An article written by Alex Delmar-Morgan for the Sunday Times but not printed in full in the print edition reported that Archbishop Peter Akinola has said the Church of England should face disciplinary action and called for its temporary suspension from the Anglican Consultative Council. This is a reaction to the publication on Monday 25 July of the House of Bishops pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships. Archbishop Akinola believes the CofE should “be subjected to the same procedures and discipline that America and Canada faced.”
Peter Akinola apparently “ridiculed the policy by asking the Church of England bishops if they were intending to place cameras in the bedrooms of their clergy and said that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and his church should now face disciplinary action.” He attacked Rowan Williams personally, saying: “Lambeth Palace upholds our common historic faith. It will now lose that place of honour in the world. Must I come to Lambeth Palace in order to go to heaven. The answer is no!”
The two other Archbishops who are pursuing the same argument in union with Peter Akinola and the schismatic parts of the American Episcopal Church, Bernard Malango, Archbishop of Central Africa and Drexel Gomez, the Archbishop of the West Indies, have added fuel to Akinola’s fire.
Bernard Malango is reported to be writing to Rowan Williams criticising the pastoral statement: “If Rowan has approved of this, it is very unfortunate,” he said: “It makes me sick. They have to explain what they mean by being married and having no sex. This is the final nail in the coffin of the entire Anglican Communion”.
Drexel Gomez predicted yet another Anglican split: “I don’t see how civil partnerships will work,” he said: “I will have a difficult time explaining this; my people will take it in a negative way. This is an added threat at this moment of tension within the communion. Two-thirds of the communion will not be able to accept it”.
Archbishop Akinola is planning to bring the matter to a meeting of Anglican primates from the global South (Africa, South East Asia and South America) in September. If he gains enough support, the matter will then be referred to the next meeting of the primates. The primates meeting is now integrated with the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), and this body isn’t scheduled to meet until after the next Lambeth Conference in 2008. Peter Akinola’s goal is to have the Church of England suspended from the ACC, joining the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, who reluctantly agreed to withdraw from the ACC earlier this year.
To do this would leave the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury in the anomalous positions of being leading Anglicans technically outside the Anglican Communion. For it to happen prior to the Lambeth Conference in 2008, Rowan Williams would have to call an emergency meeting of the primates, and agree to voluntarily withdraw from the ACC. The ACC members from America and Canada were not allowed to speak or vote at the recent ACC meeting in Nottingham.
If Akinola were to achieve his goal, the Archbishop of Canterbury would not be able to chair the meeting and none of the CofE/ECUSA/Canada delegates would be able to vote on their future in the Communion. Changing Attitude does not see this as a likely scenario.