Friday, 7 August 2009

Who cares about the Anglican schism?

Cif belief has this as Question of the Week: Who cares about the Anglican schism?

Dr Rowan Williams’s characteristically long and ruminative piece on the Anglican schism, or, as he would have it, the futures of Anglicanism, leaves one quite obvious question unanswered: what difference will any of this make?

The responses come from:

Harriet Baber Churchgoers don’t care

Graham Kings Federation isn’t enough

Davis Mac-Iyalla The church must recognise us

and, today, my own contribution: The English care about their clergy

It makes no sense to split over same-sex unions, when we are in communion with churches that already sanction them. And we will not let our LGBT clergy be hounded out.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 12:15pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England
Comments

Simon: Looks like the Davis Mac-Iyalla link here is broken? -Edwin+

SS says: Now Fixed. Sorry.

Posted by: The Revd Edwin Beckham on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 1:05pm BST

I think Harriet Baber reduces the importance of the church to most Episcopalians a bit too far; I and my fellow parishioners DO care about what the church's theology and ecclesiology are...but they don't much care about what the theology and ecclesiology of the CoE or the Nigerian church are.

And Graham Kings seems unable, as always, to accept the possibility that circumstances are different in the US than they are in the UK, both in terms of how the church is run and how the church views its place in the larger world. He certainly seems unable to accept the possibility that the Spirit speaks differently to different people depending on their circumstances.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 1:09pm BST

Simon, yes, you are quite right to point out that the C of E is in communion with the Church of Sweden, which has been blessing gay couples since 1995.

I thought I should try do some research on the gay issue in the other Nordic churches, and indeed the Old Catholics and any others the C of E is in communion with. I've just started gathering together information, and posting it up on my new blog http://viaintegra.wordpress.com (Well, everyone else seems to have one!) I'm new to the whole thing, so hope it's as accessible as it should be, and apologise to the learned company here present in advance for its many infelicities: I will try to improve and add to it.

Basically, surprise, surprise, the C of E leadership is increasingly falling out of line with all the people it is meant to be in communion with, and seems to be sidling closer to the church it is not in communion with, the RC Church.

I will also seek to add material on the role of women clergy across the churches: I am sure there is a correlation between the exclusion of women from decision-making and the exclusion of openly gay people.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 3:08pm BST

Sorry, Bishop Kings, but for the life of me, I can't figure out how "a bunch of grapes" models interdependence. It models "I am the vine, you are the branches" up to a point; but I've watched grapes grow. By and large, all their "interaction" is pushing and shoving for room to grow. So, it can give us a clear image to reflect on the dependence all of us have on Christ, but not how we interact with one another. (Granted, neither does "a bag of marbles.")And it can be all too easily misinterpreted into an image of all dependent on Canterbury.

So, what metaphor, what image might we use? That could take some thought. Of course, there is all that talk about "the body," where one organ cannot say to another, "I have no need of you." At the same time, neither does the kidney ask permission of the arm nor the eye ask permission of the liver to do their respective tasks

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 3:49pm BST

Graham Kings wrote: "It gave the green light to the consecration of more bishops who are in sexual relationships outside the marriage bond..."

Funny this. A few years ago, the anti Moderns referred to (heterosexual) marriage as the one and only bond possible...

Now, when it isn't any longer the one and only, partnerships having been introduced and in several places replaced by full marriage, the phrasing appears more from caution.

Changing Times... Now it is the anti Moderns who don't dare speak their name ;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 4:03pm BST

Simon
"And we will not let our LGBT clergy be hounded out."

Who is the "we" and how will they prevent it?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 4:29pm BST

Davis

We need to add concerns about the fatherless and children. The God of the Jews does not tolerate abuse of either (from 10 year old girls being married off and then dumped out for the hyenas to eat when their wombs are torn open by premature motherhood, to choir boys molested by priests).

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 "For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt."

Psalm 10:17-18 "You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more."

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 4:55pm BST

I care a great deal about schism in the Anglican Communion. I fully support interdependence between various instances of the Body of Christ. But what makes for an instance of the Body of Christ? Is it not among other things, 'valid' ordinations? And particularly ordinations in the historic Apostolic Succession. Is that not one leg of the Lambeth Quadrilateral?

The devastating pain of schism would be that over time our new ordinations would lose their validity as no duly consecrated Bishops would be available to ordain - a long time to be sure. Then we would no longer be an instance of the Body of Christ. Apostolic succession is not a matter of democracy or wishful thinking, but simple historic succession.

