Current Affairs

Conservative Christians warn Archbishop over gay rift

Marc Shoffman December 14, 2006
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Evangelical leaders are urging the Archbishop of Canterbury to let them overrule liberal bishops or face anarchy over controversial issues such as homosexuality, according to reports.

Conservative clergy, backed by Bishop of Rochester, Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, have told Dr Rowan Williams that a parallel structure must be created from liberal bishops within the Church of England and wider Anglican Communion.

The bishops held secret talks with the Archbishop this week asking to be free from interference from liberal clergy, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The group presented Dr Williams with a declaration stating that they would not work with those who had accepted gay priests or went against church teachings.

Bishop Nazir-Ali, who spoke out against the Sexual Orientation Regulations last week, told the Daily Telegraph, that the move represents the “depth of feeling” amongst members.

Dr Williams’ spokesperson told the paper that talks had been held and admitted they were being taken seriously.

However, liberal groups have warned that a spilt could destroy the Church, Rev Giles Fraser, the president of Inclusive Church, said: “These rebel churches want to destroy the traditional breadth of the Church of England and turn it into a puritan sect.

“They must not be allowed to succeed.”

Earlier this week, the Anglican Church of Tanzania announced that it was distancing itself from the US Episcopal Church.

It reflects a growing rift within the Anglican Communion on the issue of homosexuality.

The African clergymen agreed a statement earlier this week at a meeting in Dar es Salaam, which expressed opposition to gay ordinations and unions.

It said: “The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania declares that henceforth the Anglican Church of Tanzania shall not knowingly accept financial and material aid from Dioceses, parishes, Bishops, priests, individuals and institutions in the Episcopal Church (USA) that condone homosexual practice or bless same sex unions.”

The split comes after the US Episcopal Church agreed on a watered down version of a proposal in June which would have banned the appointment of gay clergy.

The denomination’s General Convention instead agreed to “exercise restraint” in ordaining gay bishops, as part of an effort to amend rifts within the Anglican Church after the appointment of gay bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson in 2003.

The African Anglican Church expressed dismay at the decisions which ignored most of the recommendations of the Windsor Report which aimed to mend rifts between the church over the gay issue.

Reverend Peter Akinola, on behalf of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA,) said: “We have been especially concerned by the development of your response to The Windsor Report, which has been reported to us quite extensively. This is something for which we have earnestly prayed. We are, however, saddened that the reports to date of your elections and actions suggest that you are unable to embrace the essential recommendations of the Windsor Report and the 2005 Primates Communiqué necessary for the healing of our divisions.

“We have observed the commitment shown by your church to the full participation of people in same gender sexual relationships in civic life, church life and leadership. We have noted the many affirmations of this throughout the Convention. As you know, our Churches cannot reconcile this with the teaching on marriage set out in the Holy Scriptures and repeatedly affirmed throughout the Anglican Communion. All four Instruments of Unity in the Anglican Communion advised you against taking and continuing these commitments and actions prior to your General Convention in 2003.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has previously warned against a split and has called for dialogue on the issue.

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