DUBLIN: Rowan Williams will announce new Relief Alliance to Deflect Theological Crisis in the Anglican Communion
By David W. Virtue in Dublin
January 26, 2011
At a meeting of global archbishops in Dublin, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams is expected to announce the formation of a new social activist body - A Global Anglican Relief and Development Alliance - in a last ditch effort to deflect the Anglican Communion away from the moral and theological crisis sweeping the communion playing up poverty issues instead.
A dozen orthodox Anglican Primates have absented themselves from a Primates' meeting here in Dublin because of the theological and moral innovations of The Episcopal Church.
For the past year, since the conclusion of the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office have worked together to move forward the recommendation for the establishment of a new way for Anglicans to globally work together for relief and development.
A news release from the Anglican Alliance cites Williams saying that while we (Anglican Communion leaders) cannot agree on doctrine that should not stop us helping the poor. This new Alliance will cost £400,000 ($636,638) a year for three years and be London based. According to the Anglican Communion Office, this recommendation reflects the urgency to combat the scandal of poverty requiring concerted and coordinated Communion action. "This recommendation has greater urgency today than ever before - the global financial crisis has exacerbated in many parts of the Communion a pre-existing socio-economic crisis marked by widespread poverty, under-employment, growth in inequality and difficult social conditions."
However, sources tell VOL that Williams is actually restructuring the mission arm of the Anglican Communion in London with this new body. It is an attempt to keep the communion together as it publicly fragments over pansexuality.
The purpose of this alliance (it is not technically an agency) would be to enable funding to Anglican Provinces in Africa and Asia from richer provinces like the Episcopal Church in the US; thus keeping TEC at the global Anglican table and increasing TEC's influence in the Global South even as it declines numerically at home with fleeing dioceses and parishes over the church's public rejection of the authority of Scripture on issues of faith and morals.
Several things should be noted here.
The Episcopal Church already has its own funding arm - The Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) fund which gives away millions of dollars in addition to monies distributed through the United Thank Offering (UTO).
Increasingly, orthodox archbishops have been rejecting money from The Episcopal Church because they see it as tainted with sexual sin (pansexuality) and want no part of it. Archbishop Mouneer Anis (Middle East) told VOL recently that he rejected $10,000 from The Episcopal Church's United Thank Offering because of TEC's immoral innovations.
Some orthodox Anglican provinces have accepted TEC's money, like the Sudan, but their archbishop has steadfastly refused to compromise on moral issues and rejects TEC's stand on the ordination of homogenital priests and bishops, same-sex marriage and rites for same-sex blessings. Sudan Archbishop Deng Bul blasted TEC over the Robinson consecration at a hurriedly held press conference at Lambeth Conference 2008.
The newly formed Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) also has a relief and development arm called the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF), a name that comes close to what the Archbishop of Canterbury is currently proposing.
The archbishop's collaborative Alliance venture says it will work at local, regional and global levels to share skills and jointly build capacity and then be integrated into the communion. However, both the cost to make all this work with regular meetings will be prohibitive. One Anglican observer said it could all be done with a secretary and a computer with SKYPE, but that is not how the Anglican Communion works.
However, this initiative to rescue the communion by focusing on poverty issues simply will not work. It is too little, too late. The damage done by TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, the endless arguments over cross border "violations", the recent consecration of a lesbian to the episcopacy in the US and the marriage of two lesbian clergy recently in the Diocese of Massachusetts has marked TEC as having "walked apart". There is now no going back. GAFCON will not be undone. The Archbishop of Canterbury's "shadow gospel" aptly described by Charles Raven in a book by the same name and the ABC's focus on poverty issues will not stop the fragmentation of the communion or heal its divisions.
This new Alliance strategy by the ABC will not work. It will not bring the Global South primates back to the table. That day is over.
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