Out to make a point?
The Archbishop of Canterbury will this week launch what could be his final attempt to save the Anglican Communion from an irreparable split triggered by the increasingly bitter row over homosexuality and the church.
Failure to keep the world’s 70-million -strong Communion together would be a watershed in the history of the church and a personal disaster for Rowan Williams, who will use a gathering of bishops in Tanzania starting on Wednesday to try to calm the row dividing liberal and conservative wings of the church. But he faces an uphill task.
Theologians describe the conference as ‘pivotal’ and fear that failure to appease the powerful conservative wing will see many US dioceses break away and link up with those in Africa. That would polarise the Anglican church and damage its standing in the global Christian community. Although congregations are declining in the West, the church is enjoying a surge in popularity in African countries such as Nigeria which vehemently oppose the ordination of gay bishops, arguing that it goes against scripture.
The outcome of the conference is likely to create a furore about the role of the Anglican Communion’s senior clergy. Martin Reynolds, spokesman for the LGCM, said the bishops were to blame for the bitter divisions: ‘They have failed to heal this divide. They’ve exacerbated it. This is about fear of schism, fear of decisions, fear of each other.’ And Reynolds said any implicit condemnation of homosexual bishops would be at odds with reality. ‘There are more than 100 gay bishops in the Anglican Communion. If they all stood up, this argument would not happen.’
Well that raises an issue or two doesn’t it?
- Is the issue, as Martin Reynolds would have us think, about “gay clergy and bishops” or about sexual practice? The answer of course is that the debate has nothing to do with sexual orientation and everything to do with sexual practice and what that says about Jesus and his relationship with the church. To make it an issue of orientation as Martin is doing is disingenuous.
- Who are these hundred or so bishops that Martin claims are gay? Perhaps he’d like to name one or two? Commenters at Stand Firm are also interested.
We’ll leave it there shall we? Anybody think Martin will respond? Yeah, right….