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UK: Church of Ireland Bishop warns of sense of uncertainty among Anglicans

UK: Church of Ireland Bishop warns of sense of uncertainty among Anglicans

by PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent, in Canterbury
The Irish Times
July 23, 2008

THERE IS "a palpable sense of uncertainty about where it is all going" and "a lack of trust under the surface", the Church of Ireland Bishop of Down and Dromore Right Rev Harold Miller said about the Lambeth Conference yesterday. He also warned that "if there is not a proper place for debate, then that will be exceptionally dangerous for the Anglican Communion".

Acknowledging there had been just two days of the indaba discussions format, whereby the 670 bishops attending have been meeting in groups of 40, he said he felt one-line summations at the end of the discussions tended towards the bland. There was also uncertainty about being involved in something that would not involve the passing of a resolution, he said.

He welcomed as "brave" and "courageous" a statement from the Sudanese bishops yesterday that rejected homosexual practice as "contrary to biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS (the Episcopal Church of Sudan)".

They also called on the Anglican Church in the US and Canada to refrain from ordaining practising homosexuals as priests or bishops, from approving rites of blessing for same-sex relationships, to cease court actions with immediate effect, to comply with past Lambeth Conference resolutions, and "to respect the authority of the Bible".

Bishop Miller said that "in all African churches there is a fear that friendship with western provinces of the Anglican Communion could be seen as agreement [ with what they believe]. The Sudanese, very gentlemanly, felt, I imagine, they should make their position clear so there would be no misunderstanding. It was a courageous thing for them to do, as they could lose funding and are very poor."

In his entry on the Down and Dromore website for yesterday Bishop Miller wrote of the conference that "quite honestly, I have the impression that those with a strong liberal starting point are prepared to give up most things to succeed with their 'agenda'."

Under the title "Doing the Lambeth Walk. Part II", he said he left the opening Eucharist service in Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday "feeling isolated".

"It was sad that the point of unity, where I had personally decided to receive Holy Communion as an expression of my hope that the resurrection would come in our Communion was such a 'cold place' for conservatives."

Bishop Clive Handford, a retired primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, yesterday released to the media a preliminary report from the Windsor Continuation Group, which was presented to the bishops on Sunday.

It referred to "the severity of the situation" facing the Communion ... with "competing value systems at work" ... and "inconsistency between what has been agreed, and what has been done". It referred to a "breakdown of trust", "real fears of a wider agenda ..." and said that "positions are becoming more extreme" as "relationships in the Communion continue to deteriorate".



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