Monday, 30 March 2009

Rochester: further media coverage

Updated Tuesday morning

George Conger Religious Intelligence Bishop of Rochester’s surprise resignation

…Details of Bishop Nazir Ali’s new work have not been finalized, the diocese noted, leading to speculation that the 59 year old bishop might be preparing for another role in the Anglican Communion in light of his high profile stance within the conservative wing of the church.

However, the General Secretary of the Church of Pakistan, Humphrey Peters tells The Church of England Newspaper the news of the resignation came as a surprise. “So far we have no idea nor have we heard anything from Bishop Michael Nazir Ali. But, in case he feels like working for Church in Pakistan in these most critical times, the Church will be more than happy to welcome him.”

A spokesman for the Gafcon movement, stated while its leaders were generally aware of Dr. Nazir Ali’s wish to move on, they had no specific knowledge about his Saturday announcement.

Speculation that Dr. Nazir Ali might take a leadership role in the third province movement in the US was downplayed by its leaders, who noted that there was no shortage of bishops in the breakaway group. Dr. Nazir Ali had sought out posts in the US in the past, and in 2004 explored becoming dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, however US sources expect the conservative leader to lend his considerable talents to the church in the developing world…

Andrew Brown Comment is free Belief What next for the Bishop of Rochester?

…His position within the diocese of Rochester had become a difficult one. A lot of his clergy were unhappy with his decision last year to boycott the Lambeth Conference, which was meant to be a gathering demonstrating the unity of the Communion’s 800 bishops around the world. In the event, something like 230 stayed away but the only English heavyweight to do so was Nazir Ali.

Signing up for a declaration that describes the Archbishop of Canterbury as an apostate for his tolerance of liberal views on homosexuality was not a way to endear himself to his colleagues, who already regarded him as vain and ambitious. But he is also consistent about his beliefs and prepared to act on them and suffer for them. As a young man in Pakistan, the son of a convert from Islam, he became the youngest Anglican bishop in the world, in a back-country diocese from which he had to be rescued, after local fundamentalists threatened to kill him and his family.

That kind of experience shaped his view of Islam in general and Pakistani peasant Islam in particular. It lay behind his claim last year that there were already “no go” areas in British cities, although he never specified where they were. It also shaped his curiously fierce monotheistic criticism of the religion. The last time we had a serious conversation, he wanted to talk about how Sufistic Islam was corrupted by its veneration of saints. He has also been unfashionably fierce in his view of Roman Catholicism as a corruption of pure Christian virtue.

I will miss him because he was one of the few principled conservative intellectuals in the House of Bishops; while I thought he was wrong about almost everything, he spoke from a lot of knowledge and a real sense of tradition…

Tuesday morning update

Jonathan Wynne-Jones disagrees with George Pitcher’s earlier comments, at the Telegraph Liberals too hasty in claiming victory at Bishop Nazir-Ali’s resignation

Charles Raven, who is already outside the Church of England, has strong criticism of GP, see Bishop Michael Nazir Ali – ‘Enough is Enough’

Bishop Pierre Whalon had this to say, On Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali’s resignation.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 30 March 2009 at 4:10pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

"Speculation that Dr. Nazir Ali might take a leadership role in the third province movement in the US was downplayed by its leaders, who noted that there was no shortage of bishops in the breakaway group."

A beautiful example of British understatement.

Posted by: Rob Leduc on Monday, 30 March 2009 at 5:17pm BST

"Signing up for a declaration that describes the Archbishop of Canterbury as an apostate for his tolerance of liberal views on homosexuality was not a way to endear himself to his colleagues" -- Andrew Brown
That's a masterful example of understatement. +Nazir Ali probably royally ticked people off over that, and therefore has no other place to go in the official Anglican Communion?
Archbishop Williams is an apostate because he publicly expresses occasional compassion towards GLBT people? GAFCON would love +Nazir Ali. Heck, they might make him their second Primate -- after ++Akinola but of course!
If anyone knows of a website that expands on Mr. Brown's statement about +Nazir Ali's "fierce monotheism" critique of both Roman Catholic and Muslim veneration of saints, could you please post it?

Posted by: peterpi on Monday, 30 March 2009 at 8:29pm BST

His criticisms of Roman Catholicism came a couple of years back; the stuff about Sufi saints is not on the web because I never put it there: we were talking in a radio studio (without the radio) on the campus at Canterbury. But it made a great impression on me.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on Tuesday, 31 March 2009 at 7:47am BST

A question or two if I may, Andrew. What exactly are you going to miss? A boxing partner?

