Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Commentary on the Archbishop of Canterbury's Letter to the Primates

I've been mulling over the Archbishop of Canterbury's (ABC) letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion. I've come to the conclusion that it is a primary example of what it means to be Anglican - it seeks to reach out to all parties, it reminds the reader of the reality of the current crisis (which some, including the TEC PB, continue to try to sweep away), it offers a pathway through the theological thicket, and it upsets just about everybody. Yep, that's what it's like to be Anglican.

Let's take a look at the letter, with the TinFoil Hat left on the table in the Spare Room.

This meeting will be, of course, an important and difficult and important encounter, with several moments of discernment and decision to be faced, and a good deal of work to be done on our hopes for the Lambeth Conference, and on the nature and shape of the Covenant that we hope will assist us in strengthening our unity as a Communion.

First thing that the ABC does is set out the vision for this February Primates Meeting - to make it to Lambeth in 2008. That is the point of the meeting, to prepare for Lambeth - which means facing the crisis at hand or the hopes of having any sort of traditional Lambeth Conference will dim to darkness.

There are two points I wish to touch on briefly.

He isn't out of the starting gate for two seconds when he gets down to business. No flowery language, no hyperbolic embellishments, no invoking the spirit to do this or that, the man gets down to business. What does that mean when we waste no time and get clear straight away? Well, I picture a Defense Attorney in front of a jury making his closing arguments, in a kind but direct manner. "Trust me," he infers. There are two things which "I wish to touch on briefly." Don't we just love the British? Americans have a hard time understating things - we must (like others in the Communion by the way) embellish, embellish, embellish - but the British (though I think Scots have it down to an art form, quite frankly) just aim to get to the point. There are two big-time reasons (well, there are actually three - but he seems to intentionally downplay the third) that the ABC is writing this letter to the primates so pay attention because it's pretty darn serious. The brevity speaks volumes.


The first is a reminder of what our current position actually is in relation to the Episcopal Church. This Province has agreed to withdraw its representation from certain bodies in the Communion until Lambeth 08; and the Joint Standing Committee has appointed a sub-group which has been working on a report to develop our thinking as to how we should as a meeting interpret the Episcopal Church's response so far to the Windsor recommendations. In other words, questions remain to be considered about the Episcopal Church’s relations with other Provinces (though some Provinces have already made their position clear).

I think the first point ends here. As an editor, I would end the sentence here. In the next sentence, the ABC then gives us his opinion about the facts stated above. It is interesting though that the decision was made to add Rowan's opinion at the tale end of this statement of facts. However, before we get to his opinion about the facts (as important as that is), let's first take a look at the facts.

Rowan Williams reminds us that TEC is still under discipline (which has been largely forgotten in the recent press coverage of the Virginia congregational votes. It is news to many (if not most) in the media that TEC is under discipline and - in a very Anglican sort of way - has "agreed to withdraw its representation from certain bodies in the Communion until Lambeth 08." This situation still stands - the relationship between TEC and the rest of the Communion (as exemplified by perhaps the most TEC-celebrated "Instrument of Unity" - the Anglican Consultative Council). This has been the most liberal organization (at least until the next meeting of the ACC which will now include all the primates of the Anglican Communion as well as the other provincial representatives). But this is the one that TEC has lost seat and vote in for the past year and another year and a half to go (at least) when we will hear the next part of the ABC's point in this paragraph.

He reminds us that the ACC Joint Standing Committee (which now does not include any representation from TEC) has a sub-group that is "working on a report to develop our thinking as to how we should as a meeting interpret the Episcopal Church’s response so far to the Windsor recommendations." So TEC is not out of the hot water yet. Since we know all ready how TEC responded to the Windsor recommendations at the last General Convention in Columbus, we now wait to hear from a subcommittee of a committee of another committee to tell us what it all means. But hey, that's democracy at work. Let's just stress the "work" part though.

I hadn't heard about this subgroup - but it must be noted that this is the ACC subgroup working on a "report" for the primates (or so it appears) to tell them what they should all ready know. Let's just keep a sharp eye on that little subgroup.

