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New Anglican chief heads straight for battle with bishops
Next month's enthronement of Justin Welby as head of the worldwide Anglican communion may well be a stormy occasion.
- Edward Malnick
- United Kingdom
- February 11, 2013
The new Archbishop of Canterbury is facing a showdown with senior church leaders over the Church of England’s decision to allow the appointment of gay bishops.
In the first major test of his leadership of the worldwide Anglican Communion the Most Rev Justin Welby will be warned that the Church’s move risks alienating millions of traditionalist Anglicans in Africa and Asia.
Leaders of churches around the world are flying to Britain for Archbishop Welby’s formal installation at Canterbury cathedral next month, when some of them will meet the Archbishop for the first time.
Many want the new spiritual head of the 80-million strong Communion to call for an end to “divisive” moves away from traditional church teaching on sexuality, such as the ordination of gay clergy as bishops.
Nine of the Communion’s 38 most senior leaders, or primates, have said bishops in the Church of England were “wrong” to approve new rules allowing gay men to become bishops at a time when the Anglican Church faces “major challenges of disunity”.
Leaders of the Global South - a grouping of the Anglican churches in Africa, Asia and South America - have also condemned “revisionist” moves by the Episcopal Church in the US, which has ordained openly gay bishops and blesses same-sex relationships.
The Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean, the Most Rev Ian Ernest, who is general secretary of the Global South group, said he hoped Archbishop Welby would listen to their concerns.
“As a member of the Global South I strongly believe that the Church of England and the Episcopal Church have got to be able to listen to our views. One of the issues is that the Episcopal Church is not attentive to the rest of the Communion and has to be faithful to what has been decided in past years,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.
The appointment of gay bishops in the US had caused “a great sense of brokenness and sadness,” he said.
He added: “I hope that in the next month the Archbishop will call for a primates’ meeting and I hope that we shall be able to talk to each other and express ourselves and to see as a Communion together how we can create a new pathway. What I have seen in the past month is a man who is attentive and also willing to listen.”
Archbishop Welby’s enthronement next month is expected to be the biggest gathering of the Communion’s 38 leaders, or primates, since their last meeting in 2011.
The last conference, which took place in Dublin, was boycotted by traditionalist bishops, including Archbishop Ernest, over the inclusion of Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, the female head of the US Church.
Dr Jefferts Schori is planning to attend next month’s ceremony as the representative of her church, amid continued criticism from traditionalist primates of her leadership.
Source: The Telegraph