In conversation with the leader of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury outlined what the long term consequences would be for churches that defied the Communion ban on gay marriage.
The bishops of the Episcopal Church will be invited to attend the 2020 Lambeth Conference and will not suffer meaningful consequences for introducing same-sex marriage rites. In conversation with the leader of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury outlined what the long term consequences would be for churches that defied the Communion ban on gay marriage. If the sanctions applied to the SEC, if it adopts gay marriage rites, are applied to the Episcopal Church, then its bishops should expect to be present at Lambeth 2020.
In a report on the January primates gathering given to the Scottish Episcopal Church’s General Synod on 9 June 2016, the Primus, the Most Rev. David Chillingworth, Bishop of Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane, said he spoke with the Most Rev. Justin Welby last month about proposals before the Scottish Synod to begin the process towards introducing same-sex marriage rites for that church.
Bishop Chillingworth said:
Two weeks ago, I went to London and met with Archbishop Justin specifically to ask the question, ‘Will this also apply to us if we complete the process of Canonical change in 2017?’ The answer is that it will. Most directly, I will be removed from the role of Anglican Co-Chair of the International Anglican-Reformed Dialogue. But other effects are limited. Our bishops will be present and fully involved in the Lambeth Conference planned for 2020. We shall continue to be actively involved in our network of Diocesan Companionships and in the Anglican Networks.
The Primus told synod the African church was not as sophisticated as the churches of Europe and America. “The Global North is experiencing massive social change in respect of human sexuality – not that the church simply follows that. The Global South – and in particular Sub-Saharan Africa – remains deeply conservative and is under pressure from the Islamisation of Africa.”
Discussion between North and South was also hindered by history and differing conceptions of the nature of truth, he said. “The legacy of colonialism makes measured and respectful dialogue very difficult. Different understandings of collegiality and leadership confuse expectations about how issues will be addressed.”
Bishop Chillingworth said the primates meeting had evolved beyond the parameters set down at its first meetings under Archbishop Donald Coggan, and in 1988 had been given the authority by the Lambeth Conference to offer guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters.
However, the January meeting “acted beyond its powers,” he said.
That is not an issue about Human Sexuality but about Anglican polity and governance. Some of us now – but all of us eventually – will have to address issues of human sexuality. To adopt a sanctions-based approach to the internal discipline of the Anglican Communion – when we have already rejected the Anglican Covenant – seems to me to be a real pity.
Should the SEC go forward with gay marriage rites it should expect to suffer the consequences outlined by Archbishop Welby, the primus said. But whatever the outcome, he urged the SEC to hold together and find a way to maintain its unity in the face of sharply differing views. “These are issues both complex and painful. It is an unhappy and still unfolding story. I believe that in God’s providence we are rather more at the end of the beginning than at the beginning of the end.”