What will the recent GAFCON paper achieve?
The Church of England Daily Digest on 15th November provided a link to an article Christian Today/Premier concerning the release by GAFCON UK of a list of clergy known to be in same-sex relationships or who have officiated or publicly supported gay unions in the Church of England. Presented at a recent briefing to GAFCON Primates “on the situation in the Church of England regarding attitudes, teaching and practice on sexual ethics, official and unofficial”, the GAFCON Report “argues that the Church of England has already ‘crossed the line’ by allowing a culture to develop where violations of Lambeth Resolution I:10 are increasingly prevalent”.
The Church of England and Lambeth I:10
Whilst the Church of England is the clearly the target of the document, examples of GAVCON’s view of the violations of Lambeth I.10 cite: the Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada, and Scottish Episcopal Church. Such violations “allowed for a variety of practices that legitimised same-sex unions, while stopping short of an official change to provincial liturgies and canons”. These included:
- services of thanksgiving for a same-sex civil union in local parishes;
- blessing ceremonies in local parishes;
- rites that were authorized by dioceses but not officially by the province;
- same sex civil unions for both laity and clergy;
- the promotion of such activities by bishops, clergy, and influential lay leaders; and
- the lack of discipline for those engaging in such activities”.
The document also contains “a partial list of the violations of Lambeth I.10 in the Church of England”, many of which are accompanied by a link to reports in the media or elsewhere.
The new GAFCON document should provide few surprises: references to those cited were already in the public domain, and given its primary audience of GAFCON Primates, the tone adopted is little different from the communiqué following the 6th Global South Conference in October, reported in Thinking Anglicans. However, those mentioned within the document will probably feel differently.
There are a number of concerns regarding the accuracy of some of the statements, but we will leave a more detailed analysis to others. However, we both feel that the publication of such a document is not an acceptable way for self-avowed Christians to proceed.
David Pocklington and Frank Cranmer