Just so we don't get sidetracked, the ABC helpfully tells us what this all means when he writes that "questions remain to be considered about the Episcopal Church’s relations with other Provinces," though he adds that some Provinces have all ready made their positions clear. So we could read this as a way of reminding the primates that there is a bureaucratic process in place (inside the American-funded ACC, no less) to find out what we all ready know - that TEC did not fulfill the specific requests of the Windsor Report.

As someone who has lived in the Bureaucratic Capitol of the World (BCW) should know, this is hardly innocuous. When is the "report" from this subcommittee to the committee to the committee supposed to be delivered? In time for February? Could be, could very well be (which may explain why Rowan Williams comes to his next conclusion). But do we know?

I do not think it wise or just to take any action that will appear to bring that consideration and the whole process of our shared discernment to a premature end.

In other words, it is possible that the primates may be hearing the report from the subcommittee to the committee to the committee and after all that work (remember when the last time the Primates all met - in Ireland?) this "instrument of unity" needs to at least be all together to hear it, especially since the province in question is under discipline and did not take part (officially - only officially - since TEC has been the primary funding source for the ACC, you better believe that the Americans continue to be closely involved, bet the house on it - don't throw longstanding relationships - out the window simply because they aren't on this year's guest list).

What is interesting here, though, is that the subcommittee writing this report came from the ACC and not the Primates themselves. That is a very important piece of information - and may have so much to do with the next conclusion:

This is why I have decided not to withhold an invitation to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the elected Primate of the Episcopal Church to attend the forthcoming meeting. I believe it is important that she be given a chance both to hear and to speak and to discuss face to face the problems we are confronting together. We are far too prone to talk about these matters from a distance, without ever having to face the human reality of those from whom we differ.

Now it's not clear that the primates will actually be hearing a report (let's watch that space) so if they aren't, then this is the way that the ACC can get the American point of view into the report, while TEC is still under discipline. If they can't get the Americans into the room with seat, voice, and vote to write their little report about the Americans official response to the Windsor Report. General Convention appears to not have been enough after all, and so (if there is no report issued from the ACC) then this is a way to get TEC back into the room.

It's quite ingenious of whoever thought this up - because now the burden is on the Global South primates to show up. It is here that I share the alarm that come in the orthodox feel - that this is a power play to lessen the Windsor Report requests and shift it to something the liberals have been calling the "Windsor Process."

Whenever we see that term "Windsor Process" it does not mean Windsor compliant, but the tactics of "stall and recall" until everyone is exhausted, throwing up their hands in surrender or just leaving (though please leave the church keys at the front desk, thank you very much).

So we should see if there is going to be a ACC report issued to the Primates (or is there is a report coming from within the Primates group themselves, since they are the ones who issued the Windsor Report in the first place?). Perhaps we should emphasize a report coming from the Primates regarding the results of the American response to Windsor, rather than this report from the subcommittee to the committee to the committee - it is far more weighty to hear what the primates say about this (but it certainly behooves some parties to shift attention away from the primates to the ACC). Think about it.

Now someone must have raised this problem with Rowan Williams, because if this was the entire point - that the new TEC PB is invited to the pow wow without censure, then the Communion collapses. We were told over and over again that General Convention speaks for TEC (and TEC does NOT have a primate, as Bishop Lee told us after General Convention, only a presider -NO archbishop, despite how suddenly current letters are being signed by Katharine Jefferts Schori) then the PB cannot speak for TEC alone. She is not an archbishop. So the ABC comes up with another plan. Since the Presiding Bishop of TEC cannot speak for the Church (and only General Convention has that power), then Dr. Williams proposes the following, understanding very clearly that if he just invites Katharine Jefferts Schori and nothing else, he's in deep doo doo:

However, given the acute dissension in the Episcopal Church at this point, and the very widespread effects of this in the Communion, I am also proposing to invite two or three other contributors from that Province for a session to take place before the rest of our formal business, in which the situation may be reviewed, and I am currently consulting as to how this is best organizedised.

Brilliant. In one fell swoop, he diminishes Katharine as a primate who speaks for all Anglicans and recognizes that indeed TEC is divided - that a real division has occurred.

