`This Erosion of Communion'

Article excerpt

The following is extracted from outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey's presidential address to the Anglican Consultative Council.

IT IS AT this point as the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury that I must point to my greatest worry. I would be failing in my duty if I recoiled away from it out of an assumption that silence is the safer option.

In short, my concern is that our Communion is being steadily undermined by dioceses and individual bishops taking unilateral action, usually (but not always) in matters to do with sexuality; and as a result steadily driving us towards serious fragmentation and the real possibility of two (or, more likely, many more) distinct Anglican bodies emerging. This erosion of communion through the adoption of "local options" has been going on for some 30 years but is reaching crisis proportions today.

We have seen the formation of AMiA in the United States and scarcely a week goes by without some report reaching me of clergy teetering on the brink of leaving the Anglican Communion for that body. I have been clear in my condemnation of the schism created by AMiA and the actions of those primates and other bishops who consecrated the six bishops. Sadly, I see little sign of willingness on the part of some bishops in the Communion to play their part in discouraging teaching or action that leads some conscientious clergy to conclude that they have no option other than to leave us for AMiA.

It is not my intention to address now the issue that has led some clergy in the diocese of New Westminster to rebel against their own bishop and their diocesan synod. I respect the sincerity of Bishop Michael Ingham and his diocesan synod, and I do not doubt that they believe that they are acting in the best interests of all, as they see it.

But I deeply regret that Michael and his synod, and other bishops and dioceses in similar situations in North America seem to be making such decisions without regard to the rest of us and against the clear statements of Lambeth '98. And, on the other hand, as I have said, it is disappointing to note the steps that have been taken in reaction by a number of clergy, bishops and even archbishops in our Communion, equally in disregard of carefully thought-out Lambeth Conference resolutions. …