NewsFri Mar 23, 2007 - 12:15 pm EST
US Episcopal Church: We’ll Leave Anglican Communion Before Homosexuality
By Gudrun Schultz
TEXAS, March 23, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The US bishops of the Episcopal Church have rejected the ultimatum handed down by primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion to cease promoting homosexuality by September 30 or face expulsion.
In an announcement late Tuesday night, the US bishops said they would not follow the primates’ requirement that they permit traditionalist congregations to operate under conservative bishops, an attempted compromise set up during the recent meetings in Tanzania to deal with the growing rift over homosexuality in the US church.
Accusing the primates of trying to drag the US Church back into "a time of colonialism," the bishops also rejected the demand that they cease performing same-sex blessings or consecrating homosexual bishops.
"It harks back to a period of colonialism from which The Episcopal Church was liberated. It replaces local rule by laity with a curial model," the bishops stated.
The deepening split over homosexuality in the Anglican Communion was brought to a head in 2003 when the US Church consecrated openly homosexual priest Gene Robinson as bishop.
A schism in the Church now appears likely to occur—Anglican leaders threatened the American church with expulsion from the Communion if they failed to meet the requirements of the ultimatum handed down in February’s meeting.
In the directive issued at the closure of the African meeting, the leaders wrote that to be part of the Anglican Communion, churches and provinces must adhere to the "faith which is uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures."
"At the heart of our tensions is the belief that the Episcopal Church has departed from the standard of teaching on human sexuality" by having ordained Robinson and "by permitting Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions," the primates stated.
The financial repercussions of expelling the US Church from the Communion would be felt in the church worldwide. The Times UK reported that the American Church finances up to one third of the Anglican Communion’s total international budget, despite making up a small percentage of the 77 million Anglicans worldwide, with just 2.3 million members.
The House of Bishops of the US Church have asked to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, to further discuss the situation.
In related news, the election of traditionalist Rev. Mark Lawrence as bishop of South Carolina last September was recently declared "null and void" by Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who cited technical irregularities with the voting process in the decision.
The diocese of South Carolina had earlier rejected Schori’s authority because of her liberal theology—Schori’s appointment as primate was a point of deep dispute within the US Church.
"This is outrageous that a duly-elected priest, who clearly meets the Scriptural standards for church leadership, not to mention has gone out of his way to assure the rest of TEC (the Episcopal Church) that he will keep his vows and will not take the diocese out of the church, has been blocked from serving for no other reason than his orthodox views," said the Rev. Canon David Anderson, president and CEO of the traditional American Anglican Council (AAC), in a released statement.
Schori made the decision to invalidate Rev. Lawrence’s election just prior to the meeting of all Episcopal bishops where it was decided to reject the requirements of the worldwide Communion, reported the Christian Post.
See related LifeSiteNews coverage:
Archbishop of Canterbury Fears Coming Anglican Schism over Homosexuality
Homosexual Scandal in Anglican Church Puts Spotlight on Discussions of Reuniting with Catholics
Anglican Hierarchy ~ US Anglicans Have Seven Months to Shape up or Ship Out