THE Anglican Churches in the United States and Canada have been asked to
withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) for the three-year period
leading up to the next Lambeth Conference in 2008.
The news came in a communiqué from the Anglican Primates, issued late on
Thursday night last week, from their meeting at the Dromantine retreat centre
near Newry, Northern Ireland. The Archbishop of Canterbury said he believed
that the outcome had strengthened the Anglican Church.
Withdrawal is to take effect immediately, though both Churches have been
invited to a "hearing" at the next ACC meeting, in Nottingham in June, to
discuss the thinking behind their actions: the blessing of same-sex unions in
New Westminster, Canada, and the consecration of a non-celibate gay man, the Rt
Revd Gene Robinson, in the US.
The Primates are urged 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".
The communiqué states that they continue to be committed "unreservedly" to
the pastoral support and care of homosexual people: "The victimisation or
diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards
people of the same sex is anathema to us."
On the vexed question of the crossing of diocesan and provincial boundaries,
the Primates recommend that the Archbishop of Canterbury appoint "as a matter
of urgency" a panel of reference to ensure acceptable episcopal oversight for
dissenting parishes. The communiqué goes on: "Equally, during this period, we
commit ourselves neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary
The Primates welcome the proposals for the development of future
instruments of unity, but express caution about any developments leading
towards the creation of an international jurisdiction.
They are at pains to say in the communiqué that the meeting had been
characterised by "generosity of spirit and a readiness to respect one another's
integrity, with Christian charity and abundant goodwill".