Archbishop Morgan looks back at Lambeth Conference

Wales Online reports that Archbishop Barry Morgan, Rowan Williams successor as the primate of Wales has “warned any attempt to find a quick-fix solution to issues dividing the world’s 80 million Anglicans would ‘end in tears’ ”.

He told the Church in Wales’ Governing Body in Lampeter that:

Sexuality should not be a “Communion-breaking” issue;

Churches should not be required to sign-up to a new set of binding beliefs;

Anglicans had clamped down on homosexuality but not on heterosexual sex outside marriage.

In his report on the global gathering of bishops for the summer’s Lambeth Conference, he said: “The fundamental question in all of this is whether homosexuality is a matter of choice or not because that should make a difference to the way it is regarded.”

Read Archbishop Morgan’s address. Some highlights:

Admittedly 200 Bishops were absent mainly from Africa, one or two from England and Australia but that too needs to be seen in perspective. Uganda was the only Province not to be represented by a bishop and some of the African Bishops had come under intense pressure from their Primates not to come, even though some of them wanted to. (This tells you something about the power of Primates in some Provinces of the Communion and why some of them fail to understand why the whole Communion does not fall into line when they speak).

On Lambeth and doctrine:

In 1998, only one part of one Resolution, out of 64 pages of Resolutions, has come to be regarded by some as almost the definition of who is and who is not an Anglican. Forgotten are the parts of 110 asking for a listening process on homosexuality, the condemnation of homophobia, and the restriction of sexual relationships between heterosexuals to marriage – at a time if we are honest, when most people who come to be married in Anglican churches in Britain live together beforehand. The only thing that has seemed to count from Lambeth ’98 is the acceptance of the sinfulness of same sex relationships as being binding on all Provinces as if it had legal and not just moral authority.

In 1867 Archbishop Longley said of Lambeth, “it is not competent to make declarations or lay down definitions on points of Doctrines”. In other words, it was not a Synod or a Council, merely an invitation to confer and that is what happened this year. Knowing that no Resolutions or decisions had to be made, gave people both the opportunity and the space to talk openly and honestly.

On the MDG’s:

Lambeth therefore re-affirmed the Millennium Development Goals that had been endorsed by Resolution in 1998. It is ironic that no-one has been castigated or chastised for not pursuing those as ardently as they might over the last ten years. These Millennium Goals are not just secular goals, but are based on firm theological foundations on Jesus’ manifesto in the synagogue at Nazareth at the beginning of his ministry in Luke’s Gospel, with his commitment to the poor marginalised and exploited.

On biblical interpretation:

Why is it that as far as Anglicanism is concerned, we do not interpret the Scriptures literally when it comes to issues such as usury or marriage and divorce to name but two, but insist on a literal interpretation of texts that allegedly deal with homosexuality. It is difficult to believe that we have boxed ourselves into this particular corner. Allegorical, symbolical and mythical interpretations are allowed and have been allowed from the time of the Fathers to the present day for every part of the Bible, except for those that deal with sexuality and one is also left wondering why there cannot be diversity on this issue as on so many other moral issues.

On the St. Andrew’s draft of the covenant:

The appendix then sets out the procedures for all of this which effectively gives the Instruments of Communion power over Provinces – admittedly with their consent because they will have adopted the Covenant – but it does change the nature of Anglicanism. It also begs the question of what happens if a church can accept the Covenant in principle but not the details of this particular Covenant. The danger is that it could lead to mutual suspicion and reporting, for the appendix elaborates four exclusionary procedures and runs to two thirds of the Covenant itself.

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