.- A senior adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a warning that the Church of England will fragment over homosexual clergy and other matters, and that Christianity in Britain will be driven underground.
In a private document, leaked to the London Times, Jayne Ozanne questions the faith of the Church of England and observes that it seems to have forgotten the meaning of Christian discipleship.
Her paper was presented to the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of York David Hope at a closed-door meeting of the Archbishops’ Council yesterday. Ozanne has been one of the 19 members of the church's policymaking body since it was created in 1999.
"I see a time of great persecution coming, which will drive Christianity all but underground in the West. I believe that this will primarily take the form of a social and economic persecution, where Christians will be ridiculed for their faith and pressurized into making it a purely private matter," she wrote.
While the established church will self-destruct, "fragmenting into various divisions over a range of internal issues", she said, a new Church in England will take root, consisting of non-denominational cell groups throughout the country.
Philip Giddings, one of the church's most senior laymen, a political scientist and lecturer at Reading University, backed Ozanne’s reflections, saying that it “needs to be taken seriously.”
Giddings, who describes himself as a celibate homosexual, said he agrees that there is a “real possibility” that Christians will face the kind of persecution Ozanne predicts, and that the church will have to face the challenges of fragmentation.
Ozanne's paper, he said, should be seen in the context of the divisions between the orthodox and liberal wings of the church worldwide.