On Friday 10 December, Robin Eames issued this statement:
“I have been dismayed that certain remarks of mine in a telephone interview with the Church of England Newspaper have been taken completely out of context to mean I believe the Windsor Report will not have much effect. Nothing could be further from my hopes and convictions for the Windsor Report which contains the unanimous recommendations of the Lambeth Commission after a year’s prayerful work. Those unanimous recommendations are already receiving widespread and thoughtful study and response. They will now go to the Primates Meeting in February with my full endorsement as Chairman of the Commission. Some of the recommendations relate to long-term adjustments to the way we do things as Anglicans and will need a process of continued study and discussion. Other unanimous recommendations relate to immediate problems and need to be implemented by the Primates. I would again emphasise that the Lambeth Commission Report contains the unanimous recommendations of a widely representative body of Anglicans from around the world. The Report has my full support and endorsement as Chairman of the Lambeth Commission and represents my own personal views on the problems facing the Anglican Communion at this time.”
The Church of England Newspaper has a major story this week: an interview with Robin Eames.
There is also a news report based on the same material:
American Church ‘never likely to face discipline’
One of Anglicanism’s most senior leaders has signalled that the American Church is never likely to face discipline for its decision to consecrate the Anglican Communion’s first practising gay bishop.
The Irish Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, warned that the Communion’s conservative provinces should not expect calls to be answered for the American Church and diocese of New Westminster, which authorised same-sex blessing rites, to be punished.
In an interview with The Church of England Newspaper, Archbishop Eames, the Chair of the Lambeth Commission, urged the warring factions to avoid recriminations and look to the future.
Dr Eames, the Archbishop of Armagh, said: “I would welcome decisions [at February’s Primates’ meeting] more if they’re directed to how we deal with the nature of Communion rather than reiterating ‘they did something wrong’ or ‘they didn’t express regret’.
“I think we need to move on in terms of what have we learned from this – I’m a great believer in trying to learn the lessons of these things. I think we must move on.”
Primates from the Global South had demanded the expulsion of the American Church and New Westminster diocese if they refused to repent for their actions, but the Windsor Report took no action against them.
“Expulsion was one of the things that confronted us,” Archbishop Eames said. “We didn’t fudge the issues, but I have to be a realist and recognise that maybe there won’t be expressions of regret.”
The African Church is preparing to become self-sufficient in a bid to separate itself from Western liberalising influences and has planned to build more of its own theological colleges. Its Primates have vowed to continue crossing provincial boundaries to provide pastoral oversight to orthodox parishes ostracised by their liberal Church.
Archbishop Eames said that the meeting of Primates in February would mark the start of attempts to implement the Windsor Report, but conceded that the homosexuality crisis had changed the Anglican Church.
“We’re going to have to take some decisions on some of the proposals on the Windsor Report. The Council of Advice, [for example], needs to be looked at. We’ll need to see if people have moved on in their thinking from the positions that they took up before the Windsor Report was published.
“I’d have hoped that what the report has drawn attention to will provide a clearer roadmap as to how to deal with other differences that arise in the future. Those differences are going to come as the world develops and the Church develops and the Communion develops. There are going to be issues that will divide.
An extract from the interview itself is below the fold.
Extract from the interview
To many, the crisis over homosexuality in the Anglican Church is an insoluble problem, but his experiences in the Irish conflict have instilled in him an unflinching faith that the seemingly impossible is always possible. If Ian Paisley can be willing to share power with Sinn Fein, can liberals in the Church be persuaded to preserve communion with their conservative counterparts?
“I don’t think the Anglican Communion will ever be quite the same again, but I can’t foresee what it’s going to be.
“I think there will be a sense in which people will still want to be Anglicans, the question of how they relate to one another remains to be seen. If people feel that they can’t become part of this process of reconciliation then we have to see what situation that creates for the rest. But I don’t know if there’ll ever be a time drawn for this.”
Just as the Church turned to Archbishop Eames to chair the Commission on the Ordination of Women, it turned to him again to preside over the search to find a solution to the crisis over homosexuality. The gifts of leadership and chairmanship, which his peers had noticed at an early age, were needed to achieve unity amongst a group made up of members with widely differing views on the issue.
Primates from the Global South had called for the American Church to be expelled, and critics attacked the Windsor Report for failing to take a hard line.
But Eames is keen that the door is left open. He doesn’t expect that expressions of regret will necessarily be forthcoming from the American Church by the time that the Primates meet next February, but he does not feel that the door should be closed on them.
“Persuasion is more important than legislation – that has been my background. Persuasion and influence far outreach legislation.”
Despite the decision of the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA, Frank Griswold, to flagrantly defy the unanimous statement he signed with the Primates by presiding over the consecration of the Anglican Church’s first gay bishop, Archbishop Eames prefers to keep faith in him.
“My friends in the American Church would say to me, ‘We did what we thought was right at that time for us’, but they did it without total consciousness of the effect it was going to have on others.”
He chooses to see the best in people. “I believe in the inherent goodness of people and that no matter who they are or what they’ve done or what they’re guilty of, if you dig deep enough there’s an inherent humanity that’s worth appealing to.”