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American arrogance leads to schism with African church, archbishop says: The Church of England Newspaper, April 16, 2010 p 8. April 22, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean.
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Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Province of the Indian Ocean has broken with the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) in the wake of the affirmation of the election of a lesbian priest as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles.

In a letter dated April 12, Archbishop Ian Ernest, the Bishop of Mauritius and Chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) told the Archbishop of Canterbury that he would “forthwith suspend all communication both verbal and sacramental with both the TEC and the ACC – their Primates, bishops and clergy until such time as they reverse their theological innovations, and show a commitment to abide by the decisions of the Lambeth Conference.”

The decision by Archbishop Ernest to break with the US and Canadian churches represents a significant shift within the political calculus of the primates.  Last week’s letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from the Archbishop of Uganda, while expressing similar exasperation with the US church, reiterated Uganda’s long-standing concerns.

Archbishop Ernest, however, had served as a bridge from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the African primates, and he had held back from confronting the North American churches in response to Dr. Williams’ pleas.  With his defection to the anti-American camp, Dr. Williams has suffered a significant setback in his bid to keep the Global South churches on-side while he attempts to broker a solution to the American crisis.

It was the arrogance of the Episcopal Church as displayed in Presiding Bishop Katharine Jeffert Schori’s March letter to the primates that pushed him over the edge, Archbishop Ernest said.

Addressing Dr. Williams, he wrote, “you have yourself been amazingly patient with TEC, we as Primates have made our position abundantly clear on occasions without number, some of us going so far as to declare broken or impaired communion with both the TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. This it seems has been to no avail, as the recent letter to the Primates from the Presiding Bishop of TEC makes clear that a deliberate course has been irrevocably chosen by that church.”

Bishop Jeffert Schori’s letter stated it was TEC’s “intention to proceed with the consecration of a second person living in an actively homosexual partnered relationship and thereby to disregard the mind of the rest of the Communion.”

The break with TEC and the ACC was not complete, however, as the Indian Ocean would remain in fellowship with those Anglicans who had disavowed the North American rejection of “gracious restraint.”

The archbishop also backed the call by the Primates of Uganda and the Middle East for an emergency primates meeting to respond to the Glasspool election.  He further endorsed their request that the agenda for the meeting be distributed in advance and that the US and Canada not participate in the discussions over their place in the Communion.

The innovations of the past decade in the structures of the Anglican Communion were not working, he said.  He asked for an “overhaul of the structures of the Communion to bring them into line with the changed demographics which are the reality of our church today. If over 80% of Anglicans live in the global south, why is this not reflected in communion structures?” he asked.

Archbishop Ernest supported Dr. Williams’ plans for an Anglican Covenant, but stated the “credibility of the structures which are meant to oversee the process needs to be addressed.”

Unless swift action was taken, Archbishop warned Dr. Williams the future would see “the Communion falling into deeper chaos and disintegration.”

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