Archbishop of Canterbury says GAFCON declaration 'problematic'

By staff writers
June 30, 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury has responded to the declaration made by Conservative Anglican leaders in Jerusalem yesterday, who propose forming a council of bishops to provide an alternative to churches they say are preaching a 'false gospel' concerning homosexuality.

In a statement Dr Rowan Williams said that the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) declaration was theologically and practically 'problematic' and it was wrong to assume that those outside the GAFCON network were 'proclaiming another gospel'.

"GAFCON's proposals for the way ahead are problematic in all sorts of ways" he said, "and I urge those who have outlined these to think very carefully about the risks entailed.

"A 'Primates' Council' which consists only of a self-selected group from among the Primates of the Communion will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion. And any claim to be free to operate across provincial boundaries is fraught with difficulties, both theological and practical - theological because of our historic commitments to mutual recognition of ministries in the Communion, practical because of the obvious strain of responsibly exercising episcopal or primatial authority across enormous geographical and cultural divides" he said.

"Two questions arise at once about what has been proposed. By what authority are Primates deemed acceptable or unacceptable members of any new primatial council? And how is effective discipline to be maintained in a situation of overlapping and competing jurisdictions?" the Archbishop continued.

"It is not enough to dismiss the existing structures of the Communion. If they are not working effectively, the challenge is to renew them rather than to improvise solutions that may seem to be effective for some in the short term but will continue to create more problems than they solve" he said.

"I believe that it is wrong to assume we are now so far apart that all those outside the GAFCON network are simply proclaiming another gospel.

"This is not the case; it is not the experience of millions of faithful and biblically focused Anglicans in every province. What is true is that, on all sides of our controversies, slogans, misrepresentations and caricatures abound. And they need to be challenged in the name of the respect and patience we owe to each other in Jesus Christ."

Also from Ekklesia: Simon Barrow, 'Whose mission is it anyway?' -

The book Fear or Freedom? Why a warring church must change, edited by Simon Barrow, is published by Shoving Leopard / Ekklesia.

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