Inaction ‘exacerbates’ church crisis

By on December 1, 2005

A meeting of Anglican provinces from the southern hemisphere concluded their gathering by releasing a communiqué stating that they “see no evidence” that the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the United States are “willing to turn back from their innovations” on human sexuality.The 130 delegates from 20 Anglican provinces in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, West Indies and South America who met Oct. 25 to 30 at Ain El-Sukhna, Egypt, by the Red Sea, also said that the “lack of concrete progress” in the implementation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report has “exacerbated” the crisis in the Anglican Communion. (The Windsor Report, released by the Lambeth Commission in October 2004, provided prescriptions for resolving the deep conflict over homosexuality among Anglicans in 38 provinces and churches worldwide). “The slow and inadequate response of the Panel of Reference has trivialized the solemn charge from the primates and has allowed disorder to multiply unnecessarily,” the communiqué said. Archbishop Peter Carnley, who was appointed by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, as chair of a Panel of Reference – a body that would assist with parishes unable to accept the oversight of their bishop and with dioceses in dispute with their provincial authorities – reacted to the criticism in an interview with the Anglican Communion News Service. The panel, he said, “has no mandate to initiate action. It … can only act when it receives references from the Archbishop of Canterbury,’ said Archbishop Carnley. He added: “It actually takes a long time for groups that wish to invoke the panel procedure to get their material together.” He said that Archbishop Williams is currently talking to various parties involved in two high-profile disputes in the diocese of Recife in Brazil and the diocese of Fort Worth in the United States.Meanwhile, Archbishop Williams spoke at the Egypt meeting and reiterated his call for unity. “Someone said recently that the path to heaven doesn’t lie necessarily through Lambeth,” he said. “I agree. The path to heaven lies solely through Jesus Christ our saviour and the unity he gives and the only use and integrity of our instruments of unity comes when they serve that.”Responding to a question from the conference about authority within the communion, Archbishop Williams said that he had no desire for more powers. “I say it as a matter of actual fact: I do not have authority over the canons and constitutions of another province. I don’t want to be a kind of pope, solving the problems of every province,” he said. The delegates also offered support to recently-formed networks of conservative Anglicans in Canada and the U.S. They expressed gratitude “that the Archbishop of Canterbury publicly recognized” these networks as “faithful members of the Anglican Communion.” (Asked to comment on the status of the dissenting networks, Archbishop Williams replied: “There is no doubt in my mind that these networks are full members of the Anglican Communion, that is to say that their bishops, their clergy and their people are involved with the Communion which I share with them, which we all share with them.” He added that, “formal ecclesial recognition of a network, as if it were a province, is not so simply in my hands or the hands of any individual.”)Meanwhile, the Church of England Newspaper noted that the presence at the conference of “a significant delegation of Anglican Mission in America bishops, under the auspices of the Province of Rwanda, and a large number of American hangers-on, caused consternation among Global South ranks.” It added that a number of leaders “resented the way the North American crisis figured so prominently in the final communiqué.” The conference also tackled issues around theological education, poverty, HIV-AIDS, corruption, and violence.

Author

  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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