In our October issue the report on the Episcopalian triennial convention in Phoenix, Arizona, last July focused on homosexual permissiveness.  It showed how deeply moral issues have divided the Anglican Church in the U.S., with leading spokesmen acknowledging a complete deadlock and a split into “two religions.”

The September issue of Toronto-based Anglican Journal briefly notes that abortion, too, was brought up for discussion with a similar unsatisfactory outcome.  “Attempts to expand the church’s 1988 statement on abortion,” the report states, “bounced between two houses without being settled.  Both houses did approve a resolution opposing laws requiring parental notification of minors seeking abortions.”

In England, where the Anglican Church is called Church of England, the situation is identical to the one in North America.  Here, too, the issues of homosexuality, women’s ordination, abortion, sexual permissiveness, divorce, etc., have brought about deep divisions as well as many departures from the faith community.

In early September the Archdeacon of New York, George Austin, gave a sermon in which he advocated a formal division of the Church of England because it would be preferable to “bitter and divisive” arguments between rival factions.

Austin was supported by the former Bishop of London, Dr. Graham Leonard, who told the Catholic weekly The Tablet, that the sermon was “timely and necessary” to counteract the “ruthless” influence of the “liberal establishment.”  He termed Rev. Austin’s description of the current situation in the Church as “accurate.”  (The Tablet, September 14)

According to the Archdeacon, those who old to “the orthodox faith of the Anglican Church” feel alienated, isolated, and consistently passed over, especially if they oppose women’s ordination.

“There are those in positions of power and influence,” he charged, “not least in the general synod, who wish to impose on us a substitute faith and morality which is the end can never satisfy.”

In order to avoid open schism Rev. Austin proposed “a measure of division,” pointing to the new traditionalist organization within the American Episcopalian Church as a model.

Needless to say, Archdeacon Austin’s sermon has been criticized by others as exaggerated and misplaced.  Among the critics are the Archbishop of York, John Hapgood and the Bishop of Manchester, Stanley Booth-Clibborn.


Over 1,000 Maritime Baptists recently met in Sackville, N.B., for their 145th annual assembly.  The bi-weekly newspaper out of Winnipeg, Christian Week, (September 10) reports that the assembly “unanimously passed a” a resolution that active euthanasia, i.e., the intentional shortening or ending of human life, is not moral or ethical.

The resolution states that people have the right to refuse treatment.  The removal of medical treatment is acceptable only when it is clearly the expressed wish of the patient.

The resolution also seeks to protect persons from arbitrary removal of medical treatment when they are no longer capable of making a personal decision about their treatment.

The Assembly also passed resolutions against racism and abortion.

The resolution on racism rejected the “sin of perceiving one race inherently inferior or superior to other races” and asked for “repentance for sinful participation in racism.”

On abortion, the Assembly called for laws to prohibit free-standing abortuaries and the use of taxes to fund abortions.


As reported in October, the five-million-member, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) at its recent meeting in Orlando, Florida, voted to support abortion “rights,” despite an appeal by Cardinal John O’Connor, Archbishop of New York.

Portions of the appeal to the Lutheran Assembly were read on the floor by Pastor Paul Hasbargen of St. Paul, Minn.  Hasbargen came armed with 10,000 signatures of fellow Lutherans who wanted their church to take a pro-life stand.

It was not to be.

By a vote of 905 to 70, the Churchwide Assembly affirmed a statement that opposed political attempts to prohibit abortion and cut funding for abortions for low-income mothers, putting it squarely in the camp of ‘pro-abortion’ supporters.

By a vote of 827 to 165, the Assembly rejected a resolution forwarded by Dr. Paul Hasbargen that would commit ELCA to a strong pro-life position.

The two main topics for discussion at the Assembly were ecumenism and abortion.  Participant Mary Reilly said an indication of how the ELCA leadership intended to manipulate the Assembly was the selection of conference rooms for the caucuses.

The rooms for the abortion discussions were very small, and could not contain the number of people who wanted to participate in the discussions, said Reilly, while the conference rooms for discussion on ecumenism were large and hardly attended by delegates (Wanderer, September 13).