on Monday, 14 July 2008 at 11.19 pm by Simon Sarmiento
categorised as Anglican Communion, Church of England
Stephen Bates has written a major essay: Church of England: Beset by liberals, hounded by conservatives, Williams needs a miracle to keep church intact.
Missing in this summary is Williams’s actual commitment – that is to a Catholic understanding of bishops and an international view of his own primacy. He does impose this view, and last year combined it with a Protestant view of expected belief between Churches. He has lectured (by proxy) some peculiar stuff about the mother Church and how lack of innovation is some sort of gift. And the primatial initiative in challenging or seeking to limit local development on these grounds becomes intelligible as part of the service of the mother Church – to those to which it is the… Read more »
This is a fine and stimulating piece by Stephen Bates, though it leaves one distinctly depressed at the wayward drift of the Church under Williams. As he writes:
Actually, it may be just cluelessness. One former primate says: “I once asked Rowan what his strategy was. He twitched his eyebrows and said, ‘There is no strategy.’ That shocked me.”
While a worthy piece, this paper demonstrates the blind broadside. Some souls have focussed on the question of allowing women to speak for themselves (after all, men haven’t done a such a great job of protecting us for over 2000 years) or tolerating GLBTS (where some souls deny they come under the classification of eunuchs, forgetting that they have not only not provided for GLBTS but also for eunuchs). The reason things are in such a fracas is much deeper than that. The conservatives got “busted” for being on the backfoot about more than allowing women a voice or treating… Read more »
It’s all very well. But what was Williams supposed to DO? Back Liberals – lose most of the C of E and most of world-wide Anglicanism. Back Evangelicals – and lose British Liberals, the American and Canadian churches, and most of London. The only thing he might have tried, right at the beginning, when his ‘
authority’ was at its height, would have been to say loud and clear: the gay thing must not become a communion-divider. But would that have ‘worked’? I doubt it.
We are all suffering here, but because he is the kind of person he is, because he is Welsh (and that much-maligned race is very good at it), and most of all because of his position, he – manifestly – is suffering much more than most, and, moreover, he is suffering for all of us Anglicans. There would seem to be something Jesus-like about that. Certainly, some of us find in it a humbling grandeur.
OT but worth noting:
It appears we have another Lambeth boycott breaker. +Johannes Angela, of Bondo, Kenya is pictured on Ruth Gledhill’s blog. This despite ++Nzimbi repeating only recently that the Kenyan bishops would not be there.
+Angela joins +Cyril Okorocha, of Owerri, Nigeria in ignoring the blanket boycott by their provinces.
Our prayers should be with them, for they will undoubtedly face hostility when they return home (and perhaps some admiration and envy).
But he wouldn’t have lost most of world wide anglicanism – because all liberals asked for was plurality. The FOCA’s are based in a limited number of provinces. OK, play the numbers game, but really, the Anglican Communion would be far better without the Victorian fundamentalists of Uganda, Kenya and Uganda.
I think most of the CofE can actually live with different approaches within one church – maybe not Reform or the Church Society but surely that has to be seen as an advantage given their inability to accept any views other than their own.
Despite all of my frustrations with him, especially his mystifying refusal to understand, or even speak with, American Episcopalians, I’ve always felt sorry for ++Rowan Williams. With this civil war in the Communion, he’s out of his depth. He’s a very unworldly man forced to deal with very worldly matters of power and politics. In other contexts, he would be a superlative thinker and a saintly example to us all.
And another boycott breaker:
+Beneah Okumu of Mumias, Kenya is listed as a pre-Lambeth visiting bishop in the diocese of St Asaph:
“But what was Williams supposed to DO? Back Liberals – lose most of the C of E and most of world-wide Anglicanism. Back Evangelicals – and lose British Liberals, the American and Canadian churches, and most of London.” Actually, anyone who would have left had Williams “backed the liberals” has pretty much done so anyway. I’m not sure what your experience of the Church fo England is, John, but I find it hard to imagine that the C of E as a whole would side with the evangelicals (what its bishops might do is – of course – another matter).… Read more »
With every deference, the refusal to recognize the many inconsistent and contradicting forces at work in the church in these times, transecting the heart of Canterbury’s office, seems almost wilful.
It is sad in the face of the heroism this man is displaying. And it should be discarded and left behind.
It would probably have been best if Rowan Williams had followed his youthful inclination to become a Roman Catholic. He clearly is not equipped to deal with plurality and diversity.
