Justin Welby

By Foreign and Commonwealth Office [CC BY 2.0 or OGL], via Wikimedia Commons

Welby wants to serve both liberals and conservatives, but the divided Anglican Church may need to be restructured first.

Justin Welby was appointed as the Archbishop of Canterbury thinking that he would serve as the savior of the Anglican Communion. However, quite to the contrary, he might just be supervising the breakup of the communion. And the paradox is that this would help in saving it.

Two previous archbishops, namely Lord George Carey and Rowan Williams, also dealt with the possibility of such a split in the church. The modern Anglicans were led down by Williams who did not push harder on issues such as the appointment of women bishops at the Church of England. The progressives displayed bitterness for a long time regarding this issue.

Justin Welby heads the Church of England. He also serves as the titular leader of the associated Anglican churches all over the world, including the Episcopal Church in the United States. The global Anglican Communion is the umbrella entity and it has lost its ground owing to a number of conflicts regarding the appointment of women and gays and also the authorization of same-sex marriages in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Reports suggest that Welby will propose a reorganization of the Communion at a meeting in January. The churches would all be connected to the Archbishop, but not necessarily to each other.

In 2006, the church was still divided on the subject of appointing female bishops. During this time, the Episcopal Church decided to appoint Katharine Jefferts Schori at the highest position of a bishop and she became the first woman to take this position in the traditional Anglican Communion. In 2012, the Episcopal Church authorized a rite favoring same-sex union.

The church underwent bitter splits after these changes. In fact, the Episcopal Church was deserted by the conservative parishes as they labeled themselves “Anglican.” The church’s African affiliations had a strong reaction against the appointment of a woman to such a leadership position, as well as, the authorization of homosexuality.

As far as the decision to reorganize the communion goes, Welby is of the opinion that with this decision, he would be able to serve his relations with liberal North American churches, that understand and endorse gay marriage, as well as the conservative African churches, which are led by Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya. The latter have expressed agitation regarding the legalization of homosexuality in their nations.


Follow the Conversation on Twitter