Cometh the day, Cometh the schism…
Well either I’ve been avoiding the subject, or utterly bereft of words to describe how difficult the current situation that the Church of England has found itself in over the last few weeks. But in just a few short hours, General Synod will open in York, and not having an opinion will be simply impossible. With Bishops threatening to boycott Lambeth (the decade-ly worldwide meeting of Anglican Bishops) and with each side calling the other immature, its just getting more and more messy. And like anything involving a power struggle, it is those at the bottom who will suffer the most.
Of course, to some people’s minds, this is simple a post-colonial power struggle. Its about Africa rejecting everything that Europe has ever done for it. But in truth, its not about all of Africa, its about the bits of Africa where the church is doing most to collude with government brutality. It seems to me to be more about the areas of the world where Anglicans want an authoritarian church that orders people around (mostly Africa and South America) trying to create an alliance with those churches in the UK and elsewhere who either wish to move towards more authoritarian power structures, especially in normal parish life, or, in many cases, who simply feel under able to cope with the current leadership of the church.
And yet who is suffering most? Not those who feel their authority is being challenged. Nor is it those Gay Christians who are lucky enough to reside within so-called Liberal Diocese; it is the Gay Christians, and those who have been marked out as Witchcraft Practitioners and any number of other things, who are suffering at the hands of certain African Churches. That certain dioceses wish to disconnect from those that welcome Gays into their midst, and yet no diocese has tried to resort to this over allegations of witch-burning in Africa in the last decade and of churches handing Gays over to state authorities to face torture and imprisonment.
Despite my tendency towards argument and confrontation (and I’ve already told a friend to keep me away from the Bishop of Rochester) its important that we remember those who will suffer if the church in Central Africa is left unchecked, as much as we can see the way it is taking out its venom on dioceses like those in Canada and the States, we are unlikely ever to see the human face of the suffering it is capable of causing.