Now since that division has not - yet - achieved full communion recognition (only partial, so far) he proposes to invite two (or three) "contributors form that Province" for a pre-meeting to the major meeting. Dr. Williams goes on to say that his door is open and he is "consulting as to how this is best organized." In other words, ring up him now to get yourself a coveted spot as one of the "two or three" contributors at the pre-meeting.

So this is where the liberals begin to be outraged (though that may be short-lived if they get their own foot in the ABC's door) that Katharine Jefferts Schori is not enough to represent TEC and others are needed to give a full spectrum of the crisis now facing TEC.

Which of course, Rowan Williams is still highlighting in that this particular province needs more voices to represent it than its own Presiding Bishop (which of course, should be outrageous to those who elected the Presiding Bishop). But there you are. Either TEC is divided or not - and from this letter, it looks like Rowan Williams accepts that TEC is divided.


He never admits that he ever consulted Katharine Jefferts Schori before making this provocative decision (though he actually might have consulted, the fact that he doesn't mention it could mean that she objected). We do assume he did let her know first, but the fact that he doesn't mention it is glaring fact of ommission.

Lest he appear to be too domineering (he is exercising his leadership as another instrument of unity by inviting other Americans to this primates meeting - normally held in secrecy allotted to Langley), Dr. Williams takes a step back and reminds us the reality of the situation on the ground in TEC, just in case the primates have forgotten (which of course, is highly unlikely). Is this yet another shot at TEC who want to be the only voice of Anglicanism in the United States?

The Episcopal Church is not in any way a monochrome body and we need to be aware of the full range of conviction within it. I am sure that other Primates, like myself, will welcome the clear declarations by several bishops and diocesan conventions (including those dioceses represented at the Camp Allen meeting earlier this year) of their unequivocal support for the process and recommendations of the Windsor Report. There is much to build upon here. There are many in TEC who are deeply concerned as to how they should secure their relationships with the rest of the Communion; I hope we can listen patiently to these anxieties.

From here we can get an idea who might be invited:

A Windsor Bishop: No doubt, someone who attended Camp Allen I & II will be invited. Perhaps Bishop Wimberly himself since he's the convener (though if the Windsor Bishops truly want their voice heard, they should think long and hard as to who they want to be their reprentative). Early indications are that this group is growing - and is the "group of choice" since it included not only rank and file TEC bishops who support Windsor, but also the ACN diocesan bishops (like Bishop Duncan). Who they pick could have the stature of the presiding bishop, whether they like it or not. They make themselves a rival to her - and something they should think long and hard about before the walk through that door. This is not tea time with crumpets.

Who is the other one? This will depend on whether the ABC counts the new PB as representing the mainstream of TEC (if a liberal is invited, then it's two to one since Katharine Jefferts Schori is progressive, which would not be fair). So if she is included as part of the American voice, then the second bishop could be a Network Bishop (if this not just futile exercise in institutionalism). If a liberal bishop is chosen (like a Bishop Sauls for example), then the case could be made that is unfair since the American church now has two liberal speaking for it, and a third bishop should be chosen - this one being from the Network partners.

I warn you, this is total Anglican Wonkism at its height and so for the Anglican Wonks watching, keep an eye on who the "two or three" who are gathered there are - if there are three, that is a clue as to how Katharine Jefferts Schori is viewed. Is she really a voice for the American church or not?

Again, since this is one of the best ways the liberals like to shove this whole crisis under the rug (moving or not, thanks Mr. Dylan), Rowan Williams reminds us that we aren't all about crisis - and so this crisis must be solved or the whole thing goes down the drain. This is his second point:

Point #2

My second point is to underline the importance of planning constructively for Lambeth 08. If we become entirparalyzedysed by our continuing struggles to resolve the challenges posed by decisions in North America, we shall lose a major opportunity for strengthening our common life. The recent St Augustine’s seminar which considered the Lambeth agenda was agreed by all to have been an outstandingly positive week, which has laid out a programme I believe to be worthy of our hopes for the Conference, and which was wholeheartedly owned and approved by people from very different regions and points of view within the seminar group. I do not want to lose that energy. I want to see it channelled properly into projects for better equipping ourselves as bishops and all our pastors and teachers, and into the work we all agree we must do in response to the crying needs created by poverty and violence in our world.

