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The Windsor Report was the document containing the finding of the Eames Commission. In 2003, Archbishop Robin Eames, was appointed as Chairman of the Lambeth Commission on Communion. This commission studied significant challenges to unity in the Anglican Communion. Under examination were problems stemming from the reaction of conservatives to the consecration of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay, noncelibate priest to be ordained to the historical episcopate, in the Episcopal Church USA and the blessing of same-sex unions in the Diocese of New Westminster. The Commission published its findings the Windsor Report on 18 October 2004.

Contents

"Impaired communion"

Reactions to Robinson's election in the Communion

Bishop Gene Robinson.

Gene Robinson's election as the bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire prompted a group of 19 bishops, led by Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, to make a statement warning the church of a possible schism between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, stated that it "will inevitably have a significant impact on the Anglican Communion throughout the world and it is too early to say what the result of that will be." He added, "It is my hope that the church in America and the rest of the Anglican Communion will have the opportunity to consider this development before significant and irrevocable decisions are made in response." [1] Retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated that he did not see what "all the fuss" was about, saying the election would not roil the Church of the Province of Southern Africa. Other senior bishops of the church, like Peter Akinola, Archbishop of the Church of Nigeria, have stated that their churches are in an "impaired communion" with the Episcopal Church.

New Westminster and same-sex unions

One Canadian diocese, New Westminster, authorized a rite for the blessing of same-sex unions at its 2002 Diocesan Synod. The use of the rite by individual parishes was incumbent upon a specific request of the parish made through its annual vestry meeting or resolution of its parochial church council. In May 2003, six of the diocese's 76 parishes received authorization to use the rite.[2]

As a result of the controversy over the consecration of Gene Robinson as bishop and the blessing of same-sex unions, on 15 October 2003, Anglican leaders from around the world met in Lambeth Palace in an attempt to avoid a schism on the issue. The day after, they released a lengthy statement:

We must make clear that recent actions in New Westminster and in the Episcopal Church (USA) do not express the mind of our Communion as a whole, and these decisions jeopardise our sacramental fellowship with each other...This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division on this and further issues as provinces have to decide in consequence whether they can remain in communion with provinces that choose not to break communion with the Episcopal Church (USA)...Similar considerations apply to the situation pertaining in the Diocese of New Westminster."[3]

Lambeth Commission on Communion

In 2003, Archbishop Robin Eames, the Anglican Primate of All Ireland, the self-styled 'divine optimist', was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury as Chairman of the Lambeth Commission on Communion. This commission studied the state of unity in the Anglican Communion in light of the reaction of conservatives to the developments in the United States and Canada. The Commission published its findings, the Windsor Report, on 18 October 2004.

The report took a strong stand against homosexual practice, recommended a moratorium on further consecrations of actively homosexual bishops and blessings of same-sex unions,[4] and called for all involved in Robinson's consecration "to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion".[5] However, it stopped short of recommending discipline against the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada.

The report also recommended solidifying the connection between the churches of the Communion by having each church ratify an "Anglican Covenant" that would, in part, commit them to consulting the wider Communion when making major decisions. It also urged those who had contributed to disunity to express their regret.

Aftermath

In February 2005, the Primates of the Anglican Communion held a regular meeting at Dromantine in Northern Ireland at which the issue of homosexuality was heavily discussed. Of the 38 Primates, 35 attended. The Primates issued a communiqué that reiterated most of the Windsor Report's statements, with the additition that The Episcopal Church USA and Anglican Church of Canada were asked to voluntarily withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council, the main formal international entity within the Anglican Communion until the next Lambeth Conference in 2008.

The Windsor Report was criticized by liberals (for example, in The Windsor Report: A Liberal Response) for seeming to take for granted that the actions of New Hampshire and New Westminster—and homosexuality in general—were wrong. For example, while it calls for both conservatives and liberals to apologise for disunity, it acknowledges that the conservatives may have acted out of a sense of duty. However, it concedes no such acknowledgement to New Westminster and New Hampshire.

On February 12, 2008 the Archbishop of Canterbury announced the formation of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG). The WCG was formed to address the remaining questions around the Windsor Report and the various formal responses to the Windsor Report from the provinces and instruments of the Anglican Communion. The WCG is chaired by Bishop Clive Handford. [6]

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/releases/2003/030806.html Archbishop of Canterbury's website.
  2. ^ Diocese of New Westminster, Information on Same-Sex Blessings Chronology of Actions taken by the Anglican Church Of Canada & the Diocese of New Westminster in regard to the Issue of Same Sex Unions. Accessed 2007-07-22.
  3. ^ BBC News, 2003-10-16, Anglican leaders' statement. Accessed 2007-03-22.
  4. ^ The Windsor Report 2004. On public Rites of Blessing of same sex unions. Accessed 2007-07-17.
  5. ^ The Windsor Report 2004. On elections to the episcopate. Accessed 2007-07-17.
  6. ^ Press Release. Anglican Communion News Service Archbishop of Canterbury appoints Windsor Continuation Group . Accessed 2008-07-23.

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