Skip to comments.Church remains at risk of schism on homosexuality, warns Williams
Posted on 02/26/2005 7:22:14 AM PST by sionnsar
The worldwide Anglican Church still faces the threat of schism over homosexuality, and the rift will not be resolved without someone admitting they were wrong, the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday.
Dr Rowan Williams issued his warning at the end of a meeting of Anglican leaders at which pro-gay liberals from America and Canada were forced to withdraw from key Church summits.
Dr Williams said the liberals would now be challenged to respond to demands that they express genuine regret for their actions and come into line with official Church policy.
The Archbishop said that any reconciliation process would involve pain, but he hoped the Church would not still be warring over homosexuality at the next Lambeth Conference of bishops in 2008.
He conceded that the possibility of division remained because people were free to make damaging decisions. "That's not going to go away," he said. "A lasting solution will require someone to say, 'Yes, we were wrong' ."
The prospects of resolving the deadlock looked bleak, however, after the Rt Rev Frank Griswold, the liberal Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church, indicated that he had no intention of shifting.
"I cannot imagine a conversation saying, 'We got it wrong'," said Bishop Griswold after the meeting. "I can see a conversation in which we agree that we should have been more aware of the effects of our decisions."
In a communique unanimously agreed by the primates on Thursday, the American Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada were asked to withdraw from meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council for three years.
Although not spelt out, it was implicit in the statement that if, after extensive consultation, they had not come back into line by then, they would be expelled.
The communique read: "While there remains a very real question about whether the North American churches are willing to accept the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted elsewhere, the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is obscured and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered."
It was seen as a sharp rebuke for liberals, though some in the United States said it was much milder than many had predicted.
But a number of conservatives felt that it was not tough enough because it fell short of their demands that the Americans be expelled immediately for consecrating Anglicanism's first openly gay bishop. They also want sanctions against the Canadians for backing gay "marriages".
Dr Williams said that the plan was designed to give the liberals "space" to consider their positions and time to explain to the rest of the Church why they felt driven to defy official Church policy. The last Lambeth Conference in 1998 overwhelmingly upheld the Church's traditional ban on the ordaining of active homosexuals and the blessing of gay "marriages", and the primate's statement reaffirmed the policy.
Dr Williams said that although the Americans and Canadians would not be formally represented at the next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham in July, they would be allowed to explain their theological reasoning.
Meanwhile, all parts of the Church - particularly in those parts of Africa and Asia where homosexuality is virtually taboo - would be encouraged to listen to the experiences of gay and lesbian people.
Dr Williams said that the will to keep the worldwide Church in one piece was "very strong" among the primates, the heads of the 38 self-governing provinces which constitute the Anglican Communion.
Officials privately still hope both sides will soften their positions.
Dr Williams rejected charges that the communique represented yet another Anglican "fudge" which merely postponed the moment of truth, saying that it was incumbent on Christians to exhaust every avenue in seeking peace.
Richard Kirker, the general secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said the Church would be torn apart if it did not rethink its position on homosexuality.
"If the Anglican Communion knows what's good for it, they should start listening. The prognosis is not healthy if they do not," said Mr Kirker.
"It will become known as the anti-gay Church and what Church is going to attract healthy people on that belief?"
At least three dioceses said they would continue to authorize the blessings of same-sex unions for now, despite the request for a moratorium.
I see no reason to call a moratorium, Orris Walker, bishop of the diocese of Long Island, told Reuters.
If this makes people unhappy, Im disappointed, but we have work to do and well proceed I think were playing games. I think the split is already there. Im not sure anything can be done to avoid the split.
The diocese of North Carolina and the British Columbian diocese of New Westminster also said they would maintain their practices for now.
The blessings in New Westminster, which started in 2002, were the reason the Northern Ireland meeting targeted the Canadian church. But the diocese said it would not stop at least until a synod meeting studies it again in May.
The blessings continue at least till the synod, diocesan spokesman Neale Adams said.
The primate of the Canadian church, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, said he would maintain his past recommendation of a moratorium but said he personally favored such blessings. He said New Westminster had been acting within its rights and done it to advance justice.
Unity at a price of justice is not a price they have been prepared to pay, he said .
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The Church is not for the healthy.
What a remarkable statement!
Whe split, which I think is inevitable will not result in one group being known as the anti-gay church except among those who already despiseconservative s anyway.
Instead, one will be known as the gay church. A fellowship based almost solely on the belief that scripture is wrong on every point where it touches on human sexuality. A church whose primary doctrine is the so-called right to have sexual intercourse with those of the same sex.
Now there's a fine foundational premise. </sarcasm>
I think you have it exactly.
It will be known as the AIDS church. That has a ring to it.
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