[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, Michael Curry, has given a detailed response to the statement about the Episcopal Church issued at last month’s Primates Meeting. Bishop Curry was answering questions at a Newsmakers event at the National Press Club in Washington DC last week when he was asked for clarification about the consequences of the statement for the Episcopal Church.
“Firstly, the Primates understood clearly that we as the Episcopal Church are committed to the Anglican Communion but we are equally committed to being a House of Prayer for all people,” he said. “And as I said to [the Primates in Canterbury], we believe in full inclusion and marriage equality . . . not as a social programme but we believe in it because the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are really about welcoming and embracing us all and that we are all the children of God, created in God’s image and likeness. And I believe that that’s what love bids us do.
“So that is where we are coming from and I shared that with them and I also said: ‘but that means we also love you, those of you who disagree with us and with me. . . You are my brothers and I do love you. And we’re not changing so there shouldn’t be an expectation that in the next three years the Episcopal Church will. . . We are not going to change our position. This is who we are. And yet we are not going to change our love, our affection and our commitment to you as well.’
“So the decision that came out of that was with that clear awareness. And my sense . . . is that the overwhelming majority of the Primates voted the vote that they did as a way of saying ‘We disagree with you. We can’t support your decision because we believe you have changed core doctrine and we disagree with that.’
“But they did not vote to vote us off the island. And you need to know that. They did not do that, and could have.
“And so I think that was a moderated response that expressed displeasure but that recognised that we are still an Anglican family and are committed to that. Now, how that plays out over the next . . . I have no idea. But that’s what was really going on and most of my conversations with fellow Primates . . . were in that direction.
“I think that is . . . potentially an adult and mature response. Where that will lead us on to down the road, I don’t know. But there was clarity on our part both about who we are as a church and our love and commitment to the Communion. And there was clarity on their part that they disagree with us but they did not vote us off the island.”
He described the consequences put forward by the Primates as “surgical”, saying: “The limits are very specific and focused. They have to do with ambassadorial functions and direct leadership functions. They don’t deal with other things.
“This is the position: because we differ on a core doctrine, it would not be seen as appropriate for us to represent the Anglican Communion in ecumenical / interfaith leadership / ambassadorial relationships. Okay, that’s fair.
“And because we disagree on core doctrine they are asking that we not cast our votes on matters of doctrine and polity – not about our life together and a whole bunch of other things that get considered. It was a very specific, almost surgical approach, that expresses displeasure and that tries to find a mediated way of expressing that displeasure in a way that was real but that didn’t go too far.”