Thinking Anglicans

Canterbury reflects on General Convention

From Lambeth Palace comes Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future.

Reflections on the Episcopal Church’s 2009 General Convention from the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion.

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Stephen BrownErika BakerMarkBrunsonchoirboyfromhellFord Elms Recent comment authors
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SW
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SW

“no Anglican has any business reinforcing prejudice against LGBT people” and yet let me proceed to do so… It seems to me that the ABC is strongly opposed to responding to local opinion and pressure – and instead responding to international opinion and pressure… as if that will somehow be more “Christian” or less prejudiced. “In the light of the way in which the Church has consistently read the Bible for the last two thousand years, it is clear that …” Slavery is morally acceptable, women are property, marriage between people of different races is reprehensible… Oh I’m sorry, he… Read more »

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

Paras 8-9 of the Archbishop’s statement: “…a person living in such a union is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond; whatever the human respect and pastoral sensitivity such persons must be given, their chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church’s teaching sanctions, and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires….So long as the Church Catholic, or even the Communion as a whole does not bless same-sex unions, a person living in such… Read more »

Joe
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Joe

‘And if this is the case, a person living in such a union is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond . . . and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires.’ Given what Rowan has said, any sexually-active LGBT relationship is a sexual relationship outside of marriage, which pretty well rules out all sexually-active LGBT folks from ordained ministry anywhere. If that’s what Rowan wants to say, then let’s say it and be… Read more »

Charles
Guest
Charles

That’s interesting. The right is appalled and furious at his statement as well and reads the document as typical liberal-speak (see Stand Firm’s comments to the statement).

Jeff Allison
Guest
Jeff Allison

This crap belongs in the pasture whence it came.

jnwall
Guest
jnwall

Two thoughts: 1. ++Rowan simply must stop referring to gay and lesbian people inside the rhetoric of “choice of a lifestyle.” Anyone alive in the 21st century who is not a member of the flat earth society or similar anti-scientific groups simply must acknowledge that being gay is not a choice. If the “choice” involved here is to be sexually active or not, then the ABC should be reminded that the Anglican tradition is to regard celibacy as a gift or a vocation. Otherwise, he could not be married and also ABC. 2. The ABC is clearly still trying to… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

An interesting summary of the present position. I am sorry Rowan Williams believes that in the context he has laid out that the Covenant as presently conceived offers ANY sort of way forward. The last few decades have indeed seen developments in how Anglicans have spun the web that connects them, and the Covenant seeks to give legitimacy to most of these changes. But it is the ecumenical dialogues and their chance of any future that have put an edge to the present dilemma. It is clear that both the RC’s and the various Orthodox groups will walk away from… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

Quite appalling stuff from the ABC and I hope English bishops round on him courageously. He simply is not in tune with the broad mass of the CofE and this statement yet again has the stench of tired and busted Fulcrum-speak. The tone is not reflective of the reality of what the CofE HAS been, CONTINUES to be, and SHALL be re gay clergy and bishops!

toby forward
Guest

The level of institutional dishonesty of this document renders it beneath contempt and not worthy of discussion. When will he go?

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

He did not say being gay is a choice but that living as a sexually active couple is a choice. He remains respectful of freedom of conscience and even open to a change in church determination of objective norms: “7. In the light of the way in which the Church has consistently read the Bible for the last two thousand years, it is clear that a positive answer to this question would have to be based on the most painstaking biblical exegesis and on a wide acceptance of the results within the Communion, with due account taken of the teachings… Read more »

Charles Allen
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Charles Allen

I was infuriated by the first half. It’s simply dishonest about the way scripture and tradition have been used with remarkable consistency to marginalize the most vulnerable among us. “The doctrine that ‘what affects the communion of all should be decided by all’ is a venerable principle.” Ideally, I suppose I agree. But historically, that never happened. Nicaea affected the communion of all, but it most certainly was not decided by all. Unless “all” really means “all,” we should stop using such an ideological ploy. What happened at Nicaea can be critically retrieved, but let’s be honest about the politics.… Read more »

Edward Craig
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Edward Craig

Jnwall
I agree with your analysis of the situation facing ++Rowan. However, I think that he realizes its more serious than that. He now recognizes that the Gafcon movement has the ear of many in the Church of England. So its not just the splitting of the AC but the possibily of the same line being drawn in the Church of England itself.
Pax,
Edward

karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

As much as I try to, I cannot find much that I like in the ecclesiology or moral theology of Rowan Williams. As a beginning, RW does not seem, in this statement, as well as many others, to understand the Reformation’s gift of restoring the primacy of Baptism to the life of the Church. Neither does he seem to understand the role that the primacy of Baptism and Baptismal theology have in the life and ecclesiology of The Episcopal Church, from its inception. These elements include a bicameral legislature that fully represents the lay baptized; the election of bishops; the… Read more »

Tim
Guest

I cannot believe ++Williams has not heard the sensible theology from which folks argue LGBT rights. (It’s not even a matter of “permitting” LGBT relationships; it’s a matter of leading society and culture, not lagging 2000yrs behind them!)

