The College of Bishops has welcomed the revision of the Human Dignity Call at the Lambeth Conference as a basis for discussion, after criticism of the draft text prompted a re-think.
The original wording, published last week, asked bishops to reaffirm the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution I.10 defining marriage as permissible only between a man and woman.
The wording of that Call did not represent the position of the Scottish Episcopal Church as reflected in the Church’s Canons, which recognises that there are differing understandings of marriage in the SEC. Bishops in the Church In Wales also objected to the wording of the Call, and there was also widespread concern among bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States.
The revised version of the Call, released by conference organisers on Tuesday evening, states: “Many Provinces continue to affirm that same gender marriage is not permissible. Lambeth Resolution I.10 (1998) states that the “legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions” cannot be advised. Other Provinces have blessed and welcomed same sex union/marriage after careful theological reflection and a process of reception. As Bishops we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues.”
In response, the College said: “We welcome this amendment to the original draft of the Human Dignity Call as a basis for discussion and look forward to respectful dialogue on this and all other Calls at the conference.”
Earlier this week, a member of the Call drafting group, Bishop Kevin Robertson (Diocese of Tornoto) had said that language opposing same-sex marriage was never discussed or approved by the drafting group. After the revised version was released last night, he said: “I am very pleased that the call of reaffirm the Lambeth I.10 (1998) resolution has now been dropped. Grateful to all who helped to amend this Call.”
The full revised passage now reads:
Prejudice on the basis of gender or sexuality threatens human dignity. Given Anglican polity, and especially the autonomy of Provinces, there is disagreement and a plurality of views on the relationship between human dignity and human sexuality. Yet, we experience the safeguarding of dignity in deepening dialogue. It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that “all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ” and to be welcomed, cared for, and treated with respect (I.10, 1998). Many Provinces continue to affirm that same gender marriage is not permissible. Lambeth Resolution I.10 (1998) states that the “legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions” cannot be advised. Other Provinces have blessed and welcomed same sex union/marriage after careful theological reflection and a process of reception. As Bishops we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues.
The original draft had said:
“All human beings are made in the image of God. Therefore Anglicans are committed to respect, protect and acknowledge the dignity of all. That has been, however, a gap between rhetoric and reality. Historical exploitation, deepening poverty, and prejudice continues to threaten human dignity. Amid these threats, and our own divisions and discernment, we call for: (i) an Archbishop’s Commission for Redemptive Action; (ii) the establishment of an Anglican Innovation Fund; and (iii) the reaffirmation of Lambeth 1:10 that upholds marriage as between a man and a woman and requires deeper work to uphold the dignity and witness of LGBTQ Anglicans.”
There have also been revisions to the draft Calls on Discipleship, Mission and Evangelism and Inter Faith Relations. The Lambeth Calls document can be read here.
On Monday night, it emerged that bishops were to be allowed the option of recording that they could not back a Call because it “does not speak to me”, as reported here.
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