March 5, 2005
Episcopal Church is
by Anglican Communion
The words of the "Primates of the Anglican Communion, "were courteous and
their meaning. "We request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican
Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative
Council" until 2008.
To be asked to "voluntarily withdraw" from the Anglican
Communion is a "polite way to
suspend them from the Communion," as Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya put
Why? "There remains a very real question about
whether the North American churches
are willing to accept the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is
elsewhere in the Communion," as the Primates delicately stated the issue.
The leaders of 77
million Anglicans shudder to even describe the practices which they find so
The statement mutes the abhorrence felt by most
Anglican bishops around the world at
the U.S. consecration of V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire though
he is a
divorced, non-celibate homosexual. In 1998 by a stunning vote of
527-69 Anglican bishops
opposed "legitimatizing or blessing same sex unions" and "ordaining those
involved in same
Both Canadian Anglicans and American Episcopalians
violate those injunctions by using
carefully crafted rituals to bless same-sex unions and ordain gay clergy.
The Anglican Primates, Archbishops who oversee Anglican
churches in scores of countries, have given U.S. and Canadian Churches three
years to stop these practices and express contrition, or they will be
expelled from the Anglican Communion.
"The accused have been given a long rope to hang
themselves," Archbishop Bernard
Malango of Central Africa told David Virtue, who authors a widely read
Rev. David Roseberry, Rector of Christ Church in Plano,
TX, the largest Episcopal Church in attendance (2,200 on Sundays) considers
the outcome "miraculous," in part because
the "Global South is now leading the Anglican Communion. This is where the
life and vitality of
the church now is. How incredible that God would give them the courage and
the strength to take a strong stand."
The "Global South" refers to Latin American and African
Anglicans who vastly outnumber white northern Episcopalians and Anglicans.
Nigeria's 18 million Anglicans are six times that of Canada and the U.S.
Africans are far more orthodox in their Christian belief, and are now
standing up to their historic colonial masters, and demanding their fidelity
to Scripture, if they are to remain in communion.
"It was such a wonderful way of putting the Episcopal
Church in its place, as if to say to a
child, `You go to your room and think about what you have done. If you
want to join the family
again, recognize that there are rules, serious rules. We do have
boundaries,'" asserts Roseberry.
Another reason the outcome is miraculous is that the
Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan
Williams, ordained a practicing homosexual as Primate of Wales. However, he
was not chosen to lead the Anglican Communion by his fellow Primates, but by
Minister Tony Blair and the Queen, an historical anomaly that began when
King Henry VIII severed relations with the Catholic Church and set up a
separate Anglican Communion to approve his divorce.
However, Archbishop Williams set aside his own leanings
on the gay issue, and now says
of Canada and America, "Someone is going to have to say, `Yes, we were
wrong.'" Why? He faced a real prospect that Global South
Primates would pull out of the Anglican Communion and create their own,
clustered around Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who asserts, "Our prayers do not have to go through Canterbury to get to God."
Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Frank Griswold
participated in the elevation of
Bishop Robinson only days after signing a statement he would abide by
standards of sexuality at a 2004 Primates meeting. He is such an anathema to
other Primates for his moral apostasy that for the first time in centuries
they did not receive Communion together.
However, the Primates were gracious in their suspension
of the Canadian and American
churches, giving them three years to consider "the principle of
inter-dependence" which was
But the warning is clear. If a national church
goes against the historic Christian teaching
that sex belongs within marriage, it will be expelled from the Communion.
Will the Episcopal Church express contrition and mend
its ways? That is highly unlikely.
The Episcopal House of Bishops meets in two weeks. I doubt it will reverse
Griswold said afterwards "I can't imagine a
conversation saying we got it wrong."
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