Anglican bishops' conference faces scandal over attitudes to LGBT+ people

Канадская епископесса-англиканка (в центре), обвенчавшая епископа-гея с его партнером. Фото: toronto.anglican

A group of Anglican bishops have said they will refuse communion with gay bishops and those who support same-sex marriage.

For the first time in 14 years, the Lambeth World Conference of Anglican bishops has caused a furious conflict over attitudes to sodomy, reports the “Religion News”.

During the conference, which is attended by more than 650 bishops, including more than 100 from the Episcopal Church, a group of Anglicans became outraged over a draft document against same-sex marriage.

Protests from the liberal wing of Anglicans are directed against the draft document, which states that marriage is defined as “between a man and a woman,” and the documents go on to say: “It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that same-gender marriage is not permissible.” The documents also stated that “legitimizing or blessing same-sex unions” cannot be advised.

Pro-LGBTQ bishops and laity said the forthcoming document is “the opposite” of healing and reconciliation, while representatives of the Anglican Church of Wales believe that the call “undermines and subverts the dignity of an integral part of our community, rather than affirming them.”

The conflict deepened when Bishop Kevin Robertson of Toronto, who was part of the team that wrote the “Lambeth Call on Human Dignity,” said on Facebook that the wording did not represent anything that the group had produced. On July 26, the Lambeth Conference revised “Lambeth Calls” after Welby met with the group. The revision now says, “Many Provinces continue to affirm that same gender marriage is not permissible.”

Mary Glasspool, an assistant bishop in New York and the first married lesbian bishop in the Anglican Communion, said: “If the Anglican Communion is to survive it needs to recognize that there are provinces that affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman and others who accept LGBTQ.”

She believes that same-sex marriage should be a "sacrament of the Church" as "all people should have the possibility of that grace that comes from the sacrament".

Another representative of the LGBTQ wing in the Church of England, Jayne Ozanne, was not satisfied with Rev. Justin Welby's changes to the document and said: "We need an apology and an explanation as to why this happened and how it happened. Nobody has owned up to it and ultimately the archbishop of Canterbury should not have signed it off."

At the same time, a group of bishops from the Global South (predominantly from the African continent) stated during a meeting of Anglican community leaders that they would refuse communion with bishops who have homosexual partners and also refuse communion with those who support same-sex marriage.

Opponents of same-sex marriage believe the organisers of the 2022 Lambeth conference failed to recognise that its resolution was "not just about sex and marriage, but mainly about the authority of the Bible, which Anglicans regard as the primary guide to faith and order".

South Sudanese Archbishop Justin Badi has called on the Anglican Church to sanction provincial churches that ordain gay bishops and allow same-sex marriages.

These provincial churches include the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Episcopal Anglican Church in Brazil, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of New Zealand and Polynesia, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church in Wales.

According to Archbishop Badi, the Anglican communion has "for too long been driven by the views of the West and ignored the voices of the Global South".

At the same time, the bishops of Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda refused to attend the conference. “Nothing has really changed about the issues in contention, which broke the fabric of the communion in the first instance. Rather, things are getting worse as the culprits are becoming more daring and persistent in their errors and rebellion,” those theologically conservative primates said. 

The issue of sexuality, and in particular same-sex unions, has been splitting the Lambeth Conference for decades, with divisions so deep that Welby cancelled a planned meeting in 2018.

Two years earlier, a group of Anglican bishops from around the world criticised the U.S. Episcopal Church for approving same-sex marriage. Since then, the Scottish Episcopal Church has decided to allow same-sex marriage and the Anglican Church in Wales has voted to give special blessings to same-sex couples.

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