Global South Anglicans no longer recognise the authority of Archbishop of Canterbury
The decision to bless same sex unions “disqualified the Church of England from leading the Anglican Communion”, says the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches.
GSFA, Lambeth Palace · LONDON · 21 FEBRUARY 2023 · 16:21 CET
The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) said in a public statement that they “are no longer able to recognise the present Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, as the 'first among equals' leader of the global Communion”.
They point out that when the Church of England recently legitimised and incorporated into the Church’s liturgy the blessing of same sex unions, “it departed from the historic faith passed down from the Apostles in the liturgies of the Church and her pastoral practice and disqualified herself from leading the Communion as the historic 'Mother' Church”.
“As much as the GSFA Primates also want to keep the unity of the visible Church and the fabric of the Anglican Communion, our calling to be ‘a holy remnant’ does not allow us to be in communion with those provinces that have departed from the historic faith and taken the path of false teaching”, adds the statement.
The ten Primates of the GSFA that sign the text, “pray that our withdrawal of support for the Archbishop of Canterbury to lead the whole Communion is received by him as an admonishment in love”.
They not only reject Welby, but also “the view that we can still walk together with the revisionist provinces as prescribed by the Anglican Communion Office and in the exploratory way proposed by IASCUFO (Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith & Order) at the recent Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting” in Ghana.
Once “the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury forfeiting their leadership role of the global Communion”, the GSFA Primates commit to “expeditiously meet, consult and work with other orthodox Primates in the Anglican Church across the nations to re-set the Communion on its biblical foundation”.
They will also “carefully work with other orthodox Primates to provide primatial and episcopal oversight to orthodox dioceses of Anglican churches who indicate their need and consult with us, to ensure that those across the worldwide Anglican Church who find themselves in revisionist Provinces receive a pastoral oversight, guidance and care”.
That is why the GSFA “will not walk away from the Communion that has so richly blessed us and for whose faithfulness to God and His word our forebears have paid a costly price”.
“What has happened in the Church of England has only served to strengthen our resolve to work together to re-set the Communion, and to ensure that the re-set Communion is marked by reform and renewal”, concludes the statement.
All this will be discussed at the first GSFA Assembly under the Covenantal Structure, which will take place in Cairo 28-31 May 2024.
Archbishop of Canterbury’s response
The Archbishop of Canterbury's office, Lambeth Palace, issued a response to the GSFA's statement, pointing out that “the Archbishop is in regular contact with his fellow Primates and looks forward to discussing this and other matters with them over the coming period”.
"We note the statement issued by some Anglican Primates and we fully appreciate their position. As was reaffirmed in multiple discussions at the ACC in Ghana however, no changes to the formal structures of the Anglican Communion can be made unless they are agreed upon by the Instruments of Communion”.
The Lambeth Palace reminds GSFA that “deep disagreements on sexuality and marriage are not new. The 42 member Churches of the Communion are independent and autonomous, but also interdependent. It is a key principle that no province can bind another province, and no Instrument of Communion has any jurisdictional authority over any province”.
“We must remember that more unites us than divides us. Despite our differences, we must find ways to continue walking and working together as followers of Jesus Christ to serve those in need. It remains the Archbishop’s prayer and his call to Anglicans around the Communion”, concludes the response.
Gafcon: “It is time for the Archbishop of Canterbury to step down”
According to Gafcon, “the Archbishop of Canterbury has abrogated his fiduciary responsibility and violated his consecration vows with his advocating this change. He is shredding the last remaining fragile fabric of the Anglican Communion”.
“It is time for the Primate of All England to step down from his role in leading the Anglican Communion. It is now time for the Primates of the Anglican Communion to choose for themselves their 'first among equals' rather than having a secular government of only one nation appoint our leader. We are no longer colonies of Great Britain”, they stressed.
In April Gafcon, along with GSFA, will host over 1,100 participantsat the GAFCON IV in Kigali, Rwanda, where they “shall have more to say and do about these matters”.