The Changing Attitude blog proclaims, "The Anglican Communion is committed to the inclusion and pastoral care of LGBT people."
I think it should read, "The Anglican Communion is perhaps committed to the inclusion and pastoral care of LGBT people."
Colin Coward argues with some persuasion, that Lambeth 1998 and the Windsor Report cast their statements "rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture," (Lambeth 1.10) and calling "for a moratorium on all such public Rites (of blessing), and recommend that bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation" (Windsor Report) against a wider backdrop of pastoral care and inclusion of LGBT people.
Coward states, "The Anglican Communion has already given full support to the inclusion of LGBT people in every Province of the Communion – not full inclusion in every order of ministry and with equality in relationships, obviously, but inclusion nevertheless. We LGBT advocacy groups have been slow to see this."
Well, on the one hand he is right, particularly when one remembers that Lambeth 1998, 1.10 also commended "to the Church the subsection report on human sexuality," a report which was more clearly in support of inclusion and pastoral care, and the Windsor Report was careful to demand that care be taken that gay and lesbian persons be accorded respect.
By comparison to the law being considered in Uganda and the continuing civil prejudice against all matters pertaining to the gay and lesbian members of various states, the Lambeth Resolution and the Windsor Report come up smelling like roses. And, if we were to hold the Church of Uganda and other churches to the full import of Lambeth 1.10 and the Windsor Report and accountability to their broader spirit, then perhaps yes, we could say, "the Anglican Communion is committed to the inclusion and pastoral care of LGBT people."
The problem is, of course, that that is no more true than it is that "the Anglican Communion" has spoken in Lambeth 1.10 in a definitive way when the Lambeth Conference says, it "cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions." All resolution 1.10 can say is that the majority of the bishops at that conference "cannot advise..." They cannot advise, but they cannot order either. The Anglican Communion is not the sort of thing that can have commitments or not. The churches of the Anglican Communion have such commitments, come out in support of the inclusion and pastoral care of LGBT people, etc.
Changing Attitude (CA)is a wonderful organization and Colin Coward is a person of great patience and prophetic abilities, and perhaps he is speaking in a way that will turn the minds and hearts of the Church of Uganda and other churches to the truth that Lambeth 1.10 and the Windsor Report contain affirmations of the place of LGBT persons in the church and the pastoral care they deserve. Lord knows they get neither in many places - neither affirmation nor pastoral care.
Perhaps the CA's carefully written essay will cause some to realize that they have misread or misinterpreted the mind of the bishops at Lambeth or the writers of the Windsor Report, and that they need to receive the word with greater care. Inclusion and pastoral care ARE both implicit and explicit in the wordings of Anglican Communion documents. The admonishments to inclusion and pastoral care are in many of the member churches simply ignored.
To the extent that there is any such thing as the Anglican Communion it is represented through the "instruments of Communion" - the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates Meetings. As Colin Coward stated,
"The Communion has never understood what it committed itself to in the fullness of resolution 1.10. Conservatives think they won a victory over any accommodation for gay people in the Communion. That isn't what Windsor, Lambeth 1.10 and Lambeth 1978.10 committed the Communion to. All three documents provide absolute authority and support for the inclusion and pastoral care of LGBT people in every Province.
This is why the proposed Ugandan and Nigerian legislation should be opposed by the Anglican Church in both countries with support from every Province and Primate.
The Communion should be working to revoke all residual colonial legislation which criminalizes homosexuality.
If I had been more alert to the authority given by Lambeth 1.10 and Windsor, I would have been challenging the Communion to respond to words spoken, action taken and legislation proposed which failed to protect the safety and pastoral care of LGBT people.
The delay, prevarication and silence over the Ugandan and previously the Nigerian legislation, I now see as a deliberate failure to act on the commitment voted for by a majority of bishops in 1998 and by the Primates in endorsing the Windsor Report."
The Changing Attitudes statement ends by stating, "Windsor and 1.10 have committed the Communion to an affirming attitude to homosexuality. This must be the basis of Anglican policy."
It is a powerful claim on what have become central documents in the conversations among Anglican churches. More importantly the demand that the churches speak out against the repressive legislation in several countries is a demand that must be heard.
I just wish we could make demands that don't rely upon documents that can only recommend or advise against this or that behavior or action.
Perhaps the demand is based on something like this: "In as much as you have done it to the least of these my sisters and brothers, you have done it to me."
If we condone the killing of our GLBT brothers and sisters we do it to Christ. If we insult, or demean or allow to languish in prison the least of these, we insult, demean or imprison Christ. At least that's how I read it. And I believe those words carry a bit more weight than do the very imperfect words of resolutions that "cannot advise" and "reject."
And yet... the essay has great power. Read it HERE.