So, rather than standing up and saying “the US is a different country; they do things differently there” to justify TEC’s right to independent polity, he is also sliding increasingly towards the right. When do we get a new ABoC?

Prior Aelred
Guest

I was told (confidentially, alas) by someone working for the ABC that he has (knowingly) ordained partnered gay men to the episcopate. Also told by an American bishop who asked him flat out, why, since there were more blessings of same sex unions in the Diocese of London than the rest of the WWAC put together, TEC was singled out & was told, “Because you are open about it.”

How very sad.

karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

Here is a very clear example of the stark difference between the “theology” of Rowan Williams as it pertains to LGBT persons and their committed relationships, when compared to that of TEC, as expressed by General Conventions 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2009. From RW’s statement on GC2009: “Thus a blessing for a same-sex union cannot have the authority of the Church Catholic, or even of the Communion as a whole. And if this is the case, a person living in such a union is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage… Read more »

Fr Chris
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Fr Chris

“So long as the Church Catholic, or even the Communion as a whole does not bless same-sex unions, a person living in such a union cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a Church whose public teaching is at odds with their lifestyle…” If this is really what Rowan “thinks then he must call for mass resignations across the Church of England and beyond. He must call on all the partnered Gay Priests he has ordained and supported with spiritual direction and theological foundation to quit. Myself included. He must call upon us all to resign our orders.… Read more »

Tom
Guest

What track of Anglicanism is Rowan going to choose? The suggestion that the church shouldn’t try to at least keep up with, if not lead on, progress towards social equality is simply embarrassing. We’re not talking whether or not shops should open on Sundays here, this is about exclusion and inclusion in the church. How do we show him that people actually don’t agree with him on this? I feel like I’m standing watching TEC being bullied by the rest of the communion, and Rowan is trying to sit on the fence and avoid attracting attention, in case it is… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

I think Rowan Williams has painted himself into a corner by now, with no exit in sight. How can he summarize the case for correcting our mistaken views of queer folks, then proceed to dismiss change so easily? So why does he mention a careful and painstaking exegesis (which in fact has actually happened on a fairly massive scale of the openly published studies over the past fifty to sixty years in academia), then go on to reach conclusions which pretend that this exegesis has not at all occurred. And if it has occurred, it has failed to persuade church… Read more »

karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

The “chosen lifestyle” of celibacy in the service of injustice. From RW’s statement on GC 2009, “In other words, the question is not a simple one of human rights or human dignity. It is that a certain choice of lifestyle has certain consequences.” Here, Rowan Williams points out that LGBT persons can choose a lifestyle of lovelessness, refusing to act on your love for another person of your own gender; refusing to form lifelong committed relationships; refusing the support and companionship of a person that you love. This pertains especially to anyone who would hold authority and teach in the… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
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choirboyfromhell

Prior Aelred: “I was told (confidentially, alas) by someone working for the ABC that he has (knowingly) ordained partnered gay men to the episcopate. Also told by an American bishop who asked him flat out, why, since there were more blessings of same sex unions in the Diocese of London than the rest of the WWAC put together, TEC was singled out & was told, ‘”Because you are open about it.”‘ One of the greatest sins that affects us Yanks, Aelred, I’m afraid, is that we in the U.S. are terribly ‘earnest’, and that is really looked down upon by… Read more »

Viriato da Silva
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Viriato da Silva

“Will there be a way for those of us who feel called to the Episcopal church in the US to be given pastoral provision in the UK?” Many of us in TEC hope so, and believe the time is long overdue. Without boundary-crossing a` la the Bishops Intruder, we pray for a building-up of ties with progressive Anglicans around the world, whether at the provincial level — e.g., Canada, Scotland, Brazil, Mexico, Southern Africa — or at the diocesan and parish level in such “mixed” provinces as Ireland, Wales, England, Australia, Aoteoroa New Zealand, etc. Not to mention building stronger… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

I saw the words “chosen lifestyle” and shut down.

I am incapable of saying anything “fit for print” at the moment, so I’ll leave others to do so.

