Report of tension in the Lambeth Commission

Following claims in the press that the Eames Commission has excluded the voices of gays and lesbians from its deliberations came a further report that internal tensions centring round its Steering Committee and staff may divide the Commission. Some members had apparently objected to a perceived pursuit by the Commission’s Steering Committee of what was described as “enlightened expediency” at the expense of truth. Non-Western members of the Commission were troubled that the steering committee has privileged a European worldview that allows canon law to dominate doctrine. The members of the steering committee are Archbishop Eames, his two legal advisors, the Rev. John Rees and Dr. Norman Doe, and the commission secretary, Canon Gregory Cameron.

Some Commission members were also reported to be concerned that the ACC staff will manipulate the proceedings, wary that attempts will be made to frustrate their work.

Canon Cameron’s May 29 address to the 37th General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada on behalf of the commission surprised many of its members, as they had not been briefed about the speech before its presentation. Canon Cameron offered a stark choice to Synod: “If you say ‘no’ to the motions before you, (authorising same-sex blessings) then you will be in danger of letting down the thousands of gay people in your midst, who are part of your Canadian family. But if you say ‘yes’, the work of the Lambeth Commission becomes horribly complicated, because we will be told that the Anglican Church of Canada refuses to hear the voice, or to heed the concerns of your fellow Anglicans in the growing Provinces of the Global South, who are your international family.” Canon Cameron’s speech drew a mixed response. Some were disconcerted by the curt tone of the speech while others were annoyed by the usurpation of the Commission’s prerogatives by its staff. Canon Cameron had been authorized to speak to the Canadian General Synod by the chair and steering committee of the Commission and the broad outline was discussed at the steering committee.

Archbishop Eames’ press officer, the Rev Brian Parker, said reports of tensions between the staff and members have been overstated. Bishop Tom Wright of Durham, while declining to discuss the internal workings of the Commission, confirmed that the second plenary session had been “very frank, very friendly, very cordial and hard-working”.

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