Now, back to the crisis at hand. Who is going to Lambeth (for this - more than what the ACC does, really - is how we traditionally know who is in the Anglican Communion or not, who is headed that way and who is not)? The Archbishop of Canterbury decides.

The question of invitations to Lambeth has been raised several times, in relation to the status of TEC, and indeed other Provinces. I shall seek the advice of the meeting on this.

Once again, Dr. Williams makes it clear his door is open. This is the Anglican Way. So for TEC leaders who think this can all be shoved under the rug - that it's a done deal that TEC is invited and no on else is, think again. Either that, or block Rowan's door (one way or the other). Let's keep an eye on Rowan's doorkeepers. No wonder Dumbledore made Hagrid the "keeper of the keys" - who has the key to the door is trusted. Who has Rowan's key?

I am aware that decisions must be made soon, and I mention it primarily to alert you to the issues that lie ahead and to commend all this to your prayers over the coming season.

Got it. Lambeth invitations are important (it's another instrument of unity) and it's not a done deal. The ABC also positions himself as well - if the door is still open then he's still a player. Make note of that (and then see Point #3).

But it illustrates the point I have made recently to the St Augustine’s Seminar and other groups: at the moment, we urgently need to create a climate of greater trust within the Communion, and to reinforce institutions and conventions that will serve that general climate in a global way.

I would maintain that this is the greatest casualty of this entire crisis - the loss of trust. Once trust is broken it is immensely difficult to get it back. The loss of trust is a paramount issue. How do you get it back? Is talking enough - or is it actions? I think it's their actions - which is why the laity are watching this very carefully - which will regain the trust that was lost. What will they do?

During my visit to the Pope in November, it was very clear that our ecumenical partners are looking to us not only to strengthen our bonds of ecclesial community and the coherence of our Christian witness, but also to show a hopeful and Christian spirit in resolving our current problems. Our partners are praying very intensely for us in this task, and their prayer deepens my own sense of resolve, as I am sure it will yours.

Now if you are liberal progressive TECer, I'd be quite worried about this statement. Rowan doesn't mention hanging out with Integrity or the other lobbying organizations like it in Great Britain (which is often brought up in the TEC circles to gain credibility). He doesn't mention any other denominations - not the Presbyterians or Methodists or the Greek Orthodox or anyone. Alas, he doesn't even mention the United Nations.

He mentions the Pope.

This is not insignificant. He calls the Pope "our ecumenical partner" and says that "it was very clear" that he is "looking to us not only to strengthen our bonds" of community and Christian witness, but also to solve this problem now. Rowan Williams uses as strong words here as he does in any other part of the letter, if not more. The Pope, he infers - no, I think he states - is "praying very intensely for us" (and what is Benedict praying for, may I ask?) for whatever it is, Rowan is resolved to get it done. Perhaps he knows what will happen in England, if not America, if this isn't solved in a way that makes Benedict pleased. If I were progressive, that would concern me.

Is TEC interested in making Benedict happy (after all, TEC has billed itself as "Roman Catholic Lite" in some quarters - all the dress-up without the doctrine)? Does TEC truly care if Christendom suffers a mighty blow if the Anglicans and the Catholics, the two major worldwide Christian communities, can no longer parley? Or does being a prophetic witness mean more? Clearly Dr. Williams is worried if he's bringing the Pope into the equation - the same man who wrote of the support of John Paul II to the gathering of orthodox Episcopalians at "Plano/Dalls" in October. 2003.

I should also mention that I have accepted the recommendation of the Joint Standing Committee that the Archbishop of York should be invited to the forthcoming meeting, so that there is a distinction between the two roles of speaking for the Church of England and chairing and moderating the meeting overall.

Point #3

I love this last statement - though it's not very American (in fact, it sounds like something the lawyers would advise). Here's another example, in the structure of this letter (which is perhaps why it's leaving so many Americans puzzled) of the culture gap that exists between the British (including their Commonwealth, by the way) and the United States. "Oh, by the way, I saved perhaps the most important point for last and didn't want to draw your attention to it by listing it as one of my 'two points.' But this is my third point. And I'll make sure to tell you it wasn't my idea, but a committee of a committee's idea." Right.

