The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has hit back at a suggestion by the chair of the conservative GAFCON group that to be part of the Anglican Communion is ‘not determined simply by relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury’.
The Primate of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, used his Advent letter to GAFCON supporters to back the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), which ordained nine men outside the Church of England, claiming the CofE was compromised by liberal theology.
However, Idowu-Fearon flatly contradicted him in an article posted by the Anglican Communion News Service: ‘The See of Canterbury is one of the unique features which binds us together. At the Primates’ Meeting in October it was clear just how much Canterbury meant to those who came. For Anglicans, communion with the See of Canterbury – and with its Archbishop – is the visible expression of our communion with one another.’
He continued, ‘the relationship with the See of Canterbury is essential for Anglicans. You cannot be in the Anglican Communion without it.’
Idowu-Fearon referred to the 1930 Lambeth Conference which explicitly defined the Communion as made up of bodies ‘in communion with the See of Canterbury’ and the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council.
He said: ‘Of course individual member churches and Provinces of the Anglican Communion are free to enter into relationships of communion with non-Anglican churches. However this does not make those churches members of the Anglican Communion.’
He concluded by praying for ‘peace and unity among all Christians, especially those who were once part of the Communion’.
Idowu-Fearon’s article will be seen as a direct challenge both to GAFCON and to AMiE with its bishop Andy Lines, who have been positioning themselves to challenge the traditional organisational structure of the Anglican Communion. At stake is how an Anglican is defined, with competing visions fought out very publicly,
The Heading of this article, by its provider, ‘Christian Today’, is a pretty clear indication of what is at stake in Archbishop Dr Josioah Idowu-Fearon’s (the Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion’s) ‘Slap Down’ of the bishops of the schism-threatening GAFCON sodality.
In the wake of the GAFCON-supported consecration of breakaway ‘bishop’ Andy Lines, who has recently ordained his own clergy to serve the GAFCON-sponsored ‘Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) purporting to represent ‘orthodox Anglicans’ in the U.K. – the General Secretary of the legitimate Anglican Communion had to take some action on the claims of ‘GAFCON ‘ that one need not be in communion with the See of Canterbury in order to be part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Considering the obvious fact that the Diocese of Canterbury was the Founding See of the Anglican Communion, and that Provinces claiming membership of the Communion are, ipso facto, in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Bishops; GAFCON’s claim is totally without substance and needed to be refuted.
This latest attack on the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference (from which some Prelates of GAFCON have separated themselves) is proof positive – if any were needed – of GAFCON’s claim to represent ‘orthodox Anglicanism’ but without Canterbury. This attempt to side-step Canterbury and the Lambeth Bishops – unless revoked by the GAFCON – could prove to be the ‘straw the broke the camel’s back’ in the Communion,
Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site.
Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional.
regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.