Tutu renews his appeal to Anglicans to end their factionalism

By staff writers
15 Jul 2008

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has renewed his call for global Anglican leaders to focus on the gospel as a message of hope and healing for the world, and to move beyond factional in-fighting as they gather in Lambeth.

The 76-year-old former Archbishop of Cape Town, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to apartheid in South Africa, says he is greatly saddened by the disputes between those who dub each other 'liberals' and 'traditionalists'.

His comments and call for unity and perspective came in an interview with to Sky News.

Archbishop Tutu said he was against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the church.

He continued: "The Anglican Church prides itself, and this is one of its greatest attributes, it prides itself on being the church that is comprehensive - comprehensive meaning that it is a church that includes all kinds of points of view."

"One of the sadnesses about the current crisis," said the archbishop, "is that we seem to be jettisoning this wonderful inclusivity that is a characteristic of our church."

Archbishop Tutu is seen as a beacon of humanity and reason by many who have become sceptical of the churches and their message in recent years.

He is an outspoken advocate for peace, justice and human rights - with HIV/AIDS, global poverty and oppression in Burma, Zimbabwe and Tibet being among his recent campaigns.

A quarter of Anglican bishops will not be attending the ten-year gathering of the Lambeth Conference that meets in Kent soon.

They are refusing to accept the traditional invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury because he has not excluded those who consecrated openly-gay New Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson - who will be in attendance unofficially.

Meanwhile, the bishop who leads the global Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) says he believes that Christians worldwide do not want to hear their leaders talking about division.

The Rt Rev John Paterson, Bishop of Auckland in New Zealand, is five years into his six year term as chair of the ACC.

Speaking in Hereford, where he is staying prior to attending the Lambeth Conference, the Paterson stressed the importance of the ACC as the only body with representatives from the Episcopacy, the clergy and the lay people who sat in the pews every week.

“Our ability to meet and to talk is in jeopardy at the moment,” he said. “The bishops are about to converge in Canterbury for the Lambeth Conference, but we know only too painfully that a good number of bishops will not be present."

He asked: "How can we work through the issues that trouble us, the issues that divide us, if we are not all present in the same room, sitting around the same table, worshipping together in the presence of our Lord?”

Archbishop Tutu has written a preface to the new book Fear or Freedom? Why a warring church must change, edited by Simon Barrow, which is published by Shoving Leopard / Ekklesia.

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