Lord have mercy!

karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

What is “the Church” and who can represent it? From Rowan Williams’ letter: “a person living in such a union cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a Church whose public teaching is at odds with their lifestyle. (There is also an unavoidable difficulty over whether someone belonging to a local church in which practice has been changed in respect of same-sex unions is able to represent the Communion’s voice and perspective in, for example, international ecumenical encounters.)” In this short paragraph are represented two of the serious defects in RW’s ecclesiology, and his moral theology, from my… Read more »

Adam Armstrong
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Adam Armstrong

“8. This is not our situation in the Communion. Thus a blessing for a same-sex union cannot have the authority of the Church Catholic, or even of the Communion as a whole. And if this is the case, a person living in such a union is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond; whatever the human respect and pastoral sensitivity such persons must be given, their chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church’s teaching sanctions, and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

This statement is (I believe) a very exciting development. It’s one of the few things ++Rowan has ever written – cause for rejoicing in its own terms. Others have pointed out some of the silliness of ++R’s views about so-called lifestyle choices. Such daftness is evident on the page and scarcely even needs pointing out (we are though living in strange times). The conclusion I reach is that there is a profound layer of discrimination that cannot be addressed or healed until same sex marriage is allowed in both Church and State. That is the clear and inescapable conclusion I… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

Given the ABC is not speaking for the broad mass of the CofE there is at least some hope that in the new two tier communion, people in the pews will opt for the TEC take of the gospel. It is up to parish priests to invite who they wish at the altar…and the ABC’s pronouncements about inner and outer tracks will be rendered meaningless as bishops and priests from TEC are made welcome in England. If the choice is between conscience and what God’s love demands, and the ABC trying to improvise a new Church…then he must dream on… Read more »

Paul R
Guest
Paul R

The only explanation for his use of the offensive phrase “a certain choice of lifestyle has certain consequences” is the one that I have previously advanced in this forum. He is now a closet evangelical. His wife is an evangelical theologian, a friend of N.T. Wright. He retained the evangelical Secretariat appointed by the evangelical George Carey, which advised him in the Jeffrey John affair. The old saying ‘You can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses’ fits theologians too. Too many people thought that his behaviour in the Jeffrey John case was an anomaly. It very… Read more »

Jared Cramer
Guest

Several flaws in this latest letter from ++Rowan.

Affirming our gay and lesbian members is simply not analogous to theological discussions surrounding CWOB or Lay Presidency. Both of those involve dominical sacraments and the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, whereas moving forward with our GLBT members does not.

This is not a question of “lifestyle choice” as many have noted.

Consensus on ethical questions has never been a requirement for Christian unity–quite the opposite actually!

The structures of the Anglican Communion are important, but they do not safeguard our unity.

john
Guest
john

It seems to me a perfectly decent statement, with RW trying to balance a range of competitive/conflicting imperatives. That, basically, is his job. And it’s clearly written. To say it is ‘decent’ doesn’t mean one has to agree with it. We – most people here – don’t. That’s fine. It’s good. It is the inevitable result of a ‘liberal’ perspective. I have no doubt at all that we are right. (And, personally, I am very glad to learn of people who are faithfully and happily partnered.) I understand, if not fully at least to some degree, the anger and indignation… Read more »

J. Michael Povey
Guest
J. Michael Povey

Dear, poor Prufrockian Rowan:

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use, 115
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

Karen McQueen speaks my mind.

Williams has really lost it. And to think he signed the Letter after Lambeth 1.10 was forned through.

He is a far cry from that. Shameless.

To think how excited so many of us were, when the possibility of his appointment to Canterbury was first mooted. And over-joyed when Labour government did appoint hime, in the teeth of fundamentalist oppostion to him.

It is ‘simply’ an issue of human rights.

Pluralist
Guest

My argument against his Reflections is here:

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2009/07/real-archbishop-of-anglicanism.html

The ‘more or less’ unified structure of Anglicanism worked because it was also diverse, and he will go on about this difference between his ecumenical Global Communion (read Church) and ‘local Churches’. No – the local Churches are the actual Churches.

badman
Guest
badman

Here Rowan Williams hardens his line that consensus trumps justice.

His bottom line is that it is more important not to offend the Pharisees than (for example) to love your neighbour.

I don’t think that can be right. And, the more often Rowan Williams says it, and the more clearly he expresses it, the less likely it is that I or many other people in England will want to continue to be part of his institutionally homophobic church.

Pluralist
Guest

‘The longer Williams remains in position – and that could be at least another 10 years’ Paul R

He won’t be there another ten years. The policy is coming to an end and he must be burnt out from it already. I look forward to the measure of his writing after he has given up this burden.

