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Last Updated: Monday, 19 June 2006, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Anglican split 'has become necessary'
Bishop of Rochester
The Communion has become 'two religions' says Bishop Nazir-Ali
A split in the Anglican Communion is inevitable the Bishop of Rochester has said, as issues such as gay and women bishops continue to divide the global Church.

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali's comments came as the US Episcopal Church - which ordained the first openly gay bishop in 2003 - chose Katherine Jefferts Schori as its first female head.

Here, two church members for and against such issues, give their views on a split.


The Reverend David Philips believes a split is "probably inevitable".

"We have to have limits and they have gone way beyond them [the US Church]. It is a shame it has taken so long for a bishop to come out and say it," he said.

Even so, he does not think many Church of England bishops will be following the Bishop of Rochester's' lead.

"Their concern is unity, unity at any price," he said. "It's astonishing really."

The impact of a split in the Anglican Communion would have quite an effect on the Church of England, with those backing the US Episcopal Church's stance and those not, Mr Philips said.

He believes the US Church is "promoting immorality".

"It's not just the one issue," he said.

If they appointed a bishop who is an open adulterer, would you say that was right?
Rev David Philips

While it accepts gay and women bishops, there are other bishops who deny "every aspects of the Christian faith", such as the resurrection and virgin birth, he said.

"Oversight" positions should not be carried out by women, Mr Philips added.

"There clearly must be boundaries," he said - these were issues on which the Scriptures spoke clearly.

It was these which kept the Anglican Communion united by a "common bond".

"The Anglican Church is not like the Roman Catholic Church where it has a body that makes binding decisions," he said.

"When people break that common bond, and that's what has happened, there is no easy way for Churches to know how to respond to that."

And Mr Philips denied his views were prejudiced.

"Homosexuality was pretty common in Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire," he said, "but Christians stood against it. I don't see the difference."

These convictions came from what God said in the Scriptures "on what's right and wrong".

"I don't think that's prejudice. If they appointed a bishop who is an open adulterer, would you say that was right?"


The Reverend Jeremy Caddick also thinks a split is likely.

"I have a lot of time for the Bishop of Rochester and have a great deal of sympathy with his dislike of an 'options' Church," he said.

"But I actually think that loyalty to the Good News, as revealed by Jesus, takes us in exactly the opposite direction.

"In things like the Church's treatment of gay people, we are going in the wrong direction."

A "narrow" reading of the Bible took us away from Jesus, Mr Caddick said.

"The Gospel is good news for everybody and, on the gay issue, one of my concerns is it is good news for heterosexuals, but not if you are gay.

"Loyalty to one reading of the Bible puts us in a position of condemning large numbers of people, which I think is not consistent with the accepting attitude of Jesus in the Gospel."

The problem is that those who don't accept this are insisting we all go the same way - and that's a sticking point
Reverend Jeremy Caddick

Mr Caddick said the context in which the Church proclaimed the Gospel had changed.

"In the past the Bible has been used to justify the subjugation of women and slavery, but today these are regarded as unacceptable," he said.

"If it is the case that some sections of the Church cannot accept a female bishop, then I think the Bishop of Rochester is right, the time has come for a split.

"It certainly worries me, but I think it is maybe necessary.

"The Church of England has a track history of accommodating a wide diversity.

"From my point of view, there's no reason why that diversity can't include some parts of the Church that accept women leaders and recognise gay bishops, and so on and so forth.

"The problem is that those who don't accept this are insisting we all go the same way - and that's a sticking point."

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08 Sep 03 |  Africa
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01 Aug 03 |  Americas
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Q&A: The Anglican Communion
06 Aug 03 |  In Depth

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