Bishop of Washington
February 22, 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Like many of you, I have spent the last several days studying and praying over the recent communiqué from the Primates Meeting of the Anglican Communion and our Presiding Bishop's Word to the Church. Like many of you, I feel that I do not yet have sufficient information about what is expected from the Episcopal Church to make a conclusive judgment about all of the recommendations that the Primates have put before us.
It is not yet clear to me which of our Church's governing bodies is best equipped to make a full response to the Communion. Nor do I fully understand what the plan that designates a “primatial vicar” for those who do not accept certain actions of our Church would look like in practice. That is to say nothing of whether this intrusion in our governance can be justified.
I will learn more about these issues through conversations next week with the Presiding Bishop, and through the deliberations of our Executive Council, which meets March 2-4, in Portland , Oregon . I hope to write to you again after the annual spring meeting of the House of Bishops, which begins on March 17 at Camp Allen , in Texas , but let me make a few observations today.
I am deeply distressed that the Primates spent so much time discussing the internal life of the Episcopal Church and devoted so little attention to the woeful state of our global community. The Gospel summons us to a unified effort against the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, hunger, poverty, human rights violations, the degradation of women and children and the behavior of corrupt governments. Yet the Primates continue to behave as though quashing dissent on issues of human sexuality were the central calling of the Christian faith.
Regarding the recommendations to the Episcopal Church, I am willing to be persuaded that a temporary compromise on issues of governance may be necessary to keep the Anglican Communion intact. However, under no circumstances will I support a moratorium on the consecration of individuals living in same-sex relationships to the episcopacy, and under no circumstances will I enforce a ban on the blessing of same sex unions in the Diocese of Washington, if that, in fact, is what the Primates are asking us to do.
Christians throughout the world are born into cultures that persecute, stigmatize and deny the dignity of God's gay and lesbian children. We marginalize them, make them scapegoats and refuse their manifold gifts. The Episcopal Church is as guilty of these offenses as any other, and in recognizing this we have begun a journey of repentance. In its fourth decade, this journey is still incomplete, and its success, as ever, is in doubt. How agonizing then, in this holy season of Lent, to see the Archbishop of Canterbury succumb to the Archbishop of Nigeria and call upon us to remain in our sins.
Please pray for the Anglican Communion, for the Episcopal Church and your brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Washington as we reason together to find our way forward.
In Christ's Peace, Power and Love,
The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane, D.D.
Bishop of Washington