Church commentators have been passing comments on an expected schism within the Anglican Communion over the trundling debate on the rights and role of homosexuals within the Anglican Church, after the Church of England’s decision to allow gay bishops to register under the Civil Partnership Act on the promise of abstinence.
The decision by the Church of Nigeria to drop all reference to Canterbury in its new constitution is the latest in a long line of events that have served to deepen divisions within the Communion including the ordination of a gay bishop in the U.S. and the blessing of same sex marriage in Canada.
“The longer this sort of rhetoric goes on, the less people will make the effort to stay together with people they disagree with,” said Church Times editor Paul Handley to Reuters on Tuesday.
Rod Thomas, spokesman for Reform, a conservative evangelical group within the Church of England, said, “It looks as if we are heading in the direction of schism. Rowan Williams is part of the problem and not the solution.”
The Nigerian Church has also set up a new Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in America in order to establish a network with Anglicans across the U.S. who are bitter and disillusioned by the consecration of the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson.
|QUOTE|The Anglican Communion is the umbrella organisation for a broad coalition of around 164 countries based on consensus. The loose hierarchy seems to be part of the problem, however, according to Handley: “Mutual respect and courtesy is one of the things that holds this vague organisation together and that is in short supply.”
The Archbishop’s office has so far declined to comment on Nigeria’s latest move. Robert Williams, spokesman for the Episcopal Church of the U.S. said simply: “The Archbishop of Canterbury and his advisers are reviewing this matter at the present moment. I prefer not to make any statement.”
Mr Thomas of Reform argued that the liberal churches of the West are facing decline while the generally conservative churches in Asia, Latin America and Africa continue to thrive.
“The Global South is booming. Churches which give in to a liberal agenda are going into decline. Churches which stand firm to the Bible tend to be growing,” he said.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams faces a tough time as he continues in the struggle to unite warring Anglican liberals and conservatives.
“That is why Rowan Williams is looking so haggard nowadays,” said Handley on Tuesday to Reuters.
Schism in Anglican Communion Predicted by Commentators
The Anglican Communion continues to face the likely prospect of a schism as the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams struggles to maintain unity between warring liberals and conservatives.
Published 22 September 2005 | Maria Mackay