CANTERBURY, England — Allowing same-sex blessings and an openly gay bishop in the U.S. have caused Anglicans to be “ridiculed” for belonging to “the gay church,” harmed interfaith relations and severely damaged the Anglican Communion, bishops at a once-a-decade meeting here said Aug. 2.
“The issue of homosexuality has challenged us and our churches on what it might mean to be a communion,” the bishops said. “Confidence in the validity of the Anglican Communion, the bonds of affection and our
mutual interdependence is severely damaged.”
More than 650 bishops from the 38 provinces in the worldwide Anglican Communion, including its U.S. branch, the Episcopal Church, are meeting here through Sunday for the decennial Lambeth Conference.
Threats of schism in the communion have steadily grown since an openly gay man was elected bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.
Many Anglicans — particularly in Africa, where Anglicanism is growing — believe the Bible prohibits homosexuality, and nearly 200 bishops are boycotting the conference, refusing to meet with North
While Lambeth Conference organizers have discouraged binding resolutions here, the bishops are working on a “reflections document” that will state the mind of the communion.
The bishops’ comments Aug. 2 were part of the document’s fourth draft, which Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, said was unlikely to change much before the conference ended Aug. 3.
The bishops’ reflections say “the ordination of an openly partnered homosexual bishop and the open blessing of same sex relationships” have had “many negative results,” including:
- mission partners lost
- the church being “ridiculed” as “the gay church”
- damaged ecumenical and interfaith relationships
- decreased confidence in the Anglican Communion
- increased “sexual license”
Also noted, however, are “positive effects in parts of Canada, the U.S. and England when homosexual people are accepted as God’s children” and treated with dignity, according to the bishops.
The bishops said there is “widespread support” for moratoria on blessing same-sex unions, ordaining gay bishops and interference in each other’s national churches.
But they admit “moratoria will be difficult to enforce, so there are some fears as to whether it will hold.”
Meanwhile, some bishops are pushing for less talk and more action.
“I value the listening and to have voices heard,” said Archbishop Paul Kwong of Hong Kong, “but we need some concrete action to be taken.”