The schism in Canadian Anglicanism turned ugly last week with threatened fights over ownership of church buildings, hints of swift punishment for rebellious priests and the uncrating of an alternative church structure for some rebellious clergy and laity.
At the heart of the dispute are divergent attitudes toward homosexuals. The liberal wing of the church wants to embrace homosexuals as children of God. The conservative wing of the church say that homosexuality has been condemned in Scripture and practising homosexuals should be shunned.
So deep is the split that conservative Canadian Anglicans want the orthodox Anglican Church in South America to establish a parallel jurisdiction in Canada with the right to ordain priests etc. Two Canadian Anglican bishops are on the record as favouring this move.
Earlier the executive body of the Canadian Anglican church asked the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, head of the 77 million-member world Anglican Communion, to tell the South Americans to cease and desist. So far Archbishop Williams has remained silent.
A senior Anglican cleric said that if, as reported in one British newspaper, Archbishop Williams was exploring the idea of recognizing parallel jurisdictions, the world church would likely be irrevocably fractured.
Do you believe the Anglican church is on the verge of collapse?
Do you see any way the church’s divergent views on homosexuality could be reconciled?
Would the Anglican church be better off with a Pope?