Posted by: allan K on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 5:39pm BST

A friend in the UK told me that the percentage of partnered gay clergy in the Diocese of Durham is higher than that in the Church of England as a whole, and that in itself is not an insignificant number. (I was told that this was partly because Bishop Jenkins, ~20 years ago, was quietly sympathetic to gay clergy.) Does +Tom Wright realize this? Perhaps not; I'm told he's not home very often. (He comes to the US a lot to sell books, but I don't think he hangs out with Episcopalians, whom he obviously doesn't like. He didn't stop by our parish when he was in Iowa City, as best I recall.)

Posted by: Bill Moorhead on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 5:52pm BST

Kings? Spin doctor. Brother to Wright.

Both, perhaps mentors of a sort (official, unofficial, happenstance?) to several junior spin doctors who whiplash post here sometimes?

What high narrative Kings engages to speak glowingly of Archbishop Tutu. How highly Kings speaks of the communal religious Anglicans relations that backed Tutu up, in prophetic witness.

No Anglican controversy there; we already worked it through, starting back when believers utterly re-discerned slavery as an institution.

Overturning slavery – a worldwide social and religious institution – pretty much since the civilizations of historical record ever began – involved rethinking the place of people of color, and that sent us back to seriously and selectively take a new read through our scriptures. Oh, we re-evaluated our heavy-footed tradition for flat earth beliefs and practices, aimed at people of color, too?

Still.

Fasten the seat belts.

Big, Fast Twist?

Kings completely fails to appreciate how the existing, extant communion had capacity to stand with Tutu. He no sooner finishes praising it all, than he suddenly spin doctors furiously to condemn it all.

Suddenly, this very wonderful communion is revealed as a – gasp, horrors, a pox upon their houses - “federation.” Weak. Incompetent. Dare we say – emasculated?

Ooops. What happened?

Well, a queer bishop Came Out, finally telling the truth about God at work in his daily life, loving relationships, ministry. Actually, he Came Out as a priest; but Kings couldn't be bothered to notice way back then. It was purely a New Hampshire piece of business.

Now Kings would have us all conclude that this changed everything, in one bad swoop of silly queer guyness. Where has Kings been? Since Wolfendon Report in England, queer folks have been coming out. That's what? Six decades ago? At first we were startled, but then we began to work it through. Now we know without much doubt: Those queer folks are our productive, competent, loving family members, friends, neighbors, brother-sister citizens.

Even when queer folks fall into the same life troubles as straight folks, our informed best response is not to gasp in horror and run screaming in alarm from them and their troubles.

Our response is to help them as we would help, well? A family member, a friend, a neighbor, a brother-sister citizen in distress.

No solid rock witness then – spin doctoring. Hard right spin, pure, simple.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 6:29pm BST

I'm troubled that Graham Kings seems to think that our Bishops should only speak out when it's one of our own flock being persecuted. And does he really think the rest of the world will listen more carefully if we call ourselves a communion instead of something else? I think not. In any case, why not be in solidarity with all the oppressed, not just those who are most "kin" to us?

Posted by: Charles Allen on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 7:45pm BST

I wonder how Kings views the differing policies in the Anglican Comunion on such things as remarriage after divorce while the ex is alive? Lay presidency? Allowences for churches in cultures where polygamy is allowed? Ordination of women?

Why do I get so tired of asking his ilk these rhetorical questions?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 8:03pm BST

I felt a great sadness reading the comments on Simon Sarmiento's Guardian piece. Yes, there were one or two screeds from the usual "reasserters." But the rest of the comments picked up on the title, and ran with it: "Our clergy? Not my clergy, mate. I don't care about them, they have nothing to say to me, a bunch of old bigots, completely irrelevant, pay no attention at all to any of them..."

That's what I'd be worried about if I were Archbishop of Canterbury. Or even Bishop of Durham, or Croydon.

Posted by: Charlotte on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 9:08pm BST

Allan K:

And by what right does any one province of the Communion tell another province whether or not its ordinations are valid? Remember, according to the Romans, no ordinations other than its own are valid, not even those of the equally ancient Eastern churches.

One of the whole points of the Anglican reformation was the idea that national churches respond to national needs and callings, that no church should or would be subject to the discipline of a foreign bishop. THAT is the essence of Anglican ecclesiology.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 9:13pm BST

As has been pointed out many times before, the "Communion" died when some of the primates refused to receive communion from the ABC because Presiding Bishop Griswold did -- but I can't for the life of me see that the voice of the WWAC would be less effective if it were called by another name -- this just seems silly -- besides the failure to speak out when it should & the fact that it is almost always ignored anyway ...

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 9:23pm BST

Fr Mark, that is very helpful information. Do please carry on collecting it...

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 8 August 2009 at 12:09am BST

Erika
By "we" I meant in the first instance other members of the Church of England, both clergy and lay. But I believe many more - from the other 90%+ - would also join in.

