Skip to comments.Eames delivers second lecture on Communion at Virginia seminary
Posted on 10/05/2005 6:26:10 PM PDT by sionnsar
What all this amounts to is a question which I would again submit lies close to the heart of Anglican understanding or the lack of it : who or what speaks for a Province? What statement contains the authoritative voice of an Anglican Province? Once more we are compelled to turn back to the pros and cons of Anglican autonomy. Synodical process is at the centre of our understanding. But in a Communion which gives moral authority to Instruments of Unity or Communion and rejoices in dispersed authority I have to ask is it possible to recognise a simple authority representative of one opinion on behalf of a Province?
Let me make it clear once more that what I have said is my personal opinion. I have also to point out that the process of decision-making in both the north American Churches involves more than decisions by the respective House of Bishops. I recognise that the structures of Anglican policy in north America involve Convention and General Synod structures. Other decisions are awaited in the States and in Canada following the developments to which I have referred. The opinions I have just expressed are based on the evidence I have seen to date of the official reactions of episcopal leadership in both the States and Canada. Those opinions I put forward as a contribution to the on-going debate. My plea is that whatever ones loyalty may be in the cauldron of our current crisis objectivity demands fairness in the process of evaluating what has already been said and decided.
May I put it this way. In terms of exact wording of the Windsor Report so far as the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada are concerned so far so good but much remains
Perhaps we need to recall the plea of the Windsor Report for generosity and charity towards steps taken to meet the requests of the Report. Let us under God find it in our hearts no matter what our individual views on the issues may be to adopt that generosity and charity in these days. (para. 156)
In short, I think we find ourselves in a situation where the North American churches have taken the Windsor Report, and the subsequent Statement of the Primates at Dromantine, extremely seriously, and have complied, in so far as it lies within the power of bodies less than their national synod, to meet the requests made of them.
Read it all. It is so tragic that Robin Eames believes what he writes in the final paragraph cited above since it is not true.
To quote the Windsor Report and give but one example:
143. We believe that to proceed unilaterally with the authorisation of public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions at this time goes against the formally expressed opinions of the Instruments of Unity and therefore constitutes action in breach of the legitimate application of the Christian faith as the churches of the Anglican Communion have received it, and of bonds of affection in the life of the Communion, especially the principle of interdependence. For the sake of our common life, we call upon all bishops of the Anglican Communion to honour the Primates Pastoral Letter of May 2003, by not proceeding to authorise public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions. The primates stated then:
The question of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions is still a cause of potentially divisive controversy. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke for us all when he said that it is through liturgy that we express what we believe, and that there is no theological consensus about same sex unions. Therefore, we as a body cannot support the authorisation of such rites.
This is distinct from the duty of pastoral care that is laid upon all Christians to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations. As recognised in the booklet True Union, it is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.
144. While we recognise that the Episcopal Church (USA) has by action of Convention made provision for the development of public Rites of Blessing of same sex unions, the decision to authorise rests with diocesan bishops. Because of the serious repercussions in the Communion, we call for a moratorium on all such public Rites, and recommend that bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation. Pending such expression of regret, we recommend that such bishops be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion. We recommend that provinces take responsibility for endeavouring to ensure commitment on the part of their bishops to the common life of the Communion on this matter.
Now this section is focused on the public rites of same sex blessings since this was the particular focus of the controversy. Let us immediately note that the Diocese of New Westminster, where this controversy erupted first in 2003, has NOT endorsed the very moratorium called for here. There are still at this moment some churches in the Diocese of New Westminster where the rites which are asked to be stopped in the Windsor Report are still authorized. Let us also ask the Primate of Ireland where he finds a preliminary pledge by the House of Bishops in ECUSA not to allow for same sex blessings in this province which is the real concern of the Anglican Communion, although its particular manifestation here is in liturgy. It is inconceivable to most Anglicans around the world that if official liturgies are not authorized, that there could any other such blessings of noncelibate same-sex relationships which imply endorsement of a unbiblical, unChristian and unAnglican practice.
The key section of Lambeth 1.10 is worth quoting:
4 while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;
5 cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions;
(This commitment to Lambeth Resolution 1.10 as the current position of the Anglican Communion was also reflected in a letter written to the primates by Archbishop Rowan Williams on the announcement of his nomination to the See of Canterbury says the Windsor Report, Section A, paragraph 25).
Note carefully the language of cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions. This is the teaching which underlines the call for the moratorium.
However, not only has the ECUSA House of Bishops not agreed to a preliminary Province wide moratorium on public rites but they are allowing for the legitimising of the very unAnglican practice which is the focus of global concern in other ways in their dioceses. And this is happening not in one or two locations but in numerous dioceses in the Episcopal Church.
Let us for times sake give just two examples.
First, consider a resolution from the diocese of Rochester (New York):
A Resolution commending Support for Same Sex Blessings
Resolved, That this 73rd Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester commend our bishops past and present who have affirmed the Episcopal Churchs commitment to provide pastoral care for homosexual persons by supporting appropriate services of blessing for same sex couples in this diocese for more than two decades.
Please note carefully the language here. Appropriate services of blessing for same sex couples in this diocese are occurring and have occurred for two decades in this diocese. Supposing I showed this to an Anglican leader in Southeast Asia or Africa or any other number of places where many are scandalized by the developments in North America. Now suppose I tell them that Robin Eames says that the bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) have in my opinion met the precise wording of Windsor. Then I present them with the above resolution from the diocese of Rochester again. What do you think they will think? What will they say? Of course the precise language and certainly the intent of this section of the Windsor Report is not being met.
As a second example, consider the diocese of Olympia. The following advertisement is from the April 2005 Episcopal Voice, the newsletter of that diocese of Olympia.
St. Marks Cathedral Wedding Coordinator. The Wedding Coordinator serves as a liaison to same-sex and heterosexual couples planning a wedding. A love of weddings is essential as well as strong pastoral, organizational and communication skills. Experience in event planning is also helpful. The coordinator works under the supervision of the Liturgy and Music Office.
For a complete job description and for application information, go to www.saintmarks.org and click on Employment.
Supposing I read thisfrom the Cathedral, no lessto our hypothetical Anglican leader in Southeast Asia or Africa or any other number of places where many are scandalized by the developments in North America. Then supposing I told them that Archbishop Eames said In terms of exact wording of the Windsor Report so far as the Episcopal Church (USA) [is] concerned so far so good. Does this sound like ECUSAs bishops are taking seriously the proper constraints of the bonds of affection in the Anglican family? Absolutely not.
Let us cite Fatherjake on the Windsor Report:
Regarding the details of the Windsor Report, I was uncomfortable with some of [Gene Robinsons] statements. For instance, he suggested that it did not call for a moratorium on same sex blessings, but a moratorium on the authorization of such liturgies. I think thats splitting hairs in search of a loop hole. It seems clear that the intention of the report was to curtail further same sex blessings. If we are going to challenge this report, which I think we must, lets do it head on, and not try to make an end run around it.
It seems clear that the intention of the report was to curtail further same sex blessings. Yes, that is exactly its intent. The House of Bishops did not and is not now agreeing to live by this intent.
The lack of a meaningful moratorium on same-sex blessings completely undermines what Archbishop Eames says in this address about ECUSA. And what we have delineated above is but one example of this more general truth about the response to the Windsor Report.
Alarm bells ring loudly given the depth of the erroneous interpretation in this Virginia Seminary Address. That it is made by Archbishop Robin Eames is even more disconcerting.
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