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Schism in the Anglican Communion over homosexuality

Events from 2010-MAY to now: Reactions to the
consecration of Reverend Canon Mary Glasspool

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Reactions from conservative Anglicans to Reverend Canon Glasspool's consecration:

The Episcopal Church, USA (TEC) is a democratically organized denomination. Thus its policies are determined by what its laity, clergy and bishops believe to be the will of God. Apparently the consensus in the denomination on homosexual bishops shifted between 2006 and 2009. The majority of these three groups within the TEC now strongly believed that homophobia -- discrimination against qualified lesbian and gay priests -- is contrary to God's wishes.

Many conservative groups within the Anglican Communion apparently view the denomination's 2009 decision to cancel the moratorium policy as a violation of a firm promise to never consecrate lesbian or gay priests as bishops in the future.

All of the conservative Anglican websites and information sources that we have read seem to treat the debate over LGBT topics as if it is a unique conflict. They never seem to discuss past divisions within the Communion, like the debates over:

  • Human slavery in the 19th century,
  • Family planning and contraception in the early 20th century,
  • The role of women in the priesthood during the later 20th century,
  • etc.

Since culture has such a major role to play in religious beliefs, it is inevitable that the theology of provinces within a worldwide branch of Christianity like Anglicanism will evolve in different directions. This is normal, as Christianity is continually being reinterpreted by each generation. The findings of science are continually causing Christians to re-interpret the Bible in different ways. Studying past conflicts should help the Communion understand the present division over homosexuality. But little dialogue is happening.

Some examples of comments on Reverend Canon Glasspool's consecration:

Dr Philip Giddings, Convener of Anglican Mainstream, England, and Canon Dr Chris Sugden, its Executive Secretary, issued a joint statement on MAY-15:

"In her letter to the Primates, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC) Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, confirmed that the consecration of the openly gay Mary Glasspool is not a random event but comes from the settled mind of her church.  Sadly, this shows that TEC has now explicitly decided to walk apart from most of the rest of the Communion."

"Since that decision by TEC has to be respected, it should result in three consequences. First, TEC withdrawing, or being excluded from the Anglican Communion's representative bodies. Second, a way must be found to enable those orthodox Anglicans who remain within TEC to continue in fellowship with the Churches of the worldwide Communion. Third, the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) should now be recognized an authentic Anglican Church within the Communion." 1

The Rev. todd H. Wetzel, executive director of Anglicans United and Latimer Press issued a statement:

"Let’s be honest:  yesterday’s consecration of Canon Mary Glasspool in Los Angeles sealed the separation of TEC from the overwhelming majority within the Anglican Communion and signaled increasing fragmentation in the Communion: proof that Gene Robinson’s consecration in 2003 was not an aberration, but a clear indication of the determined direction of The Episcopal Church (TEC)."

"As the Anglican Communion moved towards a more conscious and clearly defined commitment to Biblical authority and the concilliary tradition of the Church Catholic, TEC moved in the opposite direction.  As the Anglican Communion moved towards increasing collegiality and interdependence, TEC moved (albeit with few other Western allies) to affirm greater independence.  While the public rhetoric of the Episcopal Church continually affirmed their care and consideration for the rest of the Communion, the actions of this insular body made those statements empty sentiment."

"The desires of the Communion, especially those of the Global South, who find themselves dealing with multiculturalism and open hostility from Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, are treated with disdain.  No 'bonds of mutual affection' here!"

"A significant portion of the once proud but poorly defined 'Anglican Communion' may well emerge from this crisis stronger and more clearly organized.  TEC’s hypocritical nonsense about unity has been sacrificed in their obdurate affirmation of a 'new revelation' from the spirit (of the age).  Maybe it’s about time."

"You can’t build substantive Communion on any other basis than unity on the essentials.  Biblical ethics are clearly essential, as is Biblical and historical theology.  TEC is now inextricably bound to the spirit of the age in this generation.   She will find herself widowed in the next. The American Episcopal Church is now headed for the ash heap of heterodoxy– severed and isolated from historic and orthodox Christianity."

"While the crowd cheered at Gene and Mary’s consecrations, Heaven wept.  And the rest of the Communion looked on in shame." 2

An article titled "‘Consecration of Mary Glasspool: Where Do We Go From Here?’, was published in the Church of England Newspaper on 2010-MAR-26, and republished on Fulcrum on 2010-MAY-16.

"We are now indisputably in a radically new situation. TEC [The Episcopal Church, USA] as a body has determinedly, perhaps irrevocably, chosen autonomy over 'communion with autonomy and accountability'. ..."

"TEC as a body has revealed it is incapable of signing the Anglican covenant.  This is not simply because they have once again categorically rejected the pattern of life together that it articulates and the shared discernment it presupposes. The more serious and deep-rooted problem is TEC’s particular polity (which allows for confusion and assertion in the place of coherent policy and practice) and their understanding of how the Spirit leads them. These make TEC as a province incapable of making meaningful or credible commitments to the Communion about their future conduct. The only hope now is for TEC dioceses to reject TEC’s path by committing to the covenant and for such commitment to be recognized by the Communion."

"But what about TEC and the current Communion? This emphatic further breaching of the bonds of affection shows that not only TEC’s promises about the future but its apologies and expressions of regret for the past are worthless. ..."

"The nature of the Communion’s structures at present is such that effecting this distancing will require clear and decisive action by the Archbishop of Canterbury. At the very least he needs to make clear that bishops participating in the May consecration in Los Angeles will thereby exclude themselves from being invited by him to participate in the Instruments or to represent the Communion in any form. ..."  

"Although decisive action is necessary, Archbishop Rowan’s limited powers within the Communion and his laudable desire to keep on going the extra mile to enable dialogue mean many think it unlikely. Some long ago gave up on him. Many, however, both within the Church of England and the wider Communion (particularly in the Global South which meets next month) have been patient and sought to work with him by supporting the Windsor and covenant processes. They need now to make clear that unless he gives a clear lead then all that he and others have worked for since the Windsor Report and all that is promised by the covenant is at risk because of the new situation in which TEC has placed us." 3

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Statement from Anglican Mainstream following the consecration of Mary Glasspool as Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles, USA," Anglican Mainstream, 2010-MAY-17, at: http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/ This is expected to be a temporary URL.
  2. Todd H. Wetzel, Press Release, Anglicans United & Latimer Press, 2010-MAY-16, at: http://www.anglicansunited.com/
  3. Fulcrum Leadership Team, "Consecration of Mary Glasspool: Where do we go from here?" at: http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk

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Copyright © 2006 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2010-MAY-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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