...Last week English bishops issued a pastoral statement saying that they would allow their gay clergy to register their civil partnerships under the new act which comes into force this December but they would be required to abstain from sex. Peter Akinola the Archbishop of Nigeria, the largest Anglican province in the world, ridiculed the policy by asking the Church of England bishops if they were intending to place cameras in the bedrooms of their clergy and said that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and his church should now face disciplinary action.So, Peter Akinola, the "big man," now wants to kick the Church of England out of the Anglican Communion? I cannot imagine things getting any more bizarre.
"I believe that the temporary suspension of the Church of England is the right course of action to take. The church will be subjected to the same procedures and discipline that America and Canada faced".
In a rare personal jibe against Williams, he said: "Lambeth Palace upholds our common historic faith. It will now lose that place of honour in the world. Must I come to Lambeth Palace in order to go to heaven. The answer is no!"
A suspension would remove the Church of England from the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), the governing body of the worldwide Anglican Communion, thus losing a say in worldwide policy...
It looks like the statement by Archbishop Malango of Central Africa may prove to have been accurate after all. The Global South will form their own Communion before the next Lambeth, with their headquarters set up in Alexandria, Egypt.
What is rather ironic is that most likely they will continue to call themselves "Anglican," while no longer being in communion with Canterbury or receiving invitations to Lambeth. Their status will be the same as the REC, AMiA, CEC, and the myriad of other splinter groups that are floating around today.
The primary difference is that this group, if they can hold themselves together, will be quite large numerically. Consequently, they may flourish. Maybe that will be a good thing, although I have grave concerns for those who will find themselves under the authority of such oppressive leaders. It is difficult to imagine grace flowing from an entity formed on a foundation of hate and bigotry.
This will present an unexpected dillemma for the extreme conservatives in North America. This was not part of the plan. They wanted to stay in communion with Canterbury, as that is the most traditional definition of what it means to be Anglican. Most of the conservatives know, if they voice it or not, that the only Instrument of Unity that has been consistently recognized throughout our history is the Archbishop of Canterbury. As they have been telling the faithful members of the Episcopal Church for a few years now, if you are not in communion with Canterbury, you are simply another Protestant denomination.
On the plus side for the conservatives, this would put to rest the issue of the "missions" these foreign bishops have been trying to plant in North America. The issue now is two Anglican bishops claiming authority within the same diocesan boundaries. If they become a denomination, these "missions" will not be any different than the Baptists building a church down the street from your parish.
This move will make the prayer of Jesus, "...that they all may be one," even more difficult to become a reality. For that reason, I would imagine that it will grieve the heart of God. In many ways, it is very similar to a divorce, which is always a tragedy, and never a cause for rejoicing. But, if this "realignment" will end the incessant squabbling, and allow us to focus once again on the mission of the Church, it may be the best resolution to a difficult situation.
UPDATE; Mark Harris offers some thoughts on this latest development.