Justin Welby was named archbishop of Canterbury with high hopes that he was the man who could save the Anglican Communion. Now it appears he may oversee its breakup—a calculated destruction intended, paradoxically, to save it.
Welby heads the Church of England, making him also the titular head of the affiliated Anglican churches around the world, including the Episcopal Church in the U.S. The umbrella group, the worldwide Anglican Communion, has been shaken by conflicts over the ordination and consecration of gays and women and over same-sex marriage in the U.S. and U.K. According to reports in British media, Welby will propose reorganizing the Communion as a looser affiliation at a January gathering
According to The Guardian, at a January gathering at his seat at Lambeth Palace, Welby “will propose that the Communion be reorganised as a group of churches that are all linked to Canterbury but no longer necessarily to each other,” adding:
Welby believes that his proposal would allow him to maintain relations both with the liberal churches of North America, which recognise and encourage gay marriage, and the African churches, led by Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria, who are agitating for the recriminalisation of all homosexual activity in their countries.
The BBC and Telegraph have similar reports. The archbishop himself has not commented, but Lambeth Palace did publish a news release on the invitation to the 37 primates—the heads of the various branches of the church—to come to Canterbury. The release said the gathering would be a chance “to reflect and pray together concerning the future of the Anglican Communion … The agenda will be set by common agreement with all primates encouraged to send in contributions.”