Though I didn’t focus on it, I agree with others here about the offensiveness of his words regarding gay clergy and their apparent inability to represent the Church.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

Prufrockian indeed. ‘Lifestyle’ trivializes our lives. ‘Sexual preference ‘ indeed reflects a flat-earth mentality in the field of geology. Not ONE WORD about vagrant bishops, or as I like to think of them, hobo bishops. He deplores anti-gay violence while using some of the language [see above] that allows it. As I wrote on another forum, substitute the words “chatel slavery” for every mention of glbt reference. Or try “remarriage after divorce.” For that matter, being fully representative as a deacon priest or bishop … that argument could preclude persons of color from ministering to us persons of paleness. Prufrockian… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

RIW would like to add this to RW’s letter…

Of course a divorced and re-married man and woman may hold representative roles in the Communion.We have become more open and understanding of adultery and we repent of our unloving attitude to divorcees. Of course my future Supreme Governor, who I will probablly crown is marrried to a woman whose former husband is still alive.

Furthermore in direct contradiction of St Paul women are allowed to have pastoral oversight and exercise the episcopate.

Neil
Guest
Neil

Jared’s quadrilateral is spot on – succint and brilliant. Thank you.

Neil
Guest
Neil

I’m interested in Craig’s assessment, and wish it were true. The problem remains though, that decent as he tries to be…intelligent (except in the serious matter of judgement) as he undoubtedly is…and loyal as we would all like to be…the ABC has got it wrong, wrong and wrong again. It saddens me to say he is simply not up to the job…and perhaps would have been a better bishop if he had had parochial experience.

Tobias Haller
Guest

It is not “incongruity.” It is a “mystery” as marvelous as that of the Incarnation itself.

In the meantime, I find the document on the whole to be helpful. Read with care, you will see it is all about process and development of doctrine. While some are reading it as a “No” to same-sex marriage or ordination of bishops, it is rather a very well framed “Not Yet.” There is a huge difference, and I think we all know the way the Wind is blowing — where it wills, and not as we choose.

Prior Aelred
Guest

Tobias — I should like to think so — in the heady days after the Council, with the vision of men like Paul VI & Ramsey & Athenagoras, I thought reunion was just around the corner — now I suspect that Anglicanism will come very close to schism, but probably not step off the cliff — but remain uncertain for the rest of my life before some true reconciliation is achieved — alas!

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

The words “chosen lifestyle” end the last shred of credibility the Archbishop of Canterbury might have with me.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

I suppose he does not fully realize the horrendous connotations that the phrase “chosen lifestyle” has acquired in this debate. However, he did not use the loaded and obscurantist phrase “sexual preference” at all. Martin Reynolds highlighted his references to ecumenism. But as far as I can see ecumenism is a forgotten fad dating from the “old interpretation” of Vatican II (the Vatican is not pushing what conservative bishops are calling the “new interpretation”). Churches that have reduced ecumenism to a carrot-and-stick for shoring up their own stale attitudes to women and gays are churches whose leaders are not in… Read more »

Andrew Innes
Guest

“with due account taken of the teachings of ecumenical partners also”

Why so? Were they taken into account before moving on the ordination of women or divorce and remarriage? Someone may correct me but I don’t think so. Therefore, one must ask why is he raising he the bar on this issue?

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

If the Covenant moves with ‘glacial speed’ and a twin-track Communion emerges, there will be few, if any, women bishops at Lambeth 2018.

But if this proves unpalatable for Fulcrum and others, the Covenant will be less effective and resemble a receding glacier.

MarkBrunson
Guest

. . a person living in such a union cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a Church whose public teaching is at odds with their lifestyle… Here is the real crux of the problem – it is simply not true, in fact an outright lie, that this is happening, except in the case of a single worldwide “church” under his authority. He is attempting to form reality by presenting his chosen reality. For the last time, both “sides” have been used and are being used to advance one man’s power-play. He has chosen one side over the… Read more »

Chris Smith
Guest
Chris Smith

Prior Aelred: With all due respect, I am a “Vatican II Catholic” and the imperial Roman model of top down, centralized hierarchy, without inclusion of the lay people in decision making is, in my opinion, in its’ final days of decay. It doesn’t work. It is without charity. Some of our greatest theologians have been marginalized and punished for their different thinking because it doesn’t fit a “one size fits all” approach as promulgated by the Bishop of Rome and his minions. The institutional church, no matter what branch of the tree of catholicism, is undergoing a radical transformation, mainly… Read more »

David G
Guest

One imagines the ABC drinks cases upon cases of Scotch!!

R Hopper
Guest
R Hopper

Question: “[S]ince there were more blessings of same sex unions in the Diocese of London than the rest of the WWAC put together, [why is it that] TEC was singled out.”

Answer: Because this eye of this hurricane is composed of American conservatives … who have the rest of the world’s conservatives spinning about them with great force.

If the ECUSA is pushed aside … the conservatives will force their way to into power and the Anglican Communion will become one great Hell of a pathetic nothing,

David G
Guest

It’s Pathetic already in some areas, mainly most of Florida, most of Texas, parts of California, and a coal vein in Pennsylvania. Virginia is a horse of a different color.