Monday, June 30, 2008

More Trouble in the Anglican Communion

The plight of Anglicanism has reached a new point. As the New York Times reported several days ago, a group of primates in Jerusalem in an unprecedented week-long meeting, produced the Jerusalem Declaration, along with 14 points of doctrine that would carve out a new Province within the Anglican Communion. That is all available in an excellent article here. Ever since the Windsor report, the Anglican Communion has recognized four primary "instruments of unity." These include the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Lambeth Conference which will soon commence in July, first meeting in 1876; the Meeting of the Primates; and the Anglican Consultative Council. None of these are actually binding though, and as much as either the Right or the Left in the Anglican Communion may appeal, adherence to any of these is not required for actual membership in the Communion. Rowan Williams has no real power even to make people sit down, and not even Lambeth is binding in its decisions.

The issue that provoked this meeting in Jerusalem by over 1,000 delegates from Africa, Australia, South America, and India was, of course, homosexuality and the practice of ordaining homosexual persons, such as Gene Robinson, as bishops. All the main demoninations are going through this question these days. There is active debate in United Methodists, Presbyterian Church USA, and Lutheran Church, all about the argument of ordaining practicing homosexuals. The African Methodist Church closed this issue in 2004, saying that any gay blessing would have people kicked out. Traditionally Evangelical churches such as Free Methodists, Southern Baptists, Assembly of God, and Pentecostalists, do not allow homosexual practicing people to be ordained. American Baptists make no issue, and interestingly the Quakers are fine with it.

Many have downplayed this new Declaration. Let us pray for the Anglican Communion as they continue to pray for guidance and fight what appears to be inevitable fragmentation.

Markel, SJ

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