Thanks for posting this very thoughtful piece. I’d offer one refinement, and that is to say, that had New Hampshire not elected +Gene, some other diocese might have, and had nobody elected +Gene, the attack on TEC backed by IRD would have found another excuse. This is demonstrated in great detail on the web site of the Diocese of Washington [DC] under the title “Follow the Money,” in which Jim Naughton reveals the power-hungry for exactly what they are. While they pound on the Bible and misuse Scripture to beat of glbt people, they find no prpb;em with violations of… Read more »
MRG, I’m a member of the C of E. It’s the Evangelical churches by and large that are growing. MJ, Very heartening. Slightly off-topic but the Sudanese bishops always were coming. Virtuous lot. When the gay issue came up on their agenda they just agreed to move on to the next item. When a non-stipendiary priest from the church we go to was in the Sudan recently he was approached by a black businessman who demanded to know what Anglicans were doing in support of gay rights. ‘Our’ Sudanese bishop is Bishop Francis Loyo, who is one of the leaders… Read more »
I say to ++Rowan: If you try to be all things to all people you won’t be anything special to anyone in particular. Trying to hold the middle will simply result in getting yourself skewered equally by both sides.
“I’m a member of the C of E. It’s the Evangelical churches by and large that are growing.”
But the question I always ask and seemingly never get an answer to: Where is that growth coming from? Is it an influx of the previously unchurched? Or are they attracting the disaffected from the CoE, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, etc.?
If the former, more power to them. If the latter (as I suspect), then they are doing nothing to sow the Gospel on new ground, merely reaping what others have already sown and watered.
“Trying to hold the middle will simply result in getting yourself skewered equally by both sides.”
Or as one of my Texas friends says, “The only things you find in the middle of the road are dead armadillos and a yellow stripe.”
I am not sure that the Archbishop of Canterbury would agree fully with how his position and approach have been portrayed, in that we have reached the Lambeth Conference with only five Churches from the Communion staying away – when at one time Peter Akinola had the names of 19 Primates in his pocket and was ready to play this card had he not got his way at Dar es Salaam. From this point of view Lambeth is already a spectular success, for the viciousness of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué has been dissipated and the Primates Group never called… Read more »
‘But the question I always ask and seemingly never get an answer to: Where is that growth coming from? Is it an influx of the previously unchurched? Or are they attracting the disaffected from the CoE, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, etc.? If the former, more power to them. If the latter (as I suspect), then they are doing nothing to sow the Gospel on new ground, merely reaping what others have already sown and watered.’ Mixture of both, I think. But on the latter level, it remains the case that they’re not actually increasing the overall level of C of… Read more »
Interesting intervention of Benedict XVI (The Independent): Roman Catholic insiders say there are two motives behind the Pope’s concerns. A decision has been taken within the Roman Catholic hierarchy that it is in its interests for the Anglican Church to maintain unity. Despite speculation about a group of conservative bishops breaking away to the Roman church, senior Catholics say such a move would be “premature”, and that they are not encouraging defections. The other reason is that the Pope has developed a strong personal relationship with Dr Williams. “They get on, they are both theologians,” a source said last night.… Read more »
Certainly is an interesting intervention. Leaves me rather conflicted – as I suspect it does you!
There is an interesting battle going on here Fr Joe.
We don’t often see the divisions and internal politics of the Vatican spill over so visibly – but the English and Welsh hierarchy with their supporter at the Tablet are telling one story supported by the Vatican department responsible for Ecumenical Affairs and the Incomparable Damian Thompson/Catholic Herald – apparently supported by some big bitters in theCDF – is saying that Benedict is about to announce some special welcome for disenchanted Anglicans as a slap in Rowan’s face.
It’s all quite amusing really!
Spirit of Vatican II: It appears that the liberal media, such as the Tablet and the Independent, are spinning this story to suit their agenda. See Damian Thompson, editor of the Catholic Herald, in today’s Telegraph: “(There is) more evidence this morning that Catholic liberals are panicking at the prospect of an influx of conservative Anglicans. They want us to believe that Pope Benedict is “shunning defectors” in an attempt to shore up the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Not true. Liberals claim that Pope Benedict has “let it be known that he does not support the defection of… Read more »
Damian Thompson: “The Pope is supporting moves by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to construct a model whereby a group of rebel conservative Anglicans, the Traditional Anglican Communion, can be received en masse and occupy their own structures inside the Roman Catholic Church.”
Spin, on top of spin, on top of spin: the “TAC” isn’t in communion w/ Canterbury (and, um, hasn’t been for *years*, contra Nigeria ;-/). Ergo, even IF the above is true, it has NO bearing on the current membership of the AC.
John, your analysis so much more erudite than mine!!!
I did mean to type “big Hitters in the CDF”
Not “big Bitters in the CDF”
But The Lord moves in ……….