The Anglican world church is apparently on the verge of schism. In recent years, the writing has often been on the wall about a schism in the church. Rowan Williams, the liberal honorary primate of the approximately 78 million Anglicans worldwide, has often succeeded in keeping the all too tightly stretched bond of unity from breaking by means of ever more elaborate compromise formulas.
But now, just before July's Lambeth Conference, the top decision-making body of the world Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury appears to be at his wit's end. The conservative church camp around Williams' antipode and Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, went public Thursday with a statement that it saw "no hope left" for maintaining communion with liberals. A document of about 100 pages states: "We are now facing a moment of decision."The anger of the traditionalists about the lack of church discipline in Europe and America has been pent up for a long time – and is discharged again and again in eloquent statements. But this time the situation is dicey. Two important international conferences are scheduled for the coming weeks: Starting Sunday at the (counter-)summit on the future of the Anglican world church (GAFCON) in Jerusalem, the conservatives want to chart their course at the Lambeth Conference. The IPN meets only once every ten years – and where, if not there, is the decision to be made on the weal and woe, unity or division of the Anglican world communion?? All compromises, all threats and provisional measures in word and deed were always aimed at Lambeth 2008.
Bishop's appointment as divisive fungus In retrospect, analysts see the appointment of Gene Robinson, a self-confessed homosexual, as a bishop in 2003 as a divisive factor, but he still wants to appear – uninvited – at the Lambeth conference. Most recently, the public "yes" of two homosexual Anglican clergymen in a church in the City of London made headlines at the weekend. Of course, in addition to the ie of ordination and blessing rites for homosexuals, there have been other points of construction and rupture between tolerance and tradition: the ordination of women priests or bishops, for example, which in many or all Anglican churches has been a matter of controversy. practiced by some national churches. The Lambeth Conference will presumably see the clarification of many open questions – including some abstruse makeshift constructions. These include parallel church structures such as U.S. parishes that have joined African archdioceses because they don't want to be led by indigenous women bishops, liberal bishops or pastors. Looked after by so-called flying bishops, who literally fly in from somewhere in America to provide pastoral care or administer the sacraments.
Not yet final In the opinion of observers, however, the split is not finally settled: On Friday, the Daily Telegraph commented, not without malice, that the GAFCON conference in the Holy Land has so far proved to be quite a fiasco. Spokesman Akinola had not been granted a visa to Jordan, and key representatives of the conservative camp from Asia had preferred to stay away from the counter summit. The traditionalist alliance of the "Global South," which claims to represent almost half of all Anglicans worldwide, is by no means as monolithic as it would like to appear. This also applies to the Lambeth conference itself. All too many bishops will boycott the Anglican Church's main overarching body – in protest over sexual and gender ies. There, it should actually be about giving Christianity as a principle of life in the secular society new tail wind. This is actually a central concern of both camps – but in the implementation they have been standing in their own way for years. So now there could be a big divorce case at the end of some exciting weddings.