STRUGGLES to achieve unity in the Anglican Communion are the
result of spiritual attack, which is provoked by efforts to build
bridges, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last week.
Archbishop Welby was addressing the Wycliffe Toronto Congress in
Canada, on Skype. Held to mark the 50th anniversary of a congress
celebrating "the coming of age of Anglicanism as a global
communion", the gathering was asked to explore the meaning of
"mutual responsibility and interdependence in the Body of
God had called Anglicans to be "bridge-builders" the Archbishop
said. "And my spiritual director said some years ago to me that all
ministries, all people, all Churches are attacked by the devil most
in the area of their vocation and charism. And so, as the
Anglicans, if we're good bridge-builders, we will find ourselves
struggling with unity. So let's be realistic about that."
He also suggested that leaders needed to be realistic about the
fallibility of their members. "We need to remember that all
Churches around the world are sinful; there's none of us that are
right. And the trouble with the Anglican Communion at the moment is
we focus on one or two sins, and forget that all of us need to come
in repentance and humility to the cross, and kneel before the cross
and seek the forgiveness of God."
He also urged the congress to appreciate the different contexts
in which the Church was operating. Although in the UK a "massive
change" around sexuality was accelerating, other parts of the world
were dealing with corruption, persecution, hostility, or
complacency. A Church facing persecution would "behave differently
from a Church where Christian faith is accepted as normal.
"Financial corruption is a major problem in many parts of the
world, and inevitably, because the Church is full of people, and
people are sinners, the Church is full of people who are
financially corrupt. In other places it's sexual corruption, and so
the Church is full of people who misbehave sexually, because the
Church is full of people."
He was "optimistic" about the Communion, envisaging a future of
"growth, of new disciples, of bridge-building, of reconciliation,
of serving God's mission in the world".
The congress was also addressed by the Primates of Jerusalem and
the Middle East, the Indian Ocean, Nigeria, Burundi, and Kenya. The
Archbishop is planning to visit every Anglican Primate during his
first 18 months in office (News, 16 August).
On Friday, Primates and bishops who were representing the
Anglican Global South at the conference issued a statement that
included a call for a renewal of the structures of the Communion
"so as to reflect the tremendous growth of the Church in last 50
years in Global South". They were "open to a fresh articulation of
an Anglican Covenant".
The second Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON II) is due
to meet in Nairobi next month.