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Anglican church facing schism over Church of England’s capitulations to LGBT activists — conservative archbishops have rejected primacy of Canterbury en masse

The Church of England renounced papal authority in 1534. Now, amid internal strife over whether to hold true to long-standing church teaching about the sacrament of marriage or to capitulate to LGBT activists, a host of conservative Anglican archbishops, including the head of the Anglican Church in North America, have renounced the primacy of the archbishop of Canterbury.

The Monday announcement by the heads of numerous Anglican member churches to cease recognition of the archbishop of Canterbury as the “first among equals” heralds a schism in the Anglican Communion, which the Wall Street Journal indicated could “threaten the very survival” of one of the world’s biggest Christian denominations.

Marriage at the center of another schism

The Anglican Communion comprises tens of millions of believers in 42 autonomous provinces, each of which makes its own decisions. However, these decisions are informed by recommendations from the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates’ Meeting, and the archbishop of Canterbury.

According to the Anglican Communion, the archbishop of Canterbury “is the Focus for Unity for the three other Instruments of Communion” for the coalition “and is therefore a unique focus for Anglican unity. He calls the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of Primates, and is President of the Anglican Consultative Council.”

Extra to these responsibilities, Justin Welby, the 105th archbishop of Canterbury — who has been in the role since March 2013 — was long regarded by the Anglican Communion as the “primus inter pares” or “first among equals.”

The relatively more orthodox Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches confirmed in a statement Monday that it has rejected Welby as the first among equals.

“With great sorrow at the recent decision of the Church of England’s General Synod to legitimise and incorporate into the Church’s liturgy the blessing of same sex unions, ten Primates of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) met virtually on 13 Feb 2023 under the chairmanship of Archbishop Justin Badi (Chairman of GSFA & Primate of South Sudan) to discuss our response,” said the statement.

The GSFA primates claimed that the “Church of England has departed from the historic faith passed down from the Apostles by this innovation in the liturgies of the Church and her pastoral practice (contravening her own Canon A5), she has disqualified herself from leading the Communion as the historic ‘Mother’ Church” and added that “the Church of England has chosen to break communion with those provinces who remain faithful to the historic biblical faith expressed in the Anglican formularies … and applied to the matter of marriage and sexuality in Lambeth Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.”

Marriage is evidently a divisive issue near and dear to Anglicans. After all, it was the very issue that first parted the CE from the Roman Catholic Church, which has maintained the orthodox view on marriage that the breakaway Anglicans have recognized on their own to be critical.

The GSFA primates, who indicated they spoke for 75% of the Anglicans around the world, noted they cannot recognize Welby as he “has sadly led his House of Bishops to make the recommendations that undergirded the General Synod Motion on ‘Living in Love & Faith,’ knowing that they run contrary to the faith & order of the orthodox provinces in the Communion whose people constitute the majority in the global flock recommendations.”

The GFSA primates noted that this turn of events “breaks our hearts and we pray for the revisionist provinces to return to ‘the faith once delivered’ (Jude 3) and to us.”

The statement was endorsed by 12 GFSA primates, hailing from various countries including the United States, Chile, Congo, and Brazil.

Following this seismic shift in the Anglican Communion, the GFSA plans to convene “other orthodox Primates in the Anglican Church across nations to re-set the Communion on its biblical foundation.”

The Telegraph reported that this announcement came just weeks after the CE voted to allow blessings for gay and lesbian couples who have already been “married” or bound in secular civil partnerships.

TheBlaze previously reported that the blessings were something of a half-measure after CE bishops decided not to recommend that gays partake in the sacrament of marriage, “a solemn, public and life-long covenant between a man and a woman, declared and celebrated in the presence of God and before witnesses.”

Despite recommending against performing gay “marriages,” the bishops resolved to offer gays “the fullest possible pastoral provision”: “prayers of dedication, thanksgiving or for God’s blessing on the couple in church following a civil marriage or partnership.”

Additionally, the CE resolved to produce a new pastoral guidance in relation to the discernment of vocation to which all clergy would have to assent, replacing the December 1991 “Issues in Human Sexuality” statement from the CE general synod, which claims, among other things: “There is … in Scripture an evolving convergence on the ideal of lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual union as the setting intended by God for the proper development of men and women as sexual beings. Sexual activity of any kind outside marriage comes to be seen as sinful, and homosexual practice as especially dishonourable.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that conservatives in the Anglican Communion who prioritized tradition over fashion have grown increasingly critical of the infiltration of Western churches by leftist thinking, particularly in Africa, which accounts for nearly half of the world’s 100 million or so Anglicans.

It is presently unclear how many of the 42 national Anglican churches will ultimately follow suit in rejecting Canterbury and the “innovation” it has embraced. The greater the number, the more significant this rebuke of the CE’s apparent capitulation to LGBT activists.

Rev. Lee Gatiss, director of the pro-tradition Church Society, told the Journal, “It would very difficult for Archbishop Welby to restore his position — and that of the Church of England — after this, unless, perhaps, he were to get the English bishops to row back from their recent proposals to bless same-sex sexual relationships.”

Leftists in England may find cause for celebration, however, granted this may enable them to more brazenly pursue heterodox ends in the CE.

Rev. Andrew Foreshew-Cain, a chaplain at the University of Oxford, indicated that CE bishops would do well to conform to the zeitgeist and “move toward full affirmation and welcome for LGBTI people.”

A spokesman for Welby stated, “The deep disagreements that exist across the Anglican Communion on sexuality and marriage are not new. … It is a fundamental principle of the Anglican Communion that no province can bind another province.”

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