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Sudanese Bishops, Orthodox leaders refuse to take Holy Communion

By David W. Virtue in Canterbury
July 31, 2022

Acknowledging the "brokenness" in the Anglican Communion, the entire delegation of Sudanese Bishops refused to take Holy Communion, with Archbishop Justin Welby putting his best spin on the occasion, "praying for the reconciliation and unity of the Church." Guests were invited to come forward for a blessing.

The procession took over 20 minutes and it was standing room only in England's most famous cathedral, with some 600 bishops, wives, ecumenical guests and laity filling the historic cathedral, many in the dress of their native countries, lifting their voices in a service that combined various liturgical traditions.

The service was undertaken in multiple languages, presided over by the archbishop with hymns ancient and modern reverberating around the cathedral.

A personal highlight of the service was to see my dear friend, Archbishop Samy Shehata of the Province of Alexandria and Bishop of Egypt, receive a new primatial cross from the hand of Archbishop Welby, in the presence of His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, one of the ecumenical guests at the service. It was a moving moment. The Episcopal / Anglican Province of Alexandria was inaugurated as the 41st Province of the Anglican Communion during 2020.

Languages from the four corners of the globe filled the cathedral as bishops from across the Anglican Communion joined their voices together in prayer and song.

Bishops representing around 165 countries, joined in the Lord's Prayer in their own languages.

Music, prayers and readings were also heard in Maori, Bengali, Zulu, Cantonese and Shona as well as French, Spanish and English in a service livestreamed to a global audience.

The Bishop of Lesotho, The Rt. Rev. Dr Vicentia Kgabe, delivered the sermon and spoke of how the Anglican Communion is "called to practice hospitality and to serve" in a world experiencing "serious pain and strife."

"So how do we as the church -- the Anglican church, demonstrate hospitality in a world that is going through and experiencing some serious pain and strife?" she asked.

"We do this by following the model that has been set for us by our Saviour, and this model is not self-centered nor inward-looking. It calls us not to be navel-gazing but it calls us to first seek God's kingdom and God's righteousness, and all the things that we wish for, that we yearn for, that we call for that we hope for will be given to us, but first we seek the Kingdom.

"As the Anglican communion we can and we have it in us to heal and serve the world, we do this by sharing what we have freely without the fear that we will run empty."

In a dog whistle moment, she said, "And there are others among us because of our own divisions. In this moment, let us as we take communion remain in silence when we are sitting in our place and pray for the healing of God's Church, not only the Anglican Communion but of the Church catholic and universal, that we may find by God's power the moment when we can come together throughout the world as one."

These bishops also represent a dramatic shift in gender makeup, from only 14 female bishops in 2008 to an estimated 97 female bishops at this Lambeth Conference. No woman had ever attended a Lambeth Conference as bishop before 1998, and today a female bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vicentia Kgabe of Lesotho, was chosen to ascend to the pulpit above her peers and preach the service's sermon. The ordination of women bishops is a major stumbling block to many provinces in the Anglican Communion.

The Global South bishops, calling for sanctions, have singled out The Episcopal Church and five other provinces that have pursued inclusive LGBTQ+ policies. The bishops have vowed to force the issue during a plenary session on Aug. 1. They met with Welby on July 30 to discuss the matter, and VOL will bring you the results of that meeting when it becomes available.


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