Civil War in the Church of England

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and Bishop Susan Goff
Those well meaning groups who seek to modify what they consider to be harsh and unkind teachings of the Catholic Church (see this amusing, satirical take on it) may find it enlightening to take a cool, calm look at our ecumenical brothers and sisters in the Church of England (CoE).

The CoE contains several doctrinal strands, the main three known as Anglo-catholic, Evangelical and Liberal or Broad Church (for more detail on this see here).

Over the last 24 years many of the conservative Anglo-catholic clergy of the CoE have left the Church of England and have joined either the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church or an independent Community. This parting of the ways was mainly caused by the decision of the CoE Synod in 1992 to permit the ordination of women to the priesthood (and later to the episcopate). Many Anglo-catholics felt that they could no longer accept the CoE’s claim to be in organic, doctrinal and historical continuity with the Early Christian Church whose doctrines and sacraments were held and taught by the Apostles and the Church Fathers.

While the CoE was attempting to recover from these losses, another controversy arose over same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy – which now threatens to split both the world-wide Anglican Communion and the CoE.

Since the 1990s, the Anglican Communion has debated issues regarding homosexuality in the church and in 1998, the 13th Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops passed a resolution stating that "homosexual acts" are "incompatible with Scripture” (See here).

Despite this, in 2002 the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada permitted the blessing of same-sex unions. And in 2003, two openly gay men in England and the United States became candidates for bishop.

In the CoE, Jeffrey John eventually succumbed to pressure and withdrew his name from consideration to be the Bishop of Reading.

Jeffrey John
But in the Episcopal Church in the United States, Gene Robinson was elected and consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire, becoming the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion. (His sexual orientation had apparently already been privately acknowledged in the 1970s, when he studied in seminary and was ordained – but he nevertheless married and started a family. He went public with his sexual identity and divorced in 1986. He entered a formal relationship with a new partner, Mark Andrew, in 1988 and later "divorced"). Between 1972 and 1986 Robinson was married to Isabella McDaniel, with whom he has two daughters.

The episcopal ordination of Gene Robinson led several hundred bishops (mainly from Africa and South America) to boycott the 2008 Lambeth Conference. 

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, right, and Mark Andrew are shown at their civil union ceremony in Concord, New Hampshire, in 2008.
As an alternative to Lambeth, many of these bishops attended the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem.

Currently, despite the 1998 resolution condemning homosexual acts, some CoE bishops fully accept gay clergy with partners or spouses in their diocese - while other bishops remove the licenses of such clergy. This internal conflict within the CoE appears to be growing in intensity.
In May 2016, Paul Bayes the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool announced the appointment of Bishop Susan Goff (of Virginia, USA) as Assisting Bishop of Liverpool. Bishop Goff is well known for being an advocate of same-sex marriage, as well as atrocious vestments (see picture at the top).

And at the end of May Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans, preached at Liverpool Cathedral on the healing of the centurion’s servant (Luke 7) claiming that there was a likely sexual relationship between the two so Jesus must have approved of it, thus turning the healing of the sick into a case for same sex marriage (SSM). He then claimed that those who oppose SSM are inhumane and un-Christian. His spurious arguments have been thoroughly refuted here:

It seems that with so many of the leaders of the Anglo-catholic wing of the CoE having joined the Catholic Church, the Broad "church" (or liberals) in the CoE now seem determined to follow the example of the ultra-liberal Episcopal "church" and introduce SSM.

This will inevitably cause a further split in the Church of England – with the Evangelicals (who still believe in the objective standards of morality contained in Scripture) likely to join the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) – which contains the vast majority of Anglicans (and who live mainly in Africa)

I wonder if the Vatican will notice how liberalism has destroyed the unity of the Anglican Communion – which once claimed to be the third largest Christian Church after the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church?


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