The Windsor Report/Primates’ Communiqué: A response from the College of Bishops has been published on the official SEC website.
Part of the response discusses homosexuality. The bishops say:
On the matters of sexuality which occasioned the Report we are conscious that, like any province within the Anglican Communion, there is in our life significant diversity of view on both the matter of the consecration of Gene Robinson and the authorisation of liturgies for the blessing of same sex unions.
The Scottish Episcopal Church has never regarded the fact that someone was in a close relationship with a member of the same sex as in itself constituting a bar to the exercise of an ordained ministry. Indeed, the Windsor Report itself in suggesting that a moratorium be placed on such persons being consecrated bishops, itself acknowledges the existence of many such relationships within the Church.
The Scottish Episcopal Church has, even before the 1998 Lambeth Conference, sought to be welcoming and open to persons of homosexual orientation in our congregations, and to listen to their experiences. This has on occasion led clergy to respond to requests to give a blessing to persons who were struggling with elements in their relationship, and who asked for such a prayer. We were glad to note that the concern of the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Communiqué was not with such informal pastoral responses to individual situations, and was about the official authorisation of a liturgical text for the blessing of such unions.
We do agree that the whole area of debate in this matter is of such a fluidity, within which many different understandings exist, that it would certainly be premature to move formally to authorise such a liturgy.
The College of Bishops is conscious that the pressures within the debate on matters of sexuality vary from one province to another. Within our Province the debate tends to focus on matters to do with scriptural authority and human rights and justice. We sense that we are privileged in that we are a small province, and discussion across differences may be more easily achieved in our life than in other parts of the Communion. We hope that as a result of the publication of the report discussion across difference will take place, rather than a consolidation of opinion among the like minded. We welcome therefore the commitment of the Communiqué “to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process” and each of us will seek to facilitate discussion across differences within his diocese as recommended in Lambeth 1:10.
Members of the College indicated to the Primus that while acknowledging the significant pressures the Primates were under to arrive at a statement that would preserve the Communion, they personally regret the decision in the Communiqué to request the voluntary withdrawal of ACC members of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference.
We are conscious that as a Church we are much indebted in our life both to a significant presence of persons of homosexual (lesbian and gay) orientation, and also to those whose theology and stance would be critical of attitudes to sexuality other than abstinence outside marriage. We rejoice in both, and it must be our prayer that discussion following the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Meeting will enable the energy of both to be harnessed to serve the Church and the proclamation of the gospel.