Anglican splits grow over issues of sexuality
The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on the Church of England to show constructive support for gay men and women as the wider Anglican Church appears to move closer to schism over the issue of homosexual practice.
The news that Dr Rowan Williams has sent a warm message of support to organisers of a national conference for lesbian and gay Christians will further enrage some evangelicals already furious over the appoinment of the homosexual theologian Canon Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading.
According to The Church of England newspaper, some leading evangelicals will raise the temperature further by calling on Canon John ìto repent or resignî.
If he does not, leading evangelical parishes, which represent the fastest growing part of the Church, will threaten to withhold their ìquotasî or annual payments to diocesan funds.
The row is exacerbating growing disquiet in the wider Anglican Church: as many as half of the provinces of the worldwide Anglican Church are threatening ìruptureî in a protest over the rapid advance of the homosexual cause in England, America and Canada.
In a message of support to the annual conference of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Dr Williams said; ìThe Anglican Church has committed itself to listening widely ó including listening to the experience of gay and lesbian people.
ìI very much hope that conferences and consultations like this one will help that listening and mutual questioning to happen in an honest and constructive way, as the Church reflects on what its lesbian and gay members are saying.î
However, the Church of England Evangelical Council passed a strong motion censuring Canon John. It is now writing to all diocesan bishops urging that his consecration in October should not go ahead.
Another diocesan bishop also spoke out. The Bishop of Winchester, the Right Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, criticised the decision of the Bishop of Oxford, the Right Rev Richard Harries, to promote Canon John.
He said: ìThis appointment causes me very great concern and cut right across the Church. He emphasised that the Church must try to find ways of staying together.î