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THE COMMUNIQUE: What Does It Mean?


News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

DROMANTINE, Northern Ireland (3/1/2005)--The Anglican Communion Primates' Meeting which produced the five-page Communiqué, February 2005 requires careful and thoughtful analysis. I was told by Presiding Bishop Greg Venables of the Southern Cone that it needs to be read several times to absorb its meaning. This was echoed by Nassau Archbishop Drexel Gomez who made it very clear to me that there are time lines in this document that will not be ignored by the Primates. In short, Frank Griswold and the Anglican Church in Canada have been served notice that "space" and "listening", the basic thrust of this document, has limitations and parameters that will not be violated. It is not a fudge.

The meeting was held within the context of common prayer and worship, including Evensong at St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, said the document. What was missing is a Common Eucharist that the Primates could not participate in because they are not of one mind on sexuality issues. So a voluntary, optional Eucharist was offered by the chaplain to the Archbishop of Armagh, Robin Eames. The Global South Primates did not take communion together the whole time they were there. This was the triumph of koinonia over communion.

COMMUNIQUE: We thank God that our meeting has been characterised by generosity of spirit, and a readiness to respect one another's integrity, with Christian charity and abundant goodwill.

INTERPRETATION: Yes there were open, honest and frank talks, but there was clearly a sharp edge to the talks...timelines were offered and must be adhered too.

COMMUNIQUE: The meeting opened with reports from the Provinces most affected by the recent tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean and the works of relief undertaken by Anglican churches. We offered prayers for the victims, and for the ongoing work of reconstruction and relief being undertaken across the entire rim of the Indian Ocean, particularly in the Province of South East Asia, East Africa, the Indian Ocean, and South India and in the Church of Ceylon.

INTERPRETATION: These were side issues to show the primates were interested in more than just what to do about the US and Canada. The media ignored it.

COMMUNIQUE: The most pressing business facing the Primates' Meeting was consideration of the Windsor Report 2004, in which the Lambeth Commission on Communion (ii) had offered its recommendations on the future life of the Anglican Communion in the light of developments in Anglican life in North America (iii).

INTEPRETATION: This indeed was the nub of why they had met.

COMMUNIQUE: We reflected for many hours on the recommendations of the Windsor Report...with a careful analysis of the 322 responses which had been received from around the Anglican Communion, and which offered a high measure of general support for the recommendations of the Windsor Report, despite some expressions of concern in relation to matters of detail.

"We then proceeded to our own reflections on these responses. Many primates have been deeply alarmed that the standard of Christian teaching on matters of human sexuality expressed in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which should command respect as the position overwhelmingly adopted by the bishops of the Anglican Communion, has been seriously undermined by the recent developments in North America."

INTERPRETATION: ECUSA broke the rules. Griswold lied when he signed a statement in London saying he would abide by 1.10, and then proceeded to consecrate V. Gene Robinson. He and numerous Episcopal Church bishops have flagrantly ignored Lambeth 1.10 time and time again.

COMMUNIQUE: These developments within the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada have proceeded entirely in accordance with their constitutional processes and requirements.

INTERPRETATION: These things were done based on ECUSA and Canada's constitutions and canons, but so what, the Primates were not put off by cultural considerations, sexuality issues are about theology and involve a clear understanding of the doctrine of salvation.

COMMUNIQUE: We also wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people.

INTERPRETATION: Here we get closer to the heart of the problem. First acknowledge that "specific human behaviors" are the problem, not orientation, but quickly move to pastoral and care issues. What this has meant in the ECUSA and Canada is that there has been no pastoral support and care but full acceptance of lesbitransgays with no remonstrance of their behavior. Had "pastoral care" been an issue, ECUSA's orthodox bishops would have been offering up organizations like Homosexuals Anonymous, EXODUS and a whole host of other ex-gay ministries available and open to minister to gays. But the orthodox have been so cowed by the church's pansexualists that they are too frightened to offer an alternative for fear of being called homophobic, falling for the line by Griswold that homosexuality is "hard wired". But Jeffrey Satinover, a psychiatrist and probably the world's leading authority on homosexuality says our sexuality is not immutable, it is malleable and it is not hardwired. He has blasted the gay community and secular psychiatrists who argue that it is a normal and immutable state of the human being and therefore should be discussed in civil-rights terms, like race.

