From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ACNS: Archbishop of Canterbury calls for Anglican Unity
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Fri, 21 Jun 2002 07:40:53 -0700
ACNS 3034 - LAMBETH PALACE - 19 June 2002
Archbishop calls for Anglican Unity
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, has appealed to Anglicans in
a Canadian diocese to continue to work together over a dispute involving the
blessing of same-sex unions.
Dr Carey was responding to an appeal from the Revd Dr Trevor Walters, a
priest on the Anglican diocese of New Westminster, following a decision by
his diocese to provide a liturgical form for the blessing of same-sex
Some clergy opposed to this move walked out of the Synod meeting and have
called on Dr Carey and other Anglican Primates to intervene.
In his open letter of reply, Dr Carey acknowledges the pain and distress
involved - but counsels them against breaking away, urging them to stay
involved in the debate. He also states his intention of raising the matter
with the Anglican Consultative Council in September and with the Primates'
The full text of Dr Carey's letter:
Open letter in reply to
The Revd Trevor Walters
Thank you for your letter, sent to me ahead of the Synod meeting at the
weekend. I did not judge it right that I should comment on it prior to the
As I understand it, the Synod's decision has been to introduce a liturgical
form for blessing same-sex unions, for use in those parishes where this
forms an important part of their ministry; and a system of extended
episcopal oversight to provide for those clergy who in all conscience
fundamentally reject this development in the life of the diocese.
My own position in relation to same-sex relationships is well known. I stand
firmly by the resolution passed at the Lambeth Conference. For this, I have
been criticised as homophobic. I am not. But I do not accept that homosexual
relationships can be treated as being on a par with the man-woman ideal
portrayed in Holy Scripture.
It saddens me deeply that any diocese should be following a course at odds
with the Lambeth Conference resolution 1.10(e); and I fully understand the
dismay this causes to those in the diocese who disapprove of this departure
from the Anglican moral tradition and the views of the majority of their
fellow believers throughout the Anglican Communion.
At the same time, I am sorry to learn that some walked out of the Synod
debate following the result and I am alarmed by the statements of those who
appear to be determined to look elsewhere for episcopal oversight in place
of the extended episcopal support which Bishop Ingham has offered.
As I understand it, there is much detail still to be worked out in relation
to the arrangements outlined in last weekend's resolutions. For example, the
extent and limitations of the pastoral care that is being offered is far
from clear; as is the timetable for implementing these proposals. There is a
need for certainty about what these proposals amount to, both
constitutionally and liturgically.
Let us make no mistake, these are difficult and painful issues - both for
those who hold strong views on each side of the argument, and for those who
remain undecided. I believe firmly that we should 'speak the truth in love'
to each other, on these and many other issues - but I believe that we do so
most effectively by standing our ground in continuing dialogue and ongoing
fellowship with each other, not by walking away.
As you indicate in your letter, this matter has implications far beyond the
boundaries of the Diocese of New Westminster. I have no doubt that the unity
of the Communion is threatened by your Synod's decision. You ask me to
intervene, in accordance with Resolution 3.6(b) of the Lambeth Conference
1998. Although I have my doubts as to whether that resolution is directly
relevant to the problems you face, I shall seek to ensure that the matter is
brought up at the forthcoming Anglican Consultative Council meeting and the
Primates' Standing Committee.
With prayers and best wishes at this time,
Yours in Christ
Notes for editors:
The resolutions of the Lambeth Conference 1998 cited above read as follows:
[This conference] cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same-sex
unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.
[This conference] asks that the Primates' Meeting, under the presidency of
the Archbishop of Canterbury, include among its responsibilities positive
encouragement to mission, intervention in cases of exceptional emergency
which are incapable of internal resolution in provinces, and giving of
guidelines on the limits of Anglican diversity in submission to the
sovereign authority of Holy Scripture and in loyalty to our Anglican
tradition and formularies.
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