Despite the controversial election of a gay bishop in the U.S. Episcopal Church and the confirmation of gay unions in the Canadian Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury said the global communion has not changed its teachings rejecting homosexuality and does not plan to reopen the discussion at its next decennial gathering in 2008.
I do not hear much enthusiasm for revisiting in 2008 the last Lambeth Conferences resolution on this matter, Archbishop Rowan Williams wrote in a pastoral letter to the 38 Primates of the Anglican Communion on Thursday.
Canterburys comments serve to ratchet up pressure on the U.S. Episcopal Church for its upcoming 2006 General Convention, during which it will be forced to uphold a moratorium on the consecration of non-celibate homosexuals or choose to walk apart from the global communion.
The Episcopal Church has already been excluded from key international Anglican meetings, and the majority of churches in Africa have cut all ties with their U.S. counterpart. A complete division is likely to occur if the U.S. church ordains as bishop active homosexuals two of whom were nominated last month in California.
In his pastoral letter, the Archbishop referred to such bitter controversy over sexuality and urged the top Anglican leaders to use the time of Lent to reflect on the challenges facing the Communion.
The season of Lent is about penitence, and penitence always requires us to see ourselves more clearly in the light of Gods holiness and justice, he said. ...and during this period I hope that we shall be continuing to think and pray about the challenges that face us as a worldwide church.
However, he said, such discussion should be held on the basis that the Anglican viewpoint on homosexuality has not changed since the Communion held its last Lambeth Conference in 1998.
In my judgment, we cannot properly or usefully reopen the discussion as if Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth 1998 did not continue to represent the general mind of the Communion, Williams said.
Resolution 1.10 upholds marriage as a union between a man and a woman and rejects the homosexual lifestyle as incompatible with Scripture. It also calls against the legitimizing or blessing of same-sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.
The Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, head of the conservative American Anglican Council, praised the Archbishop for upholding the tradition of the Anglican Communion, but acknowledged that potentially explosive issues remain.
Archbishop Williams has sent a hopeful message that Lambeth 2008 will stand firm in upholding apostolic faith and practice, but potentially explosive issues must still be addressed, Anderson said. If General Convention does not clearly and definitively choose Anglican orthodoxy, will Lambeth make the hard decisions necessary to preserve the Communion? These questions are critical to the survival of Anglicanism.