Archbishop Yong Ping Chung, the Archbishop of Southeast Asia, revealed a degree of dishonesty when he announced that America and Canada have effectively been suspended from the Anglican Communion and given three years to reform. This is very clearly not what he agreed to at the recent Primates’ meeting in Ireland, as the Communiqué issued by the Primates shows.
The Archbishop’s statement sharply contradicts the very accurate statement made in a letter to the Church Times by the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon. He wrote that the action taken by the Primates did not amount to effectively ‘suspending’ the Provinces of Canada and the US. The churches have been invited to withdraw. The Primates themselves have no authority to make such a decision.
In direct contradiction of the Communiqué which he had approved at the meeting in Newry, Archbishop Yong Ping Chung has stated: “Basically, ECUSA and Canada are both suspended immediately to give them time and space to go through their Canonical and Constitutional procedures to express their desire and will to stay in the Anglican Communion by repentances and reversing what they have unilaterally endorsed and put in place. They have until the Lambeth Conference 2008 to do this.”
He is also reported to have revealed that at the Primates’ Meeting, “invitations for [American and Canadian] Bishops to attend the next Lambeth Conference depend upon their response to the terms and conditions set by the Windsor Report.” Archbishop Yong explained that though “very polite, kind and gracious language” was used in drafting the Dromantine communiqué, the “plain reality [was] that there is severe impairment and fractured relationship in our Anglican Communion.” Archbishop Yong praised the work of Archbishop Rowan Williams and the communiqué. It was “a Godly and wise decision” as it “called ECUSA and Canada to repentance but at the same time kept the way back to the Anglican Communion open”.
Archbishop Yong Ping Chung’s statement reveals the true ambition of the most extreme of the Primates, a small group which in addition to him includes the Primate of Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, the Primate of the Southern Cone, the Most Revd Gregory Venables, and the Primate of the West Indies, the Most Revd Drexel Gomes. Despite having agreed to the Communiqué they are still working openly for the total exclusion of the American and Canadian Anglican churches from the Communion. Nothing less will satisfy them.
In pursuing this goal, each of them is prepared to defy the commitment of Lambeth resolution 1.10, a commitment renewed in the Communiqué, “to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process which has been the subject of resolutions not only at the Lambeth Conference in 1998, but in earlier Conferences as well.”
The Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Revd Henry Orombi ruled out any debate with homosexuals, saying they either repent and adopt the biblical teaching of sex or go their way. “I do not think there is a debate. When God gives his word, you either take it or leave it. We either agree with God or go our own way. The Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The Episcopal Church of America hasn’t followed the biblical teachings on sexuality and that’s why we’re against them.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams, is confronted with an almost impossible task when some of the most senior Archbishops of the Anglican Communion distort the intention of the Communiqué they jointly issued and deny commitments they have agreed amongst themselves. The Episcopal Church in the USA, the Anglican Church in Canada, and faithful lesbian and gay Christians throughout the Communion, model lives of integrity and fidelity, in marked contrast to the dishonesty of a minority of Primates.