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, born in Uganda, a theological orthodox leader who spoke emphatically and clearly at General Convention, is going to be at the Primates meetings in February, representing the Church of England. When he spoke before the special committee at the standing room only hearing at General Convention, he pleaded with TEC leaders to follow the direction of Windsor. It was amazing.

Now he's going to represent the Church of England, rather than the Archbishop of Canterbury in that traditional role. This is a huge development for England - and thus for the Communion. Rowan moves into a executive position for the Anglican Communion (thus, strengthening his position as an Instrument of Unity) and the Archbishop of York represents the Church of England. The Archbishop of York takes on the mantle of primate.

And that is a major development.

I'm going to go ahead and publish this now because I have to get back to my office. Thanks to all who gave me Starbucks Gift Cards for Christmas. BabyBlue endorses the Chai Latte - the Drink of Choice for Anglican Wonks.

Stay tuned for the final conclusions regarding this letter.



Václav Patrik Šulik said...

Very good analysis -- I did see a couple of minor flaws which you will pick up later in the editing (I hate those -- although I deeply know the difference between the various "there's" and "to's" my hands seem to have a mind of their own.)

Personally, I'm hoping that Martyn will be one of the two or three -- wouldn't that blow some gaskets at 815!

BabyBlue said...

I am continuing to edit - you may find some changes all ready.

Midlander said...

Your comment about the Archbishop of York is a perceptive one. From my position (Midlander refers to the English Midlands halfway between Canerbury and York, in a diocese that was, very briefly 1200 years ago, also an archdiocese) this seems the most important part of the letter. Bishop Senatamu is a widely respected British / Ugandan who commands much support in England. As you say he is theologically orthodox. I suspect his Ugandan nationality will enable him to play a VERY important bridging role in Tanzania. That being said, he is very much his own man, and I suspect that neither "side" in Tanzania will find him a terribly reliable ally! Keep up the blogging - Babyblue is a haven of eirenic rationality in comparison to some others!

Bill Cool said...

BB -

It may be very significant, not at all significant, or merely semantics, but you and many commenters on T19 and SF have described the gathering that will include 2-3 others from TEC as "a pre-meeting to the major meeting", which is not how the ABC actually describes it:

"I am also proposing to invite two or three other contributors from that Province for a session to take place before the rest of our formal business, in which the situation may be reviewed, and I am currently consulting as to how this is best organised."

His words, "a session to take place before the rest of our formal business", unless chosen carelessly, indicate that this session is the first formal business of the real meeting, not some sort of pre-meeting. If so, then the primates could take substantive, official actions during this session, and not merely gather some unofficial consensus.

Anonymous said...

Hi Baby Blue,

The committee report that we are expecting--and I believe it was always slated to appear for the Primates' Meeting--is by a sub-committee of the ACC and the Primates. The AbC layed all this out in one of his summer letters I believe--either the June 27 one or the follow-up in July. There are I think 5 or 6 people on the subcommittee.

Merry Christmas!

Christopher Wells
(N Indiana)

BabyBlue said...

Thank you, Christopher! I found it in an article about the June 2006 letter from Rowan Williams, where it reads: "The Primates of the Anglican Communion will meet early next year to consider the matter. In the meantime, a group appointed by the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and the Primates will be assisting Dr Williams in considering the resolutions of the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church (USA) in response to the questions posed by the Windsor Report."

From: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/articles/41/50/acns4161.cfm

His statement after General Convention included: "I am grateful that the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and ACC has already appointed a small working group to assist this process of reflection and to advise me on these matters in the months leading up to the next Primates' Meeting."

But who is on this working group subcommittee? I'm looking but haven't come across who is actually on it. Still looking.


BabyBlue said...