Charlotte
As to the Cif belief commenters, I would expect to find such views among those expressed at such a website. There are plenty of secularists in the UK.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 8 August 2009 at 12:25am BST

"Rather than close, intimate, interconnected relationships, provinces of an Anglican federation would be able to "do their own thing" –whether that be authorising lay people to preside at holy communion or proceeding with official public blessings of same-sex unions."
- Graham Kings -

The Body of Christ is a spiritual, rather than a material, reality surely. Does Graham Kings seriously believe that our membership of the body of Christ is limited to our membership of any one of it's links - to any one of it's parts of the Church in the world? If so, his understanding of how one is incorporated into the Body of Christ by Baptism is very different from that indicated in the councils of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church - of which we, the baptized-into-Christ, are all members.

This is why the Sacrament of Baptism is recognized in common by different part of the Church Catholic. Whether you are a Roman Catholic or an Anglican, you are recognized by both Church hierarchies as being a part of the Body of Christ. Unlike the Roman Catholics, the Anglican Church around the world has different ecclesial provinces - each independent and legally self-governing - which is not true for R.C.'s, who have to 'tow the line' to remain in Communion with their own Church.

We are not Roman Catholics but more like the different strands of Orthodoxy, which maintain their own specific fellowship - independent of, but not out of communion with, one another in Christ.

When I say in the Mass: "We are one bread, one body, for we all eat of the one Bread", I do this in communion with, but not ruled by, my Roman Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ. Christ is the fulcrum of Unity. The Church has not yet accomplished its vocation to fill the gap.

In the meantime, TEC, the C.of E. and the rest of us Anglicans should do our best to "Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace".

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 8 August 2009 at 4:07am BST

"Apostolic succession is not a matter of democracy or wishful thinking, but simple historic succession" - Alan K -

I wonder, Alan K, if you have ever heard the story of Melchizedek,'King of Salem, Priest of the most High God' who appeared out of nowhere to feed Abraham and his retreating army in the Old Testament (Gen.14:18), who is seen by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews as having pre-figured the priesthood of Christ? While one would not wish to deny the efficacy of the Apostolic Succession, let's not be too dogmatic, about how God might call God's priests.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 8 August 2009 at 4:24am BST

"as no duly consecrated Bishops would be available to ordain"

Why is that?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 8 August 2009 at 8:59am BST

Marshall commented that grapes "By and large, all their "interaction" is pushing and shoving for room to grow."

That is the core strategy of those who seek to exclude, and such behaviour is unacceptable, and certainly does not belong at the heart of any communion, nor in any camp that is responsible for nurturing life (on this planet or anywhere else). It is paradigm premised on death - of the weak and the "other". An anathema to God.

Leviticus 23:22 " 'When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.' "

Ezekiel 34:20-22 "...the Sovereign LORD says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered."

Matthew 25:31-46 which includes ""Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Saturday, 8 August 2009 at 9:08am BST

Thanks, Simon. I've found a good deal more information on same-sex blessings being performed across Europe,and posted it up at http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/

I'll continue to trawl through the multi-lingual media available to add further material. It appears that most of the European churches that the Church of England is in communion with have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, more realistic and pastoral policies towards their gay members than the C of E's. I suppose one should not be surprised by this, but it is important to be aware of. In appeasing the extreme views which may be current in the hierarchies of Anglican churches of Nigeria or Uganda, the Church of England, by failing to address honestly the issue of its own gay members, is falling out of step with comparable European churches.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy, of course, is trying to stamp on any emerging movement towards appropriate pastoral recognition of its gay members (as this begs too many difficult questions for the Vatican). However, there are plenty of reports in the public domain of RC clergy in various European countries being prepared to go ahead and bless same-sex couples anyway: I cite reports of this from Belgium and Italy already on my blog, and will continue to look for more.

I think the European context is something the Church of England has been very poor at engaging with. It may be that certain Anglican ecclesiastics have a tendency to see being invited in for a chat in a cardinal's office at the Vatican as the height of European ecclesiastical understanding, when the reality is much more complex than that, and necessarily involves having a better handle on the enormous changes across European society with regard to the position of women and of gay people. Tea with cardinals might not give much insight into such matters, one feels.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Saturday, 8 August 2009 at 11:17am BST

Great work Fr. Mark! Many thanks. I'm amused that your website begins with via...and ends with gra.
Inte, of course in between. Keep up the vigorous and energetic endeavour!!

Posted by: Neil on Sunday, 9 August 2009 at 9:44am BST

Of course, Fr. Mark, it depends on which Cardinal.

Posted by: Hildebrand on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 at 6:01am BST

Good work, Fr Mark.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 15 August 2009 at 12:35pm BST
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