Archbishop Robin Eames said his Lambeth Commission’s report would “have teeth,” but conservative Anglicans blasted it for not being tough enough on churches with liberal attitudes toward homosexuality and liberal Anglicans thought major areas were unfair to them.
Many individuals and groups, while expressing gratitude to the commission for its hard work and the resulting unanimous statement, took it to task.
The report called for bishops who have authorized blessing rites for gay couples to “express regret” for the distress their actions caused some Anglican churches and that those bishops consider withdrawing from “representative functions in the Anglican Communion.”
The bishop of the Canadian diocese of New Westminster, Michael Ingham, told Anglican Journal that the diocese “does regret the consequences of our actions but not the actions themselves.” In 2002, the diocese authorized blessing rites for same-sex couples. “It was not our intention to cause dismay, but affirm the relationships of gay and lesbian people,” said Bishop Ingham, who added that his three-year term on the Anglican Consultative Council ended in 2002 and that he is not on any international committees currently.
He said the report was incorrect in saying that the diocese had not consulted with the wider Communion. “I consulted with the house of bishops, the General Synod and received many submissions (on the issue),” he said.
The report also calls for bishops who participated in the consecration of openly-gay Bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire to express regret and stand down from international groups. The other Canadian bishop who helped consecrate Bishop Robinson last November (besides Bishop Ingham), Bruce Stavert of Quebec, told the Journal that he attended because of a long-standing companion relationship between his diocese and New Hampshire. He said he does not believe he has anything for which to apologize. A spokesman for Bishop Robinson said he did not plan to respond to the report immediately.
In the U.S., the conservative American Anglican Council said in a statement that while it believes in the Anglican Communion, it cannot support unity “at the expense of truth.” While the report called for a moratorium on the consecration to the episcopate of a candidate who is living in a gay relationship, the council called for a moratorium on any ordination of “practising” homosexuals.
“We call upon (Presiding) Bishop Frank Griswold to express godly sorrow,” and refuse to allow any blessing ceremonies for gay couples, the council said. Bishop Griswold, who was in London for a meeting of the standing committee of Anglican primates, released a statement saying that the Anglican Communion must acknowledge and make room for differences with in it and that in the U.S., “we are seeking to live the gospel in a society where homosexuality is openly discussed and increasingly acknowledged in all areas of our public life.”
The leader of a conservative group in Great Britain, Church Society, said the report is “toothless” and “very ambiguous.” Rev. David Phillips told Britain’s Press Association that the report did not recommend “what you do when people undermine (communion).” Another conservative group, Forward in Faith North America, said “there is nothing offered for a world-wide solution to address the schismatic (split) state of the Anglican Communion.”
In Canada, a leader of the Anglican gay-support group Integrity said the Windsor Report will affect a special synod that the diocese of Toronto has scheduled for Nov. 27 to consider the matter of same-sex blessings. Referring to the desire for delay on same-sex issues until there is greater consensus worldwide, Chris Ambidge said, “The report is proposing a structure where theological progress isn’t going to be made until it’s acceptable to the most conservative views.”
“It’s a relief to see a frank admission that there is, in fact, a crisis,” said Rev. George Sinclair, a director with the Canadian conservative Essentials coalition. “We hope the official structures of the Anglican church receive this report so the crisis will be averted.”