Desperate attempts by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to hold together the unity of the Anglican Communion have been dealt a body blow by the nomination of two men in homosexual relationships to become bishops in the dioceses of Minnesota and Los Angeles.
The nominations follow resolutions of the branch of the Anglican Communion in the United States, the Episcopal Church, in July, to open ordination to the episcopate of clergy in homosexual relationships, despite opposition from both Archbishop Williams and the last Lambeth Conference.
The consequences for church unity were forcefully expressed in an article by Bishop Tom Wright, a leader of the Anglican Church in Britain and one of the church's most respected theologians.
Describing the situation as "the slow-moving train crash of international Anglicanism", Bishop Wright wrote in the London Times, "They were formalising the schism they initiated six years ago when they consecrated as bishop a divorced man in an active same-sex relationship, against the Primates' unanimous statement that this would 'tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level'." (15 July 2009)
In August, seven Episcopal Bishops, who opposed the above July resolutions, met the Archbishop of Canterbury, stating that they intend to remain part of the Anglican Communion and would do so in writing. They belong to a body of American Episcopalian clergy and bishops called "Communion Partners".
A further sign of the fissures within Anglicanism came with the decision of a community of Episcopalian nuns in Maryland to join the Catholic Church. After a seven-year process of religious discernment, ten nuns and the chaplain of the All Saints' Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville, Maryland, left the Episcopal Church for the Catholic Church.
"We know our beliefs and where we are," the sisters' superior, Mother Christina Christie, told the Baltimore Sun. "We were drifting farther apart from the more liberal road the Episcopal Church is travelling. We are now more at home in the Roman Catholic Church."
Peter Westmore, the publisher of AD2000.