Anglican Communion can no longer afford ‘ad-hoc’ response to crises, says official

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Kingston, Jamaica
The Windsor Continuation Group’s (WCG) rationale for recommending “relational consequences” for Anglican provinces who do not heed the request for moratoria on decisions related to sexuality was the fact that responses to them have been “ad-hoc” and “unco-ordinated,” said Bishop Gregory Cameron, outgoing deputy secretary general of the Anglican Communion. “We need to have ways to respond that are not freelance initiatives,” said Bishop Cameron in a press briefing here.

The 14th Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting here has been asked to endorse a recommendation that not only reiterates the request for moratoria on the blessing of same-sex unions, the consecration of bishops living in same-gender union and cross-provincial interventions but to explore “relational consequences” for those who don’t abide by them.

Asked why the Anglican Communion’s response to the issue of sexuality was different from previous tensions that have similarly gripped it, Bishop Cameron said, “The question is far more deeper and critical. There is no agreed understanding of what the genius of Anglicanism is.” He added that a lot of member churches are now saying, “We’re no longer sure we can recognize authentic Christian discipleship…..”

Bishop Cameron also said he was unable to answer why the WCG’s recommendation did not include a call for a moratorium on litigation involving churches and in some instances, dioceses, who have left their in the North American churches, a recommendation that had been made in 2007 by the primates’ meeting in Dar es Salaam. But, he said, “I think we ought to see an attempt to restrain litigation,” he said.

Bishop Cameron stressed the importance of the proposal for pastoral visitors as an interim measure to address conflicts and provide guidance “in any given situation of tension” in the Anglican Communion. He cited a situation of litigation involving The Episcopal Church and a breakaway church, which the Panel of Reference attempted to settle.

“The two parties couldn’t even agree on the facts of the case. It was very difficult for an outside force to adjudicate,” he said. “They had irreconcilable narratives.” He added: “We need honest brokers who could talk down the heat and help them set back. It would be foolish of me to say one is right and another, wrong.”

He said now that the WCG, which worked for 18 months, has wrapped up its work, what’s left is for the ACC to give its own reflections on the recommendations, which the Joint Standing Committee of Primates and the ACC and the Archbishop of Canterbury would study.

The WCG was created by the Archbishop of Canterbury to assess the current situation of the Anglican Communion and to provide recommendations on how it can move forward after years of bitter conflict over the place of gays and lesbians in the church. Chaired by Archbishop Clive Handford, former primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, the other members are: Archbishop John Chew, primate of Southeast Asia; Bishop Gary Lillibridge of West Texas; Bishop Victoria Matthews, formerly of the diocese of Edmonton and now Christchurch in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia; Dean John Moses, former dean of St Paul’s, London; and Archbishop Donald Mtetemela, primate of the Anglican Church of Tanzania. Bishop Cameron and Canon Andrew Norman, of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office, worked as staff.

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Marites N. Sison
Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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