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Just Shy of Schism, Anglicans May Sub-Divide

Archbishop Rowan Williams says "two-track" model might allow traditionalists and progressives to co-exist.

In the days following, the General Convention of TEC (the Episcopal Church based in the US), Rowan Williams, as Archbishop of Canterbury, has held off making any comment. Until today.

The UK's Daily Telegraph says:

Dr Williams acknowledged for the first time that believers may have to accept "two styles of being Anglican" in order to avoid schism. The decision by Episcopal bishops in the US earlier this month to press ahead with the ordination of homosexual priests and bishops – effectively overturning a ban on the practice – has pushed the 80 million-strong global church to the brink of an irrevocable split.

Williams' lengthy statement puts an accent on realistic analysis and description. It is likely to make some, if not most, on both sides of the global Anglican Communion, unhappy in that Williams does not map out how Anglicans are to resolve their differences once and for all.

The core issues are: gay clergy, gay bishops, the inter-dependence of the communion's 35-plus members and their commitment to traditional/orthodox teaching.

Here are just a few highlights from the ABC:

* A realistic assessment of what [the TEC] Convention has resolved does not suggest that it will repair the broken bridges into the life of other Anglican provinces; very serious anxieties have already been expressed. The repeated request for moratoria on the election of partnered gay clergy as bishops and on liturgical recognition of same-sex partnerships has clearly not found universal favour, although a significant minority of bishops has just as clearly expressed its intention to remain with the consensus of the Communion. The statement that the Resolutions are essentially 'descriptive' is helpful, but unlikely to allay anxieties.

* No Anglican has any business reinforcing prejudice against LGBT people, questioning their human dignity and civil liberties or their place within the Body of Christ. Our overall record as a Communion has not been consistent in this respect and this needs to be acknowledged with penitence.

* A blessing for a same-sex union cannot have the authority of the Church Catholic, or even of the Communion as a whole. And if this is the case, a person living in such a union is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond; whatever the human respect and pastoral sensitivity such persons must be given, their chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church's teaching sanctions, and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires.

Here's the link to the full statement.

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