Thinking Anglicans

primates meeting: Saturday

Press coverage of the meeting continues.
Updated Saturday 9 a.m.

Church Times has updates to the paper edition:
Pat Ashworth Primates speak of ‘miraculous’ unanimity
and an editorial Fall-out from the Primates’ Meeting
(earlier report Let Christ unite you, Primates advised)

The Times
Ruth Gledhill Americans must admit gay error, says Church

THE Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, made it clear yesterday that the Anglican churches of the US and Canada will have to admit that they are in the wrong over homosexuality if the unity of the Anglican Church is to be preserved.

Dr Williams, speaking in Northern Ireland at the end of the week-long primates’ discussions of the crisis that has brought the Church to the brink of schism, said: “There is no painless solution.

“Any lasting solution will require people to say, somewhere along the line, that they were wrong, wrong about something. What, I do not know. That is for them to determine. It is perfectly possible to take a decision in good faith and afterwards to think, ‘I had not counted the cost’.” …

and an editorial article Come on all ye faithful

…Were God to focus on the question of elevating homosexuals to the Anglican episcopate, He would, presumably, distinguish at once between disagreement based on genuine respect for Scripture, and the contortion of Scripture in order to camouflage mere prejudice. There seems little doubt, however, that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church in Canada have undervalued unity in their precipitate and unilateral moves in favour of same-sex unions and gay bishops. Neither development is necessarily incompatible with Anglican harmony in the long term, but in the short term the suspension of both churches from the Anglican Consultative Council is wise. Time has been bought, and, God willing, sanity and sanctity will prevail.

Stephen Bates Church schism feared despite deal on gays
Owen Bowcott ‘Punishment is for doing what we are all meant to do’
Mark Lawson His only ‘ism’ is schism
and an editorial Divided they stand

Jonathan Petre Church remains at risk of schism on homosexuality, warns Williams
and an editorial Anglicans must fight to keep their Communion

No easy solution to Anglican split, says Williams
and an editorial (text below the fold).

Archbishop of Canterbury can’t rule out schism over gay clergy

Financial Times
Deal averts split over gay bishops

New York Times
Move to Halt Delegations Is Challenging Episcopalians

Washington Post
Episcopalians Affirm Pro-Gay View

Sydney Morning Herald
Anglican leaders split over gays

National Public Radio
Gay Issues Cause Dischord Within Anglican Union

PBS Television
Anglican Primates Meeting

Episcopal News Service has a page of material, including audio of the press conference and an interview with Frank Griswold:
Primates Meeting 2005 – News and Resources

The BBC has done a major write-through of the story at this URL now titled Lasting split looms for Anglicans which also includes links to a substantial video clip of the press conference and a BBC TV news report.

Belfast Telegraph
Gay row move not a mere fudge, warns Eames
This Life: Finding right way in the sex maze

Independent leader

An act of intolerance by the Anglican church

However the church leaders explain it, the Anglican communion is now heading for an irrevocable split over the issue of gay bishops and single-sex marriage. In a very Church of England manner the primates meeting in Newry, Northern Ireland, yesterday tried to put an emollient gloss on their decision to ask the offending Episcopal Church in the US and the Church of Canada to withdraw their representatives from the governing body of the worldwide church, saying that the withdrawal was only “temporary” to give them time to reconsider their position.

Temporary in this case, however, is all too likely to lead to permanent exclusion. The two recalcitrant churches are in no mood to change their mind on gay marriage and clergy. Nor is there any reason why they should. Their congregations feel that, in the modern world, the church must come to terms with the sexuality of its flock as it is practicised. The teachings of Christ, on their interpretation, do not condemn it. Why should they?

For the majority of the primates called together for this meeting, however, there can be no temporising with the traditional interpretation of the scriptures. Marriage between man and woman is the sacred centre of family life. To sanction sexuality in any other form would be to betray the church’s dearest beliefs. And it is the traditionalists that are in the ascendant not just in the Third World but in the fastest growing parts of the church here..

The Anglican church is not alone in this. The Roman Catholics have similar tensions, only partially suppressed by the authority and conservatism of the present pope. But the Roman Catholic church has the advantage of a disciplined institution in which obedience has a high priority. Anglicanism has always made a virtue of its ambiguity and its willingness to tolerate a broad spectrum of views within its ranks.

In this context yesterday’s decision of its worldwide leaders can only be regarded as a negative one. The majority said that they were not prepared to continue communing with the US and Canadian churches while they proceeded on their liberal path. And it was the majority that prevailed. The responsibility for the split was placed firmly on the two North American churches, the onus for mending the fissure was clearly put on their shoulders. That is wrong for the church and wrong for its future.

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Sara Perkins
Sara Perkins
19 years ago

It is rather striking how much this debate resembles a much earlier one — namely the Donatist controversy of the fourth century, with some of the African bishops (not inappropriately, given geography) taking the Donatist position and the North American ones taking the orthodox one. The main objections to ordaining gays seem to be almost a confusion of Christian error with an older Levitical and pagan concept of ritual impurity and contamination — if one believes that one can be contaminated by the impurity of a priest or fellow parishioner, then exclusion is the only way to avoid such contamination… Read more »

Bill Bernstein
Bill Bernstein
19 years ago

“Moreover, if the only people who could be ordained were those free of sin, given that the only man we believe to have been completely free of sin died on the cross nearly 2000 years ago, we would face a rather drastic shortage of clergy.” Don’t you see any difference between 1)”having sinned”, repenting, and being forgiven, and 2)continuing to sin, with no repentence? One can be “free of sin” if one repents and is forgiven. A person who commits A sin can most certainly be forgiven. A person who continually commits the same sin over and over, obviously is… Read more »

19 years ago

One of the lessons of the Holocaust is that when one section of humanity allows itself to lose respect for others, even ordinary people are capable of acts of unspeakable inhumanity, cruelty and injustice. The same point was recently exemplified by the soldiers’ abuse of Iraqi prisoners: it is possible, not because of any special evil on the part of the perpetrators, but because of an attitude which dehumanises others and therefore permits inhuman treatment of them. When Jesus in one of the great commandments teaches us to love our neighbour as ourselves, he is teaching us to see others… Read more »

Mark C.
Mark C.
19 years ago

Great amateur theologizing, Sara. The Donatist controversy was about apostate clerics returning to orthodoxy and not being accepted by a rejectionist party that had remained orthodox during the period of Roman persecution. The analogy to Donatism would be in Griswold, Robinson, et al. repented of their errors, but the African church still refused to admit them to communion.

Robert Leggat
Robert Leggat
19 years ago

I am sure that Sarah was not saying that it is the North American bishops who are taking the orthodox line! But perhaps she did not mean it in that sense. Some of the comments in the newspapers and in this forum have been wounding, and one or two make one recoil at the prejudice doled out to those who feel (rightly or wrongly) that some churches have departed from the teaching of holy scripture. Clearly some writers cannot distinguish between homosexual orientation and practice, and somehow imagine that conservatives (for want of a better term) reject gays per se.… Read more »

19 years ago

Actually, I am saying that the North American church *is* taking the orthodox position. The main
*theological*, as opposed to ecclesiastical, issue in the Donatist controversy was that of whether the priest being in a state of grace affected the efficacy of the sacraments. The orthodox position (taken by Augustine) was that although one should strive to appoint priests who are morally good, the efficacy of the sacraments depends on the acts of God, not of humans.

19 years ago

The comment by Sara is confusing to me. She seems to be suggesting that an anglican in an active homosexual relationship is not forever barred from administering communion because there is no ritual uncleanliness for Christians. But surely this has nothing to do with it. I thought the reason that someone in an active homosexual relationship should be barred from the priesthood was that our priests should be repentant sinners willingly undergoing sanctification. As anglicans we take our definition of what is sin and what is not sin primarily from the whole of scripture, interpreted but not contradicted by reason… Read more »

Prior Aelred
19 years ago

Mutt —

Tried to send you an encouraging word but was told your email address was no good —

At a time when “Hotel Rwanda” is playing (sadly, in limited release) one could hope that more people could recognize oyur point!

One must hope that the Holy Spirit will, in time, prevail

19 years ago

Sara, I don’t believe I’ve seen any anglicans doubting the efficacy of the sacraments when administered by priests who for what ever reason might not be in a state of grace. You’ll need to point to some anglican url where people are saying, ‘don’t go to that church or the sacraments won’t work / aren’t valid’ or something similar to it. If you look at the issue more closely, it’s the question of whether church leaders *should* be appointed who have certain views and lifestyles, this ‘miasma’ business may sound convincing to you, but I believe it obfuscates the issue.… Read more »

19 years ago

As I recall, when Peter and Paul first began taking the Gospel message to the gentiles, the other apostles weren’t clued in by the H.S. and they disagreed and opposed the move. Therefore, when the Living God does speak, some might be left in the dark for a time for whatever reason. On the other hand, the literal reading of scripture appears to also be taken out of context. There are no chapters about men laying with other men. There are no single whole paragraphs even. There is also the overiding message of the Gospels that teaches us a general… Read more »

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