NAIROBI: GAFCON Bishops Won't Break Communion with Canterbury
By Michael Heidt
VOL Special Correspondent
October 25, 2013
In a press conference on the penultimate day of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Nairobi, Bishop Peter Jensen, GAFCON General Secretary, said that the GAFCON movement has no plans to break communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, even though Welby remains in communion with pro-gay churches.
When asked by George Conger of Anglican Ink where GAFCON stands in relation to Canterbury, Jensen replied, "This conference stands with Canterbury as ever." Bishop Jensen then stated that the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury had lost standing since 2008, when Archbishop Rowan Williams invited American bishops who had consecrated Gene Robinson, who is openly gay, to the Lambeth conference.
"The office of the Archbishop was diminished when 300 bishops declined their invitation to Lambeth in 2008," said Jensen, referring to bishops who had protested Rowan Williams' acceptance of Gene Robinson's consecrators. "The office of the Archbishop of Canterbury has not been the same since," he concluded.
In later comments, Bishop Jensen stated that "we believe that the integrity and purity of the Gospel and the Bible is fundamental." This prompted a question from Virtueonline (VOL) about the GAFCON movement's continued fellowship and communion with Rowan Williams' successor, Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who remains in communion with churches that endorse gay behavior.
"How can you retain the integrity and purity of the Gospel," asked VOL, "while being in communion with an Archbishop who is in communion with the Episcopal Church?"
"Communion occurs at many levels," replied Jensen, cryptically, who referred back to the diminishment of fellowship with the Archbishop of Canterbury's office at Lambeth 2008. Bishop Jensen then implied that this could be fixed by Welby and urged patience, "I'd give him time to do it," he said.
Welby met with homosexual activist and retired bishop Gene Robinson for breakfast and prayers at Lambeth Palace on October 17, before making a flying visit to Nairobi to preach at All Saint's Cathedral the day before GAFCON. The Archbishop of Canterbury did not stay for the Nairobi conference but flew to an ecumenical conference of pro-gay Northern European state churches in Iceland.
In a discussion before today's press briefing, Jensen appeared unaware of Justin Welby's meeting with Gene Robinson in the week before GAFCON. Welby, who is well known for being a negotiator, referred to human sexuality as contextual in a short video address to the Nairobi conference of traditional Anglicans.
How much time will be needed for Justin Welby to mend the diminishment of his office by reversing the gay friendly policies of his predecessor remains unclear, as does his inclination to do so.
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