Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Anglican split gains ground

From the Toronto Star:

Pittsburgh bishop calls on church conservatives to split if necessary from more liberal elements

A possible massive realignment of the worldwide Anglican Church got started last night in America's Steel City.

Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan, long a critic of his church's liberal drift, called on conservative Anglicans in the United States and Canada to return to traditional Christian values to revive the church, and to even split from their national churches if need be.

"Anglicanism seems to be failing in the west," said Duncan, a major force in the conservative Anglican movement. "Would each one of us become a missionary bishop?"

He was speaking at the opening last night of a four-day meeting here to discuss splitting the Episcopal Church, as Anglicanism is known in the U.S., in two – one liberal and one conservative.

About 50 American bishops are attending the meeting, which opened with prayers and hymns. Two Canadians, Rev. Canon Charlie Masters of Ontario and retired eastern Newfoundland bishop Donald Harvey, are observers.

Masters and Harvey are leaders of the Anglican Network in Canada, which has set itself up as a possible alternative church for conservatives who want to break away from the Canadian Church of Canada.

The Worldwide Anglican Communion has been threatened by schism since 2003 when the openly gay Gene Robinson was made bishop of New Hampshire, enraging conservative church members in the U.S. and around the world.

Growing support for same-sex marriage blessings in Canada and the U.S. has further enflamed passions. Several U.S. parishes have split with the Episcopal Church, aligning instead with more conservative African churches.

But the process begun last night could see entire dioceses in the United States, and possibly Canada, split from their national churches.

Duncan said the liberal church is becoming increasingly inhospitable for conservatives. "Many Anglicans have become disheartened."


Duncan has said that up to five dioceses could split, including his own, with three having plans to vote on the issue in the coming months.

The Episcopal Church was given until Sept. 30 to recant its support for gay clergy and same-sex blessings, or face expulsion from the worldwide communion.

After a week-long series of meetings that ended yesterday in New Orleans, the church's House of Bishops pledged to "exercise restraint" in approving another gay bishop and pledged not to approve an official prayer for blessing same-sex couples.

The move, made to placate conservative forces within the church, was immediately dismissed by Duncan last night, saying the New Orleans meeting had "failed.". . .

Read it all.

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