Thinking Anglicans

Resolution I.10 of 1998

I have been reviewing the history of Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution I.10. In the course of doing so I came across my own words, written on 6 August 1998. The original can be found here:

Following the debate, an official press conference, chaired by Lesley Perry, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s press officer at Lambeth Palace, was asked what practical effect this action of the bishops would have. The answers given seemed to be: not a lot. Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh, who had chaired the two and a half hour debate, compared the situation now to the situation ten years ago relating to women bishops and the process that had occurred with the Eames Commission, and he also referred to the Virginia report and its remarks on the theory of reception. He also said that the Primates would be meeting on Sunday, after the end of the Conference itself, and might well address the issue further at that time. It was also noted at this press conference by Duncan Buchanan, Bishop of Johannesburg, that ten years ago the then Bishop of New York had been hounded off the floor of the conference when he tried to raise the issue of homosexuality, whereas today the subject had been a major discussion topic. He also noted that at the start of this conference, his sub-section had refused to listen to the voice of homosexual people whereas today the conference had passed a resolution which required such listening. He considered this to be progress.

The debate was noticeable for the absence of American speakers. The only ECUSA bishops who spoke were the Bishop of Maryland, Robert Ihloff, and Suffragan Bishop of New York, Catherine Roskam, both of whom spoke against the amendment to clause (d) from the Archbishop of Tanzania. Bishop Roskam said that to adopt this amendment would be “evangelical suicide” in New York and San Francisco, leading to a pyrrhic victory and a divided church. Bishop Russell of Grahamstown, South Africa was the only other bishop that spoke against the amendment although twice as many people opposed the amendment as voted against or abstained on the overall motion…

…The unsolved mystery of yesterday is why 100 or so bishops attending the Conference apparently did not vote at all.

In fairness to Americans I should add that the Bishop of Indianapolis, Catherine Waynick had spoken earlier to propose an alternative version of the resolution but had withdrawn it before any vote could be taken on it. Her text can be found here.

The voting on the resolution was: 526 in favor and 70 against, with 45 abstentions, and as I noted about 100 absentees. (The total number of bishops participating in the conference was in the region of 740.)

Much was made at the time, and has been since, of the acrimonious debate and the many amendments which were made. However, the original version of the motion, as drafted by the sub-section on Human Sexuality was quite firmly worded. I show below the line a marked-up copy together with notes on the sources of the various amendments. This all comes from my reports at the time, which can be read here. (The link at the foot of that page is broken, try this instead)

Italics denote additions to, and strike-through denotes deletions from the original version. [Square bracket] references are to amendment numbers on the order papers, see footnotes below.

This Conference:

a) commends to the Church the subsection report on human sexuality;

b) in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that chastity abstinence [A28] is right for those who are not called to marriage.

c) recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships, and we commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual people. [A24] We wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;

d) while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, [A36] calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn homophobia irrational fear of homosexuals [A27], violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;

e) cannot advise the legitimising or blessing or ordaining of those involved in same gender unionsof same-sex unions, nor the ordination of those involved in such unions; [note 1]

f) requests the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources among us;

g) notes the significance of the Kuala Lumpur Statement and the concerns expressed in resolutions IV.26, V.1, V.10, V.23, and V.35 on the authority of Scripture in matters of marriage and sexuality and asks the Primates and the ACC to include them in their monitoring process. [A15]

Note 1: The Resolutions Committee amended the wording of clause (e) for reasons of English grammar.

[A36] Then the italic words at the start of clause (d) were proposed by the Archbishop of Tanzania. During the debate it was stated by the Archbishop of Kenya that this addition was expected by the Africans as “a welcome token” for them to support the main resolution (their much more conservative alternatives having just been rejected). After several speeches against this change, the amendment was accepted by a vote of 389 to 190.

[A27] Then the word “homophobia” was replaced in clause (d) by “irrational fear of homosexuals” at the request of a Kenyan bishop, Samson Muraluda of Taita Taveta.

[A28] And the word chastity in clause (b) was replaced by “abstinence” (Bishop Sentamu of Stepney, in London, England). Both of these were on a voice vote.

[A24] The next change was to add the words “and we commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual people” to clause (c). This was proposed by Michael Bourke (Suffragan of Wolverhampton, England) and supported by Peter Selby, Bishop of Worcester. It passed on a voice vote.

An attempt to remove clause (f) and place all responsibility at provincial level only was made by Moses Tay, Archbishop of Singapore. He said he was worried that he would receive “unhealthy literature which is quite polluting”. Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester opposed him, pointing out that the motion allowed Archbishop Tay to send his material to others, too. It was defeated on a voice vote.

An attempt was made by Peter Chiswell of Armidale, Australia, to change “advise” to “approve” in clause (e). This was defeated on a show of hands.

[A15] Clause (g) was proposed by Archbishop Michael Peers of Canada, supported by Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford and carried on a voice vote.

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