The following statement was unanimously adopted by the Canadian House of Bishops meeting in Windsor, Ont., on April 27.
“If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, meeting collegially in Windsor, Ontario, April 25-27, 2005, send warm greetings to the Church. We met together in an atmosphere of prayer, which was hallmarked by charity and generosity of spirit.
In the midst of current tensions and disagreements within the Anglican Communion, we endeavoured in our conversation to be guided by the counsel of St Paul writing to the Romans, “if it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom12:18)
Having considered the Report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion commonly known as the Windsor Report and the communiqué from the Primates of the Anglican Communion issued in February 2005, we make the following statement:
1. We affirm our continuing membership in the worldwide Anglican Communion. Our Church regularly supports the work of the Communion and a number of Canadians have served and continue to serve in significant roles through the work of the Anglican Communion Office in London, England. In partnership with other Provinces we remain committed to evangelism, a compassionate response to the needs of suffering humanity, and to programs in world relief, justice and peace for all. With humility we seek to honour our commitments, knowing our need to listen and learn from the experiences of our brothers and sisters in faith in other Provinces of the Communion.
2. We recognize that synodical decisions in some parts of the Canadian Church, and the response to these, have caused distress in some parts of the Communion. We are sorry for the pain that this has caused and we regret that together we have not achieved a level of consultation deemed sufficient to the magnitude of the issues under consideration.
3. In October 2004, we received with thanks the Windsor Report. Recognizing its importance we commended it for study throughout the Church. We requested our Primate to write a pastoral letter inviting response from Anglicans across Canada. Many responded to this invitation. Their responses were drawn together and formed the basis of the Canadian Response to the Windsor Report.
4. In acknowledging the collective desires expressed in the Primates’ Communiqué we commit ourselves to respond as fully as possible to those of their recommendations as lie within our respective contexts and jurisdictions.
5. We appreciate the commitments of the Primates to “neither encourage nor to initiate cross boundary interventions” by Primates or other Bishops in Provinces other than their own. This commitment is in keeping with the Councils of the early Church, statements of successive Lambeth Conferences and the Windsor Report. We have already adopted a procedure for Shared Episcopal Ministry.
6. On the matter of a moratorium on the authorization of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, we commit ourselves neither to encourage nor to initiate the use of such rites until General Synod has made a decision on the matter.
7. In our consideration of the request of the Primates that the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw its members from the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham in June 2005, we see the value of the opportunity for reflection and response called for in the Windsor Report, but we also see risks inherent in honouring the request. We recognize that within our constitutional polity it is the responsibility of the Council of General Synod to consider and make a decision regarding this request. We support our Primate’s statement that he will do all in his power to persuade the Council to honour it. We ask for the prayers of the whole Church, for the Primate and the members of the Council as they meet May 6-8 in Mississauga.
8. We are pleased to note the opportunity extended through the Primates’ Communiqué to send a delegation to the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in June “to set out the thinking behind the recent actions of their Provinces”, including the diversity of views on the matter of the blessing of same sex unions held by a number of constituencies within our Church, including ourselves, and the manner by which we endeavour to remain in dialogue and communion.
9. In keeping with resolutions of the General Synod and previous statements of the House of Bishops, we affirm the place of gay and lesbian persons in our church and give thanks for their contribution to its life and witness. We agree with the words of paragraph 6 of the Primates’ Communiqué which reads “the victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us”. In our struggle to consider the blessing of their unions, we recognize that their various voices need to be heard more fully. We are grateful to note that in paragraph 17 of the Primates’ Communiqué that the Anglican Consultative Council is asked “to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process called for by Lambeth 1998 and earlier Conferences”
10 In conclusion we wholeheartedly affirm our adherence to the Lambeth Quadrilateral which states:
1. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as ‘containing all things necessary to salvation,’ and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
2. The Apostles’ Creed, as the Baptismal Symbol; and the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
3. The two Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself – Baptism and the Supper of the Lord – ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s Words of Institution, and of the Elements ordained by Him.
4. The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church.
11. We uphold the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Primates’ Meeting, The Lambeth Conference, and The Anglican Consultative Council. We further affirm the Ten Principles of Partnership adopted by the Anglican Consultative Council in 1993 and the Anglican Cycle of Prayer as sources of unity in the cause of mission.
12. In the endeavour to live peaceably with all, we pray for humility, wisdom and compassion.
13. Blessings in the name of Jesus Christ who calls us into communion for the sake of his mission in the world.
House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada