That is the headline on Jonathan Petre’s report of f the Global South statement in today’s Telegraph. It is refreshing to see the mainstream media employ this characterization.The Telegraph is a conservative paper, as is the Times of London, which now also describes this movement as “anti-gay.” It will be interesting to see whetherthe U. S. media decides that it too can move beyond euphemism.
Petre’s analysis of the state of play in the Communion is beneath the Continue reading button.
The Archbishop’s ‘Third Way’
The Daily Telegraph
Posted by Jonathan Petre at 22 Sep 06 20:42
The Anglican Communion lurched significantly closer to break-up yesterday. As predicted in the Daily Telegraph twelve days ago (Sept 11), the Global South group of 20 conservative primates announced that they are drawing up plans for a parallel province for anti-gay dioceses in America.
In a lengthy statement (see key passages below) released after a four-day summit in Rwanda, the group, who represent a third of all active Anglicans in the Communion and therefore carry considerable clout, dealt a death blow to anyone who was still hoping for reconciliation between conservatives and liberals.
The statement contained good and bad news for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who has been struggling to minimise the fallout created in the wake of the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson as Anglicanism’s first openly active gay bishop.
The good news is that the Global South primates held back from precipitate action.
There were fears that some of the more headstrong conservatives, including their maverick leader Archbishop Peter Akinola, the Primate of Nigeria, could have persuaded a number of them to break away then and there.
In reality, there are sharp divergences of opinion within the Global South group; it is more centrist than it may seem at times and appearances of consensus are hard won. And the fact that the primates still want to consult with the Archbishop means that they remain in the tent, at least for the time being.
The bad news for Dr Williams is that they have left him with few places to hide. The statement makes it absolutely clear that they will not brook anything they perceive as backsliding in a liberal direction. Their blunt challenge to the Presiding Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, will be particularly difficult for Dr Williams to handle.
Nevertheless, there may be room in their statement for a third way. Dr Williams would like to see a broader more centrist conservative block emerging in America, with whom he believes he could more easily do business than with the relatively small hardline group represented by the ‘network’ bishops.
At his prompting, a group of moderate conservative bishops are exploring less radical plans, and although their first effort – a meeting in New York with Episcopal Church leaders – fell apart, the game is still afoot.
This past week, 21 of them, representing a range of conservative opinion, met in Texas and pledged to keep trying. They announced another meeting in the New Year.
It is highly unlikely that Dr Williams could take them under his primatial wing, as some of them would like, as he has no jurisdiction in foreign provinces such as America.
But suppose they appealed to another primate from abroad, a distinguished figure acceptable to all sides, who could fly in when required to provide the conservatives with an identity and a voice that could allow them to co-exist relatively peacefully with the liberals?
Could Dr Williams then ‘recognise’ such a figure? He would certainly need to square such an unprecedented move with the soon-to-be Presiding Bishop, Jefferts Schori.
Despite her liberal leanings, she has a pragmatic side. Insiders say that she is ‘a fast learner’. Her reward for playing ball would be to ensure that the American bishops have a seat of some sort at the 2008 Lambeth Conference.
Dr Williams would also have to square it with the Global South leaders. But if the plan had the backing of the vast majority of the conservative bishops in America, they might feel obliged to back it.
The option would certainly prove much more consensual and less acrimonious than the Global South alternative. It is a long shot certainly, but maybe not impossible.
Key paragraphs from the communique from the Global South Primates meeting in Kigali, Rwanda:
‘At the next meeting of the Primates in February 2007 some of us will not be able to recognize Katharine Jefferts Schori as a Primate at the table with us. Others will be in impaired communion with her as a representative of The Episcopal Church.
Since she cannot represent those dioceses and congregations who are abiding by the teaching of the Communion we propose that another bishop, chosen by these dioceses, be present at the meeting so that we might listen to their voices during our deliberations.
‘We are convinced that the time has now come to take initial steps towards the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA.
We have asked the Global South Steering Committee to develop such a proposal in consultation with the appropriate instruments of unity of the Communion.
We understand the serious implications of this determination. We believe that we would be failing in our apostolic witness if we do not make this provision for those who hold firmly to a commitment to historic Anglican faith.’