”SCHISM” sounds much worse than ”split”, perhaps because of its historical associations.
The Church of England Primates who spent most of last week discussing what to do about the elements of the American and Canadian Anglican churches that see no problem in homosexual bishops and same-sex blessings chose in the end to avoid the stronger term while recognising that it may yet have to be used.

The communique issued at the end of the Primates' deliberations was designed to buy time, specifically the three years remaining before the 2008 Lambeth Conference. During this period the US Episcopal Church and the New Westminster Diocese in Canada have been asked to impose a moratorium on gay ordinations and samesex blessings while “considering their place within the Anglican Communion”.

Although the words were gentle the spirit behind them was strong. In a separate statement the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said that the North American churches will have to admit that they are in the wrong over homosexuality if the unity of the Anglican Church is to be preserved. “There is no painless solution,” said Dr Williams, “Any lasting solution will require people to say, somewhere along the line, that they were wrong, wrong about something, What, I do not know. That is for them to determine. It is perfectly possible to take a decision in good faith and afterwards to think, I had not counted the cost.” The chances that the American and Canadian churches concerned will find that they have been wrong “somewhere along the line” is small although they may agree that they had not “counted the cost” of their actions. Increasingly that cost seems likely to be the schism in the Anglican community that last week's conference tried to defer.

By Monitor.


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