The Anglican Communion is in crisis, said Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, in the London Daily Telegraph. Ever since 2003, when the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism, ordained an openly gay bishop, Anglicans have been bitterly divided. Particularly in Africa, where more than half of Anglicans live, believers feel that sexual ethics should not be up for negotiation. The Communion has always held that homosexuality is incompatible with Scripture and that Anglican priests should not bless same-sex unions. Some of us disagree. Yet for the Episcopalians to break that tradition without any Communion-wide debate or dialogue strikes many Anglicans as a breach of trust. That is why, at a global meeting of Anglican archbishops last month in Tanzania, the church gave the Episcopalians an ultimatum. The American branch must clarify its stance on homosexuality by Sept. 30 and stop ordaining gays until some new structure is created to oversee this minority.
African archbishops are watching closely, said Alfred Wasike in Ugandas New Vision. The resistance to the Episcopalians is being spearheaded by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola. He refused to take Communion at the conference in Tanzania, just because the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church was there. And Akinola wasnt alone. The archbishops of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and West Africa boycotted the rite as well. We remain in broken communion until they demonstrate true repentance, said Ugandan Archbishop Henry Orombi. We continue to reject funds from them and from American dioceses that have revised historic, Biblical faith and morality. A few conservative American parishes, including two in Virginia, have already split from their Episcopal bishop and declared allegiance to Akinola.
This victory for Akinola, said the London Guardian in an editorial, is an embarrassment for the archbishop of Canterbury. The Anglican Church has effectively endorsed Akinolas attempts to intervene in America. Archbishop Williams personal views on homosexuality are progressive, but he has been unable to influence the rest of the church. Instead, Williams has acquiesced in the strong-arming of the liberal Episcopalians. He is left looking like a man who has put unity ahead of everything, including belief. His effort could well fail, anyway. The Episcopalians will probably break away from Anglicanismall but those few American conservatives who follow Akinola.