ANGLICANS in the United States and Canada are considering their next
steps in response to the Primates' communiqué.
The ECUSA House of Bishops meets in two weeks' time in Texas. This will be a
crucial meeting. Already on the table is its debate on the moratorium on
same-sex blessings and ordinations asked for in the Windsor report.
The Revd Mark Allen McIntosh, Canon Theologian to Bishop Griswold, is to
lead a committee charged with producing the response to the ACC meeting in
June; but no official decision can be taken on withdrawal until the General
Convention meets in June 2006.
Conservatives in the US see the Primates' Meeting as a breakthrough, lending
them support in their struggle against the liberal hierarchy. The Bishop of
Pittsburgh, the Rt Revd Robert Duncan, Moderator of the newly formed Anglican
Communion Network (ACN), was in Newry for the duration of the meeting, and is
said to have kept in touch with some of the Primates, though he was officially
He said in a statement last Friday: "The clarity with which the Primates
have spoken is breathtaking. Individual provinces do have the freedom to act as
they see fit under their various constitutions, but the exercise of that
freedom beyond agreed teaching and practice will imperil their standing and
participation in the Communion.
"Autonomy in communion is defined. Moratoria are called for Communion-wide.
The need to turn our global attention to the great social crisis of disease and
poverty is reasserted."
Bishop Duncan described the guaranteed provision for the "integrity and
legitimate needs of theological minorities" as "an extraordinary and essential
development. The ACN, together with the much wider circle of orthodox believers
in the US and Canada, now has an international promise and an Anglican
Communion provision that should stem the flow of three decades of believers'
Other US bishops had a predictably mixed response to the communiqué.
Withdrawal "does not seem too onerous a price to pay for the preservation of
the Communion", said the Bishop of Washington, the Rt Revd John Chane.
The Bishop of Southwest Florida, the Rt Revd John Lipscomb, said of the
coming meeting of ECUSA's House of Bishops: "If we are not able to declare a
moratorium, I believe we should voluntarily, for the sake of the health of the
Communion, abstain from participation, except as requested by the various
The Bishop of New York, the Rt Revd Mark Sisk, expressed surprise and
puzzlement at the request for withdrawal, and also at "the Primates' sense of
their own responsibilities and authority".
The Bishop of Quincy, the Rt Revd Keith Ackerman, believed it "altogether
possible" that not all American bishops would be invited to the next Lambeth
In Canada, two significant meetings are to take place in the next few weeks.
The Primate will be explaining the communiqué at the House of Bishops' meeting
in April; and the Council of General Synod will consider the request for
withdrawal at its meeting in early May.
There had been no specific request for repentance at the Primates' Meeting,
the Ven. Paul Feheley, the Canadian Primate's aide in Newry, said on Tuesday.
"My hunch is that we as a Canadian Church have been faithful to what the
Windsor report has asked us to do. We have not had a specific request in terms
of repentance; we were asked to apologise for 'breaching the bonds of
affection', and Bishop Ingham has done that, as has Bishop Griswold. There's a
sense here of trying to move forward with the communiqué as it sits, and trying
to think positively about it, and how we can work with it to maintain the
He acknowledged that it was "beyond comprehension" that people were going to
change sides. "There's no magic solution to this, no one set of words we're all
struggling for that will make it all work. But each time you take a step back,
you allow some more dialogue to take place; you allow some other processes to
The Bishop of New Westminster, the Rt Revd Michael Ingham, urged the
American and Canadian Churches to resist withdrawal. Reports that the Communion
had gone into schism over the issue of homosexuality were seriously wrong, he
said. "The ACC constitution made no provision for member Churches to be
'uninvited', and the Archbishop of Canterbury had given no indication of an
intention to provoke schism in the Anglican Communion by 'uninviting' bishops
to the Lambeth Conference."