This small working group subcommittee gets a bit more intriguing. Mark Harris thought that it was the group that came up the with proposals that were rejected at the New York Summit. Would love to know who serves on that little committee. It sounded like it was formed at first to advice Rowan, then was billed as a group to inform the primates, and Christopher believes it is aimed at the February meeting. But were they at work all ready in the ABC's letter that came out over the weekend? It's voice does not exactly sound like Rowan Williams and it does seem quite calculating. The more I look over the letter, the more it seems quite remarkable.

Is this evidence of this subcommittee - and is it their proposals that are all ready in place for the February meeting? Is that why it is necessary to have KJS in place at the meeting - so she can hear what is going to happen personally? Or is this just going to be a tea party?

But if it is a tea party, what kind will it be? An English Tea Party, a Boston Tea Party - or a Mad Hatter's Tea Party?


Christopher Wells said...

I seem to recall reading the make-up of the group somewhere early in the Fall; and yes, I am sure that they have been hard at work for several months now. Someone either told me, or we speculated together, that there are two primates in the group, and that these are Barry Morgan of Wales and Malango of Central Africa, both of whom served on the Lambeth Commission. I honestly cannot recall now if that is fact or speculation, but it's what I've been thinking for the last several months. Sorry about the fogginess; I will let you know if I find out exactly who is on it. Of course, in time, all will be revealed... and then thrown down (Mt 24:2)!


BabyBlue said...

These could be the members:

Canon Elizabeth (Liz) Paver (England), Intake Primary School Headteacher in Doncaster, York. Services on the Archbishop Council of Advice and is the Church of England member of the Anglican Consultative Council.

Archbishop Bernard Malango (Central Africa), Primate of Central Africa. Served on the Lambeth Commission which produced the Windsor Report.

Archbishop Barry Morgan (Wales), Primates of Wales. Known for opposing the British Trident nuclear missile system. Don't think he's coming to dinner at my house.

Mrs Philippa Amable (West Africa), a lawyer from Ghana and chancellor of the diocese of Bo, West Africa. Member of the Anglican Consultative Council.


mdlawlib said...

BB cheer up, Barry Morgan may not be so bad:

From Wales' Archbishop Barry Morgan: Statement on Windsor Report

Tuesday, October 19, 2004
[ENS, Source: Anglican Communion News Service] The Commission has worked hard over a whole year to find a way forward for the Anglican Communion. Its membership was drawn from across that Communion reflecting different cultures, theologies and viewpoints but its report is a unanimous one. It was not asked and has not tried to tackle the issue of human sexuality. Its brief was, given the fact that different provinces have different attitudes and understandings of various contentious matters, how do they acknowledge that fact and consult the wider Communion before making decisions that inevitably impact on the life of that wider Communion.

The presenting issues in these instances were the ordination of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire and the approval of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions in New Westminster (issues on which the Lambeth Conference and primates had expressed their minds), but other contentious issues could arise in the future which could affect the life of the whole Communion. In other words how does a province exercise restraint and consult the wider body before taking decisions on matters which affect the life of that body and not just its own? Provinces that ordained women both to the priesthood and episcopate certainly did that. Unilateral actions by some provinces have in turn led to the actions from other provinces and archbishops, which have further fractured the Communion.

The report acknowledges the seriousness of all these issues and asks all the provinces concerned to realise the effects their actions have had by expressing their regret in disregarding the proper constraints of communion and refraining from any further actions that would harm the Communion. Its aim has been to effect healing and reconciliation. It acknowledges the need for ongoing dialogue and debate and for provinces to be willing to listen to one another and of course to the world in which it is set.

The report needs to be pondered long and hard by the provinces of the Communion and its implications studied before reacting in any precipitate way. The subtleties of the report may not be noticed on first reading. However, if the way forward advocated by this report is found unacceptable then the future for the Anglican Communion is indeed bleak.

The Most Rev. Barry Morgan
Archbishop of Wales and member of the Lambeth Commission

October 18, 2004


mdlawlib said...

On second thought maybe he is that bad. My how things can change in a year . . . .

September 27, 2005
Archbishop of Wales' New Book - Gays and the Future of Anglicanism
Source: Ekklesia Society

Archbishop supports Gays and the Future of Anglicanism -27/09/05

The Archbishop of Wales has welcomed a 'cogent' new book by 22 leading theologians that argues for gay people’s inclusion within the Anglican ministry.

