of the press conference.
This is a report on the Press Conference
rather than the report itself.
Brian Parker (Church
of Ireland Press Officer) introduced Robin Eames the Chairman
of the Commission.
Archbishop Robin Eames
gave an introduction to the report. He stated that recent developments
in North America had become a source of division. The report was
produced for the Archbishop of Canterbury who received it on Friday
and it would be tabled at the Standing Committee of the Primates
who were meeting today.
Eames had told Rowan Williams that they had come to a common mind
as the diagnosis and the remedies that could be offered. Members
of the Commission held sharply different views but they believed
that the 44 Provinces of the Communion belong together and this
had helped them to produce some unanimous recommendations. They
were looking for healing and reconciliation not division and punishment.
Eames stated that mission is better served by unity although he
did not attempt to justify this claim except by reference to the
political situation in Northern Ireland. Eames claimed that the
Commission was made up from people around the world.
He stated that the Commission had wanted to discern the will of
God for the Communion. He made much throughout of the unanimity
of the Commission and stated that the report does not offer any
easy judgement on the situation, nor does it offer any easy solutions.
The size of the Communion was stated to be 78 million, a slightly
higher figure than normally given and still containing the estimated
22 million for the membership of the Church of England.
Eames spoke about the nature of 'communion. Commission had a fundamental
conviction that our future lies together as an act of witness
and service to the gospel.
He stressed the right of each Province to autonomy whilst not
being free to take decisions which affect the whole Communion
without giving proper consideration to this. He stated that ECUSA
and the Diocese of New Westminster have breached the bonds of
Communion in the actions they have taken. The justification for
this was the unacceptability of the actions for the rest of the
The Commission had debated long and hard about what the consequences
of this action should be. Some wished it to be seen as a legitimate
development of diversity. However, they Commission as a whole
had rejected the idea that this was an issue over which discernment
was required, the Communion already had a clear view. Other wanted
discipline but the Commission felt that there was no mechanism
for discipline. Eames said that some of the actions taken had
become part of the problems we face. Bishops had seen fit to interfere
in provinces other than their own. They unanimously believed that
they should not impose or attempt to impose punishment. Rather
they should call on all parties to be the mature Christians that
God calls them to be.
They wanted people to examine their consciences, put the common
life together to the fore, and seek reconciliation.
Eames pointed out that the Lambeth Conference has spoken clearly
before on the issue of homosexual practice and that it spells
out where we are 'at this time'. Eames laid very heavy stress
on the words 'at this time'. He went on to say that until Lambeth
1.10 is 'superseded' it expresses 'where we are now'. He also
drew attention to the clause in Resolution 1.10 about the commitment
to listen to others and read into the words far more than they
Finally Eames spoke about his experience of the peace process
in Northern Ireland stating that reconciliation comes when people
want it to be.
Throughout this introduction Eames revealed his own position.
It has been clear before from statements he has made that it is
only a matter of time before the majority come to accept that
homosexual practice is legitimate. What matters whilst this development
of doctrine is going on is that we put unity first, try to get
on and don't let the differences ruin the Communion..
Archbishop Drexel Gomez
then addressed the meeting. and made four points.
First, he stressed, again, that this was an unanimous report.
He said that it represented the highest degree of agreement possible
given the views of those involved (for which read - it is the
lowest common denominator). He praised Archbishop Eames for his
leadership and stressed that they had been able to achieve consensus
through what he appeared to call the Anglican way of discerning
truth, by shared worship, sacramental fellowship and bible study
together. He laid on thickly the fact of unanimity.
Second, Gomez stressed the tone of the report in that they were
able to transcend the 'unfortunate style' of some of those engaged
in the debate. He wanted people to display Christian charity.
Thirdly, he emphasized the worth and value of the Anglican Communion.
God has given us 'the potential to become a great fellowship within
the wider Church'. The Communion should uphold the primacy of
Scripture whilst allowing rigorous theological exploration.
Fourthly he reiterated the need to embrace Communion as a principal
of church life. He said, without any attempt at justification,
that the closer we are brought together the more effective we
will be in mission.
Gomez ended with a quote from Augustine of Hippo : 'To God one
journeys; not in chariots and ships but the journey consists in
nothing but the will to go.'
Gomez wanted all sections of the Communion to have the will to
go forward for the sake of the Gospel.
There followed a brief period
Bates (Guardian): How long will it take to implement the covenant?
Is it worth the paper it is written on if people can choose to
(The Covenant had not been mentioned in the press conference to
Eames : The covenant concept is not written in stone but offered
as part of the package that they are seeking to bring to the Communion
to cement and make more obvious the common commitment. Anglicans
don't want a central curia but do want something to help and solidify
the commitment to one another. He said that Chapter 1 provides
the background for what follows in the report because they did
not want to move towards a central
curia. Therefore some means was needed to enhance communion.
Jennings (Catholic something or other) : Asked about whether there
could be any meaningful dialogue with Rome given the meltdown
taking place in the Communion.
Eames : He disputed the claims about meltdown and went on to say
that we are on a pilgrimage learning what it means to understand
one another in a divided world. He said that the Anglican Communion
is at a crossroads but
was facing up to this fact.
Someone asked whether this was a similar issue to the consecration
of women Bishops. Whether we are not at the point where some will
go ahead regardless on this new others whilst others will not.
Eames gave a confusing
reply which seemed to say that the important similarity between
the present report and the report he chaired on Women Bishops
was that it is an attempt to address the issues.
Ruth Gledhill asked about para 134 on page 68. Specifically she
wanted to know whether Frank Griswold, primate of ECUSA would
be asked to step back from Primates meetings. She also asked what
would constitute a proper expression of regret by ECUSA.
Eames did not appear to answer the second part of the question
but drew attention to the fact that he had already stepped down
as co-chairman of ARCIC. He stressed that there is nothing in
the report that is telling anyone that they must do anything,
rather they are being invited to consider their response.
George someone pointed out that in the Press Conference Eames
had twice used the expression 'homophobia' whereas the Lambeth
Conference statements had declined to use this expression. He
asked Eames to explain what he meant by the term.
Eames said that he had been troubled by the ways in which things
had been said and said that some of the things the Commission
had heard were 'quite vicious'. He seemed to see homophobia in
terms of physical and verbal violence.
L.A. Times: Following up on what is said about Griswold. Does
Commission address the situation where, for example the Anglican
Province of Uganda has assumed oversight of parishes in the Diocese
of Los Angeles.
Eames drew attention
to paragraphs 153 to 155. Again he said that they were addressing
the consciences of all the provinces of the Communion and pointing
out what they must do to heal wounds. He said that this was a
matter for the provinces to resolve not the Communion. Autonomy
must be respected. He said that those who had gone into other
provinces without permission have contributed to the threats to
Someone asked : How to reconcile saying there should be no homophobia
and the call to some that they should 'stand down'.
Eames seemed to say that what was being addressed by the report
is the process by which ECUSA reached their decision, without
regard for the Communion as a whole. The report is not directly
addressing the issue of morality.
Asked whether the report
was a fudge Eames opined that it was not.
Rather, he said, it was the 'first report of any kind' that has
precise details of the life of the provinces.
David Phillips, General Secretary, Church Society