The bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have issued a statement.
Statement by the Synod of Bishops, 9 September 2009
The Synod of Bishops meeting in Midrand, Gauteng from 7 – 9 September 2009, has been disturbed by various recent reports in the media to the effect that the world-wide Anglican Communion and the Anglican Church in Southern Africa are on the brink of schism. We want to assure the faithful that these reports are grossly exaggerated and in some cases, misrepresented.
Our Worldwide Anglican Communion has for a number of years been struggling with the issue of human sexuality without, as yet, having reached any significant consensus. There are, indeed, broken and damaged relationships within the Communion, but there is still a deep desire among the bishops throughout the world to maintain the bonds of unity in obedience to the High Priestly prayer of our Lord that “..they may be one as we are one (Jn 17:11).
To this end the Communion is exploring an Anglican Covenant which would express our Common Unity in Christ and the criteria for accountability to each other.
We the Bishops and the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have, on a number of occasions spelt out our common mind at this stage of our journey with the world-wide Communion. We believe that we are called to love others with God’s unconditional, sacrificial love and do not believe sexual orientation a barrier to leadership within the church. However, holding as we do, that Christian marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, we hold that clergy unable to commit to another in Christian marriage partnership are called to a life of celibacy.
We have also received the resolution of the Diocese of Cape Town requesting us to provide guidelines for the pastoral care of those in committed same sex relationships. Despite the misconceptions created by media reports, Cape Town Diocese is intending to proceed with the blessing of same sex unions, we recognise the request to be pastoral in nature and not in any way in conflict with Resolution 110 of Lambeth Conference 1998. The task of responding to this request has been referred to a team committee which will prepare a preliminary paper building upon the resolutions and statement made thus far by ACSA.
We remain committed to holding together the bonds of unity when we journey together through the difficult questions that confront the world-wide Anglican Communion. Differences of opinion are inevitable, schism is not.
Now to him, who by the power at work within us
is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think to him be glory in the
Church and in Christ Jesus
to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen
The resolution from the Diocese of Cape Town can be found at Resolution of the Diocese of Cape Town on Ministry to Gays and Lesbians in Covenanted Partnerships. (scroll down for the full text).