Conservative bishops who say they represent almost half the world’s Anglicans urged fellow believers on Sunday to reform the Anglican Communion rather than take up Pope Benedict’s invitation to join the Roman Catholic Church. (Photo: A Bible, 20 Aug 2008/Simon Newman)
The “Global South” group, which last year seemed close to quitting the Communion, said those opposed to gay clergy and other liberal reforms should “stand firm with us in cherishing the Anglican heritage (and) pursuing a common vocation.”
Indirectly declining the pope’s offer to receive alienated Anglicans, the group called on the Communion’s member churches to adopt a “covenant” to coordinate policy in the loosely structured 77-million-strong worldwide Anglican community.
“The proposed Anglican Covenant … gives Anglican churches worldwide a clear and principled way forward in pursuing God’s divine purposes together,” said the statement posted on their website. Conservatives see this plan as a way to block liberal reforms in the United States, Canada and Britain.
A call to convert to Catholicism by bishops in developing countries, where the faith is expanding, could have dealt a body blow to the Anglican church, founded when King Henry VIII broke with Rome in 1534 to divorce one wife and marry another.