.- The Anglican Communion seems one step closer to a schism this week, after bishops of the U.S. Episcopal Church rejected an ultimatum from the primates of the Anglican Communion to create a new pastoral initiative that would help address the ongoing disagreement in the Anglican Church.
At the end of their annual spring retreat, the bishops of the Episcopal Church issued a statement on Tuesday, stating that they decline to participate in the primates' demand for a new pastoral scheme that calls for the appointment of a primatial vicar and pastoral council. According to the London Times, this scheme would provide an enclave for those who cannot accept the leadership of a liberal bishop who had abandoned the Church’s traditional stand on such things as homosexual “marriage,” or actively homosexual clerics.
The Episcopal bishops said they could not accept the plan because it violated their Church law. As well, they questioned the “unprecedented shift of power toward the Primates,” demonstrated by the plan.
Although they rejected the proposed pastoral plan, the U.S. bishops expressed their commitment “to continue working to find a way of meeting the pastoral concerns raised by the primates that are compatible with our own Church's polity and canons.”
At their meeting in Dar es Salaam, the primates had set a Sept. 30 deadline for the pastoral scheme to be set up. They also demanded a commitment not to authorize same-sex blessings or consecrate any more homosexual bishops.
"We believe that there is an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the primates' standing committee, and we hereby request and urge that such a meeting be negotiated . . . at the earliest possible opportunity,” the U.S. bishops stated.
They invited the archbishop and members of the primates' standing committee for a three-day meeting to discuss these matters. They expressed their “strong desire to remain within the fellowship of the Anglican Communion.”