Queen Elizabeth II extolled the unique role of the Christian church in the search for meaning in the modern world when she opened the Church of England’s recent general synod in London.
The 79-year-old monarch, speaking on Nov. 15 in her role as the church’s supreme governor, gave a robust reaffirmation of her faith to some 450 bishops, clergy and laity attending the two-day session of the denomination’s parliament, in its first meeting of a five-year term.
“When so much is in flux, when limitless amounts of information, much of it ephemeral, are instantly accessible, there is renewed hunger for that which endures and gives meaning,” she said. “The Christian church can speak uniquely to that need, for at the heart of our faith stands the conviction that all people, irrespective of race, background or circumstance, can find lasting significance and purpose in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Her avowal of faith followed the release of an al-Qaeda video in which Osama bin Laden’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, described the British sovereign as one of the severest enemies of Islam responsible for Britain’s “crusader laws.”
He also threatened British Muslims who “worked for the pleasure of Elizabeth, the head of the Church of England.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in his presidential address to synod, referred to “quarrels over sexuality” in the worldwide Anglican Communion. “The sexuality debate is infinitely complicated by high levels of mutual ignorance and anxiety between ‘North’ and ‘South,’ and by perceptions, not always unfair, about the uncritical use of power and influence by older and wealthier churches,” Archbishop Williams noted.
Synod members might help resolve the dispute if they commit to contacting someone from an Anglican church in another part of the world who was unlikely to share their view, he suggested.