This is going to be a long blog, but there’s no other way to set the record straight.
Having written about the meetings Dr Philip Giddings thinks we, LGB&T Anglican groups, had with the liberal bishops, Dr Giddings then goes on to explain that the listening process wasn’t authorized by and didn’t begin with Lambeth 1.10.
Dr Giddings says there is an important distinction between the “listening process” and the commitment to “listen to the experience of homosexual persons” in his letter to the LGBT Anglican Coalition. The desire to put in place a commitment to listen to the experience of homosexuals can be read in the pastoral statement to lesbian and gay Anglicans signed by 188 bishops following Lambeth 1998 but Lambeth 1.10 should not be read in the light of the statement, meaning that Lambeth 1.10 did not initiate the listening process, he says. This seems a convoluted argument to me, and the pastoral letter was written following and in the context of Lambeth 1.10 – I know because I helped to draft it.
It was fully six years later in 2004 that the Listening Process was officially started, following the Windsor Report and the Gene Robinson consecration, says Dr Giddings, so the Process could hardly be part of the intention of an event which took place six years earlier. I think Dr Giddings is wrong again. I don’t think the Listening Process officially started until 2006, 8 years after Lambeth, when Canon Philip Groves was appointed to facilitate the Listening Process.
My understanding is that the Listening Process is indeed a response to Lambeth 1.10 which committed the Anglican Communion to listen to the experience of homosexual people. There was a reason why it wasn’t started until 2006. It has nothing to do with Gene Robinson and the Windsor Report and everything to do with prejudice and homophobia and the effect this has on the lives of bishops and individuals in senior positions in the Anglican Communion. Anglican Mainstream is responsible with others for creating an atmosphere of prejudice and paranoia about homosexuality in the Communion which inhibited the start of the listening process and has done untold damage to the lives of LGB&T Christians.
Listening Process was commended by Lambeth 1.10 in 1998
Dr Giddings claim that there is a distinction between the listening process as adopted in 2006 and the commitment to listen to the experience in Lambeth 1.10 is simply wrong. The case against his interpretation can be found in the Windsor Report itself and in subsequent documents.
Para 135 of the Windsor Report, published in 2004, says:
We recommend that the Instruments of Unity, through the Joint Standing Committee, find practical ways in which the ‘listening’ process commended by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 may be taken forward, so that greater common understanding might be obtained on the underlying issue of same gender relationships.
The Windsor Report was followed by the Primates’ Meeting in 2005 which published the following statement:
17. In reaffirming the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 as the present position of the Anglican Communion, we pledge ourselves afresh to that resolution in its entirety, and request the Anglican Consultative Council in June 2005 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 Anglican Consultative Council meeting in 2005 responded to the Recommendation of the Windsor Report and the request of the Primates Meeting in the following resolution:
Resolution 12: The Listening Process
In response to the request of the bishops attending the Lambeth Conference in 1998 in Resolution 1.10 to establish “a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion” and to honour the process of mutual listening, including “listening to the experience of homosexual persons” and the experience of local churches around the world in reflecting on these matters in the light of Scripture, Tradition and Reason, the Anglican Consultative Council encourages such listening in each Province and requests the Secretary General:
a. to collate relevant research studies, statements, resolutions and other material on these matters from the various Provinces and other interested bodies within those Provinces
b. to make such material available for study, discussion and reflection within each member Church of the Communion
c. to identify and allocate adequate resources for this work, and to report progress on it to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to the next Lambeth Conference and the next meeting of this Council, and to copy such reports to the Provinces.
The Secretary General then followed the instructions of the ACC and appointed a facilitator (very belatedly in the opinion of Changing Attitude) who arrived at the Anglican Communion Office in 2006, 8 years after the listening process had been proposed by Lambeth 1998. He did not begin the ‘Listening Process,’ he began to gather information about the effectiveness of bishops in living up to the commitment they entered into at the 1998 Lambeth Conference; to listen to the experience of homosexual persons, who were assured they were full members of the body of Christ.
The Primates’ Meeting in 2007 made the link between Resolution 1.10 and the ‘Listening Process’ clear in their communiqué:
13. The 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, committed the Provinces “to listen to the experience of homosexual persons” and called “all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals”. The initiation of this process of listening was requested formally by the Primates at Dromantine and commissioned by ACC-13. We received a report from Canon Philip Groves, the Facilitator of the Listening Process, on the progress of his work. We wish to affirm this work in collating various research studies, statements and other material from the Provinces. We look forward to this material being made more fully available across the Communion for study and reflection, and to the preparation of material to assist the bishops at 2008 Lambeth Conference.
It is clear that the Primates viewed the Listening Process as having been committed to by Lambeth 1.10. There was no suggestion that the Listening Process begun in 2006 is different from the commitment to listen in Lambeth 1.10.
Dr Giddings says “it is simply mistaken – an anachronism – to read back the “listening process” into Lambeth 1.10. To do so looks like an attempt to place a question mark in front of the clarity of Lambeth 1.10. That attempt fails.” Dr Giddings is clearly wrong.
Part 4 will follow.