Written by ‘some of the finest theological minds’, Gays and the Future of Anglicanismchallenges the moratorium on gay consecrations and same-sex blessings of the Anglican Communion. ‘This book throws down a formidable challenge to the Anglican Communion. It cannot afford to ignore it’ he commented.

The Archbishop, Dr Barry Morgan, who was himself one of the people responsible for the Windsor Report, which recommended the moratorium, made it clear that the issue is far from settled: ‘The arguments advanced for including gay people [in the church] deserve to be read and pondered by all who are involved in the debate about human sexuality.’

The book says the Archbishop, ‘shows up the superficiality of previous Anglican discussion of this subject’ and should ‘give the Anglican Church in many places cause for penitence for the way it has treated and thought about gay people.’

Gays and the Future of Anglicanism, edited by Oxford theologian Andrew Linzey and Richard Kirker, Director of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement will be published by O books at the end of September.

Among the 22 contributors are Archbishop Rowan Williams’ successor at Oxford, Dr George Pattison, the Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity.

Responding to the Archbishop’s statement, Professor Linzey said, ‘This is a welcome sign of a rethink. We were always told that Windsor was a process not a judgment – it is excellent to have confirmation of that’. Some fear that the Windsor Report will lead to the exclusion of all gays from the Church. ‘Preposterous as it sounds, some people want to make attitude to gays the criterion of being an Anglican’, added Professor Linzey. ‘The book is really a devastating critique of current church policy’.

The book contains 22 chapters by major theologians from the UK and the US. Eight of the contributors are theologians from Oxford: Marilyn McCord Adams, Philip Kennedy, Christopher Lewis, George Pattison, Martyn Percy, Vincent Strudwick, Keith Ward and Andrew Linzey. Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, Marilyn McCord Adams calls upon the Anglican Communion to apologize for its ‘rude reception of gay clergy’, and Dr Philip Kennedy, Senior Tutor of Mansfield College, Oxford, maintains that ‘Neither God nor Jesus can be convicted of gay bashing. The same could hardly be said for many of their devotees’. The book marks the first major engagement by Anglican theologians with the gay issue since the publication of Windsor last year.


mdlawlib said...

And a year later he goes even further and appears to have already made up his mind:

The Archbishop of Wales’ Presidential Address to the Governing Body
Let us now move to the Anglican Communion. I have just said that Christians hold a variety of different viewpoints on a host of moral issues. The only moral issue on which diversity does not seem to be encouraged in various parts of the Communion, is the issue of homosexuality. I am therefore glad and proud that the bishops of this Church have given a lead to our Church, that there is no one correct Christian viewpoint on this issue. In preparing this address I came across this quote from Professor Grace Davie, who holds the Chair in Sociology and Religion at the University of Exeter, “Could it be” she asks “that churches offer space for debate regarding particular and often controversial topics that are difficult to address elsewhere in society? The current debate about homosexuality offers a possible example, an interpretation encouraged by the intense media attention directed at this issue. Is this simply an internal debate about senior clergy appointments in which different lobbies are exerting their influence? Or is this one way in which society as a whole comes to terms with profound shifts in the moral climate?” She goes on to say that, “If the latter is not true, it is hard to understand why so much attention is being paid to the churches in this respect. If it is true, sociological thinking must take this factor into account.” It is an interesting observation about modern Britain, if not the Communion.

I do not know whether the Communion will ultimately hold together or not. If it fractures, it will not be a simple matter of just one province not recognising another but parishes and dioceses within provinces allying themselves with like-minded parishes and dioceses in other provinces. In other words, the fault lines will run through provinces as well as between them. Is that what we really want? And what kind of a church will we be, if we only associate with those who think or behave like us or conform to our view of things? No room then for difference or dissidence and what kind of witness to the Gospel is that? This is what I believe the Archbishop of Canterbury was implying when he wrote to all provinces about the implications of the break up of the Communion. He was not advocating a two tier Communion – one for true believers and another for those who could not swallow the full faith as it were, who would be in some form of loose association with the Communion. He was merely pointing out the danger we are in. The Windsor Report advocated that provinces should covenant with one another and consult with one another before making decisions, which might affect the life of the Communion as a whole. As a member of that Commission, we did not have in mind a covenant that was prescriptive and detailed and intrusive. What we did have in mind was what ECUSA did at its convention in July when:

