Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Summit May Determine Fate of Anglicans

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Summit May Determine Fate of Anglicans

Article excerpt

It could be a meeting of hearts, or it could be the collision of tectonic plates, shaking along the same ecclesiastical fault lines that saw the rupture of the historic Episcopal community in southwestern Pennsylvania in the past decade.

National leaders in the Anglican Communion, the world's third- largest Christian tradition, are scheduled to gather Monday in Britain for their first big gathering after years of frosty stalemate. And it could be their last time together if the most ominous forecasts bear out.

Local bishops are echoing their colleagues' call for prayer for what has so far defied human efforts - to repair the rupture in the communion over liberalizing trends on homosexuality and theology in Western churches such as the Episcopal Church in the United States. Anglican churches across the Southern Hemisphere, many of them fast- growing churches in Africa, have deeply opposed such changes.

Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury - the figurehead of the 85 million-member communion of churches with roots in the Church of England and its blend of Protestant theology and Catholic liturgical traditions - called the meeting and made a major concession to the so-called Global South primates.

Not only did he invite Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, he also invited Archbishop Foley Beach, head of the Anglican Church in North America, whose break with the Episcopal Church was especially significant in the Pittsburgh area. Normally a meeting of primates would include only the top official in each of the communion's 38 national churches.

In the confusingly overlapping names involved, the Anglican Communion recognizes the Episcopal Church as its U.S. church, rather than the Anglican Church in North America. But the latter has received recognition from Global South Anglicans, made up of primarily non-Western nations.

The primates can't tell a national church such as the Episcopal Church what to do. But the meeting could see the communion split or redefined as a looser federation.

Bishops of both dioceses of Pittsburgh - Dorsey McConnell of the Episcopal Church and Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America, who preceded Archbishop Beach as its founding leader - agree that the stakes are huge. …

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