Sunday, November 22, 2009

Canterbury left in an "awkward position" with a "sore ego" after Rome reaches out to Anglicans

From the London Times:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted that the Pope’s offer for disaffected Anglicans to convert to Rome left him with a “sore ego” and put him in an “awkward position”.

But after meeting the Pope at the Vatican this weekend, Dr Rowan Williams insisted that relations between the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches were back on track.

Dr Williams told the Pope of his embarrassment at the way the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced an Apostolic Constitution to set up Anglican Ordinariates for those who refuse to accept women priests and bishops. He had had only a few days’ notice, and made a late-night telephone call to the cardinal who heads the Council for Christian Unity, to find out what was going on.

Speaking to Vatican Radio yesterday, Dr Williams said: “Clearly many Anglicans, myself included, felt that it put us in an awkward position for a time – not the content [of the constitution] so much as some of the messages that were given out. I needed to share with the Pope some of those concerns. I think those were expressed and heard in a very friendly spirit.”

Dr Williams told the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme, that the meeting with the Pope “went as well as I could have hoped”, and that dialogue under the Council for Christian Unity would continue as usual. This week, leaders of the Churches will discuss the third phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. Dr Williams said that the Pope “was extremely enthusiastic about the next stage in ecumenical dialogue”.

Dr Williams denied that the Anglican Ordinariates were a departure from ecumenism. “It’s a pastoral measure for certain people, certain groups; it is not a new ecumenism.”

The Holy See described the meeting as cordial. The Pope gave the Archbishop a pectoral Cross, an indication that he recognises his episcopacy — in spite of a 19th-century papal bull under which Anglican orders are deemed “absolutely null and utterly void”.

Before the meeting, Dr Williams told the Financial Times that he had been left with a sore ego by the manner of the announcement. “I did have very short notice. I think that was a pity. It would have been good to discuss it a bit more. But I don’t think it’s a deadly blow, by any means. There are people who we knew were very likely to become Roman Catholics if the Church moved ahead with ordaining women as bishops here.”

Read it all here.


Rolin said...

"There are people who we knew were very likely to become Roman Catholics if the Church moved ahead with ordaining women as bishops here."

And, he may as well have said, "We didn't care."

Anonymous said...

The FT article referenced should receive more attention; it is fairly illuminating. I think this is an important paragraph from it (which I think is a little different than in the print version I threw out yesterday, but am not sure):

"One of Williams’ most abiding characteristics has been a refusal to use his pulpit to condemn the personal morality of an increasingly secular public. He has said he is keen to avoid the “comic-vicar-to-the-nation” role. Nor is he interested in the stratagems of political leadership – forcing a “Clause Four moment” by taking on the traditional wing of his own Church. He is aware, however, that this could lead to his being seen as weak: “People think vicars are silly, ineffectual figures who bumble around the edges of situation comedies. We have a dangerous blurring of the leader and the celebrity in our global culture – people don’t always think leadership is being exercised unless noise is being made. And I think they’re wrong. I just live with the perception [of weakness] because it is the kind of culture we live in.”

There you are. Contrast this, by the way, with his actions in Jamaica. He chooses to exercise his leadership to support TEC; he does not choose to exercise his leadership to support the orthodox. How he perceives this himself, I have no idea. I suppose the GAFCON primates have the measure of this by now.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Rolin's "We didn't care" comment got me thinking about the difference between not caring and not allowing our caring to keep us from acting as we believe God is calling us to act. I do care that some of my friends have left the Episcopal Church because of the ordination of women, the revision of the BCP, and a number of other decisions. I care, but I believe these decisions - at least most of them - were the right decisions.

Anonymous said...

When an organization makes an obvious departure from its vision and mission, it puts on a new identity, even if it retains the old name.

Those members/customers/supporters who agree with the changes will stay. Those who disagree will depart. At this point, the rate of departure in several of the AC branches outweighs the rate that new members are arriving.

Religious organizations are not immune to freedom of choice. They may be able to impose considerable pain on those leaving, but failure to attract new adherents will always be a signal that the end is in sight.


Dale Matson said...

Fr. Wier,
"I care, but I believe these decisions - at least most of them - were the right decisions."
Which decisions do you believe were not right?

Fr. Daniel Weir said...


The decisions in TEC with which I disagree are not, I suspect, particularly controversial and are not, I supect, among those that have prompted some to swim the Tiber. Among them are some of the decisions made in BCP revision, e.g., allowing only two forms of the Great Thanksgiving in Rite One, using the Nicene and not the Apostles' Creed at Ordinations and the Celebrations of New Ministry. More recently, I have been unhappy about litigation rather than negotiation in property disputes, although I am convinced that that decision was in some cases the only one possible.

Dale Matson said...

Fr. Weir,
Would you allow for the use all four Eucharistic prayers in Rite I as in Rite II?

Fr. Daniel Weir said...


I'm not sure what Eucharistic prayers I would have included as options for Rite I, but I think that allowing only two was a mistake. It would be wonderful to have a traditional language Eucharistic prayer with the kind of emphasis on the Incarnation that we find in Prayer B. But the decision was made to have only the prayer from the 1928 BCP and a revised version of that prayer. I think this has meant that the worship of congregations that prefer traditional language is not as rich as it might have been.