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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Bishop Tom Wright on the Anglican Crisis

HT: Canon Harmon.

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ELEANOR HALL: Now to what may be an irreconcilable split in the world-wide Anglican Church over sex and faith.

A senior member of the Church of England currently in Australia says members of the Church in the United States are set to continue appointing openly gay clergy.

The Bishop of Durham Tom Wright says this will push the Anglican Communion of more than 70 million followers into unchartered waters.

Toni Hassan has our story.

TONI HASSAN: The Bishop of Durham Tom Wright is a renowned New Testament scholar and something of a pop star in Anglican circles.

It's his first visit to Australia, and big audiences are preparing to hear him speak at a series of lectures in Sydney about a range of things, including his fresh perspective on the tradition and authority of St Paul.

Bishop Wright shot to prominence when he helped author what's called the Windsor Report, sparked by the 2003 appointment in the United States of the first openly gay bishop.

The Windsor Report urged its dissenting arm to take time out, repent the appointment and return to the fold.

But many months later, Bishop Wright is not hopeful American Anglicans will express regret for the sake of Anglican unity.

TOM WRIGHT: If they vote to go with the Windsor Report then that will pull the whole thing back from the brink.

But my friends in America tell me on many different sides of this issue that that's actually very unlikely, that it looks as though, the way they are at the moment, they are going to ratify what they did last time in electing Gene Robinson, which means that, if the Windsor Report was followed and if the Primate's (inaudible) were followed, that ought to mean that the American Church is voting to stay away from the next Lambeth Conference.

And we've never been in this position before, so there is no roadmap. And if anyone out there listening to this ever says their prayers, please pray for Rowan Williams because he needs prayers right now. He's got some very difficult decisions to make.

TONI HASSAN: Well, it wouldn't come as a surprise. For at least three years now Sydney Anglicans at least in this town have warned of a split in the communion. And just last week the Archbishop of Canterbury was saying that the worldwide movement was heading for schism. He feared that, anyway.

So do you believe that it is inevitable now?

TOM WRIGHT: I think it is quite possible, and indeed has already happened in some quarters, that people who insist on not only the permissibility but the goodness and to-be-celebrated-ness of homosexual behaviour, people who believe in that are going in a particular direction which they know perfectly well is not where the majority of the Anglican Communion is.

And I came upon a quote from a leading American clergyman just recently basically saying it's time to show our colours, and if that means we're going to be independent we're going to be independent.

And I think there's a lot of people in America who don't really realise that, who can't quite take it in that there are millions of people who are Anglicans out there.

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    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
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