Guardian on Collapse of Communion

10/11/2007 10:21

Today’s Guardian has an editorial which is more of an obituary for the Communion. It opens

An enthusiast who has spent years patching up a vintage car is bound to find it tough to admit that the vehicle can no longer be driven. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, now finds himself in a similarly painful position in respect of the Anglican communion. For years he has used his considerable charm to try to hold it together. But the simmering row over homosexuality has made this increasingly difficult. And two developments in the past fortnight make brutally plain that the communion is already falling apart.

The developments are the letter from Archbishop Akinola and the actions of the Southern Cone and the Guardian’s interpretation and conclusion are no great surprise given its own outlook.

Always a loose and unwieldy alliance, the communion has survived since the age of empire only because of the effective acceptance that each church was sovereign in its own land. With the initial encouragement of the religious right in America, however, conservative elements of the communion are trying to impose an infeasible doctrinal unity. Dr Williams has responded to this pressure by seeking compromises. His difficulty is that, as the head of such a loose confederation, he does not have the power to make deals stick, as the freewheeling action of the conservatives is showing. Dr Williams is a liberal who is instinctively supportive of gay people. His desire to hold the communion together, however, has already led him to support a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops and to suggest that Anglican churches should not recognise same-sex unions through public rites. These concessions have not, however, checked the communion’s unravelling. The fence on which Dr Williams has been sitting has collapsed. It is time for him to preach what he believes.

From a different perspective, but with a similarly bleak outlook, Peter Ould highlights the mounting pressures on Archbishop Rowan in his Last Chance for Rowan?


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