Thursday, August 22, 2013
The Anglican Church is Close to Plunging into a “Ravine of Intolerance” over the Issue of Homosexuality
In his most stark comments yet about divisions over issues such as homosexuality, the Most Rev Justin Welby said the Church was coming perilously close to plunging into a “ravine of intolerance”.
He even drew parallels between the crisis afflicting the 77-million-strong worldwide network of Anglican churches and the atmosphere during the Civil War. And he likened the collective behaviour of the Church to a “drunk man” staggering ever closer to the edge of a cliff.
Yet he added that many of the issues over which different factions in the Church were fighting were “incomprehensible” to people outside it.
He spoke out during a sermon in Monterrey, Mexico, which he was visiting as part of a plan to travel to every province of the Anglican Communion at the start of his ministry.
The Archbishop, who took office in February, inherited a Church deeply divided at home and abroad.
At home, he has been attempting to resolve the seemingly intractable disagreements within the Church of England over women bishops. But the worldwide Anglican Church has also been split between liberal provinces, particularly in North America, and more conservative regions for several years after the US Church consecrated its first openly homosexual bishop.
Archbishop Welby said the Church had to steer a course between, on one hand, compromising so much that it abandoned its “core beliefs” and, on the other, becoming so intolerant that it fractured completely.
Addressing a service in Monterrey, he spoke about the life of Jeremy Taylor, a cleric imprisoned after the Civil War.
“I sometimes worry that as Anglicans we are drifting back in that direction,” he said. “Not consciously, of course, but in an unconscious way that is more dangerous. Like a drunk man walking near the edge of a cliff, we trip and totter and slip and wander, ever nearer to the edge of the precipice.
“It is a dangerous place, a narrow path we walk as Anglicans at present.
“On one side is the steep fall into an absence of any core beliefs, a chasm where we lose touch with God, and thus we rely only on ourselves and our own message. On the other side there is a vast fall into a ravine of intolerance and cruel exclusion. It is for those who claim all truth, and exclude any who question.”
He went on: “When we fall into this place, we lose touch with human beings and create a small church, or rather many small churches – divided, ineffective in serving the poor, the hungry and the suffering, incapable of living with each other, and incomprehensible to those outside the church.
“We struggle with each other at a time when the Anglican Communion’s great vocation as bridge builder is more needed than ever.”
Source: National Post