The Listening Process

Reports from the Provinces - The Province of the West Indies.

Following the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution I:10 was accepted and adopted at the Provincial Synod and each diocesan Synod. Throughout the Province Lambeth I:10 is accepted as the official teaching of the Church without exception.

An endorsement of Lambeth I:10 has been at the heart of every responsefrom the West Indies to events within the Communion. The Province of the West Indies understands the commitment to marriage as between a man and a woman as being alongside the Church’s commitment to “continue the dialogue with and pastoral care of homosexual persons.”

The Province of the West Indies has always supported the process which led to, and follows on from, the Windsor Report, including commitments to listen.

Within the eight dioceses of the Province, there is a common cultural position which views homosexuality in a very negative light. The general public would be horrified at the thought of the Church endorsing homosexuality and some have challenged the distinction articulated by the Church between orientation and the participation in homosexual acts.

The Archbishop has identified that in most of the dioceses, a strong homophobic mindset is firmly in place. However, influences are changing and attempts are being made to present the case for the acceptance of homosexuality. In some territories homosexuality is illegal, while in others the law has been liberalised.

In this context it has been hard to develop a Listening Process. In Barbados the bishop has carefully prepared  a serious study in two parts for his clergy which supports Lambeth I:10 but treats all with respect. The House of Bishops has now appointed a sub-committee to assist the bishops and the province in this process, and they have extended an invitation to the Bishop of New York to spend an day with them at their next meeting in June 2007. This is to assist them in devising a strategy to meaningfully engage in the Listening Process.

Secular and religious influences from North America have tended to further polarise the debate. The media campaigns of the Gay/Lesbian Movement and the Fundamentalism of North American Protestantism are seen as equally unhelpful. The Province of the West Indies, despite the media influence and impact, intends to align itself with the world-wide Communion as it seeks to uphold the truth contained in Scripture and in the tradition interpreted with reason and the discernment provided by being open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.