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By David W. Virtue in Nairobi
October 21, 2013

The buzz here is that Archbishop Justin Welby is being regarded by many of the Primates as "Rowan reheated". Apparently, he turned up in Nairobi irritated and angry that he had to stop over to chat with these evangelical Anglicans while enroute to Iceland to meet with a group of Pro-gay Porvoo ecumenical churchmen. He clearly regards these GAFCON Anglicans as not being in step with his view that we can all get along because we all have different sins to wrestle with and we should not single out homosexuals for special opprobrium.

Of course, this belies the fact that it is the homosexual lobby that started this particular battle in the first place while his predecessor screwed the whole issue up so badly, he was forced to step down. While Welby says he opposes gay marriage, he sees a difference between that and civil partnerships and argues that the culture has gone for it; therefore the church needs to rethink its attitude towards homosexuality. We are not living in First Century times, he argues. But keeling over to the culture is precisely what the Early Church did not do. The church does not change or alter its doctrine to accommodate passing fashion.

One priest, who experienced the devastation the gay lobby did to his church, says the whole subject is just Gnosticism redressed in modern garb with a dash of compassion to make gays feel good about what they do.

Other challenges are that Welby just doesn't get the fact that this is spiritual warfare and that Global South leaders are not going to cave into him and his flawed position on sexuality.


To make matters worse, in London on October 17, former New Hampshire gay Bishop Gene Robinson tweeted that he had breakfast with the new Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, and Morning Prayer in 13th Century chapel.

When VOL inquired of Lambeth Palace for further details, we were told that this was a "private meeting" and therefore the ABC had no comment.

What sort of a signal do you think that sends GAFCON primates like Nigerian archbishop Nicholas Okoh whose 18 million strong province is solidly biblical and solidly opposed to homosexuality? And please don't accuse him of homophobia. He and his fellow archbishops and bishops don't hate homosexuals, they just don't approve of what they do in bed. It's all about hating the sin and loving the sinner.

It's this kind of thing that Welby does that sends these primates into apoplectic fits. On the one hand, Welby comes across as evangelistically driven. Then he cozies up to gays like Robinson to show how inclusive and full of diversity he is. It sends precisely the wrong message to the Communion. In the end, Welby will be the loser. He won't get the support of these GAFCON archbishops. He will permanently sour relations with them, forcing them once again to be no shows when he calls for a gathering of the Primates. He also hasn't signed the Jerusalem Declaration, another missed milestone as it calls for the recognition of the ACNA, something he is apparently not prepared to do despite photo ops here at the cathedral with Archbishop Robert Duncan.

Welby is continuing his shuttle diplomacy. He told us that he will have visited all 37 the provinces by next year. He has yet to visit TEC's Presiding Bishop, which will be a real doozy of an occasion and closely watched, especially as Archbishop Okoh also visits the US from time to time. Okoh won't go near Jefferts Schori, choosing instead to tend to his growing CANA flocks across the country, clearly not giving a damn about crossing borders or phoning KJS or dropping in for tea at 815 2nd Avenue. However, VOL has been told that he will be in Kansas next week. I wonder if he knows anything about trains.

It was Welby, in his first sermon, who said that there was no moral equivalence between gay sex and crossing boundaries, but later modified his statement in a second sermon.

According to the ABC, the structures that lead it are broken. In response to Welby's sermon, Anglican TV guru Kevin Kallsen commented, "Shame on those who are trying to fix the structures and are willing to put order ahead of faith."

One, the former, is clearly prohibited by scripture, the other, noted GAFCON chairman Archbishop Peter Jensen, has to do with the faith and order and faith trumps order any day.

As one scholarly former TEC priest now in ACNA said to me, "If I were given the opportunity to meet Welby, I would ask him if he recognized my priesthood as I had been deposed by Katharine Jefferts Schori and was now a priest in ACNA, a good solid Anglican and former seminary professor. I wonder if he would recognize my orders." We wonder indeed.

Bumped into Nara Duncan who told me her husband Bob Duncan, ACNA Archbishop, was in serious pain due to a tooth abscess. One side of his face was seriously swollen. Late last night we were told over dinner that he had received medical treatment here despite it being a national holiday. A news report that he had been medi-vaced back to the US was inaccurate.

There are now two very different DNA's in the Anglican Communion and they are irreconcilable. The future is yet to unfold.

It is an interesting historical vignette that more than a dozen years ago, PB Frank Griswold flew to London to tell George Carey not to recognize the Anglican Mission in the Americas. In April of this year, just before Welby's installation as the next Archbishop of Canterbury, Fred Hiltz, Canadian Archbishop raced across the Atlantic and pled with Welby not to recognize the ACNA. Things don't change that much, it would seem.

The conservative wing of the Anglican Communion is still sizing Welby up, but this writer believes that the end will not be one he likes. It's hard not to like him, personally, but his views are a stumbling block to full unity. Taking a neutral stand on issues like sexuality is not in the theological DNA of the Africans who make up the bulk of this gathering which includes the messages, music...and it is nearly all African in content and style.

Stay tuned.

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