Conservatives face huge obstacles in putting Anglicanism back together.
The walls are crumbling and the roof is leaking at Canterbury Cathedral, one of Western Christianity's most renowned worship spaces. Two years ago, church leaders began to raise £50 million ($100 million) to restore the historic cathedral where Archbishop Thomas Becket was martyred on December 29, 1170.
So far, the cathedral has only raised $15 million. But it is asking individuals to donate as little as $10 per month to sponsor blocks of newly quarried Caen stone, which was used in the original construction. Earlier modern renovations were made with cheaper, less durable stone that quickly eroded. This summer, during the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference for Anglican bishops, attendees could hear the sound of masons hand-sawing and hand-chiseling large blocks outside the cathedral.
Restoring Canterbury Cathedral may prove to be easier than restoring orthodoxy and unity to the 78-million-member Anglican Communion. This summer, global Anglicanism faced enormous controversy over homosexual ordination, same-sex blessings, and ongoing disagreements about ordaining women as priests and bishops. At least 617 of the world's 880 bishops attended Lambeth at the University of Kent, about two miles from the cathedral. Though not invited to Lambeth, Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson, an actively homosexual bishop whose 2003 consecration drew a firestorm of criticism, was on campus to meet with top Anglicans, as were many other gay activists.
But some 230 bishops, mostly from Africa, declined the invitation of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to attend Lambeth. Instead, conservatives rallied about 1,200 bishops, pastors, and lay leaders in Jerusalem for the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON).
Archbishop of Uganda Henry Orombi, a leading conservative, explained in the London Times, "We believe that our absence at this Lambeth Conference is the only way that our voice will be heard. For more than ten years we have been speaking and have not been heard. So maybe our absence will speak louder than our words."
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