Saturday, January 06, 2007

"Archbishop Fears Church Schism"

From today's Telegraph: Archbishop fears Church schism in gay row (by Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted that he fears losing control of the worldwide Anglican Church, which is on the brink of schism over homosexuality.

In a surprisingly frank assessment of the crisis, Dr Rowan Williams said that he feared anything that set Christians more deeply at odds with each other.

"And because I am an ordinary, sinful human being, I fear the situation slipping out of my control, such as it is," he said.

"I fear schism, not because I think it's the worst thing in the world but because, at this particular juncture, it's going to be bad for us. It's going to drive people into recrimination and bitterness."

In a documentary on Canterbury Cathedral to be broadcast on ITV tomorrow, the archbishop added: "We can't take it for granted that the Anglican Communion will go on as it always has been.

"Of course that's unsettling, of course that's painful for everybody, but there's no way of moving on without asking the hard questions."

His comments, which will be leapt on by critics who accuse him of weak leadership, come at a highly sensitive time for the worldwide Church, which is being pulled apart by warring factions.

Next month, Dr Williams will chair a make-or-break summit in Africa with his fellow primates, the archbishops who head the 38 self-governing Churches or provinces that make up the 70 million-strong Communion.

The archbishop is hoping that a compromise will emerge, allowing conservatives and liberals to co-exist relatively peacefully until a more formal split can be worked out over the next decade.

Click here to read the full story.

Update: Jim Naughton (of the Daily Episcopalian) has useful insights in a new column today. He's a serious journalist and keen observer of the Episcopal Church. Click here to read his analysis and commentary.

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