In 12 days, the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire will install as its bishop Gene Robinson, who is openly engaged in a homosexual relationship. Robinson says his promotion to bishop is "coming from God," and that opposition to it is because it's a "threat to the way things have been done, when white men have pretty much been in charge of everything." Though the Anglican primates (the top leaders of Anglican provinces worldwide) unanimously expressed "deep regret" over the action, the primate of the U.S., Episcopal Church presiding bishop Frank Griswold, said he plans to attend the ceremony.

Once that happens, the primates said, "We recognize that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy."

But what will really happen? And what did the primates mean in their statement? Were Robinson and Griswold explicitly criticized? Were they disciplined? Did conservative primates from Africa, whom some expected to declare the Episcopal Church USA a non-Anglican body, back down? Was this a win for conservatives, a loss, or a stalemate?

The issues at stake are not just of concern to American Episcopalians and Anglicans overseas. Christians of all stripes are waiting to see how deeply Robinson's consecration will divide Anglicanism, the world's third largest Christian body (with 68 million adherents, after Roman Catholicism's 943 million and the 211 million of combined Eastern Orthodox churches). Primates' actions will have lasting implications for the Christian leadership in the Global South (Africa, Asia, and Latin America), in ecumenical and interfaith efforts, in notions of church discipline, and in other ...

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Translating the Anglican Primates
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October 2003

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