Anglican Prime Minister Justin Welby has called on bishops to exercise caution and unity ahead of the Lambeth Conference, which begins next week. Above all, topics of sexual morality have caused heated debates in social media.
Referring to what has sometimes been a heated debate about the Church’s position on homosexuality, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Friday: “Without ignoring matters on which we strongly disagree, I pray that we engage in this gathering with a deeper meeting. Closer to a sense of what unites us: loving Jesus and his call to serve God’s world.”
The background is the so-called “Lambeth calls” on various topics, drafts of which were published on Monday and which will be discussed by some 650 bishops at the world conference starting Friday, July 29. A sharp debate is to be expected over the question of homosexual ordination, bishops, and blessings of same-sex marriage, which is already treated differently in different parts of the Anglican Communion of the World.
In a video message before the Lambeth conference, Welby said:
“My heart is full of hope and anticipation for the 15th Lambeth Conference to be held in July and August 2022. It will be a time of fellowship as we meet our sisters and brothers from all over the world. It will be a time of bread-breaking and celebration as we extend hospitality to one another. … And the time will come when we have important conversations On issues affecting the church and the world.”
He spoke in more detail about the challenges Anglicans have to talk about in the video message he posted on Facebook.
“Across the world, so many people are suffering so much. We just need to look at our screens to see injustices and inequalities. Our discussions at Lambeth will take place in a world grappling with great challenges. Above all, it is about issues like the climate crisis, but Also about the consequences of the pandemic, inequality, conflict, mass migration, persecution, and rapid scientific and technological change.”
I’m out of online conversations
In his written letter, Welby writes that draft texts of the Lambeth Appeals emerged from online conversations between bishops around the world that took place in preparation for the 2021 conference. “They were designed by a diverse group of Anglicans—men and women, lay and ordained, of different generations and from every part of the company”. The designs are part of a process that will continue long after the bishops’ meeting is over, according to both Emeritus President of the World Anglican Communion, the ecclesiastical district must formulate its response to the invitations.
Welby referred to the advocacy of Anglican identity which states: “Anglicans strive to be faithful to God – in their consent and in their disagreements.”
Welby said the Lambeth conference “will focus on the major global crises of our time, their impact on the most vulnerable, and our evangelical responsibility to serve a world in need.” He thanked God for the “historic opportunity to join bishops from all over the world in prayer, study and conversation.”
Critics complain that, according to the procedure now known, bishops can either accept the appeal or call for further discussion, but a concrete refusal is not possible. It is also feared that the attitude towards homosexuals, decided in 1998, will be tested again.
More than 650 of about 800 invited bishops are expected to attend the 15th Lambeth Conference by August 8, with others participating online. However, critics of the full recognition of homosexuals by the Anglican Church, especially from the Global South, have canceled their participation. At the last conference in 2008, it was decided to deviate from the usual 10-year cycle due to controversial issues. Due to the Corona pandemic, it has been postponed to this summer.
(kna / facebook – mg)