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LAMBETH: Windsor Group Announces Forum to Deal with Dissidents

LAMBETH: Windsor Group Announces Forum to Deal with Dissidents

By Hans Zeiger in Canterbury
July 28, 2008

CANTERBURY-The Windsor Continuation Group today announced that it has proposed an Anglican Communion Pastoral Forum "to act in the Anglican Communion in a rapid manner to emerging threats to its life." The first problem facing the Forum would be the role of homosexuality in the church, and second would be the problem of Anglicans opposed to homosexual ordinations and blessings who have crossed provincial borders to find fellowship.

At a press conference to release a new Windsor Group paper on the next steps for the Windsor Process, Bishop Clive Handford, the Group chairman, said that the members of the proposed Forum ought to recognize the "breadth of the communion," and they are to be appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. "This could well be a body ... that could respond quickly where there's a pressure point in the communion," said Handford.

The Windsor Continuation Group was formed in February to conduct remaining deliberations related to the Windsor Report of 2004, which set moratoria on the blessing of same-sex unions, the consecration of gay bishops, and ecclesiastical interventions across provinces. The Windsor Group's report on Monday was the product of the third and final stage of its preliminary observations, said Handford.

Asked about the Windsor Group's position on Gene Robinson, the openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire, Handford said, "We are not anywhere intending to imply that Bishop Gene Robinson should resign as a result of what we have called for." Handford said that Robinson was elected within his diocese. At the same time, "there shouldn't be any more" homosexual ordinations or blessings, he said.

In response to disaffected Anglican provinces and dioceses, the Windsor Group recommended a new "trust" mechanism. "The proliferation of ad hoc Episcopal and archiepiscopal ministries cannot be maintained within a global Communion," said the paper. "We recommend that the Pastoral Forum develop a scheme in which existing ad hoc jurisdictions could be held 'in trust' in preparation for their reconciliation within their proper Provinces."

Handford explained that the "trust" proposal was essentially "a safe place into which bodies can come where they will not be dependent on primates in other provinces." Disaffected provinces and dioceses "can be there held in trust till the day when through dialogue they can return to their parent bodies."

Handford said that the proposals were "not intended to be punitive." Instead, "What we're seeking to do is pull back, hold off, and take stock so that we can talk to one another."

Much of the talking will take place at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in May 2009. More immediately, bishops will be discussing the Windsor Group's proposals and related issues in their "Indaba" groups this week. The Windsor Group's proposed Indaba questions are: "What might mutual accountability under God in life and mission look like at its best in the period between now and the completion of the Covenant process?" and "What personal sacrifices might it involve for each of us?"



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