Two recent actions within the Anglican Communion are viewed with deep sadness by the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea - the authorization of a Public Rite of blessing for those in same sex relationships in the Diocese of New Westminster, Anglican Church of Canada, and the consecration of a divorced priest now living in a same sex relationship in the diocese of New Hampshire, Episcopal Church of the USA. Such actions are outside the understanding of Anglican Christians in Papua New Guinea and do considerable harm to the mission and unity of the Church, particularly to the warm relationship which exists between the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea and other churches in the country.
The Statement of the Primates of the Anglican Communion (16 October 2003) rightly judged that “these actions threaten the unity of our own Communion as well as our relationships with other parts of Christ’s Church, our mission and witness, and our relations with other faiths, in a world already confused in areas of sexuality, morality and theology, and polarise Christian opinion.” The unity of the Anglican Communion is already wounded and these actions impair our communion even further, particularly as they were proceeded with despite many pleas not to do so from within the Communion, not least in the case of the New Hampshire Consecration in the face of an expressed concern from the Primates’ Meeting itself. As a House of Bishops, we regard this failure to listen to their brothers and sisters as demonstrating a pride and arrogance which both shocks and grieves us.
The House of Bishops wishes it to be known that it disassociates itself from these two events and believes them not to be actions of the whole Church but only of the churches concerned. As such they cannot command acceptance by the whole Communion. This will mean a further wounding of our sacramental fellowship with the churches concerned.
At the same time, the House of Bishops pledges itself to support the work of the Commission established by the Archbishop of Canterbury to consider his role within the Communion when grave difficulties such as these arise, as well as to give urgent and deep theological and legal reflection on the issues involved in these recent actions. At the urging of the Primates, our Province will take time to share in this process of reflection and will, if necessary, re-evaluate its position in the light of the Commission’s findings.