Paul Vallely: Rowan Williams cannot now prevent an Anglican schism

Share
Related Topics

Rowan Williams bought himself time for a while in his attempt to hold the Anglican Communion together in its row over gay bishops. But yesterday it looked like that time is running out.

He had appealed to the liberal church in the United States to impose a moratorium on electing any more gay bishops after the divisive election of Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003. But the ceasefire between liberals and evangelicals has effectively been ended by the election of a bishop who has committed a double sin in the eyes of conservatives: Canon Mary Glasspool is a woman priest and has openly been a lesbian for 21 years.

Dr Williams is clinging to one final hope. Her selection has still to be ratified by the national church before she is ordained next May. In theory her appointment could be rejected. But it is a forlorn expectation. The mood in the US church is that it is time to reject conservative intolerance and affirm that homosexuals are as loved by God as heterosexuals. The conservative group Reform yesterday said that a schism is now "absolutely inevitable". What has irritated liberals is the speed with which Dr Williams has issued his statement requesting "a period of gracious restraint" which is church-speak for urging the ceasefire to continue.

It comes in contrast to Lambeth Palace's unwillingness to make public comment about the anti-gay laws being proposed in Uganda where homosexuals are already liable to be jailed for life. A new bill will impose the death penalty on HIV positive gay men for "aggravated homosexuality". The law is being backed by at least one Ugandan bishop who has denounced homosexuality as a sign of modern Western decadence. But though Dr Williams' office has let it be known that he is appalled by the proposed law, he feels that publicly condemning it will make it more rather than less likely to come into force.

So it has come to this, for a man who made his reputation as one of Anglicanism's leading liberal catholic theologians: he swiftly condemns liberal Americans for being too tolerant, and yet feels forced to remain silent over a rank and brutal inhumanity.

Critics from both sides have unkindly quipped that Dr Williams has boldly nailed his colours to the fence. He may find that preferring unity to truth will not be possible much longer.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station  

General Election 2015: Despite all the seeming cynicism, our political system works

Ian Birrell
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk