Good morning, thank you for being here as our Communion begins a momentous journey.
I would like to thank the 17 members of the Lambeth Commission who have labored long and prayerfully over the document that we have been given today. Their Commission's willingness to struggle through its own divisions and to reach unanimity on the report released today stands as a compelling witness to what we can achieve when we open ourselves to the reconciling power of the Holy Spirit.
Because the report is lengthy, its reasoning deep and its recommendations complex, I will make only preliminary comments this morning.
I find myself in agreement with Archbishop Robin Eames, the Primate of Ireland and chair of the Commission when he says:
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of our current difficulties is the negative consequence it could have on the mission of the Church to a suffering and bewildered world. Even as the Commission prepared for its final meeting the cries of children in a school in southern Russia reminded us of our real witness and ministry in a world already confronted by poverty, violence, HIV/AIDS, famine and injustice.
As some of you know, the Diocese of Washington, in partnership with Fresh Ministries of Jacksonville , Florida , and the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, was recently awarded a $10 million, five-year grant by USAID, to do AIDS prevention and education work in the Anglican Province of Southern Africa . We must continue to nurture such partnerships, whatever our theological differences. For, as the Rt. Rev. Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church has put it:
A life of communion is not for the benefit of the church but for the sake of the world.
As you probably know, I was among the many bishops who consecrated my friend the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. The Commission has invited those of us who took part in the consecration to express regret that the constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding Gene's election and consecration. I accept this invitation, and express my sadness that actions we undertook in good conscience–actions which gave hope to one alienated and marginalized population—have themselves engendered alienation and made others feel marginalized. This was not our intent. We lament this result and I commit myself to participating fully and energetically in the process of reconciliation through dialog and discernment which is outlined in the Commission's report.
I recognize, too that in developing a rite for the blessing of same sex unions, I have caused pain. I want to say with all humility, that this was not my intent. It remains puzzling to me that no one objects to my baptizing the children of gay parents, blessing their home, their car and their dog, yet I cannot bless the loving relationship which makes this family's life possible with upsetting so many of our Anglican brothers and sisters. Yet the Commission has determined that this is the case, and so, again, I want to express my regret for breaching the Communion's bonds of affection.
I was grateful to learn that the Commission had particularly requested a contribution from the Episcopal Church explaining—and here I quote—“from within the sources of authority that we as Anglicans have received in Scripture, the apostolic tradition and reason reflection how a person living in a same gender union may be considered eligible to lead the flock of Christ.” I believe our life both in this Church and within the Communion will be greatly enriched by a deeper understanding of this subject.
I was also grateful to learn that the Commission has reaffirmed the importance of bishops' respecting diocesan boundaries. During the year that the Lambeth Commission has been at work on this report, we have seen the traditional observation of such boundaries disregarded by both primates and bishops who are disaffected from the Episcopal Church. I trust that the Commission's strong admonition against this activity will put an end to it, and that the Commission's endorsement of the U. S. House of Bishops plan to care for dissenting minorities will lead members of those minorities to make use of its generous provisions.
It is my fervent hope that the Commission's rejection of a “parallel jurisdiction” for Episcopalians who disagree with the actions of our last General Convention will end the talk of schism within the Episcopal Church, and that all parties will commit themselves to moving forward in the manner that the Commission recommends.
Finally, I would like to note that we are at the beginning of what may be a long and contentious process as we explore the possibility of agreement upon a core covenant of Anglican beliefs. My prayer is that we may proceed with charity and civility, and that in healing our wounds we may be a model to a wounded world.
The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane,
Bishop of Washington