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Anglicans to Pope: We’re staying put

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by ByaseL, Nov 12, 2009.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Nov 12, 2009
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    Tabu Butagira

    Anglicans in Uganda yesterday rallied behind conservative colleagues around the world to reject an open-ended invite to them by Pope Benedict XIV to embrace the Catholic faith.

    “We are convinced that this is not the time to abandon the Anglican Communion,” Mr Peter Abuja, the chairman of the Global Anglican Future (Gafcon), said in a Tuesday statement that Church of Uganda (CoU) endorsed.

    Yesterday, Ms Amanda Onapito, CoU’s newly-promoted communications director, said they “fully subscribe to Gafcon and all its views”.

    Uganda last year teamed with other conformist churches representing some 30 million Anglicans around the world to found Gafcon at a symposium in Jerusalem as a parallel forum to profess strict adherence to the scriptures.

    The conservatives are angry over mainstream Anglican church’s tolerance – some say acceptance – of openly gay bishops, especially in the US, Canada and Australia.

    Gay factor
    Anglicans have also been struggling for unity under their spiritual head Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, over issues such as allowing women become bishops and alleged digression from biblical teaching by liberals.

    On October 20, Cardinal William Levada, the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, announced the ‘Apostolic Constitution’ which enables followers not at peace in the Anglican Communion to convert to Catholicism without pre-condition.

    The Vatican, in the surprise offer, said converts would, however, “preserve elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony.”

    The Gafcon position that Uganda solidly endorses, suggests the Vatican’s “unprecedented” offer, whereas “gracious”, appears calculated to exploit divisions among Anglicans over homosexuality. The remedy, they said, is to end the “shameful” digressions from the cardinal biblical teachings, not re-bounding to the Catholic Church that Anglicans abandoned during the 16th century Reformation over theological issues and the primacy of the Pope.

    “The failure to fully address the abandonment of biblical faith and practice by The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada has now brought shame to the name of Christ and seriously impedes the cause of the Gospel,” Tuesday’s statement reads in part.

    Grave indictment
    The leaders of the 30 million strong Gafcon said the Vatican invite represented a grave indictment of the “Instruments of the [Anglican] Communion” but they “remain proud inheritors of the Anglican Reformation”.

    Last year’s divisions basically over gays forced some orthodox parishes/dioceses in the US and Australia to break away and form their own churches or partner with selected Anglican churches, Church of Uganda inclusive, seen to uphold conservative religious values.

    Vatican’s surprise offer that could potentially witness married but willing Anglican clerics join robed ranks in the Catholic Church has ignited lively debate on whether ground was being prepared to let hitherto celibate Catholic priests marry like the converts.

    It is this possibility that is unsettling Anglican leaders that the proposed cross-denominational shift, rather than promote unity, would stoke tension over raid on its congregation.