Orthodox Anglicans skate around schism at conference

June 20, 2008

Religion reporters have been tracking the slow disintegration of the Anglican Communion since 2003 with one word itching away at the tips of their typing fingers — schism. We don’t get to write history with a capital “H” that often and the few times we do can be career high points. So the prospect of covering an event where you can draw parallels to the Great Schism of 1054 (east-west back then, north-south now, etc) is tempting. In the meantime, though, even a hint of a schism is enough to land the term in a story. But it has to have the right packaging — adjectives such as “potential” or “looming” or something else — to indicate the big kaboom has not actually happened (or at least not yet). So we can scratch the itch a bit, but not too much.

Covering the current orthodox Anglican conference GAFCON in Jerusalem, the Daily Telegraph has scratched at that itch really hard with a story headlined “Anglican church schism declared over homosexuality.” It took a 94-page guidebook for “a pilgrimage to a Global Anglican future” as proof that Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinole and his allies have finally cut their ties to the Anglican Communion. “Hardline church leaders have formally declared the end of the worldwide Anglican communion, saying they could no longer be associated with liberals who tolerate homosexual clergy,” it wrote.

Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, 28 Oct 2005/Antony NjugunaWell, up to a point, as our news story reports. The guidebook, entitled “The Way, The Truth and The Life”, goes to the rhetorical brink of schism … and stops. “There is no longer any hope … for a unified Communion,” Akinola writes. “All journeys must end some day.” He gives no road map for the future.

Robert Duncan, the Episcopal bishop of Pittsburgh, also edged right up to the brink in a speech to GAFCON: “There remains no way to go forward together.” But no S-word…

Having followed this drama since gay bishop Gene Robinson’s consecration five years ago, I well understand the itch to finally write what seems to be the logical conclusion of this endless muddling through. But maybe a schism is not the conclusion we’ll get. Over at The Lead, Jim Naughton, spokesman for the Episcopal diocese of Washington, D.C., had an interesting take on why this goes on and on:

“Whether there will actually be schism is an open question, but at least one factor mitigates against it: as soon as schism is declared, the media will loose interest in the Anglican Churches of Nigeria and Uganda, and their small, but influential group of followers in the United States. (How much had you read about these Churches before the consecration of Gene Robinson?) At that point, these churches will no longer be useful to the donors who have made GAFCON possible, and the money will be reallocated to other fronts in the culture wars. It is in the interest of Akinola, Orombi, Minns, Sugden, etc. to sustain the Communion in a state of near-schism for as long as possible, and then, at some point, find a way short of schism to declare victory.”

Did you read much about the Anglican Communion before this dispute over Gene Robinson appeared? If not, do you think it will disappear from the news when and if the issue is ever solved?

3 comments

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As Martina Navratilova pointed out recently, 100 years ago their was a major schism within the church about whether slavery was ok as a sideline.

Eventually the slavery supporters declined and gave in: slavery was deemed anti-Christian. Whoopee! But what took the idiots so long to ditch approval of slvery?

The same thing will happen with homosexuality: eventually the bigots, charlatans and vicious hypocrites will all be proven to be nothing more than antique gas.

Gays, lesbians and the bisexual folk will be accepted as natural manifestations of the varied human condition.

Just a shame that Africa has so many vicious hypocrites and apparent fascists of reactionanry claptrap.

Posted by The Truth Is... | Report as abusive

Discrimination in the bible? How can this be? Is not the bible the Holy Word of God? Did not God come down to earth and write us a book so that we could follow? The answer to that is no. It is a book written by the hands of men. Sure the men were God inspired. But did God speak directly to them? If this were a court of law it would be ruled hearsay.

When the bible mentions God speaking to prophets or teachers of the law there is no mention of homosexuality. However there is mention of sexual immorality. You know the story of Soddom and Gommorah.

Even Jesus never mentioned homosexuality in his sermons. If homosexuality is so bad why did not Jesus come out against it as well? Jesus did eat with tax collectors and prostitutes. It makes me think he would have eaten with homosexuals too.

Modern translations of the bible have proven that words have been changed from the original Hebrew. This is noted by the Naked Archeologist on the Vision Network. In one particular episode he concluded that where in English the bible said giants lived among men; in Hebrew a different term was used all together.

So the bible has been heavily influenced by Man. It is fallible. As soon as the world’s faithful realize this they may begin to accept that we must love one another and not breed hate and contempt on those whose lifestyles we don’t agree with. We must love them as we love ourselves.

In the words of the crew in Battlestar Gallactica “So say we all”.

Posted by Shane Polak | Report as abusive

I agree – but tell that to the religious bigots!

Posted by The Truth Is... | Report as abusive