Will the Anglican Communion hold together?
In a stretch of logic few will be able to understand, the Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday announced that the publication of Prayers of Love and Faith, which enable couples to come to church to have their civil same-sex marriage blessed, "fall very clearly within" Lambeth 1998 Resolution I.10.
For those who are unaware, Resolution I.10, says the gathered bishops, "...cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions..."
So, how does the Archbishop of Canterbury come to this conclusion? In several stages.
The Archbishop of Canterbury had already recognised the wide diversity of views held about all kinds of matters in the Anglican Communion, due to widely differing experiences of life. They range, he said, from a man he had met, "whose grandfather was the first man of his ethnic group ever to see a wheel – through to people who have advanced PhD's from top universities in the United States and work on Wall St."
So, he was not surprised that there was a diversity of views about sexuality. And it was because of his pastoral care and responsibility of being a focus of unity for the whole Communion, that he said, "though I will, one, be extremely, joyfully celebratory of these new resources, I will not personally use them in order not to compromise that pastoral care."
However, when asked if he thought this "self-denying ordinance" would be enough to keep the Anglican Communion together, when the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans had made very clear at Lambeth that they could not "walk together" with those who had "gone against Scripture" in this matter, he said:
"I would add that when you see the prayers, in the way that they are written and thought about, they fall very clearly within [Lambeth 1998 Resolution I.10] which has about 5-6 paragraphs – the one which you mentioned which says we can't bless same-sex marriages, and this seeks to bless the people and that's really important... So will it hold? – I don't know. I pray it will."
We will have to wait and see what the bishops of the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans have to say in response, but Archbishop Foley Beach, Primate of the Anglican Church of North American and Chair of the Gafcon Primates has already spoken, saying:
"Brothers and Sisters, let us pray earnestly for the faithful followers of Jesus in the Church of England as they struggle to fight and repel this false teaching which has been thrust upon them. Let us also pray for their bishops and leaders that God would turn their hearts to return to His ways."
Yesterday, the Archbishops wanted to tell a story of joyful celebration. Sadly, for many it was a day of mourning and uncertainty. A day when the bishops of the Church they have loved and served for decades turned their back on any semblance of submitting to Scripture, tradition and reason, leaving many faithful Anglicans uncertain as to where their future lies.