Same-Sex Schism: Conservative Anglicans Reject Archbishop of Canterbury
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A conservative group of 12 Anglican archbishops from around the world have signed a resolution stating they will no longer recognize the Archbishop of Canterbury as the head of the Anglican Communion following the Church of England's decision to allow the blessing of same-sex unions by its priests.
Monday's announcement marked what could be the beginning of a historic split among Anglican churches. As CBN News has reported, over the years the Church of England has made doctrinal changes pitting the escalating global LGBT sexual agenda against the teachings of Biblical morality. It has led to friction between the church's leaders and members.
That's why the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) has now said in a statement it will no longer uphold the Rt Hon & Most Revd Justin Welby as the "leader of the global communion."
"He has sadly led his House of Bishops to make the recommendations that undergirded the General Synod Motion on 'Living in Love & Faith,' knowing that they run contrary to the faith & order of the orthodox provinces in the Communion whose people constitute the majority in the global flock. We pray that our withdrawal of support for him to lead the whole Communion is received by him as an admonishment in love," the statement said.
The GSFA also said the Church of England has "disqualified herself from leading the Communion as the historic 'Mother' Church."
"The Church of England has chosen to break communion with those provinces who remain faithful to the historic biblical faith expressed in the Anglican formularies (the 39 Articles, the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal, and the Book of Homilies) and applied to the matter of marriage and sexuality in Lambeth Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference," the archbishops said.
"Our calling to be 'a holy remnant' does not allow us be 'in communion' with those provinces that have departed from the historic faith and taken the path of false teaching. This breaks our hearts and we pray for the revisionist provinces to return to 'the faith once delivered' (Jude 3) and to us," the group said.
Earlier this month, the Church of England's General Synod welcomed proposals that would enable same-sex couples to come to church after a civil marriage or civil partnership to give thanks, dedicate their LGBTQ relationship to God and receive the church's blessing.
Citing the action by the church's General Synod, the Bible-believing archbishops said, "We believe it is no longer possible to continue in the way the Communion is. We do not accept the view that we can still 'walk together' with the revisionist provinces."
The archbishops also explained the Church of England's actions have strengthened "their resolve to work together to re-set the Communion and to ensure that the re-set Communion is marked by reform and renewal."
The statement was signed by the GSFA chairman Archbishop Justin Badi of South Sudan, along with the archbishops of Chile, Congo, Myanmar, North America, Bangladesh, Uganda, Sudan, Brazil, and Melanesia.
Since its formation in 1867, the incumbent Archbishop of Canterbury has taken the role of the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, which is a global fellowship of 42 Anglican churches.
The archbishop has no formal power - instead, he has moral authority and is seen as the "first among equals," according to the BBC.
Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, said no formal change to the Anglican Communion's structure could be made without approval from its four governing Instruments of Communion.
"The deep disagreements that exist across the Anglican Communion on sexuality and marriage are not new. The 42 member Churches of the Anglican Communion are independent and autonomous, but at the same time interdependent. It is a fundamental principle of the Anglican Communion that no province can bind another province, and no Instrument of Communion has any jurisdictional authority over any province," the palace said in a statement.
Conservative Anglican churches, including some in Africa that represent nearly half of the world's estimated 100 million Anglicans, have already broken off relations with churches that espouse liberal teaching and practice on homosexuality, including the Episcopal Church in the U.S., according to The Wall Street Journal.
It is the first time that the Archbishop of Canterbury's leadership has been rejected by such a large group of churches, according to the BBC.
The decision by the 12 Anglican bishops is seen by church watchers as a setback for the Archbishop of Canterbury.
"It would very difficult for Archbishop Welby to restore his position—and that of the Church of England—after this, unless, perhaps, he were to get the English bishops to row back from their recent proposals to bless same-sex sexual relationships," the Rev. Lee Gatiss, director of the Church Society, a group that promotes traditional teaching in the Church of England, told The Journal.
The GSFA said as a result of the Church of England and the Archbishop forfeiting their leadership role in the global communion, GSFA Primates will expeditiously meet, consult, and work with other orthodox Primates in the Anglican Church across the nations to re-set the Communion on its biblical foundation.
As CBN News reported in January, the Church of England announced it will not allow gay marriages to be performed in its churches, but it will let priests bless same-sex couples who are in civil marriages.
The decision followed six years of debate and consultation on the church's position on sexuality.
Under the proposals, the Church of England's stance that the sacrament of matrimony is restricted to unions between one man and one woman will not change. However, same-sex couples would be able to have a church service with prayers of dedication, thanksgiving, or for God's blessing after they have a civil wedding or register a civil partnership.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in England and Wales since 2013. The church did not change its teaching when the law changed.
Welby acknowledged that the proposals "will appear to go too far for some and not nearly far enough for others."
"This response reflects the diversity of views in the Church of England on questions of sexuality, relationships, and marriage. I rejoice in that diversity and I welcome this way of reflecting it in the life of our church," Welby said.
The Church of England instituted its "Living in Love and Faith" project in 2020, described as examining identity, sexuality, relationships, and marriage within the centuries-old Anglican institution.
Unlike the Catholic Church, the Church of England does not exercise authority over other members of the Anglican Communion. Many Anglican churches in Africa oppose same-sex marriage because it goes against scriptures on marriage found in the Bible.
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