The Lambeth Commission, the international group assigned with the challenging task to determine the Anglican world’s stance on homosexuality, will draw up its long awaited final report by Wednesday of next week, the commission’s chairman announced on Thursday, September 02, 2004. The commission’s report will most likely determine the face of Anglicanism and the unity within the 77-million member fellowship of churches.
Archbishop Robin Eames, primate (head) of the Church of Ireland, said the Commission would meet at Windsor Castle in England from Sept 5-9 to complete the report, which will be published in October.
The Commission was appointed last year, following the U.S. Anglican branch – the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) – ordained an open and active man as bishop to the New Hampshire diocese. The ordination of Gene Robinson, coupled with the ECUSA’s decision to bless gay “unions” within the church, sparked an international blaze of separation and division. Ultimately, dozens of national churches, representing over 2/3 of the world’s Anglicanism, severed fellowship with the ECUSA.
The critical report of the Lambeth Commission, therefore, addresses the crux of the separation and unity within the worldwide Communion. According to Eames, the Commission has been considering a vast array of views and voices in penning the report.
"I'm confident that the level of work will enable the Commission to complete its work by the end of September," Eames said. "I'm very encouraged by its honesty, its openness. I don't want anyone to feel (his or her) voice is being unheard."
Throughout the five-day meeting in Windsor, the 17-member Lambeth Commission will also finalize its review of hundreds of submissions from around the world. Eames said the submissions will be considered only if they address one of the commission’s five work themes: “issues of process in the Anglican Communion; the nature and purposes of communion; the obligations of community; authority; and the role of the instruments of unity in preserving fellowship."
Meanwhile, Eames explained that the Commission would not tackle the ethical or moral aspects behind the debate. Rather than reviewing the Anglican Church’s policies regarding homosexuality, the commission will focus on "how to maintain the highest degree of communion when confronted by divisive issues," Eames said.
"The simple answer is that the Lambeth Commission was not asked to reconsider the teaching of Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference of 1998, and so it is not at liberty to do so. The question of ministry by or to persons of homosexual orientation is not a matter which can be debated beyond the position adopted there, because the Primates made it clear in their statement last October that Resolution 1.10 remains the formally voiced teaching of the Anglican Communion on this issue. It is part of the basis on which the Commission must come to its conclusions, and is not open to renegotiation by the Commission,” explained Eames.
Resolution 1.10 states that while homosexual people are of sacred worth, the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with scripture.
“While the commission has not been asked to pronounce on sexuality issues, it is expected that its report will recommend radical changes in the ways Anglicanism relates to its different constituencies," a statement from Eames's office read.
Once the report is completed, it will be presented to the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams – the head of the Anglican Communion. Thereafter, the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates, which brings together the Primates of all 38 Anglican archdioceses, will discuss the report.
The full Primate’s meeting will then take up the report during their meeting in Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland, Feb. 21-26, 2005. Lastly, the report will be presented to the 100-plus-member Anglican Consultative Council, which has the authority to act legislatively on the recommendations of the report.