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Anglican Communion 'quite close to being dysfunctional', says leading UK layman

Anglican Communion 'quite close to being dysfunctional', senior English layman

The Chair of the Church of England General Synod's House of Laity, Dr Philip Giddings, in an interview last week with the Gazette editor, said that the Anglican Communion today was "quite close to being dysfunctional", adding that the Communion's instruments "clearly are not working as effectively as they need to".

Dr Giddings, who gave the interview in Armagh during the Church of Ireland General Synod at which he was an official visitor, was referring to the ongoing difficulties in inter-Anglican relations centring on the issue of same-sex relationships, which became critical following the consecration in 2003 of the partnered gay Bishop Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

The crisis deepened further last year, when the partnered lesbian Bishop Mary Glasspool was consecrated as an assistant bishop in Los Angeles. Explaining the current position in the Church of England regarding the reception of the proposed Anglican Covenant, which aims to make Anglican provinces more accountable to one another, Dr Giddings explained that it had been sent to all the dioceses for approval and would only return to the English General Synod if a majority of the diocesan synods accepted it.

However, while he was unsure whether or not that majority would materialise, he expressed his own view that the Covenant was "worth trying", but said it was "very little, very late".

Dr Giddings said that the Episcopal Church in the US (TEC) "has decided it's going to walk its own way in its context, come what may", adding: "It's all about what we're prepared to give one another in order to be able to work together."

However, asked whether he felt TEC was willing to "give" enough, he said that he did not see at the moment "any sign that that is the case", adding: "Indeed, I see signs that it [TEC] is even more determined to go its own way."

Dr Giddings said that some of the things TEC's Presiding Bishop, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, and others had been doing to those who were in their terms "dissidents" suggested to him that the outlook was "very bleak".


Regarding the process towards agreeing to women bishops in the Church of England, Dr Giddings said that, as was the case with the Anglican Covenant, draft legislation was with the dioceses.

He said there would "certainly" be a majority of dioceses in favour, but added that some may pass supplementary motions asking the House of Bishops to look again at finding a way of providing for those who in conscience could not accept women's episcopal ministry.

However, he said that it was "very difficult to see how the circle can be squared", adding that the Bishops themselves did not agree on the matter. Asked if the Roman Catholic Church's Ordinariate' scheme had changed the dynamic in the debate, as it allowed Anglo- Catholics to convert to Rome whilst keeping some of their Anglican traditions, Dr Giddings said that most conservative catholic Anglicans wanted to remain in the Church of England.

He said they did not want to accept that their Anglican Orders had been defective, as Rome teaches, nor did they want to accept other things that they had not believed as Anglicans. He said the Ordinariate had therefore changed the situation very little.


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