OXFORD, November 25, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The latest attempt to glue together the fragmented remains of the Worldwide Anglican Communion has failed, as leadership of the conservative wing of the church rejected a unity proposal this week.
The Anglican Covenant was the long-term proposal to deal with the crisis that was precipitated in 2003 when Gene Robinson, an open homosexual who lives with another man, was chosen as bishop of the Episcopal Church Diocese of New Hampshire in the U.S. In order for the proposal to be implemented, it required the approval of all 38 Provinces in the Communion.
However, bishops from West Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Australia and the conservative breakaway group, the Anglican Church of North America, signed a statement refusing to accept the Anglican Covenant document that was accepted by the Church of England this week.
The signatories of the statement make up the leadership of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which has refused to follow the mainstream liberal Anglican churches in their acceptance of homosexuality and their rejection of biblical authority.
The statement of the GAFCON Primates’ Council, issued November 24 and drafted at their meeting in Oxford held from 4th - 7th October, said that the Anglican Covenant document and process is “fatally flawed.”
“While we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned, we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate,” the statement said.
The GAFCON contingent also said they would not attend the next Primates’ meeting to be held in Ireland: “For the sake of Christ and of His Gospel we can no longer maintain the illusion of normalcy and so we join with other Primates from the Global South in declaring that we will not be present at the next Primates’ meeting to be held in Ireland.”
The statement said that instead, the GAFCON bishops would be holding a separate meeting in the latter part of 2011, followed by an international gathering dubbed GAFCON 2 sometime in 2012.
The document was also criticized by leading “progressive” factions who said it would create a “two-tier” Communion by failing to force the remaining conservative elements to toe the line on homosexuality. The No Anglican Covenant Coalition issued a statement saying, “The covenant seeks to narrow the range of acceptable belief within Anglicanism and to prevent further development of Anglican thought.”
Meanwhile, 50 Anglican ministers from the Church of England announced today that they will be seeking to enter the Catholic Church along with about 600 of their parishioners. The mass conversion was prompted by moves in the Church of England to ordain women as bishops.
Last week, three serving Anglican bishops and two retired bishops announced they will enter the Catholic Church under Pope Benedict’s new provisions. The bishops are the leaders of the “traditionalist” faction in the Church of England, Rt. Rev. Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt. Rev. Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough and the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt. Rev. John Broadhurst.
William Oddie, a writer and broadcaster and columnist for the Catholic Herald in the UK, wrote this week that previous attempts by a group of Anglican ministers to join with Rome had been scuppered by the ultra-liberal Catholic bishops of England and Wales.
A year ago, Pope Benedict XVI issued the document Anglicanorum Coetibus that created a “personal ordinariate” allowing Anglicans, including ministers and bishops, to come into the Catholic Church in groups, retaining their liturgical traditions. Oddie said that by going directly to Rome over the heads of the English Catholic bishops the group got exactly what they had requested in their failed negotiations in the early 1990s.
Oddie wrote this week that the personal ordinariate was an option that was favored at the time by Rome and its failure prompted then-Cardinal Ratzinger to ask, “What are the English bishops afraid of?” The journalist also says that Pope John Paul II asked the former Bishop Leonard: “Why are the English bishops so unapostolic?”
Despite their previous objections, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of the Archdiocese of Westminster said that the Catholic Church in England and Wales has pledged £250,000 for housing and training of Anglican ministers who want to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood.