What was decided

02 November 2006

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 interventions."

 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".

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