The row over the acceptance of gay clergy continues as an aide to the Archbishop of Canterbury accused Anglicans who gathered in Jerusalem last week of “becoming a Protestant sect.”
More than 300 bishops gathered at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) last week.
They approved the formation of a new global network to fight against the preaching of “false gospels” of homosexuality and other “immoral” sexual behaviour.
The group claims to represent 35 million of the 77 million Anglicans worldwide and rejects the acceptance of gay relationships and the ordination of gay clergy and formed the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FOCA).
Critics have called the new group a “church within a church.”
Though the majority of dissenting clergy are from the developing world, some traditionalist English, Australian and American Anglicans have joined the fellowship.
Three of them, the Archbishops of the South Cone, Sydney and Uganda, will address supporters in London today.
The ongoing row over homosexuality within the Church began in earnest with the ordination of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003.
GAFCON said in a closing statement:
“We believe that, in God’s providence, Anglicanism has a bright future in obedience to our Lord’s great Commission to make disciples of all nations and to build up the church on the foundation of biblical truth.”
It claims God’s blessing for same-sex unions is against the biblical teaching on holy matrimony.
“In 2003 this false gospel led to the consecration of a bishop living in a homosexual relationship.”
Today the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican communion, criticised the formation of the new “global network,” and said it was not enough to just dismiss the existing structures of the worldwide Communion.
“If they are not working effectively, the challenge is to renew them rather than to improvise solutions that may seem to be effective for some in the short term but will continue to create more problems than they solve,” said Dr Williams.
A spokesman for the Archbishop was more forthright, telling the Daily Telegraph:
“It is ludicrous to say you do not recognise the Archbishop of Canterbury or the see of Canterbury; they are the defining characteristics of Anglicanism. By doing away with the role and the place, these people are becoming a Protestant sect.”
Liberals in the Church of England are incensed at moves to break away from the Communion, calling their claims to be “traditionalists” bogus.
The Modern Churchpeople’s Union said in a statement:
“The formation of FOCA is nothing less than a pre-emptive first strike by those who are determined to have their own way come what may.
“Their abandonment of serious theological discussion and debate is a betrayal of the ethos of Anglicanism.”
GAFCON was designed to be a focus for discontent and many of the Anglican hierarchy in attendance will boycott the Lambeth Conference.
The once a decade conference of the leaders of the Anglican Communion will be held this month and Dr Williams is keen to ensure that he can avoid further splits before the gathering.