I’ll believe this when I see it, but The Telegraph is reporting the following:
The Archbishop of Canterbury is backing secret plans to create a “parallel” Church for American conservatives to avert fresh splits over homosexuality. Dr Rowan Williams has held confidential talks with senior American bishops and theologians who oppose the pro-gay policies of their liberal leaders. A handful of hardline American dioceses are already defecting from the Episcopal Church, the American branch of Anglicanism, and transferring their loyalties to a conservative archbishop in South America. Dr Williams is desperate to minimise further damage in the run up to the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference this summer which could be boycotted by more than a fifth of the world’s bishops. His recent comments backing aspects of sharia law have heightened tensions by further alienating Africans who are struggling with militant Islam in their dioceses.
According to insiders, Dr Williams has given his blessing to the plans to create an enclave for up to 20 conservative American bishops that would insulate them from their liberal colleagues. The scheme would allow them to remain technically within the Episcopal Church but under the care of like-minded archbishops from abroad. The Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, a moderate conservative, has agreed to participate, and other primates could be recruited. However, the initiative is likely to infuriate liberal leaders of the Episcopal Church, who will see it as an attempt to undermine their authority and interfere in their affairs. Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, the head of the Episcopal Church, has been cracking down on any diocese or parish that seeks to leave, and numerous legal actions are under way. She and her colleagues have already rejected similar proposals suggested at a meeting in Tanzania last year of all the primates, the leaders of the 38 independent Churches that constitute the Anglican Communion.
However, she met a group of conservative bishops and theologians in New York last week after hearing that Dr Williams was sympathetic to the new proposals. Dr Williams, whose leadership has been under growing attack from conservatives, has been privately encouraging such a development for a number of years. So far, however, he has failed to broker a deal with Bishop Jefferts Schori, a feminist who backed the 2003 consecration of Gene Robinson as Anglicanism’s first openly gay bishop. With several hundred of the world’s 880 bishops expected to boycott the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, a schism is looking inevitable unless Dr Williams can paper over the cracks.
Lambeth Palace declined to comment.
It would be great if it happens, but somehow I doubt it will.