October 11, 2003


A rift worse than schism? (Uwe Siemon-Netto, 10/6/2003, UPI)

The crisis in the Anglican Communion seems to foreshadow a rift worse than a schism for world Christianity. It does not only divide denomination from denomination. Worse, its fault lines cut straight through many branches of the body of Christ.

Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, is reported to have been shaken by his encounters with Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, last weekend in Rome.

These were difficult meetings highlighting acute dangers for the ecumenical movement. "Obviously, these exchanges were conducted in a courteous, fraternal manner," a Vatican insider told United Press International Monday, "but their substance was very clear: Rowan was told, in effect, that if he did not act against the impending consecration of an openly homosexual cleric as an Episcopal bishop in the United States, it will be all over between the Catholics and the Anglicans." [...]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines schism as "the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him." That applies to the Eastern Orthodox and the Protestants. However, they still accept the basic tenets of the Christian faith.

But in the eyes of the Catholic hierarchy -- and others, including the majority of the world's Anglicans - the Episcopalians' decision to consecrate an active homosexual as overseer in his denomination and to bless same-sex unions points to a much deeper question: what coordinates must the Church follow -- Scripture or the mushy postmodern obligation to canonize any form of human desire, even when it is utterly unbiblical?

Clearly, the liberal-revisionist wing of contemporary Christianity, including many Western Catholics, is at the losing end of this global struggle within the Body of Christ.

Imagine being one of those mushy postm,odern clerics who doesn't believe in much and trying to explain what you're doing to your church to Pope John Paul II. No wonder the chief druid was shaken.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 11, 2003 9:38 AM

Last summer a couple of good friends of mine married each other in the Episcopal Cathedral here in Atlanta. I started thinking about joining up. I was raised United Methodist in South Carolina, but had a close relationship with the local Episcopal Church because there were more kids my age there, and because the Episcopals let us use their sanctuary while ours was being repaired after a fire.

I had NO idea how pliable Episcopal doctrine had become, even back then. The S.C. Episcopals hewed to a much more traditional Anglicanism. So I was taken aback when they elevated Robinson.

What got me, though, wasn't his homosexuality per se, but the unabashed employment of frank hypocrisy and weasel-words to justify it. I'm no Canon lawyer, but I've got a (fresh) law degree, and comparing what was said prior to and after his election with the church's recorded and official canons (and yeah, that "Bible" thing, too), Robinson's supporters just don't have a leg to stand on. In fact, it appeared they avoided mentioning any of the Church's established doctrines at all, probably because it contradicted what they were saying. The only conclusion I could draw is that they did it because they wanted to do it, to hell with doctrine or what anyone else thought.

Anyway -- outside the issue of gay clerics -- I'm now incredibly reluctant to join a church where the leadership is apparently prepared to make up the rules as they go along, without any pretense of being bound by past decisions, and force the church to conform to whatever happense to be their whim. And then justify it by claiming the were compelled to do so "by the movement of the Holy Spirit."

Not to mention their arrogance towards the rest of the Anglican communion. . . .

Posted by: Twn at October 11, 2003 12:05 PM

The Episcopal Church in America are turning their backs on a rich tradition, becoming Unitarians with better golf games.

Posted by: Dave in LA at October 11, 2003 3:36 PM

Dave, Christian History has an interesting comparison along those lines.

Posted by: Timothy at October 11, 2003 4:47 PM