Anglican Journal: There was wide agreement [at Lambeth] that moratoria on same-sex blessings, the ordination of gay bishops and cross-border interventions by conservative bishops would help to heal the conflict engulfing the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury warned that failure to heed the call would put the Communion “in grave peril.”
Earlier, the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) suggested that the moratoria be “retrospective.” However, the final document issued by bishops dropped the word “retrospective,” which has further sowed confusion. The WCG was formed last February by Archbishop Rowan Williams to “address outstanding questions arising from the Windsor Report and the various formal responses from provinces and instruments of the Anglican Communion.”
Victoria Matthews, a member of the WCG and bishop of the diocese of Christchurch, New Zealand, said that the body’s proposal for a “retrospective” moratorium on same-sex blessings means that dioceses such as Vancouver-based New Westminster “will be asked to reconsider and withdraw that right. It isn’t just from here on there will be no new ones…”
Bishop Michael Ingham, whose diocese – New Westminster – voted to allow same-sex blessings in 2002, reacted strongly to the WCG’s proposals, describing it as “an old-world institutional response to a new-world reality in which people are being set free from hatred and violence.” Bishop Ingham called the WCG proposals “punitive in tone, setting out penalties and the like, instead of inviting us into deeper communion with one another through mutual understanding in the body of Christ.” He added that the suggestion of a pastoral forum “institutionalizes external incursions into the life of our churches.”
Bishop Ingham said that if the proposal for a moratorium on same-sex blessings is adopted, “it will put the Anglican Church of Canada in the position of having to support and defend irrational prejudice and bigotry in the eyes of our nation.” (Canada legalized same-sex marriage in 2005.)
“Having made a decision at some point in the past has changed the way we live, and you can’t say ‘we’ll just go back where we were,’” said Archbishop Caleb Lawrence, bishop of Moosonee and metropolitan (senior bishop) of Ontario.
Bishop Matthews said the WCG’s proposals would be presented to the primates, who will meet early next year, and to Anglican Consultative Council, which meets in May.