Anglicans on Brink of Schism
In defiance of the majority of the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. has voted in favor of ordaining homosexual bishops.
The unilateral action by the Episcopal Church, courtesy of a vote by its General Convention, moves the deeply divided Anglican Communion closer to formal schism.
The Los Angeles Times reports today:
Bishops, clergy and lay leaders voted overwhelmingly at the denomination’s General Convention in Anaheim to open “any ordained ministry” to gays and lesbians.
The liberalized policy represents a reversal from guidelines adopted by the church at its last convention in 2006 that effectively prohibited the consecration of bishops whose “manner of life” would strain relations with the 77-million member Anglican Communion.
The Los Angeles Times article quotes a pro-homosexuality Episcopal bishop who believes his church can remain in union with other Anglican churches, despite its actions at the General Convention.
But progressives in the 2.1-million member denomination said the move toward inclusion reflects the reality of a church that is home to many partnered gays and lesbians who belong to parishes that encourage their involvement and already bless their unions.
“Being an Episcopalian means you can disagree and still worship together,” said the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles. “We’re going to leave the door open for all those who disagree with us to find a place here and peace here.”
The BBC appears to have a more realistic understanding of the ramifications of this week’s actions by the Episcopal Church. Comments BBC News in this article, “The decision seems likely to lead to the Episcopal Church’s eventual exit from the worldwide Anglican Communion.”
Many observers have long regarded such a schism as inevitable, given the irreconcilable gulf in belief regarding homosexuality between the liberal-minded Anglicans who oversee its diminishing flocks in countries like the United States, Canada and Britain, and the more orthodox views that prevail among the Anglican hierarchy in the developing world, where the communion is thriving and the large majority of its members now live.
As Register correspondent Father Raymond J. de Souza put it, in this February 2007 commentary published in the National Post:
The Anglican Communion has been facing an insurmountable challenge these past few years. The small and getting smaller Anglican churches in the United States and Canada have decided, for the most part, that homosexual acts should be judged morally licit, and even sacramental. The big and getting bigger Anglican churches in Africa have kept to the constant Christian teaching that such acts are sinful. Between the two, the archbishop of Canterbury has valiantly attempted to fashion a compromise. But of course something cannot be both a sacrament and a sin, so matters had to be resolved one way or the other.