After the description of him in your article the man doesn't sound like he should be a priest in a broad church like CofE, let alone a bishop. If his only purpose in the church was someone to endlessly argue with--as you, the American bishop in Europe, and others imply, why put on the somber "that's too bad" face--just jump up and down with joy(ok maybe not dignified enough, a simple "good riddance"?) with the rest of the progressives.
Talk about damning with faint praise, why not leave the "that's too bad" to the conservatives that mean it?

Posted by: Chris H. on Tuesday, 31 March 2009 at 1:45pm BST

An insightful analysis from the well informed Robert Tong can be found here http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/news/communion/will_canterbury_follow_rochester/
It includes the comment that "a second Gafcon is on the cards".

Posted by: John Sandeman/ Obadiah Slope on Tuesday, 31 March 2009 at 11:21pm BST

"Insightful"? "Well-informed"?

"Tendentious" is the word which springs to mind on reading Tong's piece.

Posted by: cryptogram on Wednesday, 1 April 2009 at 9:26am BST

John Sandeman/ Obadiah Slope: "An insightful analysis from the well informed Robert Tong..."

Ah, yes, the same 'insightful' and 'well informed' Mr Tong who wrote, regarding the recent Roman Catholic Mass in York Minster in honour of Mary Ward:

"The Archbishop of York and the Minster authorities should hang their collective heads in shame."
http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/news/communion/a_second_chance_at_reformation/

This was in support of Sydney bishop Glenn Davies' attack on the same:

"Does it not strike you as strange that the great Reformation truths which were hammered out in the 16th century could be so blatantly set aside by the celebration of a Roman Catholic Mass in the Church of England?... Yet what of the struggles of Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer who died at the stake for what they believed, and who vehemently warned people against the evils of the Mass?...Has the Church of England now publicly proclaimed a blasphemous fable and a dangerous deceit?"
http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/news/communion/wheres_the_reformation_now/

If this is the form of Anglicanism Mr Tong and his GAFCON associates wish to promote, then I want nothing to do with it, or them, and I have no particular interest in what he has to say.

Posted by: MJ on Wednesday, 1 April 2009 at 11:51am BST

Chris H: call me bored, call me perverse; I like people who disagree with me who know stuff that I don't; and I get very bored of the tribal sentiment among liberals, as among conservatives. Broad churches are to a surprisingly large extent made up of people who think they are in narrow ones.

With that said, I didn't write that the C of E will miss him, and I don't think it will.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on Wednesday, 1 April 2009 at 9:03pm BST

These signs of the times indicate as much, that Christendom as we thought we knew it, is over? Has long been over? We are returning to an era much more like the early, pre-Constantinian centuries, when a variety of ways to follow Jesus of Nazareth (along with a variety of ways to understand what in the world one was doing) existed?

GAFCON and/or SydneyEvos want to own the brand name, as much as they want to strictly conform not only practices but understandings. Theirs is a perfect religious storm, on display in a crystal clear bottle - determned, small tent Anglican stuff.

The notion that Nazir-Ali or Sydney or GAFCON offers a way forward in a post-modern, cross-cultural, educated and connected believer time would be laughable if conservative evangelical mind control were not simplistically equated with faith in just that very manner.

Still, admire Nazir-Ali for not being as devious and deceitful in his conservatisms as, say, xDuncan? All due props.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 1 April 2009 at 9:09pm BST

Yes, there is nothing insightful ever written by those who lead the Sydney Diocese. Sadly I have to live amongst them but not for much longer.

Posted by: Brian Ralph on Wednesday, 1 April 2009 at 9:15pm BST

What Andrew Brown misses Pitcher covers, together they make a credible backdrop for the resignation.

As a matter of interest when LGCM wrote to all the Global South leaders (and their English episcopal supporters) back in 2005 asking them to support the human rights of LGBT people even if they wanted the Church purged of their active presence - the only reply came from Nazir Ali, he committed himself to justice and equity for all gay people.

Nazir Ali has no intention of vacating the future scene, it just remains to be seen what great good/mischief he intends to play out - both characters are easily within this man's considerable repertoire.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 2 April 2009 at 1:57pm BST

This is encouraging and moving; and to the bishop's credit.

'As a matter of interest when LGCM wrote to all the Global South leaders (and their English episcopal supporters) back in 2005 asking them to support the human rights of LGBT people even if they wanted the Church purged of their active presence - the only reply came from Nazir-Ali, he committed himself to justice and equity for all gay people.'

I felt rather sad on reading that he wouldn't be missed, as we all hope to be missed, as it means we have been valued, in some way or other. I say this, having found his views hard for me to take.

I admire him taking a step into the unknown, rather than staying the comfort of a set post, home and income. Change is daunting.


Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Thursday, 2 April 2009 at 8:36pm BST
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