COMMUNIQUE: The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.

INTERPRETATION: Quickly move to safe ground by invoking homophobia as an issue if not THE issue. Deflect everyone away from a lethal behavior that has the potential to kill and focus on alleged homophobic Anglicans who write and say nasty things about a deadly behavior. Unnamed homophobes have become the whipping boys of liberal Primates like Eames, Griswold, Carnley and even the Archbishop of Canterbury.

COMMUNIQUE: We welcome the general thrust of the Windsor Report as offering a way forward for the mutual life of our Communion, and commend the following conclusions for dealing with the differences of opinion which have opened up amongst us.

REALITY: The Windsor Report was a fudge, made so by American Episcopal Bishop Mark Dyer who sat on the commission that prepared the report and who managed a weak "regret" for Griswold's behavior and who managed to steer the report towards homophobia and boundary crossing. It was a brilliant move by Rowan Williams to invite a former Roman Catholic priest who dumped his vows to marry a nun and then become an Episcopalian. How much different things would have turned out if Williams had invited say Dr. C. FitzSimons Allison, Bishop of South Carolina (ret.) who holds a doctorate from Oxford, is a thoroughly orthodox bishop who has authored numerous books. But Williams knew what he wanted and got a liberal from Virginia Theological Seminary. That skewed the Report right there.

COMMUNIQUE: We believe that Sections A & B of the Windsor Report offers an authentic description of the life of the Anglican Communion...and the central place Anglicans accord to the authority of scripture, and of "autonomy-in-communion" as the balanced exercise of the inter-dependence between the thirty-eight Provinces and their legitimate provincial autonomy. We therefore request all provinces to consider whether they are willing to be committed to the inter-dependent life of the Anglican Communion understood in the terms set out in these sections of the report.

INTERPRETATION: The Primates were clear that Scripture was and is the touchstone for truth, it is the locus of the church's authority, not Hooker's three legged stool, the creeds, the 39 Articles or the Lambeth Quadrilateral.

The problem is that the Episcopal Church only holds the "authority of Scripture" in theory not in practice. While it has never denied the place of Scripture in the life of the church, the failure to pass Resolution B001 at last year's General Convention affirming certain basic doctrines of the faith, is a de facto denial of Holy Scripture and its doctrines. Most bishops do not believe in the efficacy of the atonement for our salvation, dozens more do not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and some, like Charles Bennison no longer believe in the divinity and deity of Christ. By denying the truth of these doctrines they have rejected the authority of Holy Scripture.

COMMUNIQUE: We also have further questions concerning the development of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and of a Council of Advice. While we welcome the ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury as that of one who can speak to us as primus inter pares about the realities we face as a Communion, we are cautious of any development which would seem to imply the creation of an international jurisdiction which could override our proper provincial autonomy. We ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to explore ways of consulting further on these matters.

INTERPRETATION: There will be no papal-like authority granted to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Anglican Communion. Provinces, while not independent, are interdependent.

COMMUNIQUE: We accept the principle articulated in Section D of the Windsor Report concerning the universal nature of the ministry of a bishop within Anglican polity. Although formidable practical problems would attend any formal process of wider consultation in the election and confirmation of bishops, we request that Provinces should themselves find an appropriate place for the proper consideration of the principle of inter-dependence in any process of election or confirmation.

INTERPRETATION: No one province can dictate for another who shall be consecrated a bishop, but "inter-dependence" means there are implications and consequences if one province goes against the received teaching of the church and consecrates an openly homosexual priest to the episcopacy.

COMMUNIQUE: We as a body continue to address the situations which have arisen in North America with the utmost seriousness. Whilst there remains a very real question about whether the North American churches are willing to accept the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted elsewhere in the Communion, the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is obscured, and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered.

INTEPRETATION: Will they or won't they? There is only one interpretation of sexual activity according to scripture; either sex within marriage between a man and a woman or celibacy.

COMMUNIQUE: We are persuaded however that in order for the recommendations of the Windsor Report to be properly addressed, time needs to be given to the Episcopal Church (USA) and to the Anglican Church of Canada for consideration of these recommendations according to their constitutional processes.

