Report and Analysis By Robert Stowe England The Christian Challenge
October 18, 2004
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After much breathless anticipation, the Windsor
Report was released today in London. An initial read suggests that the
recommendations are considerably weaker than people expected -- albeit they
appear to be headed in a more conservative direction.
The Windsor Report is the work of the Lambeth Commission on Communion
headed by Irish Primate Robin Eames.
The report does not recommend expelling the Episcopal Church of the
United States of America for consecration Gene Robinson to be Bishop of New
Hampshire last year.
It also leaves Gene Robinson in place -- a situation sure to be
unacceptable to a majority of Primates.
It does, however, call for a moratorium on consecrating new gay bishops
-- although even that is not entirely clear. The actual language states that
there should be no new bishops "in same gender unions."
American bishops who consecrated Gene have to express public "regret"
for not considering the implications of what they did on the Anglican
Communion. The report even indicates that some of them may not be entirely
"blameworthy" -- since they might have not been fully informed of the
impact of their decision. That seems far to generous.
Thus, there is no apology and, even more importantly, no repentance, as
demanded by a majority of Primates.
American bishops who have consecrated Gene Robinson, as well as bishops
who agreed to or who have conducted same-sex unions are also called on to
express regret for their actions.
It also calls upon American and Canadians to accept a moratorium on
the blessing of same gender unions.
Further, all those bishops who have either supported the consecration of
Gene Robinson or supported same-sex unions to "consider in all conscience
whether they should withdraw themselves from representative function sin the
Importantly, the Windsor Report does not support parallel provinces.
It supports only delegated episcopal oversight and sets the ECUSA model
as one to follow.
In view of the almost universal failure of delegated Episcopal pastoral
oversight (DEPO), this provision seems to have been included merely to
appease the Episcopal Church. Its inclusion imperils and even mocks the
larger points made in the Windsor Report.
There is no mention of the role of the Anglican Communion Network in the
United States. This is an enormous oversight.
The report chastises bishops who have crossed boundaries and
established parallel provinces and calls on them to express regret for their
actions. It also calls for a moratorium on such actions.
This effort at moral equivalence is particularly disturbing, suggesting
that the crossing of boundaries is on par with the heretical actions
of revisionists in ECUSA and Canada.
The only real teeth in the report concerns the establishment of a common
law for the communion that would require provinces to adopt in order to
remain in the communion.
That covenant would mean, at this appoint, that Provinces would ban
further election of homosexual bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions.
Yet, the proposed text for The Anglican Covenant does not state that
explicitly. It simply states that provinces have to respect the bonds of
Communion and not act in a way that would harm those bonds.
The covenant would be a new instrument of unity, along side the
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates in regularly
meetings, and the Anglican Consultative Council.
After setting up at length the seriousness of the breach of communion
represented by the actions of the American church, as well as the Anglican
Church in Canada, the Windsor Reports recommendations seem not, at first
glance, to be sufficient to save the Anglican Communion from further
The Windsor Report appears to be yet another case of Anglican fudge, but
with a bit of scolding attached.
While Archbishop Eames said the report would have teeth, it seems to have
only one or two teeth -- no enough to bite anything.
Distressingly, it seems to leave open the question of how the Anglican
Communion will treat homosexuality in the future. In a section on Scripture,
it cautiously but most definitely downplays the role of Scripture -- while
denying that it is doing just that.
The report also calls on the Episcopal Church to bring its case for
same-sex unions to the entire Anglican Communion and to argue from
scripture, tradition and reason why it thinks such blessings should occur
and, thus, leaves this question open.
The report also reminds readers of the part of the Lambeth Resolution
1.10 that says that the communion should listen to what homosexuals have
to say. This is the same resolution that said homosexuality was
"incompatible with Scripture" and which disapproved of the blessing of
Thus, for example, it seems that at some oint that the entire Anglican
Communion could change its view on homosexuality by a majority vote at a
future Lambeth Conference, at which point that view would be binding on all
One can definitely see the hand of American revisionists in the way the
text is put together and how the terms are expressed. Indeed, this text
appears to be ECUSA's attempt to pre-empt the actions that are to be taken
against it by putting them in the mildest form possible and a form they
could presumably live with -- especially if it kept foreign bishops from
further inroads in the United States.
Having noted its weaknesses, it should be added that this is likely only
the first step in what will now unfold. The report goes to the Primates, who
almost assuredly will not accept this weak porridge that, as Winston
Churchill famously said, "has no theme."