The Anglican Global South Primates Steering Committee, chaired by the formidable Peter Akinola of Nigeria, has issued an “exhortation to the faithful” turning thumbs down on Pope Benedict’s little Anglican cherry-picking expedition while putting the squeeze on Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) Rowan Williams. Here are the key paragraphs:
3. We welcome Pope Benedict XVI’s stance on the common biblical
teaching on human sexuality, and the commitment to continuing
4. At the same time we believe that the proposed Anglican Covenant
sets the necessary parameters in safeguarding the catholic and
apostolic faith and order of the Communion. It gives Anglican churches
worldwide a clear and principled way forward in pursuing God’s divine
purposes together in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of
Jesus Christ. We urge churches in the Communion to actively work
together towards a speedy adoption of the Covenant.
In other words, we’ve got our own authentic and universal church, so long as the ABC continues down the path towards the proposed Anglican Covenant. What is this Covenant of which they speak? It’s a new constitutional regime whereby Anglican headquarters would be able to impose doctrinal discipline upon its constituent parts. In its current state, this would mean relegating a “province” that didn’t go along with a ban on, say, partnered gay bishops, to second-class status in the Communion. The Akinolites mean to hold the ABC’s feet to the fire on that one:
6. As Primates of the Communion and guardians of the catholic and
apostolic faith and order, we stand in communion with our fellow
bishops, clergy and laity who are steadfast in the biblical teaching
against the ordination of openly homosexual clergy, the consecration of
such to the episcopate, and the blessing of homosexual partnerships.
No way, of course, are married hierarchs like Akinola going to lead their flocks to Rome, subordinating themselves to local Catholic primacy and either giving up their wives to stay bishops or keeping them and becoming mere priests. But that doesn’t mean the Communion can’t fall apart, or divide schismatically into North and South. Williams dithers as Canterbury burns.