Q Syndicate✍Jan 21, 2016
Last week, the Anglican Communion -- the church that broke off from Roman Catholicism so that Henry VIII could divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn -- voted to punish its American outlet, the Episcopalian Church. "Global South" Anglicans, particularly those in former British colonies in Africa, have been eager to expel the Episcopalian Church for its acceptance of marriage equality for same-sex couples (and for allowing an openly gay man to serve as bishop).
Nigeria alone has more Anglicans than the U.S., Canada and Great Britain combined. When Anglican leaders from the global South insisted on punishing the U.S. church for same-sex marriage, they had the votes to get most of what they wanted. A joint statement said U.S. church's policy on same-sex marriage represented a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of the Anglican provinces.The punishment, shutting the American church out of doctrinal meetings of the Anglican Communion for the next three years, was not enough for the Ugandan Primate, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, who stalked out of the meeting. Ntagali had been pushing for a stronger resolution calling upon the American and Canadian churches to "voluntarily withdraw from the meeting and other Anglican Communion activities until they repented of their decisions that have torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level."
After the vote, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, issued a statement attempting to mitigate the schism. “It’s a constant source of deep sadness that people are persecuted for their sexuality," he wrote. "I want to take this opportunity personally to say how sorry I am for the hurt and pain, in the past and present, that the church has caused and the love that we at times completely failed to show, and still do, in many parts of the world including in this country.”
As for the still divided church, Welby hopes that the primates will continue to "walk together," a phrase taken from Amos 3:3: "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (KJV)
The feelings of LGBT Christians aside, Giles Fraser in The Guardian takes a look at the bright side:
For three years the American church will be banned from various doctrinal and ecumenical meetings of the communion. Given that such meetings are about as interesting at watching paint dry, one might conclude that the Americans have been rewarded rather than punished.