By Hilary White

CANTERBURY, UK, July 29, 2009 ( – Suggesting a “two-track” model for the Anglican Church, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said in a statement released Monday that the crisis over the acceptance of homosexuality in the Global Communion could be resolved by acknowledging “two styles of being Anglican.” Williams was responding to the decision earlier this month by the US Episcopal Church to continue to ordain active homosexual clergy and bishops and “bless” same-sex partnerings.

In one “track,” said the archbishop, the mainstream of Anglicanism would continue to hold to Christian beliefs of sex and marriage, and the other could continue to support homosexuality as a legitimate “lifestyle choice.” This model, he said, could form “two ways of witnessing to the Anglican heritage.”

In a statement that has been blasted as a barefaced attempt to “paper over” the growing schism in his Church, Williams said that although there is no “consensus” in the Anglican Communion on homosexuality, for those “whose vision of the Communion is different, there is no threat of being cast into outer darkness.”

Nevertheless, Williams wrote, active homosexuals “should not be ordained priests, and especially not bishops.” A person living in “such a union” is in the same situation as a “heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond” whose “chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church's teaching sanctions.”

“So long as the Church Catholic, or even the Communion as a whole does not bless same-sex unions, a person living in such a union cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a Church whose public teaching is at odds with their lifestyle.”

Williams, the titular head of the Worldwide Anglican Communion, said, however, that there is “at least the possibility” of a “twofold ecclesial reality in view in the middle distance.” One would function as a fully “covenanted” body of the Anglican Communion and the other would exist in “less formal ways” and “with fewer formal expectations” but associated “in various kinds of mutual partnership” with the mainstream church.

While Williams praised ECUSA's “eagerness” to maintain its ties to the Anglican Communion, he said that “a realistic assessment” of ECUSA's decisions “does not suggest that it will repair the broken bridges into the life of other Anglican provinces.”

Other observers have been more blunt, saying that ECUSA's recent decisions are the final straw for orthodox Anglican Christians.

The Rt. Rev. Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham in the Church of England, wrote to the Times of London saying that ECUSA's vote makes a clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion. “In the slow-moving train crash of international Anglicanism, a decision taken in California has finally brought a large coach off the rails altogether,” he wrote.

“Both the bishops and deputies (lay and clergy) of TEC knew exactly what they were doing,” Wright continued. “They were telling the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other 'instruments of communion' that they were ignoring their plea for a moratorium on consecrating practicing homosexuals as bishops.”

Read recent coverage:

US Episcopalian Bishops Vote to Affirm Ordination of Homosexual Clergy “to Any Ordained Ministry”

New Conservative Anglican Intiative Receives Unofficial Support of Queen Elizabeth


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