Sunday, December 07, 2008

Anglican Anti-Communion being formed

Anglican conservatives in the United States, led by the former Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, are attempting to form a separate Anglican province in the United States. Beliefnet's Religion News Service has a report.

In Anglican polity, provinces are analogous to countries. Churches following episcopal polity have not, broadly speaking, recognized multiple provinces existing in the same geographic location. Among Anglicans, there are no clear mechanisms to recognize a competing province in the U.S. A number of conservative provinces and Anglican leaders will recognize the new province. However, it is likely that the Archbishop of Canterbury will not. It's also likely that a two thirds majority of the Anglican Consultative Council will not. Those are two of four instruments of unity. If the conservatives could get those two to recognize a new province, they would win.

At this point, it seems likely to me that Anglican conservatives will form an Anti-Communion. Except that there are fracture lines (Evangelical vs Anglo-Catholic, women's ordination), and the Anti-Communion may well start falling apart as well.

If our friends in the Anti-Communion face such difficulties, I will have little to no sympathy. However, Anglicanism is one of the major global churches. These repeated fractures may weaken my tradition's ability to witness to the world. It may inhibit the church's financial commitment to development and its connections to people doing important work on the ground in Asia and Africa. By choosing to fracture the Communion, the actions of the schismatics make us all poorer. They diminish our church's diversity and moral standing.

All this begs the question: when the Anglican Communion and the Anglican Anti-Communion meet, will they annihilate in a flash of gamma rays?


abdul-halim said...

I'm a little confused by the term anti-communion? Doesn't it take two to tango? I mean, it is the Episcopal Church in the United States which is changing its views on homosexuality while the more conservative Third World churches make up at least half the communion. So who is more responsible for maintaining unity? Who is really the schismatic?

W said...

It is the conservatives who chose to leave first - not only that, but they've chosen to try to eject the Episcopal Church. They've forgotten that Anglicanism has traditionally maintained flexibility as to doctrine, and has maintained autonomy as to individual Provinces. There is no Magisterium or Pope in Anglicanism.

Had they chosen to leave in peace, without stealing territory, petitioned the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Consultative Council for recognition and spoken up against the rapes and murders of LGBT people in the Global South, that would be fine with me. They chose not to. Whether you're liberal, moderate or conservative, human rights is absolutely non negotiable. So yes, they're definitely the anti-communion.