Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has said the Anglican Communion can help solve its present conflicts by observing moratoria upon the blessing of same-sex unions, the consecration of openly homosexual bishops, and the consecration of bishops who cross province boundaries to minister to evangelical congregations in liberal dioceses. However, some Anglican bishops say the plan will not work, with one prelate calling for the liberal churches’ “orderly separation” from the communion.
Archbishop Williams, speaking in an address on Sunday that marked the close of the Anglican Communion’s 2008 Lambeth Conference, said the “pieces are on the board” to overcome Anglican controversies which include concerns surrounding theology, biblical authority, and sexual ethics. Advocating a “global Church of interdependent communities,” he said there was still much work to do to overcome the disputes, the Times Online reports.
However, it is believed that conservative bishops will continue to consecrate boundary-crossing bishops. Bishop Gregory Venables, the Primate of the Southern Cone, has taken an entire U.S. diocese into his province and is expected to continue attracting parishes and diocese from the Episcopal Church.
Meanwhile, homosexual lobbyists in the U.S.-based group Integrity said they would fight the moratoria forbidding the ordination of homosexual clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.
"We bless same-sex relationships and will continue to do so,” said Reverend Susan Russell, a member of Integrity.
A survey of 100 bishops at the Lambeth Conference was conducted by the Times Online, finding that 90 percent felt there was still value in the communion. Twenty-five percent said there would be value in moving to a looser federation of churches, but the vast majority reportedly preferred the present, more structured church organization.
The survey did not measure the views of the more than 230 mainly African bishops and archbishops who boycotted the conference.
“The majority of English bishops believe that it has been a good conference. There has been real listening and real hearing,” said Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford. "There are no instant solutions to the big difficulties but there is a commitment to stay together and work on it.”
Other prelates are less optimistic, saying the Archbishop of Canterbury’s plan will not work.
“The Lambeth Conference is required to do something rather than live down to the worst expectations of the bishops who stayed away,” stated Bishop of Winchester Michael Scott-Joynt, according to the Telegraph. “We need to negotiate a separation in the Communion sooner rather than later, to leave the strongest possibility of remaining in some kind of fellowship.”
“The most unhealthy thing would be to allow the debate to continue for a long time,” the bishop continued. “We would have only ourselves to blame if more of the provinces go their own way.”
Bishop of Exeter Michael Langrish voiced similar views, accusing the U.S. Episcopal Church of being selfish and establishing a rival church.
“The vast majority want to take steps towards restoring Communion, but a smaller group base the language of Communion on feelings — what it means to me, what can I get from it,” Bishop Langrish claimed, arguing that more permissive Churches should be pushed to the margins.
“A major question is how we move towards that point — the highest degree of fellowship whilst allowing for an orderly separation,” he said.