Monday, February 26, 2007

Akinola Threatens Canterbury

Most coverage of the Anglican crisis paints it as a matter of the Global South, led by Peter Akinola, versus the Episcopal Church, led by Katherine Jefferts Schori. But click the link to see a different perspective, from a Somali newspaper.

Briefly, Bonny Apunyu treats the South's ultimatum as a threat to break unity not only with the US province, but also with the Church of England itself. She quotes Akinola to this effect, although not in any detail.

Western reports have assumed that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will be able to negotiate some series of compromises, in which the unity of the Anglican Communion is largely preserved, even if the status of the American church is greatly reduced. But if, in the view of the Africans, even the English church is hopelessly corrupted by gay-tolerating liberal modernism, it is entirely possible that in the near future, there will be two international "Anglican" communities, not in communion with each other -- one led by England, the other by Nigeria.

This possibility raises any number of questions. Is it "Anglican" if it out of communion with England? But the one that piques our interst concerns the conservative Americans. If they are forced to choose between communion with the Mother Church and accommodation to theology they consider heretical, most will surely choose the latter. It is a matter of principle, after all.

But the residual Englishness of Anglicanism is no small matter, and one must suspect that many Episcopalians, perhaps even more in the pews than the pulpits, will be reluctant to surrender the formal connection to Canterbury. This means that the American schism -- predicted to involve something like a quater of the church -- could be considerably reduced. Or the schismatics might divide amongst themselves, both sides agreed that they can't live with the Episcopalians, but one nonethless able to keep its ties to England.

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