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CANTERBURY: Archbishop of Canterbury Says Primatial Gathering was a Success Story

CANTERBURY: Archbishop of Canterbury Says Primatial Gathering was a Success Story
ABC says next Lambeth Conference will be held in 2020
Welby apologizes for "hurt and pain" aimed at gay community
Gay and lesbian rights advocates protest at Canterbury Cathedral on last day of Primates Meeting
Everyone unanimously and universally agreed to walk together with no exception, said ABC.

By David W. Virtue in Canterbury
January 15, 2016

In a surprise announcement, perhaps signaling the end of conflict in the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury said the next Lambeth Conference will be held in 2020 at a press conference on the grounds of Canterbury cathedral, even as protestors outside condemned alleged homophobia in the Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Justin Welby had delayed calling a Lambeth Conference for 2018 because of the torn fabric of the communion regarding homosexuality, the central issue in this week's meeting of 36 Primates from 38 provinces.

Christian Today reporter Ruth Gledhill asked Archbishop Welby about the conference. Welby replied that he had great hopes for the 2020 conference. "I hope we get the money to do it. I hope that it's a conference which affirms and does not hurt people and that glorifies God in doing that. I want it to be at a conference where people celebrate the love and joy of Jesus Christ with passion."

"I was pleased we don't all agree. It is clear in church teachings not for us to divide the body of Christ.

Unity is going to be costly, painful, joyful and remarkable. We were bound to give confused messages," he said.

Archbishop Welby took exception several times to reporters' questions regarding the use of the word "sanctions" to describe what had been done to the Episcopal Church, preferring the word "consequences" in response to several reporters' queries dealing with TEC's unilateral decision to consecrate an openly homogenital bishop to the episcopacy and TEC's approval of gay marriage at its last General Convention.

A number of Global South primates including several representatives from GAFCON had declared themselves in impaired communion with TEC over gay marriage and in an effort by Welby to soften the blow of its actions he preferred the latter word.

In their primatial communique the archbishops made it clear there had been no schism: "It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity."

Archbishop Welby will appoint a task group to restore the broken relationships in the Communion, to help rebuild mutual trust and to heal the legacy of hurt. The task group will also attempt to find a way forward in unity for the Communion while exploring "our deep differences," the Primates said.

Questioned by VOL about what assurances he could give the GAFCON primates and if the Task Force was little more than a shell game to quiet conservative voices, Welby replied, "All views were taken very seriously. Everyone was listened to. We can't speak for the primates in three years."

When asked what would happen if Canada passes a same sex marriage resolution, Welby said, "We will cross that bridge when we come to it."

The primates also condemned homophobic prejudice and violence, resolving to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service, and expressed "profound sorrow" they had often acted in a way that has caused "deep hurt" to the lesbian and gay community.

Welby admitted that there were bumps in the road on the way to unity (but not uniformity) and acknowledged the meeting had been "complicated." He said he was optimistic about the church's future.

Meanwhile protestors from the gay and lesbian community chanted outside over the failure of the Primates to deliver justice given the "consequences" with signs that said, "Homophobia is a Disease It Can Be Cured," and "Listen to African LGBTI People."

Welby referenced the protestors and said they "remind us of the pain and suffering of LGBT people around the world. It is for me a constant source of deep sadness that people are persecuted for their sexuality."

Picking up on the demand of some 105 bishops, deans and priests in the CofE who had urged him to apologize for the church's homophobia, Archbishop Welby apologized directly saying; "I want to say how sorry I am for the hurt and pain in the past and present that the Church has caused and that the love we have at times completely failed to show."

However, panel spokesman Nigerian-born Anglican Communion Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon said his culture does not support the promotion of homosexuality. He said strong groups outside of Africa were coming in to impose what is culturally unacceptable to Africa. "We need to live together with our differences," Fearon said. He also said that the issue was dialogue. "The aim is understanding. We are not trying to woo. We are all God's children and we have to live with our differences."

Speaking directly to the Episcopal Church, Welby said, "The issue for the meeting was much more that they went ahead with a change to a basic understanding of doctrine ahead of the rest of the Communion. We are not sanctioning them. We have simply said that if any province is out of line there will be consequences in their full participation of the life of the Communion."

The Episcopal Church will not play a full part on doctrinal and polity issues, but they will play a part on a range of social justice issues. Welby stressed the importance of "interdependence" in the communion. "We are very careful not to use the word sanctions. We don't have any power to use sanctions."

The panel of archbishops at the press conference included Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of South Africa and the Archbishop of Hong Kong Peter Kwong, who are among the most liberal of Primates. When queried by one reporter as to why no GAFCON primate was present, Welby said he had invited one but he had to fly home and was not available.

Asked if ACNA will be invited to the next Lambeth conference, Welby said, "I don't know."

On an allied issue about the date for Easter, Welby said the primate of Egypt had agreed with other Orthodox Christian bodies that the second and third Sundays of April would be the "unifying" date of Easter and would be celebrated by the global church.


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