12 August 2022

‘Safe and honest, yet raw’ discussion on ‘Human Dignity’

Bishops engaged in discussion at Lambeth 2022. Image: Bishop Kate Prowd.

Kirralee Nicolle

4 August 2022

Bishops at Lambeth Conference 2022 have been urged to preserve truth and unity amid differing views on same-sex marriage.

The urge came in an address from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on 2 August prior to a discussion of a Call on Human Dignity.

The call stated that many provinces continue to affirm that same gender marriage is not permissible, and that the Lambeth Resolution 1998 Section I.10 states that the “legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions” could not be advised.

The call recognised that some Anglican provinces had blessed and welcomed same-sex unions, and affirmed that the bishops remained committed to listening and walking together despite deep disagreement on the issue.

Read more: We have not been well served by Lambeth Call on Human Dignity

Alongside sexuality, topics in the Call on Human Dignity included gender, diversity, the image of God, the sacredness of life, loving one another, injustice, the legacies of colonialism, the slave trade, and poverty.

In his opening remarks, the Archbishop of Canterbury clarified why sexuality and human dignity were combined in the one call and recognised the deep division in the communion over the issue of same-sex marriage.

“So let us not treat each other lightly or carelessly. We are deeply divided. That will not end soon. We are called by Christ himself both to truth and unity,” he said.

The Lambeth calls have been offered to the Anglican Communion with specific requests for bishops to pursue action and encourage reflection on the topics being discussed.

Read more: Bishops given option to clearly express opposition within days of Lambeth start

The bishops did not give verbal feedback on the call but were invited to give written feedback to the Lambeth Calls Working Group chair as was decided shortly before the conference began. They were given the option of responding with one of the following statements:

“This Call speaks for me. I add my voice to it and commit myself to take the action I can to implement it.”

“This Call requires further discernment. I commit my voice to the ongoing process.”

“This Call does not speak for me. I do not add my voice to this Call.”

The bishops also spent time in small groups discussing the matter.

Melbourne Bishop Kate Prowd wrote in The Melbourne Anglican on 3 August that the discussion felt safe and honest, yet raw, and that the exchanges she observed were deeply respectful.

Read more: A door has been opened in human dignity call

“This conversation is not over, but today a door has been opened,” she said.

The text from the Call on Human Dignity which dealt with sexuality was as follows:

Prejudice on the basis of gender or sexuality threatens human dignity. Given Anglican polity, and especially the autonomy of Provinces, there is disagreement and a plurality of views on the relationship between human dignity and human sexuality. Yet, we experience the safeguarding of dignity in deepening dialogue. It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that “all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ” and to be welcomed, cared for, and treated with respect (I.10, 1998). Many Provinces continue to affirm that same gender marriage is not permissible. Lambeth Resolution I.10 (1998) states that the “legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions” cannot be advised. Other Provinces have blessed and welcomed same sex union/marriage after careful theological reflection and a process of reception. As Bishops we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues.

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