Anglican Church

Anglican Communion Faces Troubled Waters

Archbishops and bishops after the Anglican Back to the Future Conference in Toronto on Wednesday. RNS photo by Bob Bettson.

Primates and bishops from the Global South attending a gathering in Toronto, said current proposals for a new Anglican Communion covenant don’t go far enough to heal the conflict in the communion over homosexuality.

The Wednesday gathering to mark the 50th anniversary of the Toronto Anglican Congress, suggested the worldwide Anglican Communion faces troubled waters. Anglicans from the Global South prepare to meet for their second Global Anglican Future Conference next month and the Toronto meeting showed no signs of reconciliation.

Archbishop Ian Ernest, primate of the province of the Indian Ocean, said decisions by the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada on issues involving homosexuality have torn the fabric of communion.

When Religion and Spirituality Collide

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Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at Westminster Hall on March 20. Dan Kitwood - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion, recently announced that he would step down by year's end. A few days later, the Church of England rejected a Williams-backed unity plan for global Anglicanism, a church fractured by issues of gender and sexual identity. The timing of the resignation and the defeat are probably not coincidental. These events signal Anglicans' institutional failure.

But why should anyone, other than Anglicans and their Episcopal cousins in the U.S., care? The Anglican fight over gay clergy is usually framed as a left and right conflict, part of the larger saga of political division. But this narrative obscures a more significant tension in Western societies: the increasing gap between spirituality and religion, and the failure of traditional religious institutions to learn from the divide.

‘Covenant’ to Bind Anglican Communion Appears Dead

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Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams attends the Vespers Prayer Service. Franco Origlia/Getty Images

A proposed "Covenant" aimed at ensuring unity across the worldwide Anglican Communion appears to have failed, leaving the world's third-largest Christian body facing an uncertain and likely fragmented future.

The covenant, born of an idea in 2004 to try to set boundaries in belief and practice for the Communion's 40 members churches, appears dead after a majority of dioceses within the Church of England voted to reject it.

With results still being counted, supporters of the Covenant effectively lost their battle within the Church of England when the Diocese of Lincoln cast the 23rd vote against it last week.

"The covenant is either buried or disabled," said Simon Barrow, co-director of the independent British think tank Ekklesia, in the aftermath of the decision.

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