Admiral of Morality: Archbishop moves to unite Communion

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Archbishop moves to unite Communion

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has denied suggestions that the US branch of the Anglican communion is on the brink of expulsion, despite what appears to be its reluctance to conform with demands to abandon its liberal approach to homosexuality.

Dr Williams has spent two days in New Orleans trying to persuade bishops of the Episcopal Church to compromise with traditionalists.

In February, Anglican archbishops demanded that the Americans promise not to repeat their ordination of a gay bishop, to end the blessing of same-sex relationships in church and to provide an independent church organisation in the US for traditionalists.

They warned that unless the Episcopal Church complied by the end of September, its relations with other Anglicans would be damaged, at best.

Dr Williams, working to preserve unity in the communion, denied that there had been an ultimatum, saying compromise was intended.

He said the September 30 date was used since by that time, the House of Bishops meeting will have concluded. The date is a closing date, not a deadline, the Archbishop made clear.

Dr. Williams appears ready to forge some sort of compromise that maintains the Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Communion. However, many traditionalists are openly determined to "expel" the Episcopal Church and are ready to take their own action against it.

Many opponents of the Church have engaged in regular and coordinated efforts to reject as impossible or unworthy, all proposals to reach some accommodation with it.

Many of these opponents, have stated outright or strongly indicated, that were the Archbishop himself to try to reach some accommodation with the Church or in some way forge one that did not meet every one of their positions, they would no longer accept his own role as the titular head of Anglicanism, and would be prepared to form a separate "Communion," where Canterbury played no role.

At his press gathering yesterday, the Archbishop was asked a number of pointed, specific questions about these "actions," which have often been floated and promoted, as a way of exerting control over both the Episcopal Church and the Archbishop himself.

• On the issue of the irregular ordinations carried out in North American by African clergy that have increased in frequency since 2000, when they first began, he said they created "great unease" throughout the Church and that he would not recognize, any of these "illicit" bishops.

• On the issue of the Lambeth Conference, he said work and planning goes forward for it to be held next year, despite some calls for it by some of the clergy intervening in other provinces, to cancel the meeting. The Archbishop said he stands ready to hold the Conference for all participants who look to it as an opportunity for "nourishment and growth."

• On the issue of care and alternative structures for theological minorities in the Episcopal Church, some of whom insist their only solution is to leave The Episcopal Church through litigation and/or with all Church property, the Archbishop clearly suggested he did not welcome these actions. "Start by looking for arrangements and situations within what is there because grace is given through even hopeless places. Isn’t God’s grace still given sacramentally in the Episcopal Church? I would be slow to look for solutions elsewhere."

With the BBC, wire reports, and ENS

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