–It re-affirmed its abiding commitment to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion and sought to live into the highest degree of communion possible.
–It reaffirmed that it was in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.
–It went on to make a commitment to the vision of inter-dependent life in Christ, characterized by forbearance, trust, and respect, and commended the Windsor Report and process as a means of deepening understanding of that commitment.

I do not know about you, but I could sign a covenant such as that. For, just as we have to recognise that the theory of the just war does not answer all the difficulties raised by modern methods of warfare, so too we have to recognise, as far as the Anglican Communion is concerned, that globalisation and instant communication have changed the nature of our relationships with one another and that what happens in one part of the church does affect another for good or ill. A covenant, setting out our mutual inter-dependence would remind us all of that fact. But that is totally different from the kind of covenant that some people want – a kind of prescriptive one, setting up an inter-provincial constitution that would set out theological boundaries and perimeters for individual provinces in both belief and behaviour, policed by a central curia of the primates or Archbishop of Canterbury. That would go much further than what ECUSA has done, or the existing agreement of the Lambeth quadrilateral, based on the acceptance of the scriptures, the creeds, the two dominical sacraments and the historic episcopate. It would cut at the root of the Anglican Communion as it has been traditionally understood with to my mind, disastrous consequences. We are after all a communion not a confession. We all need reminding of the words of St Augustine ‘In certis, unitas. In dubiis, libertas. Et in omnibus caritas.’ ‘In fundamentals of faith there must be unity. In disputable matters there must be freedom for debate. But in everything there must be love.’


BabyBlue said...

Actually, mel, my issue with ABW is his view of submarines. We are bit sensitive here at the cafe when it comes to submarines, as BB is the child of a nuclear submariner. ;-)

Lord God, our power evermore,
Whose arm doth reach the ocean floor,
Dive with our men beneath the sea;
Traverse the depths protectively.
O hear us when we pray, and keep
Them safe from peril in the deep.


PS GREAT RESEARCH mdlawlib - Morgan does seem to be the ying to Malango's yang. As it were.

Steve said...

I recall reports that the ABC was silent and thoughtful on his way back from Rome.

Combine that with the shifting involving York representing England, and the ABC over all.


Anonymous said...

wow--bb is spinning like tony snow with a bad ear infection!

mdlawlib said...

BB - One of my dearest friends was also a submariner. Mdlawlib has had to learn to talk loudly . . . .

Bill said...

Three points:

1. I remember the (past?) leader of the ACC stating after Nottingham how embarassed he was about the vote regarding the Windsor Report and in fact I seem to recall that he apologized to TEC for the foul treatment they had received.

What I don't understand is why, if TEC had to withdraw from the ACC, they did not also withdraw from every connection they had with the ACC ...and that would include finacial support. There's a major conflict of interest if TEC has been suspended from ACC but still funded that organization and therefore clearly clearly influential albeit in the background.
Perhaps ACC would be better able to survive financially if there were fewer committees to committees to committees and then perhaps multiple sub-committees to those ascending ranks of committees.
WHO is going to ensure that the report makes it into the primates' hands before Tanzania?

2. I worry about the composition of the 'two or three' other representative members. In particular, bishops such as +Wimberly who strikes me a a politically motivated man. I think that the two or three should be represented by members of the group which has stood its ground throughout and not the Johnny-come-latelys.

These new Camp Allen attendees may now have come off the fence and are now truly Windsor compliant
dioceses, but I think that there is still a 'taintedness' to their 'conversion'. For that reason I would be reluctant to see the two or three who are invited to Tanzania to come from that group.

3. I don't trust Kearon and his type one bit. I don't know how much individual stature he carries. Is he the ABC's man or is there an independent streak in him that may allow TEC to slip in through a side door. I'd hate to see that and I guess the answer to that lies with ABC.