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A response to the statement from the Primates meeting
January 14, 2016
I am deeply saddened by the statement released today from the Primates meeting being held in Canterbury, England. The fact that certain parties “leaked” the document before it was to be formally released says much about the current state of affairs among the Primates of the Anglican Communion.
This statement is a familiar rebuke of The Episcopal Church for faithfully attempting to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in our context through the full inclusion of gay, lesbian and transgendered persons in the Body of Christ. The Episcopal Church has chosen to offer all the Sacraments of the Church to all the baptized people of the Church, including the Sacrament of Marriage. Our part of the Anglican Communion made this decision prayerfully and after a long and painstaking season of conversation and debate. We made this decision finally believing Our Lord does not condone discrimination against God’s precious Creation.
The statement released by the Primates fails to recognize the glaring reality that every part of the Anglican Communion faces the same questions we have faced, and every Province of the Anglican Communion will have to decide to whom they are willing to deny the Sacraments.
The Primates state The Episcopal Church should “no longer represent the Anglican Communion on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.” At the very moment when closer relationship and deeper conversation would be most helpful, the Primates suggest we all go to our separate corners. We have been asked to absent ourselves from interfaith and ecumenical conversations before, but that was widely perceived as having been relationally destructive and an interruption of important, ongoing work.
As our Presiding Bishop, Michael B. Curry, told the Primates at Canterbury, “Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all.”
Statements from the Primates over the years have included courageous proclamations advocating for the world’s dispossessed, and challenging persistent racial injustice and income inequality. Such statements gave voice to the highest values we hold as Christians. Unfortunately, this is not one of those statements.
The Right Reverend Dean E. Wolfe
Vice President, House of Bishops, The Episcopal Church
Ninth Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas