A Widening Schism

The fate of the Anglican Communion was sealed last Sunday when V. Gene Robinson was officially made the bishop of the New Hampshire diocese. Robinson is the first openly homosexual clergy member to reach such a high level in the hierarchy of any major Christian church. For over a year, the entirety of the Anglican Communion, a province of which is the Episcopal Church of the United States, has been struggling with the issue of homosexuality. The debate over homosexuality in the church has manifested itself from issues of church-sanctioned same-sex unions to the most recent issue, the proper role of homosexual clergy. Both of these issues, primarily the latter, have contributed to one of the greatest schisms in the history of the Anglican Church. While the arguments of each side of this schism are mainly theological in nature, one of the primary arguments employed by the “liberal” part of the church, that which supports Robinson’s elevation to bishop, cites that the church must be accepting of all people who call themselves Christian. The more “conservative” sections of the church counter this argument by saying that the basic premise of homosexuality stands counter to Christianity itself. In response to Robinson’s elevation, many have vowed to break from the rest of the church, saying that with them will go the true element of Christianity within the Anglican Church. With all of the divisive talk occurring between church leaders, it has become more evident that a split is inevitable. Both sides of the schism are resolved and dedicated, and, at least for the time being, the split is imminent. The most vociferous of all of the objecting provinces of the church have come from the fastest growing and largest areas of the church – namely in Africa and Southeast Asia. Many of the bishops in Africa have issued definitive statements of their views on the issue and their intention to break with the Episcopal Church in the United States. To take a stance on the issue itself would be to regurgitate arguments that have been made by many people more knowledgeable and wiser than I. All I can hope is that the church is not irreparably damaged by the disputes caused by this issue. While any split is obviously very bad for the Anglican faith, it can only be hoped that all of the feuding provinces will remain under the umbrella of the Anglican Communion, maintaining the overall statement of the unity of the Anglican community. The world can take something from this situation. It is clear that this disagreement is not likely to solve itself in the near future. However, it is essential that we must all coexist despite this diversity of opinion. As the leaders of the Anglican Church are trying to keep the damage caused by this disagreement to a minimum, it is imperative that the world try to set aside differences of thought and realize that we are all living on this planet together.