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CANTERBURY: Last throw of the dice by 38 Anglican Primates to save Communion, says Welby

CANTERBURY: Last throw of the dice by 38 Anglican Primates to save Communion, says Welby
Egyptian Archbishop sees "irreparable" splits between countries, dioceses and individual parishes
Separate chapels provided for two parties

By David W. Virtue in Canterbury
January 11, 2016

The weather in Canterbury is miserable I am told, one wonders if the theological temperature is much better among the 38 assembled Primates of the Anglican Communion.

The theological and ecclesiastical positioning surrounding the call of 38 Primates of the Anglican Communion by the Archbishop of Canterbury has begun in earnest.

A miracle will be needed if the primates are still together by the end of the week.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, sees the meeting as a 'last roll of the dice'.

Egyptian Archbishop Mouneer Anis told The Sunday Telegraph that unless the issue is resolved there will be "irreparable" splits not just between countries and dioceses but even individual parishes. There will be "dire consequences" unless the ABC and the 38 Primates fail to enforce a traditionalist line on homosexuality this week.

Archbishop Anis said there would be no solution unless the meeting upholds unenforced agreements which would have put a moratorium on North American churches ordaining further openly gay bishops.

He said: "Failure to allow this to happen will have dire consequences and cause irreparable divisions at all levels of the Communion." Although firmly in the conservative camp, he is a supporter of Archbishop Welby's efforts to reunite the communion. Archbishop Mouneer had requested certain documents from VOL regarding the actions of TEC presiding bishops' deposing orthodox priests in its ranks, and it is thought that this has some bearing on his prognostications.

It is expected to be a stormy week-long primates' meeting to discuss a plan Welby hopes will avert a permanent schism between liberals/revisionists and orthodox archbishops. But attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable to create a faux unity won't cut it with the GAFCON primates.

According to the Telegraph the split is said to be so deep Welby is providing separate chapels amid fears the groups will not even pray together. In Dromantine, Ireland both sides could not take communion together.

Aides said the Archbishop hopes accommodating both sides separately, will help them come together -- like the Northern Ireland peace process where parties initially met separately, before signing the Good Friday Agreement.

This is unlikely to happen because the issues at stake are theological in character, not political.

The Anglican Communion has been in turmoil for more than two decades divided over the authority of Scripture and attendant issues of human sexuality and the ordination of women to the priesthood.

The ordination of V. Gene Robinson, an openly homosexual priest to the episcopacy in 2003 was the final straw for the orthodox driven Global South Primates. The Anglican Church in Canada had already endorsed blessings for same-sex unions and the Episcopal Church later went further and changed the canons of the Church to allow gay marriage. The die was cast in direct contravention of Lambeth resolution 1:10. Later attempts to discipline the Episcopal Church in Dar es Salaam faltered and was declared unenforceable by then Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Nothing has improved since then. The birth of GAFCON, the Jerusalem Declaration all pointed to a growing separation between north and south, east and west.

Charges of heresy by GAFCON on the one hand and homophobia by the pansexual liberal west have only deepened the divide.

Perhaps Archbishop Welby hopes to recast Anglicanism as a loose confederation. Individual national churches would be formally linked only to Canterbury, rather than to each other, to let them disagree on issues such as gay bishops without severing ties. One of his aides likened the move to "separate bedrooms" rather than divorce.

Such a move would effectively scale back the once-powerful Anglican Communion and formalize a rift, rather than trying to heal it.

Sources close to key southern primates called that plan unworkable. There are fears the closed-door summit could founder in days with separate sides issuing their own communiques, deepening the crisis.

The great fallacy propounded over and over by the liberal press is that this is just a culture war and new players are need to lead them beyond the plain of good and evil into a pluriform world where all can exist in some pre-fallen Edenic garden state without theological clothes.

It won't happen. One cannot "disagree well" when truth is at stake. If one believes, and the GAFCON primates surely do, that pansexuality is a soul destroying behavior and a salvific issue then no amount of amiable disagreement will cut it. One cannot square the circle over sexuality.

You cannot divorce "unity" and "identity" from theology. The major issue before the Primates is profoundly theological and moral. If it wasn't why has TEC spent millions on property wars, forced hundreds of priests and dozens of bishops from their sees and parishes!

In a message to his followers on the eve of the meeting, ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach, said: "What is at stake?... It is the reputation of Jesus Christ.

"It is the souls of millions of people who are being taught a false gospel and are being led into spiritual and sexual bondage under the pretense of the Christian faith."

If the GAFCON primates walk they will shed the ball and chain that has bound them to a theologically and morally compromised communion driven by a Church that refused to recognize the authority of scripture and colonial attitudes that no longer hold water. A new day will dawn for the Anglican Communion. It can't come too soon.


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