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WEST INDIES: Primate Lashes Out at ECUSA Presiding Bishop

WEST INDIES PRIMATE LASHES OUT AT ECUSA PRESIDING BISHOP
"You sir are duplicitous…you have repeatedly spun the truth"

AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with the Archbishop of the West Indies, The Most Rev. Drexel Gomez.

By David W. Virtue

The following interview took place at the new Anglican Communion Institute conference (formerly SEAD the Society for Ecumenical Anglican Doctrine which was formerly SEAD the Scholarly Engagement with Anglican Doctrine) in Charleston, SC.

VIRTUOSITY: Archbishop, are you in impaired communion or broken communion with the Episcopal Church?

GOMEZ: We are in impaired communion with ECUSA, which is the official position of the Province of West Indies.

VIRTUOSITY: At what point would it become broken?

GOMEZ: We will be having our provincial meeting in November. Prior to that we await
the result of the Eames Commission and we will hold the relationship [of impaired communion] till then. We will also see how the communion acts. We have expressed a strong concern for faithful Anglicans in America and a large number of Caribbeans in the US who are preserving the faith in The ECUSA.

VIRTUOSITY: In your speech to attendees at the Anglican Communion Institute's conference you called Frank Griswold a duplicitous man who has spun the truth from several Primatial meetings over homosexuality. Can you be specific?

GOMEZ: Within the meeting itself he would always say in the ECUSA there are different approaches it, but he would never discuss what the individual positions were, or give any resolution. These divisions were the last word so by do nothing you allowed the
practice to continue.

VIRTUOSITY: You mean no authority of Holy Scripture informs him?

GOMEZ: His approach to Scripture is totally alien to our traditional approach to Scripture.

VIRTUOSITY: What should faithful Episcopalians do now? Should they leave? Join the AMIA or what?

GOMEZ: I would not advocate joining the AMIA. I would advise persons to hold on and to bear witness in their particular context as the church works through this question. Let me be clear homosexuality affects the entire Anglican Communion not just ECUSA. There are Caribbean Anglicans questioning whether they should stay in the Anglican Church, it is not just a local one.

VIRTUOSITY: Are you hopeful that the Episcopal Church can be reformed over time?

GOMEZ: Over time, perhaps. It would take a long time because there is a strong revisionist leadership within the ECUSA and most of the seminaries are revisionist and producing a revisionist mindset, and for me that is a very dangerous sign for the future health and well being of the church; it lacks Anglican diversity.

VIRTUOSITY: What do you understand Anglican diversity to mean?

GOMEZ: A variety of opinions on non essential elements. An example is the approach to
Holy Communion. Some people are receptionists, some broad church, while the Anglican Church teaches the real presence. I see no difficulty tolerating those differences of opinion while emphasizing, doing and participating in the Eucharist. Diversity ceases to be diversity when we teach contradictory and mutually exclusive teaching and doctrines where opposites cannot be true.

There are instances where one set of issues can be both/and but there are other issues that are presumptively secular and are not open to both/and. You cannot say therefore that heterosexual and homosexual lifestyles are equally holy patterns of living, they are not.

VIRTUOSITY: What do you understand the Doctrine of Reception to be?

GOMEZ: It is essentially an approach started by the Roman Catholic Church and found in some forms of orthodoxy. A teaching is presented to the church and is allowed to ferment. The doctrine of the church begins at the community level where it becomes comfortable and absorbed into the broader teaching of the church.

VIRTUOSITY: Why could homosexuality not be a part of a new Doctrine of reception?

GOMEZ: Because it contradicts the revealed teaching from Genesis of the creation of human kind, wherein God makes male and female and it is part of the divine order and plan for being human. It is a contradiction of that affirmed by Jesus. It also denies the complementarity that God has placed into the created order and introduces a new anthropology in which humans beings are simply persons without differentiation; so any two persons can love any two persons. It is not possible to involve this is a new doctrine of reception.

