Statement from 37 Anglican leaders on gay crisis
October 17, 2003
LONDON — Excerpts from Thursday's statement from an emergency meeting of 37 church leaders in the international Anglican Communion. The leaders, called primates, met to respond to the U.S. Episcopal Church's confirmation of an openly gay bishop living in with a partner and authorization by Canada's New Westminster (Vancouver)
diocese of ceremonies for same-sex couples.
...We affirm our pride in the Anglican inheritance of faith and
order and our firm desire to remain part of a Communion, where what
we hold in common is much greater than that which divides us...
These actions threaten the unity of our own Communion as well as
our relationships with other parts of Christ's Church, our mission
and witness, and our relations with other faiths...
We reaffirm our common understanding of the centrality and
authority of Scripture in determining the basis of our faith.
Whilst we acknowledge a legitimate diversity of interpretation that
arises in the church, this diversity does not mean that some of us
take the authority of Scripture more lightly than others.
Nevertheless, each province needs to be aware of the possible
effects of its interpretation of Scripture on the life of other
provinces in the Communion. We commit ourselves afresh to mutual
We also reaffirm the resolutions made by the bishops of the
Anglican Communion gathered at the Lambeth Conference in 1998 on
issues of human sexuality as having moral force and commanding the
respect of the Communion as its present position on these issues.
We commend the report of that conference in its entirety to all
members of the Anglican Communion, valuing especially its emphasis
on the need "to listen to the experience of homosexual persons, and
to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptized,
believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation,
are full members of the Body of Christ" ...
As a body we deeply regret the actions of the Diocese of New
Westminster and the Episcopal Church (USA) which appear to a number
of provinces to have short-circuited that process, and could be
perceived to alter unilaterally the teaching of the Anglican
Communion on this issue. They do not. Whilst we recognize the
juridical autonomy of each province in our Communion, the mutual
interdependence of the provinces means that none has authority
unilaterally to substitute an alternative teaching as if it were
the teaching of the entire Anglican Communion. ...
We have a particular concern for those who in all conscience
feel bound to dissent from the teaching and practice of their
province in such matters. Whilst we reaffirm the teaching of
successive Lambeth Conferences that bishops must respect the
autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other
than their own, we call on the provinces concerned to make adequate
provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities...
It is not for us to pass judgment on the constitutional
processes of another province. We recognize the sensitive balance
between provincial autonomy and the expression of critical opinion
by others on the internal actions of a province. Nevertheless, many
primates have pointed to the grave difficulties that this election
has raised and will continue to raise. In most of our provinces the
election of Canon Gene Robinson would not have been possible. ...
If his consecration proceeds, we recognize that we have reached
a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion
and we have had to conclude that the future of the communion itself
will be put in jeopardy. In this case, the ministry of this one
bishop will not be recognized by most of the Anglican world, and
many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of
communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). This will tear the
fabric of our Communion at its deepest level...
Similar considerations apply to the situation pertaining in the
Diocese of New Westminster. ...
We urge our provinces not to act precipitately on these wider
questions, but take time to share in this process of reflection and
to consider their own constitutional requirements as individual
provinces face up to potential realignments. ...
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