[COMMENT: The generally negative feeling about the Primates' failure to condemn ECUSA and the Canadians who are pro-homosexual can be turned around if the orthodox will learn how to unite truth with love and reason with revelation. I.e., learn how to wage spiritual warfare. If we do not go after the "forbidden" subject, homosexual behavior, we will continue to spin wheels and look like fools. When homosexual behavior gets finally put on the table under the bright light of public examination -- it will be all over for the homosexualist program. But it will take some leadership with insight and backbone to do that. E. Fox.]
Some Conservatives See Hopes Shortchanged
By David W. Virtue
With Auburn Traycik
CHURCH HOUSE LONDON-The world's Anglican primates have spoken. The
"fabric" of the Anglican Communion will "tear" if Gene Robinson, the
non-celibate homosexual Episcopal Bishop-elect of New Hampshire, is
consecrated next month.
In a unanimously-agreed statement delivered yesterday, strongly
reaffirming the global Anglican teaching on homosexuality, the Primates
concluded that "if this consecration proceeds, we recognize that we
have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican
Communion." They said that the future of the Communion itself would,
therefore, be put in "jeopardy."
If Robinson is made a bishop, the statement said, his ministry would
not be recognized by most of the Anglican world, with many provinces
likely to consider themselves out of communion with the U.S. Episcopal
"This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level, and
may lead to further division on this and further issues as provinces
have to decide in consequence whether they can remain in communion with
provinces that choose not to break communion with [ECUSA]."
"What the primates said is that there are limits, and those who exceed
them would be leaving the circle of fellowship," said Dr. Bill Atwood,
General Secretary of EKKLESIA, an international conservative Anglican
network of primates and bishops.
"They have said that it doesn't matter if they have no juridical
authority, the whole thing goes up in smoke" if the ECUSA goes ahead
with the consecration of Robinson.
The Primates' statement affirms the authority of Scripture and makes
clear what the limits of teaching are, he said.
It said that same-sex blessings in Canada's Diocese of New Westminster
and the affirmation of an openly homosexual bishop-elect in ECUSA
"threaten the unity of our own Communion as well as our relationships
with other parts of Christ's Church, our mission and witness, and our
relations with other faiths in a world already confused in areas of
sexuality, morality and theology, and polarize Christian opinion."
The primates also called on "the provinces concerned to make adequate
provision for Episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities..."
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said such understandings that
the primates had reached had been "hard-won," and the meeting was
described by various spokesmen as "difficult but truthful" and
On the surface, it was not a good day for Frank Griswold, who is under
tremendous pressure over the consecration of Gene Robinson.
At a press conference at the end of the London meeting, reporters made
several attempts to pin Griswold down on whether or not he plans to
join in consecrating Robinson on November 2. He first replied that he
stood fully behind the careful process used by the Diocese of New
Hampshire in choosing Robinson and the vote of the House of Bishops in
the General Convention. Later, he said he was "scheduled" to take part
in the consecration. Asked if he might urge Robinson to withdraw he
snidely said, "I might do many things."
HOWEVER, the primates' document fell well short of the appeals and
hopes of U.S. conservatives, in the face of the Episcopal General
Convention's official endorsement of homosexual practice. Conservatives
had appealed for some form of discipline for ECUSA and/or the bishops
within it, who supported the gay agenda at the convention; some called,
for example, for the primates to suspend recognition of ECUSA as a
province of the Communion, pending its repentance. Primates were also
asked to support bishops crossing territorial lines in order to
minister to faithful Episcopalians in hostile circumstances, and to
guide the "realignment" of the church in North America.
Such objectives were predicated on hopes that the primates would more
fully take on the "enhanced responsibility" the 1998 Lambeth Conference
asked them to exercise to help maintain unity among historically
But when the primates' London gathering ended, there had been no change
in ECUSA's status within the Communion, no support for the offer of
episcopal care across existing jurisdictional lines, a mention only of
"potential realignments," and no call for ECUSA's repentance.
Instead, while insisting that no province "has authority unilaterally
to substitute an alternative teaching as if it were the teaching of the
entire Anglican Communion," the primates restated "the juridical
autonomy of each province..."
They also reaffirmed that "bishops must respect the autonomy and
territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own."
What's more, they did the inevitable: asked for a commission to study
matters related to the "dangers" identified at the meeting. Though the
panel is asked to complete its work within a year, the implication
seems to be that any province that acts sooner to break communion with
ECUSA over the consecration of Gene Robinson would be acting
Archbishop Williams asserted that the setting up of a commission had
implications that could include separation, new alignments, and new
The Rev. Geoffrey Kirk, secretary of Forward in Faith, United Kingdom,
said that the new panel is reminiscent of the Eames Commission (on
women in the episcopate), "and we know that had no effect, even in
Eames own province" (Ireland).
Even Dr. Louie Crew, founder of the Episcopal gay group, Integrity,
noted that creating a commission "is just a way of burying something."
But he said he was "pleased that [the primates] spoke within the bounds
of their own authority," and that it was "important that they are
committed to staying in communion with each other." We shall see.
In the view of one international Continuing Church leader, while
previous primatial statements stressed unity, this one stresses
autonomy, and effectively establishes the Communion as a "federation."
The Most Rev. John Hepworth of Australia, primate of the some 200,000-
member Traditional Anglican Communion, noted that "official"
Anglicanism long ago jettisoned an interchangeable ministry in order to
accommodate women's ordination in some provinces, and now no longer had
common teachings. "The reason ECUSA should have been censured is for
teaching that gay behavior is all right." But the primates now imply
that teaching in a given province is "irrelevant," he said.
ASKED WHY he thought the primates made Robinson's consecration, slated
for November 2, the focus of the potential "tear" in the Communion and
not the unambiguous endorsement of gay practice already registered by
ECUSA's convention, Hepworth said: "Every line in the sand must be in
the future. Otherwise, [the primates would] have crossed it and [would]
have to act."
Auburn Traycik is the editor of The Christian Challenge magazine in
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