Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The decline of the art of Anglican lying

by George Conger
posted October 9, 2013

The political currents in the Church of England do not favor Archbishop Welby’s public embrace of the Gafcon movement. At the 2008 Gafcon meeting in Jerusalem, Bishops Michael Nazir Ali and Wallace Benn of the Church of England were among the leaders of the gathering. While there will be a large number of English participants at Gafcon, I do not believe there will be any bishops.

And, the battles within the Church of England over women bishops and human sexuality, coupled with a hostile culture and government have focused the church’s gaze inward in the past few years. There is not the overt hostility to Gafcon this time around as there was in 2008 in some quarters – but the case has yet to be made to the institutional CoE why the global reform movement should be embraced, not feared.

Factor into this equation the fact that of all the diocesan bishops, Justin Welby of Canterbury is likely the most favorable to the ideals of the Gafcon movement. The African bishops understand Justin Welby cannot deliver his church, cannot deliver upon a commitment without synodical and episcopal backing.

As of Friday of last week the Anglican world had reached equilibrium over Gafcon. Archbishop Welby would be there in spirit, but not in person. The scenario that was likely to unfold was that the conference leaders would produce a grand statement laying out their beliefs and points of contention with the progressive wing of the church. But they would also find a way to give aid and support to Justin Welby – even if they managed a kick or two in the Church of England’s shins over civil partnerships.

Monday’s announcement that Justin Welby would be meeting with the Gafcon primates before the conference will  enlarge but not alter this scenario. We will still see a statement of beliefs from the conference around their future hopes for the Communion, but I expect a greater degree of sympathy for Archbishop Welby’s position within the Church of England.  the rest


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