VIRTUOSITY: In the present crisis the Episcopal Church finds itself in, what should Episcopal laity do at this time?

GOMEZ: The first approach is to remain in the church. Secondly, I think they should
search out those faithful parishes where they can worship. People have cars they can travel. It won't hurt them. Thirdly they should take time and effort to study the issues more deeply. Stop complaining and get informed.

VIRTUOSITY: How should the Archbishop of Canterbury discipline the Bishop of New Westminster?

GOMEZ: I believe Dr. Williams should make a public comment after the next Canadian General Synod on last day of May after they have elected a new Primate. New Westminster is a diocese within a province. The Archbishop has made a public commitment to uphold the official teaching of the Anglican Church on this issue and
any province that departs from that teaching would present him with a problem.

VIRTUOSITY: Canon John Peterson and the Anglican Consultative Council have very manipulative with the Primates? Has he or can he been stopped?

GOMEZ: Peterson has used the office of General Secretary to promote the cause of the revisionists at the expense of the traditionalists. In terms of the ACC itself, it is due for a structural review. It should represent the more general feeling and rich diversity of the communion.

VIRTUOSITY: Should the next leader of the AAC be from the Global South?

GOMEZ: Yes.

VIRTUOSITY: Should he be orthodox in faith and morals?

GOMEZ: Yes.

VIRTUOSITY: Is there Racism in the ECUSA and at what level?

GOMEZ: My own belief is that racism is still a live issue within the church and wider society, and we have been too quick to cover it up and pretend to be where we are not.
Within the Global South there is a strong feeling that the North does not give to the persons of the South the due recognition that is due to them as persons.

VIRTUOSITY: Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison likened the growth of African Christianity to Hitler's Nazi Party? What is your response to that?

GOMEZ: It was and is a racist and uninformed statement and meant to be pejorative. Leaders like Bennison are doing grave harm to the Christian cause not just the Anglican
cause, because he is deficient in Christian orthodoxy and exploits the power of his office to achieve his own ends.

VIRTUOSITY: Do you think there is an implied racism in bishops like Griswold and Spong?

GOMEZ: They are condescending in their attitude towards the Global South and that is racist.

AFTER I WROTE MY LETTER TO FRANK GRISWOLD CONDEMINING HIM FOR CONSECRATING V. GENE ROBINSON I GOT A MESSAGE FROM THE VATICAN SUPPORTING MY LETTER TO GRISWOLD.

I am still praying that we will be able to stay together and be a stronger church out of the present problems, but I am strongly of the view that we must pay greater attention to the teaching of The Faith, and we must reduce the pseudo cultural teaching that is being promoted under the guise of Christianity.

VIRTUOSITY: What are your hopes for the Anglican Communion?

GOMEZ: We are in dialogue with the African and Asian bishops, South East Asia and
Indian archbishops and we are planning a meeting before the end of the year.

VIRTUOSITY: What is the real point of the Eames Commission, can it make any serious contribution to the ongoing debate?

GOMEZ: The Eames Commission is about structural and relational issues. It is NOT about the truth or falsity of homosexual behavior. That issue has been decided. The Lambeth Resolution resolved that. It is now about how we remain in communion and address the question of communion in the face of diversity and the reality of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the various parts of the communion in the situation of diversity. These are issues of provincial autonomy and inter-Anglican relationships, and the Commission is to make recommendations to the Archbishop with special reference as to how he is to function.

VIRTUOSITY: A Federation rather than Communion perhaps?

GOMEZ: There is a strong possibility by might, but there are efforts devoted to being a Commuion. It will be a great tragedy if we are reduced to a federation. It will do immense harm to the image of Anglicanism and it would certainly reduce our influence at the ecumenical level…it would reduce it considerably.

I am glad to say that I am able to exercise some influence in the Global South and I am happy to report that we are all, at this time, working off the same page.

END

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