Report on the Listening Process
The Anglican Communion Office has released summaries on the progress on listening processes throughout the communion. You can read find them here ... here's the background:
The 1978 Lambeth Conference recognised “the need for deep and dispassionate study of the question of homosexuality, which would take seriously both the teaching of Scripture and the results of scientific and medical research.” It also said that “While we reaffirm heterosexuality as the scriptural norm, we recognise The Church, recognising the need for pastoral concern for those who are homosexual, encourages dialogue with them.”
In 1988 the Conference reaffirmed these calls and urged “that such study and reflection to take account of biological, genetic and psychological research being undertaken by other agencies, and the socio-cultural factors that lead to the different attitudes in the provinces of our Communion” and called “each province to reassess, in the light of such study and because of our concern for human rights, its care for and attitude towards persons of homosexual orientation.”
The 1998 Conference recognised “that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.”
Response from the Archbishop of Canterbury
As posted on the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) site:
"I am profoundly grateful to Canon Phil Groves and all at the Anglican Communion Office who have worked so hard to produce this preliminary account of what the Communion has done to honour its commitment at Lambeth 1998 to listen to the experience of gay and lesbian people. It is a commitment that has been repeated many times but it has not proved easy to set up an appropriate process that will involve the whole Anglican family.
"The sensitivities of this exercise are obvious. Social, cultural and legal contexts are very varied indeed. And in the present climate of the Anglican Communion, there is inevitably a suspicion either that this is just window-dressing, or that it is a covert programme for changing doctrine and discipline. Real - and mutual - listening is hard to achieve. There are contexts where it is difficult to find a safe place for gay and lesbian people to speak about their lives openly. There are contexts where people assume the debate is over. The report shows that listening is possible, but also that there is a great deal still to be done. The work continues, but we have a solid start here.
"The commitments of the Communion are not only to certain theological positions on the question of sexual ethics but also to a manifest and credible respect for the proper liberties of homosexual people, a commitment again set out in successive Lambeth Conference Resolutions over many decades. I share the concerns expressed about situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten these proper liberties. It is impossible to read this report without being aware that in many places - including Western countries with supposedly 'liberal' attitudes - hate crimes against homosexual people have increased in recent years and have taken horrifying and disturbing forms.
"No-one reading this report can be complacent about such a situation, and the Church is challenged to show that it is truly a safe place for people to be honest and where they may be confident that they will have their human dignity respected, whatever serious disagreements about ethics may remain. It is good to know that the pastoral care of homosexual people is affirmed clearly by so many provinces.
"I welcome this document as a valuable first stage in our collective response to the challenge that the last Lambeth Conference put before us, and I hope that it will be part of the 'deep and dispassionate' study of issues in sexual ethics for which an earlier Lambeth Conference called."