A report to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has given assurances that bishops around the world will ‘exercise restraint’ in ordaining any more openly gay bishops, and not bless same sex marriages.
But the report, published yesterday by the Joint Standing Committee, which influences policy within the Anglican communion, has proved unsatisfactory to both sides by avoiding condoning or condemning gays.
The report was marked by the absence of the signature of Archbishop Mouneer Anis, Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, who was part of the drafting committee.
He was reported as saying he was ‘disappointed and grieved’ and that any changes within the church since the 2003 ordination of Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson, who is gay, were merely ‘a superficial shift’.
“The Communion seems to be converging around a position which says that while it is inappropriate to proceed to public rites of blessing of same-sex unions and to the consecration of bishops who are living in sexual relationships outside of Christian marriage, we need to take seriously our ministry to gay and lesbian people inside the Church and the ending of discrimination, persecution and violence against them,” the committee said.
Although the report claims to have all the ‘necessary assurances’ by archbishops, it does not provide any new thinking on the issue and replicates many of the assurances given at the conference of senior church representative in Tanzania in February this year.
During this it was also said the American church was complying with instructions not to install any more gay bishops.
In June 2006, the US Anglican (Episcopal) church agreed on a watered-down version of a proposal which would have banned the appointment of gay clergy.
The denomination’s General Convention instead agreed to “exercise restraint” in ordaining gay bishops, as part of an effort to amend rifts within the Anglican Church after the appointment of Bishop Robinson.
The African Anglican Church expressed dismay last year at the decision which ignored most of the recommendations of the Windsor Report, aimed at mending rifts between the church over the gay issue.
PinkNews.co.uk reported that senior African bishops claimed that the Church of England was “evil” to allow the ordination of gay clergy.
The “Global South”, a group of ultra-right wing, anti-gay bishops led by the Nigerian archbishop, Dr Peter Akinola in letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, urged him to reconsider his personal views on homosexuality: “we urge you to rethink your personal view and embrace the Church’s consensus and to act on it, based as it is on the clear witness of Scripture.”
There is also no mention in the report of an idea reported last year to divide the church into ‘associated’ and ‘covenant’ congregations, which Dr Williams called ‘nonsense’ in his address to the Church of England’s national assembly, the General Synod.