Archbishop Justin Welby © KNA
The Archbishop of Canterbury has invited the heads of the Anglican world church to a meeting. This is to be about the future of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has around 80 million members.
Senior clergy from the 38 Anglican church provinces should discuss key ies, including a review of communion structures, at a meeting scheduled for January 2016 in Canterbury, suggests Archbishop Justin Welby, honorary head of the Anglican World Communion. The last such meeting was held in Dublin in 2011.
Tensions over sexuality and women in the episcopate
The background to this push, which is being widely registered in British and U.S. media, is apparently the tensions among Anglicans, including on the ies of sexuality and women in the episcopate. While Anglican churches in Great Britain and North America tend to be liberal, ordaining women as bishops and blessing same-sex couples, this is rejected by conservative-traditionalist churches in the South. The Church of England consecrated a woman bishop for the first time in January after a long dispute. Anglican women bishops have existed for some time in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The rift in the communion already became clear when the Anglican Church in Canada allowed the blessing of same-sex couples in 2002 and in the sister church in the USA, with Gene Robinson, an Anglican bishop was consecrated a year later who admitted his homosexuality. On the other hand, Anglican churches in developing countries, especially in Africa, still reject the ordination of women. And there are leading Anglican church officials in Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya who are advocating for the criminalization of homosexuality. The Lambeth Conference of all Anglican bishops, which takes place every ten years, was absent in 2008 by traditionalist bishops.
"We do not have an Anglican pope"
"The differences between our societies and cultures, as well as the speed of cultural change, tempt us to divide ourselves as Christians," Welby wrote in his statement. In 21. He said that in the twenty-first century, the Anglican denominational family needs space for profound disagreements and even mutual criticism, "as long as we believe together in the revelation of Jesus Christ".
"We don't have an Anglican pope," argues the Archbishop of Canterbury. In the Anglican Church, authority is distributed and ultimately based on the proper interpretation of Scripture. He therefore suggests that church leaders reflect anew on the way the Anglican Communion operates after exchanging views on recent developments. Welby had visited all Anglican church provinces after taking office in 2013.
Structural model remains open
As for which structural model he favors for the Communion in the future, Welby leaves it open. In church circles, there is talk of a loose connection model. At the same time, all Anglican church provinces would still be connected to the mother church in England, but they would no longer have relations with each other, and thus no longer need doctrinal agreement. When asked if this was comparable to divorce, the response at Lambeth Palace, the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, was, "It's more like sleeping in separate bedrooms."
Anglicans are not alone in wrestling with their stance on sexuality. Differences between reformers and conservative forces are also becoming apparent ahead of the Vatican Synod of Bishops on the family in October. But only the Catholic Church is trying to give a common answer to these questions despite huge differences in cultures and living conditions, Cardinal Reinhard Marx said in an interview. He added: "The other Christian communities are not even trying. Think of the Anglicans or the Lutheran World Federation."