Conservative Anglicans Meet as Communion Faces Split
Conservative delegates from 20 provinces across the worldwide Anglican Communion met Tuesday in Egypt for a six-day conference as the church continues to face a crisis over the rights of homosexuals within the church.
|TOP|The gathered members complained Tuesday that liberal churches in the U.S. and Canada had failed to do enough to heal the rift over gay rights in the 77 million-strong Anglican Church, which appeared after the U.S. Episcopal Church ordained gay Gene Robinson and the Anglican Church in Canada began blessing same-sex marriages.
The traditionalists attending the meeting this week in Alexandria, Egypt, dominate the Anglican churches of Africa, Asia and Latin America, hence the group’s name Global South.
“I still believe there is room for us to walk together,” Drexel Gomez, Archbishop of the West Indies, told Reuters at the meeting.
“But if they (the United States and Canada) refuse to buy into what we call the Anglican consensus then I believe that those people who cannot accept the consensus are the ones who must leave,” he said.
The Windsor Report, which called on the U.S. and Canadian churches to express regret for their actions, has now sparked debate as to whether this request has been met.
Archbishop Robin Eames of the Church of Ireland, who led the Windsor Report task force, said at a recent seminar at the Virginia Theological Seminary that he believed the conditions set out in the report had been met.
The consensus in the Global South, who claim to represent the position of the majority of Anglicans, is that the conditions have not been met by the U.S. and Canadian churches.
|QUOTE|“He expressed an opinion, which came as a surprise to many people...We have heard expressions of sadness at the hurt, but we haven’t heard yet the statement which the Windsor Report was looking for,” commented an unnamed primate in Reuters.
Disgruntled conservatives point to at least one diocese in Canada that is still conducting same-sex blessings and which therefore contravenes the demands of the report.
“They have not met what we asked for,” said Gomez, adding that a final response from the U.S. and Canadian churches would have to wait for their conventions in 2006 and 2007, reported Reuters.
Observers are anticipating the imminent announcement of a split in the Communion. “The establishment is desperate to keep together the communion,” said George Curry, chairman of the Church Society, a conservative lay and clergy Anglican group. “But the liberals are unwilling to revisit or invalidate the movements that the conservatives find intolerable. This tolerance has been stretched to the breaking point.”
The traditionalist clerics, however, gave the assurance that the homosexual debate and a possible split in the Communion would not overshadow the meeting, which runs until the 30th October, but that other issues including HIV/AIDS would also be addressed.
“We are not going to allow this issue to kidnap the most important discussion of the Global South [of] how we can be strengthened as churches,” said Rev. Mouneer Avis, bishop of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.
Datuk Yong Ping Chung, Archbishop of Southeast Asia, echoed these sentiments, saying, “This meeting is not to react to any single issue”.
The delegates at the Global South also extended the invitation to conservative members of the Anglican Church stranded in the U.S. and Canada.
“The Global South will encourage us, who are remaining faithful, to know that we are not standing alone,” said Donald Harvey, a retired Canadian bishop who is part of a network of Canadian Anglicans who oppose the liberal developments within the Communion.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, known for his liberal-leaning views in Church issues, will address the meeting on Friday in an obvious attempt to heal the rift with the fiery Rev. Peter Akinola, Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, and his followers.