On Tuesday 28 October 2003 the Archbishop of Canterbury announced the setting up of the Commission that had been promised at the meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion at Lambeth Palace earlier that month.
The Archbishop of Canterbury requests the Commission:
- To examine and report to him by 30th September 2004, in preparation for the ensuing meetings of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, on the legal and theological implications flowing from the decisions of the Episcopal Church (USA) to elect a priest in a committed same sex relationship as one of its bishops, and of the Diocese of New Westminster to authorise services for use in connection with same sex unions, and specifically on the canonical understandings of communion, impaired and broken communion, and the ways in which provinces of the Anglican Communion may relate to one another in situations where the ecclesiastical authorities of one province feel unable to maintain the fullness of communion with another part of the Anglican Communion.
- Within their report, to include practical recommendations (including reflection on emerging patterns of provision for episcopal oversight for those Anglicans within a particular jurisdiction, where full communion within a province is under threat) for maintaining the highest degree of communion that may be possible in the circumstances resulting from these decisions, both within and between the churches of the Anglican Communion.
- Thereafter, as soon as practicable, and with particular reference to the issues raised in Section IV of the Report of the Lambeth Conference 1998, to make recommendations to the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, as to the exceptional circumstances and conditions under which, and the means by which, it would be appropriate for the Archbishop of Canterbury to exercise an extraordinary ministry of episcope (pastoral oversight), support and reconciliation with regard to the internal affairs of a province other than his own for the sake of maintaining communion with the said province and between the said province and the rest of the Anglican Communion.
- In its deliberations, to take due account of the work already undertaken on issues of communion by the Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998, as well as the views expressed by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in the communiqués and pastoral letters arising from their meetings since 2000.
- Archbishop Robin Eames, Primate of All Ireland, Chairman
- The Revd Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Director of Faith, Worship and Ministry, the Anglican Church of Canada
- Bishop David Beetge, Dean of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa
- Professor Norman Doe, Director of the Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University, Wales
- Bishop Mark Dyer, Director of Spiritual Formation, Virginia Theological Seminary, USA
- Archbishop Drexel Gomez, Primate of the West Indies
- Archbishop Josiah Iduwo-Fearon, Archbishop of Kaduna, the Anglican Church of Nigeria
- The Revd Dorothy Lau, Director of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council
- Ms Anne McGavin, Advocate, formerly Legal Adviser to the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church
- Archbishop Bernard Malango, Primate of Central Africa
- Dr Esther Mombo, Academic Dean of St Paul’s United Theological Seminary, Limuru, Kenya
- Archbishop Barry Morgan, Primate of Wales,
- Chancellor Rubie Nottage, Chancellor of the West Indies
- Bishop John Paterson, Primate of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council
- Dr Jenny Te Paa, Principal of College of Saint John the Evangelist, Auckland, New Zealand
- Bishop James Terom, Moderator, the Church of North India
- Bishop N Thomas Wright, Bishop of Durham, the Church of England
The Revd Canon John Rees, Legal Adviser to the Anglican Consultative Council, will act as Legal Consultant to the Commission.
The Revd Canon Gregory Cameron, Director of Ecumenical Affairs and Studies, Anglican Communion Office, will act as Secretary to the Commission.
The full Commission will meet as a whole on three occasions: in February; June; and September 2004. It intends to complete its initial report on the nature, extent and consequences of Impaired Communion in the Anglican Communion as a result of recent developments by the end of September 2004 for submission to the Archbishop of Canterbury in October. Intensive work will also be commissioned from individual members of the Commission and others, and undertaken beyond the main sessions set out above.
As required by its mandate, the Commission will begin by considering recent work elsewhere on the issue of Communion. It will give primary consideration to the resolutions of the Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998 on this issue, together with a consideration of what has been achieved in the Grindrod, Eames and Virginia Reports, which addressed matters of Communion, particularly in relation then to the issue of the ordination of women to the episcopate. It will also wish to give especial attention to the recent work of the Inter Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission on the theological nature of Communion, and the various statements and pastoral letters issued by the Primates at their recent meetings.
There are no plans at this stage to hold sessions of the Commission in public, but it is felt that it will be important for the work of the Commission to be as open as possible. For this reason, evidence considered by the Commission will generally be published on the web site associated with the Commission, and it is intended to publish interim reports of the work of the Commission following each plenary session. Specific submissions to the Commission will be invited from particular groups or individuals, both in written form and by the reception of evidence in interview, either at plenary sessions, or at subsidiary meetings and sub-committees. The Initial Report in its final form will not be published until it has been received formally by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Submissions of evidence may be forwarded unsolicited for the consideration of the Commission, provided that the following criteria are met:
- Submissions must relate strictly to the terms of reference of the Commission (key questions are set out below), and be sent in electronic format to the email address of the Commission’s Secretary set out below.
- Submissions should be in word processed format, and no longer than one side of an A4 sheet of paper or the equivalent.
The Commission may decide to request clarification or development as it feels appropriate. All submissions may be published on the Commission web site at the direction of the Commission’s Chair, Archbishop Robin Eames.
The Commission should be grateful if members of the Anglican Communion, and our ecumenical partners, will hold the Commission’s work in their prayers, together with the life of the Anglican Communion.
Information on the Commission and its ongoing work may be found on the web site: (www.anglicancommunion.org/ecumenical/commissions/primates/index.cfm), or by contacting the Secretary to the Commission, the Revd Canon Gregory Cameron, on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Archbishop Eames Statement
On the morning the commission was announced, Archbishop Robin Eames of Ireland said that opportunities for growth and reconciliation can be found amid “what some are calling a crisis” in Anglicanism worldwide as the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire proceeds with the November 2 ordination of a bishop living in a same-sex union with his male partner.
“We will try under God to provide channels on communication, channels of understanding, but most of all a path forward,” Archbishop Eames said. “Please pray for me,” he asked.
Archbishop Eames, who from 1988-93 led a similar international commission on the ordination of women who now serve as priests and bishops in many of the Anglican Communion’s 38 member churches, said he did not accept the invitation from Dr Williams “easily” but “there are times in life that…a situation has to be addressed. We have got to maintain the Anglican Communion,” he said, who as Archbishop of Armagh is senior Primate among the 38 prelates who lead the autonomous member provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Eames called upon Anglicans to “recognize…what binds us together more than what may divide some of us.” Speaking of the Primates’ meeting in London, October 15-16, he said that “no matter what views they expressed, the bottom line was, let us remain in Communion.”
Archbishop Eames went on to underscore the international respect accorded to Anglicans for the skills of listening and mediation unique to their faith tradition. He cited specific examples of Anglican ministries of outreach and reconciliation amid tensions in the Middle East, in responding to the refugee crisis in Uganda, in overturning apartheid in South Africa, and in seeking peace in his own native Northern Ireland, where he himself was called upon by factions to negotiate a ceasefire.
“The Anglican Communion enjoys the position of being one of the most powerful communications agents in the world,” he said of the global network of churches in 164 countries. “Anglicanism has got to be there as a world body, binding up its wounds, but saying…we have a message that this world must hear.”