Fears Of Anglican Split Persist
By Candia Dames
19 April 2006
Three years after delegates of the last Episcopal General Convention in the United States approved the election of V. Gene Robinson, a homosexual, as bishop of New Hampshire, local Archbishop Drexel Gomez still fears a split in the Anglican Communion.
His comments came as the Episcopal Church, the American arm of the Anglican denomination, released a recent report, which will form the basis of the formal response to the 2004 Windsor Report, which contains findings of the Lambeth Commission.
That Commission studied issues like ordination of gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.
"What the rest of the Communion is saying to the Episcopal Church is Ďwe donít approve of [the ordination of gay clergy.] We donít believe this is in keeping with the gospel and we are asking you to give a commitment not to do thisÖif you wish to live in communion with the rest of us," explained Archbishop Gomez, who was a member of the Lambeth Commission.
The Commission was formed in response to the decision by the Episcopal Church to ordain Bishop Robinson, and the decision by the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada to authorize the blessing of same-sex unions.
The Windsor Report asks for a stop to same-sex blessings.
Following the release of the report, a special commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion was constituted in 2005 by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies to assist the 75th General Convention in considering the report.
The commission is recommending that the General Convention express regret for the pain caused by its actions at the 74th General Convention.
It also urges "very considerable caution be exercised in the nomination, election, consent to, and the consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."
But the commission did not agree to the moratorium on the ordination of gay clergy asked for by the Windsor Report.
While clarifying that the General Convention has not authorized public rites of blessing for same-sex unions, the commission said, "we concur with the Windsor Report and suggest that the Episcopal Church not proceed to authorize such rites at this time."
At the same time, the commission acknowledged that it is necessary to maintain "a breadth of private response to the situations of individual pastoral care" for gay and lesbian people.
Asked whether he still feared a split in the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Gomez said, "Itís still a possibility".
He added, however, "From the recent reports I have received, I think members of the Episcopal Church will make a genuine effort to try to address the concerns. I personally believe they will not go as far as I would like them to go."
Archbishop Gomez said that some Anglicans are doubtful that the issues could ever be resolved satisfactorily for all concerned.
"The rest of the Communion is waiting anxiously to see how the [Episcopalians] will [formally] respond," he said.
The General Convention will meet from June 13 to 21 in Columbus, Ohio. At that time, a legislative committee will review the new report.
Archbishop Gomez said the ordination of gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex blessings are contrary to what most Anglicans do and believe.
"So if we are to go forward together the [Episcopalians] have to, as it were, backtrack," he said.
"There will be the question of how the Communion will receive what they offer."