates a level of dissonance between the life of the Church at national level and at local level, which makes it hard to discern exactly where the Episcopal Church stands on the issue,” the sub-group’s report said. It added that while bishops of the American church pledged in March 2005 not to authorize any public rites for same-sex blessings, at least until the General Convention of 2006, “there is evidence that a variety of practices now apply across the United States.” On the Windsor Report’s call for the American church to express regret for the pain that it caused by consecrating Gene Robinson, an openly gay bishop from the diocese of New Hampshire, “again the General Convention didn’t use the precise language of the Windsor Report,” but the sub-group also saw its response as “sufficient,” said Archbishop Aspinall, who has been designated spokesperson by the primates, who are meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. “It is clear to this group that in the period following the Dromantine meeting, the Episcopal Church took the Windsor Report and the recommendations adopted by the primates extremely seriously, establishing a Special Commission to work on its response, dedicating a particular legislative committee at the 75th General Convention to carry forward business associated with the Windsor Report, and devoting a lot of time to considering this work,” the sub-group noted in its report.Other members of the sub-group were Archbishop Bernard Malango of Central Africa, Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales, Chancellor Philippa Amable from the Province of West Africa, Canon Elizabeth Paver of the Church of England, and Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion. According to Episcopal News Service, Archbishop Aspinall described the atmosphere of the primates’ first day of sessions as one characterized by expression of “patience, graciousness, care and respect.” He added: “There has been no talk of schism in the meeting at all.” The primates concluded their first day by creating a working group to document the discussions emanating from the sub-group’s report.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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