INTERPREATION: We will give ECUSA and the ACiC some more time and space to "listen", but there is a beginning and an end to all this. A Day of Reckoning is coming.

COMMUNIQUE: Within the ambit of the issues discussed in the Windsor Report and in order to recognise the integrity of all parties, we request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference. During that same period we request that both churches respond through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion.

INTERPRETATION: "Voluntary withdrawal" or temporary suspension is underway, but it is restricted to appearances with the ACC only and not the Primates meetings or Lambeth...yet. That will come.

COMMUNIQUE: In order to protect the integrity and legitimate needs of groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their Provinces, we recommend that the Archbishop of Canterbury appoint, as a matter of urgency, a panel of reference to supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions made by any churches for such members in line with the recommendation in the Primates' Statement of October 2003. Equally, during this period we commit ourselves neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary interventions.

INTERPRETATION: Boundary crossing is unacceptable, but the truth is it won't cease. Uganda Archbishop Henry Orombi said he would not let go the three parishes in California he has under his care but he has enough churches of his own to concern himself with. He wants to see a legitimate and adequate episcopal oversight in North America implemented. One doubts that Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria will fold CONA or cease to open future Nigerian Anglican churches or take those orthodox ECUSA churches that request it, under his wing.

The fact remains that while the communique condemned boundary crossing and asked the Primates not to do it, it also means that orthodox US bishops could use this as an excuse to do nothing. The Primates did not recognize Bishop Duncan as the legitimate voice and the Network as the legitimate alternative to ECUSA at Dromantine, but the fact that Duncan was their clearly means that something is in the air. But the question remains, will the Network bishops now be prepared to cross boundaries to offer protection for orthodox parishes caught in revisionist dioceses like Pennsylvania? One hopes so, otherwise orthodox parishes continue at the mercy of revisionist bishops like Charles Bennison, John Chane, J. Jon Bruno, Ed Leidel, and that's no mercy at all.

COMMUNIQUE: Notwithstanding the request of paragraph 14 of this communiqué, we encourage the Anglican Consultative Council to organise a hearing at its meeting in Nottingham, England, in June 2005 at which representatives of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada, invited for that specific purpose, may have an opportunity to set out the thinking behind the recent actions of their Provinces, in accordance with paragraph 141 of the Windsor Report.

INTERPRETATION: As the most liberal of the Instruments of Unity, and because the ACC is funded largely by the ECUSA, the ACC will not offend Griswold and the ECUSA and will attempt to find a third way in dealing with situation. The ACC will not be successful.

COMMUNIQUE: In reaffirming the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 as the present position of the Anglican Communion, we pledge ourselves afresh to that resolution in its entirety, and request the Anglican Consultative Council in June 2005 to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process which has been the subject of resolutions not only at the Lambeth Conference in 1998, but in earlier Conferences as well.

INTERPRETATION: The ACC believes "listening" should end in acceptance of ECUSA's stand on homosexual behavior. The rest of the communion won't buy it; therefore the Communion is heading towards divorce.

COMMUNIQUE: In the meantime, we ask our fellow primates to use their best influence to persuade their brothers and sisters to exercise a moratorium on public Rites of Blessing for Same-sex unions and on the consecration of any bishop living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage.

REALITY: ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold has already said he will not abide by that. He believes, and has said, that homosexual persons will enter into the full life of the Episcopal Church at all levels. In short there will be no change in the policies of ECUSA regarding homosexual persons or their behavior and their status in the church.

COMMUNIQUE: These strategies are intended to restore the full trust of our bonds of affection across the Communion.

INTERPRETATION: It will never happen. That "trust" has been broken all it requires is a ratification of that fact. "Bonds of affection" do not trump Holy Scripture.

The subject of theological education demands another story, and will be developed at a later time.

COMMUNIQUE: "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12.2)

REALITY: The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada are and continue to be conformed to this world (present age) and they have gone against the revealed will of God on Biblical sexuality.

"All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5.18)

There can be no reconciliation without repentance, and Episcopal Church leader Frank T. Griswold told ENS and the Guardian newspaper that that will not be forthcoming. A divorce is in the making. It is only a matter of time.


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