What is dividing the Anglican Communion?

Probably many people observe the crisis within the Anglican Communion and say that the corner stone of the division is the matter of how the church faces the role and the place of gay and lesbian people within the Church.

In my vision, gay and lesbian people do not divide the Church. What divides it is a fight to prove who has power within the Anglican Communion.

The framework of the Primates' Meeting, since the events of 2003, was substantially different in relationship to previous meetings. There was a very uncommon broadening of their powers. The conservative movement headed by some African and Asians primates introduced a habit to which Anglicans are not accustomed: An instance of theological control over provinces.

Since its creation, the Primates' Meeting has always been a pastoral opportunity to share needs and issues brought together by each primate from their background and a space for prophetic speeches to the world. There was a concern for the bonds of affection, celebration and spirituality. Each primate carried with himself his Provinces's needs and brought back strategies for study, instruments of pastoral actions giving the Church visibility and breadth.

Starting from Lambeth 1988, with the matters linked to discussion about women in the episcopate, some Conservative Primates started to impose the focus around debates concerning a more suitable reading of the bible and in the imposition of a model that they denominate "orthodoxy".

Therefore, the first conflict was over the question of gender. There are still Primates who do not accept women's ordination, even to the diaconate. In such a context, the matter of the places of homosexuals within the Church became an even more explosive issue.

At no time did the progressive wing ever impose or suggest any sanction to any Province that does not approve women's ordination. The respect for autonomy and cultural particularities was scrupulously maintained.

But for the conservatives , ethics is relative but orthodoxy is absolute.

At this point a political problem emerges: The power of defining what is the theological truth. And the theological truth always needs to be over against its opposite. The principle of the destructive opposition is at the center, implicit when someone says that another is wrong or apart from the truth.

The next steps are only a logic in power needs more and more power. The conservatives want to define a Communion identity. They forget about the lack of legitimacy to legislate over other Provinces and promulgate the formal withdrawal of any province.

For the conservatives, the Primates' Meeting should be a body for defining Church Doctrine, with powers of control over the Communion about theological matters: the power of defining what is and what is not orthodoxy; the power to put anyone in the box.

This is the big threat to the Communion. The rule that provincial decisions are taken by widely representative groups within the Church, and that no foreign power has the legitimacy to impose upon another church, is under peril. It is improper to demand that the Episcopal Church in USA answer any ultimatum outside a legitimate and appropriate forum.

An answer remains for the conflict that today is living among the Communion: The problem is that some people do not know how to work with differences and they want to solve any conflict by coercion.

Rvd. Canon Francisco de Assis DA Silva


John disse…
From California, I want to thank you for your clear and strong statement of support and solidarity at a time when the prophetic voice of the Episcopal Church is coming under attack from many directions. I appreciated your analysis and the passion for justice that shapes it.

Desde California, quiero agradecerle su aclaracion fuerte y clara de apoyo y solidaridad en un momento cuando la voz profetica de la Iglesia Episcopal sufre ataques desde muchas direcciones. Aprecio su analisis y la pasion por la justicia que lo determina.
Xico disse…
Gracias John por su comentário. Pienso que vivimos una autentica cuaresma en la cual somos desafiados a superar las tentaciones de acomodación delante de tantas demandas que no nos debe titubear.
Ann disse…
Gracias, from Wyoming, USA. Your clarity about this issue is appreciated.
Padre Mickey disse…
Padre Xico,
Thank you for this statement and for speaking from the Global Center.
I have linked to this article from my blog.
PadreRob+ disse…
Canon Silva,
You've clearly articulated the true root of the controversy in our beloved communion. The solution to this conflict lies in our ability and willingness to live into the humility about which Our Lady sings in her Magnificat- the same humility that the ancient hymn in Philippians sings in praise of Christ, who though he was in the form of God, humbled himself for the sake of love, to reconcile all of creation to God.

Your thoughts echo the words of Presiding Bishop Jeffets-Schori who has called us to a true inclusivity that patiently listens, faithfully loves, and humbly invites even those who hate us to the Table of Grace.

May the Spirit ever enable us to love mercy, do justice, and to walk humbly before our God.

Thanks for sharing with us a view from the Global South that enters this conversation from a different perspective than the one we often hear more loudly. I, for one, want to hear your voice for justice,a nd I hope you will be so inspired to share more with us.

Peace, your brother in Christ,

Robert Laws+
Jared disse…
thank you for this, your analysis is thoughtful, incisive and compelling.
Anônimo disse…
Dear Reverand Da Silva,

I am pleased to read your blog. As a member of the American Episcopal Church (All Saints in Atlanta)your message comes as a relief that their are others who not only agree with our position but who also would allow members within our communion to voice different beliefs. These are troubled times but we must keep the faith and God will lead us to the right conclusions in time. I would enjoy reading more of this in English as I am afraid I do not speak Portugese. It is always good to get different perspectives.

In Faith,
Chris Burgess
Xico disse…
I'd like to thanks all of you that is commenting my simple contribution to debate. I feel that we are not isolated. Sorry for not have so much skills in write in english, but i'll try to do in the way to express my points of view!
Leonardo Ricardo disse…
From Guatemala (and Puerto Rico sometimes) I thank you dear Canon for seeing and writing so clearly about "coercion" and the "demanders" from outside of the Episcopal Church (mostly)!

Failure is inevitable and "falling' on ones arrogant face seems entirely possible for those who would harm/outcast others at the Body of Christ.

Blessings to you in the spirit of our "loving" Lord Christ,
Anônimo disse…
Thank you for such clarity of thought. Please write more in English for those of us who unfortunately do not know Portugese but who need to hear your voice.
Mary Sue disse…
Yeah, see? This is clear to so many people, but why is it not clear to so many of the bishops and primates? Is there any other way to stop the power-hungry than standing in their way and praying?
Anônimo disse…
Canon Da Silva,

Thank you for your letter. Voices like yours from outside the US must be

You state in plain, but simple terms what the controversy is about.

God bless you.

Grandmère Mimi

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