February 20, 2007
Meeting of Primates in Tanzania
We acknowledge the huge complexity of the issues which the Primates of the Communion brought to Tanzania and the fears and expectations which surrounded the meeting.
In that context we congratulate the Archbishop of Canterbury and his fellow Primates on their achievement of a united communiqué. We are acutely aware that compromises have been made by all sides. This is a sign of the great generosity of those present at the meeting.
There is a cost to discipleship and sometimes it is high. The cost demanded of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is immense, and has been for generations. The continuing failure of the Communion to address the pastoral needs and receive the ministerial gifts and insights of the whole community is part of that cost.
The heart of the Gospel for us is not about sexuality. The continuing arguments are damaging the Church’s mission and undermining the Gospel. Anglicanism has in its DNA the ability to embrace diversity. For example we recognise diversity over the nature of the Sacraments, in worship, and in the interpretation of scripture.
Why then are parts of the church so obsessed by the single issue of homosexuality? It is not a defining issue nor can it be the benchmark of orthodoxy.
We are pleased that the ‘listening process’ called for by the Windsor Report is receiving serious attention from the Primates, as is the consideration of a common hermeneutical method. But the listening process must not be a sop to lesbian and gay people and their supporters. It cannot be undertaken without those involved being open to the possibility of change. So far there is little evidence of that openness.
As the debate becomes more disconnected from the reality of everyday life of those we serve, it is increasingly clear that TEC is becoming a scapegoat. For example, the demand for TEC to forswear same sex blessings ignores the reality that across the Church of England such blessings are happening right across the country as parish priests respond to the pastoral needs of their community.
We acknowledge the pain experienced on all sides and we would not wish to see those who disagree with us being driven from the church. If that happened all of us would be the poorer. Therefore we commit ourselves as members of an inclusive church to continue the process of dialogue and relationship to which the Primates have called us.
Overshadowed by the rest of the report, the Primates recommitted themselves to the Millennium Development Goals. It is clear to us that in a world riven by injustice and poverty we should be uniting in raising our voices to ensure that those goals are met so that the gospel can be proclaimed afresh for a new generation.
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Author: Giles Goddard (Chair) on behalf of the InclusiveChurch Executive
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