A potential rift in the Anglican Church has been foreshadowed with mounting suggestions that an archbishop who supports the ordination of homosexuals and women as bishops could take over as the new leader of the Anglican Church.
The current archbishop of Wales, Dr Rowan Williams, is rumoured to have garnered strong support from within the British government to replace the present archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, as the leader of the world’s 70 million Anglicans.
Williams has generated significant debate within the Anglican Church in recent years over his views that practicing homosexuals should be allowed ordination into the Anglican clergy.
However, it is understood that the British government received a number of letters from evangelical conservatives around the world condemning the potential ap-pointment of Williams due to the archbishop’s rationale that since the Church of Eng-land already permits responsible homosexual relations amongst its laity, it is unreasonable not to allow practising homosexuals to be members of the Anglican clergy.
The debate over homosexual rights within the Anglican Church was further inflamed this week when 13 Anglican archbishops from across Canada issued a statement of regret over the weekend decision of the Diocese of New Westminster to formally bless same-sex unions.
In a meeting of the New Westminster Diocese on Saturday, the motion to bless committed homosexual relationships was passed with 215 in favour and 129 against.
However, the statement from the 13 protesting archbishops asserted that the blessing was in conflict with the moral teaching of the Holy Scripture and the tradition of the universal Church.
Homosexual acceptance by the Church is not the only issue that is causing a split amongst Anglicans at present.
Archbishop Williams has also raised the ire of conservatives due to his proclamations that women -“ who have already been granted the right to be ordained by the Anglican Church -“ should therefore also be permitted to be ordained as bishops.
According to Gay.com, Cardiff West MP and member of the Christian Socialist Movement, Chris Bryant, said the appointment of Williams would boost the Anglican Communion.
Lots of Labour MPs have heard of Rowan Williams and like what they hear, Bryant added. The Church of England sometimes gets excellent choices of archbishop, men of significant spiritual insight and great theological depth. Rowan Williams is such a man.
Archbishop George Carey retires as the leader of the Anglican Church on 31 October. The appointment of the archbishop of Canterbury is the prerogative of the British prime minister, with the choice ratified by the Queen.
However, the appointment of Williams would also be historic due to the fact that his current position as the archbishop of Wales places him outside the Church of Eng-land. If Williams is appointed, it would be the first time since the Reformation that the leader of the Anglican Church comes from outside the Church of England.