Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is describing the recent censure of his church over allowing clergy to perform same-sex marriages as a “fair” move by the wider Anglican Communion. Anglican primates voted last month in Canterbury, England, to remove the Episcopal Church from votes on doctrine and to ban it from representing the communion in ambassadorial relationships for three years.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the “first-among-equals” leader of the world’s Anglican churches, has published his reflection on the 2016 Primates Meeting. The Jan. 11-15 meeting of the leaders, or primates, of the Anglican Communion ended with a three-year suspension of The Episcopal Church’s right to represent the Anglican Communion on interfaith or ecumenical bodies and vote on doctrine and polity because of The Episcopal Church’s unilateral decision to recognize same-sex marriage.
The British government is launching an independent five-year inquiry under the leadership of a prominent New Zealand-born jurist to examine whether private and public institutions, including churches, failed to protect children from sex abuse.
At a news conference in London on Nov. 27, Justice Lowell Goddard, who will head the inquiry, said the investigation would focus on high-profile allegations of child abuse involving current or former members of Parliament, senior civil servants, and government advisers.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby asked Goddard to investigate the Church of England first, saying that he would order his own inquiry if there was a lengthy delay, the Anglican Communion News Service reported.
“Most Revd Justin Welby is expected to propose the creation of a two-tier Anglican Church, with Lambeth Palace comparing the proposal to that of a married couple ‘moving into separate bedrooms,’ instead of full scale divorce over the issue.
A Lambeth aide is also quoted as saying the Archbishop doesn't want his successor ‘spending vast amounts of time trying to keep people in the boat and never actually rowing it anywhere.’
The Archbishop believes successful discussions may allow him to maintain relations both with the liberal churches of North America, which recognise and encourage gay marriage, and the African churches, led by Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria, who are agitating for the recriminalisation of all homosexual activity in their countries.”
African Anglicans welcomed the appointment of a Nigerian bishop as the next secretary general of the 85 million-member Anglican Communion, even as others criticized the appointment because of his anti-gay comments.
Bishop Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon beat other applicants from Oceania, Asia, Europe, and the Americas and will assume the mostly ambassador-type post at a time when the worldwide communion remains estranged over homosexuality and same-sex marriages, especially in Africa.
“He is articulate and very well educated,” said Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa, Kenya, diocese.
“His position on traditional Anglicanism is very firm. This is good for us.”
Kalu said the appointment had come at the right time, when African Anglicans needed a bigger voice within the communion.
“The church is growing fastest here,” said Kalu.
In a lengthy interview in The Times of London, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby predicted that the Anglican Communion might not hold together because of strong disagreements on the ordination of women as bishops and full rights for LGBT people.
The candid interview came at the end of Welby’s visits to the 38 provinces (or country-states) that make up the Anglican Communion.
Welby said that although individual churches remain “strong, resilient and thriving,” the differences among them remain profound.
“I think, realistically, we‘ve got to say that despite all efforts there is a possibility that we will not hold together, or not hold together for a while,” he said. “I could see circumstances in which there could be people moving apart and then coming back together, depending on what else happens.”
“If, as an Anglican, you believe more or less the same things but you just can’t reach agreement on something that is terribly divisive, you do go your separate ways. That will mean that the heads of various Anglican churches around the world won’t be able to meet together and say ‘Look, we’re all united’ in the same way they did in the past.”
The Church of England’s vote to allow female bishops threatens unity with the Catholic Church, according to the editor of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
Giovanni Maria Vian, who is also a Rome historian, on Tuesday said the decision would have “an extremely negative impact” on steps to bring the churches closer together despite a positive meeting between Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis a month ago.
“Clearly it’s a decision that complicates the ecumenical path,” Vian said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa published on Tuesday. “The problem is not only with Rome but also with Orthodox Churches, and that the Anglican Church is itself divided on the issue.”
After nearly 20 years of debate, the Church of England’s General Synod voted Monday to permit women priests to be ordained as bishops, overturning centuries of tradition in a church that has been deeply divided over the issue.
A call for greater acceptance of gays and lesbians has put African and Western churches on a collision course, as some African clerics liken mounting criticism from the U.S. and Europe to a new wave of colonization by the West.
“Homosexuality is equivalent to colonialism and slavery,” said one participant.
“We feel it’s like a weapon of mass destruction,” said another.
“It is not biblical and cannot bring blessing to Christians,” said a third.
Gitonga, a powerful East African Pentecostal church official, is among a group of Kenyan leaders who have launched “Zuia Sodom Kabisa,” Kiswahili for “Stop Sodom Completely.” The campaign seeks 1 million signatures to petition legislation to criminalize homosexual acts in Kenya.
Ahead of his five-day visit to Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issued a statement reminding Anglicans of the commitment the Church of England made eight years ago to the pastoral care and support of everyone, including gays and lesbians.
So far, the archbishop’s statement has not convinced African leaders.
On Wednesday, Anglican leaders in Africa rejected a proposal by the English College of Bishops for two-year “facilitated conversations” to address the differences over homosexuality within the worldwide Anglican Communion.
In the last month, many Westerners watched in horror as Uganda, and then Nigeria, enacted laws that are brutally repressive to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
The fate of a bill passed by the Ugandan parliament remains uncertain after President Yoweri Museveni refused to sign it, but news reports from Nigeria indicate that there have been mass arrests of gay men following President Goodluck Jonathan’s signing of the National Assembly’s anti-gay bill.
World leaders, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, have expressed their dismay. Many Christian leaders around the world, regrettably, have been largely unwilling to criticize Christian leaders in Africa who cheered the passage of these punitive laws.