The Lambeth Commission announced that it would publish its much-anticipated report on the unity of the Anglican Communion during the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates’ Meeting on October 18, 2004. The Commission’s announcement was made following the weeklong meeting held at the Windsor Castle in England, Sept 6-10, 2004, during which international Anglican leaders discussed the impact of North America’s pro-homosexual decisions upon the rest of the 77-million member Anglican Communion.
“The Commission has been greatly challenged in this task and I have been privileged to work with such a dedicated team. I have no doubt that their collective insights and recommendations can and must make a profound and practical impact for good in the life and mission of the Anglican Communion,” said the Most Revd Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh and Chairman of the Commission. “This has been a labour of love in the faith that Christ is our guide and strength in working for peace and healing.”
The meeting in Windsor Castle was the last of three plenary sessions held by the Lambeth Commission, a task force assigned to resolve the Anglican Communion’s current crisis over homosexuality.
The issue of homosexuality had long since plagued the unity of the Communion, but situations deteriorated last year when the US branch of the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA), and the Canadian Anglican Church decided to give a go-ahead to blessing gay marriages. While the green light was not made official in either country, it was implied that those who chose to bless gay “unions” would not be punished. Additionally, the same year, the ECUSA ordained an open and active gay man as bishop.
The Anglican Communion, a loose federation of international churches, is unified not by a strict code of ethics but rather by the same heritage – they were all spawned by the Church of England. Therefore, while the Anglican Communion’s charter distinctly states that homosexuality is incompatible to Christianity, it member bodies are not required to abide by the teaching.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican Communion, thus established the Lambeth Commission last October to tackle the controversial issue.
Prior to the meeting in Windsor, Eames said the Lambeth Commission panel would probably “recommend radical changes in the ways Anglicanism relates to its different constituencies,” possibly suggesting that the ECUSA may be severed from the Communion.
However, Friday’s statement gave no further clues about the recommendation.
Meanwhile, Rowan Williams made no comments throughout his tenure to rebuke or to chide the ECUSA for its decision to bless Robinson. Rather, he expressed several times his “sorrow” over the growing breach of fellowship among the Communion’s members. Canterbury himself has no authority to veto the actions of any of the 38 international church bodies (one of which is the ECUSA); additionally, Canterbury acknowledged ordaining a priest that he knew to be openly gay while he was a Welsh Bishop.
According to the Commission’s report, it will not issue any statements before the release of its final report on October 18.