Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Archbishop comments on state of Communion

Additions made

ACNS has a report, Archbishop Rowan Williams: “Despite challenges, Anglican Communion life is strong”.

This quotes from a lengthy interview given to The Hindu Dialogue for me is recognition of the serious: Rowan Williams.

ACNS notes this quote about the Primates Meeting:

“I think that after the Lambeth Conference of 2008 many people felt that we found ways of talking to one another, and perhaps exercising some restraint and tact towards one another,” he said, “and it was very significant that at the next meeting of the Anglican primates, which was in the early part of 2009, all major Churches of the Communion were represented.

“Unfortunately, the situation does not remain there. The decision of the American Church to go forward, as it has, with the ordination of a lesbian bishop has, I think, set us back. At the moment I’m not certain how we will approach the next primates’ meeting, but regrettably some of the progress that I believe we had made has not remained steady.

“Alongside that, and I think this is important, while the institutions of the Communion struggle, in many ways the mutual life of the Communion, the life of exchange and co-operation between different parts of our Anglican family, is quite strong and perhaps getting stronger. It’s a paradox…

Some other extracts from the original interview:

In your February 2010 address to the General Synod, you warned that infighting over women bishops and gay priests could split the Communion. You even conceded that, unless Anglicans find a way to live with their differences, the Church would change shape and become a multi-tier Communion of different levels – a schism in all but name. Which way are things heading on these two fronts?

I think I’ll be able to be clearer about that after the next primates’ meeting. But at the moment I couldn’t say I felt completely optimistic about that. I feel that we may yet have to face the possibility of deeper divisions. I don’t at all like, or want to encourage, the idea of a multi-tier organisation. But that would, in my mind, be preferable to complete chaos and fragmentation. It’s about agreeing what we could do together.

On both these fronts – the ordination of women priests and then Bishops, and also the ordination of gay and lesbian bishops?

I think that the importance of the ordination of women question is much greater in England than in most other parts of the Communion at the moment. Far more difficult for the Communion as a whole because of the deep theological and cultural issues involved is the question of gay clergy. I know because in the last two Lambeth Conferences women Bishops have been present. Nobody has stayed away because of women bishops. So it’s not quite the same kind of issue.

After years of debate and threatened schism in the Communion, the Church has taken a decisive and progressive step towards appointing women as bishops, with a final Synod vote due in 2012. How do you see the way forward?

I think it’s well-known that in the Church of England there is a very significant minority of people who believe that the Church of England and the Anglican Churches generally should not take a large step like ordaining women bishops without more consultation with, or sensitivity to, the other great Churches – the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. That group does not wish to stop the process towards women bishops. I think they know there’s a majority, it will happen. What they are concerned about is to find fair and secure provision for their point of view within the Church of England. That’s been the most difficult question: not whether or not we have women bishops but what will be the provision made for the minority. Now this last summer the Synod declined to accept the suggestions made by the Archbishops, and I understand their reasons. But it’s left us with quite a lot of work to try and do our best for that group as well as honouring the calling of women to the Episcopate.

Your tenure has seen fraught relations with the Roman Catholic Church. It has seen the all-but-unilateral Apostolic Constitution that the Pope issued last year, creating a new Anglican rite within the Roman Catholic Church that was aimed at Anglicans who were uncomfortable with the ordination of women and gay clergy. What are your comments on this situation? There was the newspaper headline that spoke of the papal tanks on the lawns of Lambeth Palace.

Yes, I know. I said at that time that was a nonsensical version of the story. I was very taken aback that this large step was put before us without any real consultation. And it did seem to me that some bits of the Vatican didn’t communicate with other bits. Overall it seemed to me a pastoral provision for certain people who couldn’t accept where the Church of England was going, a pastoral provision which didn’t in itself affect the relations between the two Churches, between mainstream Churches. But it caused some ripples because I think there was a widespread feeling that it would have been better to consult. There were questions that could have been asked and answered and dealt with together. And as this is now being implemented, we are trying to make sure that there is a joint group which will keep an eye on how it’s going to happen. In England, the relations between the Church of England and Roman Catholic Bishops are very warm and very close. I think we are able to work together on this and not find it a difficulty.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 12:32pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England

Whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune
So no one will suspect
I'm afraid.

While shivering in my shoes
I strike a careless pose
And whistle a happy tune
And no one ever knows
I'm afraid.

The result of this deception
Is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people
I fear I fool myself as well!

I whistle a happy tune
And ev'ry single time
The happiness in the tune
Convinces me that I'm not afraid.

Make believe you're brave
And the trick will take you far.
You may be as brave
As you make believe you are

You may be as brave
As you make believe you are

Posted by: junius on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 2:30pm BST

I have to sign off and run some errands, and will read the whole interview when I can. Meanwhile, could someone indicate if the ABC addresses the church and state sponsored homophobia in Uganda and other places, and how that might affect who gets invited where among the various bodies within the Anglican Communion? There is information about new antigay activity in Uganda over on Episcopal Cafe. Thanks.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 2:31pm BST

Uganda is cooking up a genuine pogrom, one of whose intended targets is an Anglican bishop, but Rowan is too busy obsessing over the naughty Americans and their naughty lesbians to say anything about it.

Posted by: JPM on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 2:35pm BST

Cynthia, it would seem that in Rowan's moral universe, it is worse to consecrate a homosexual than to murder one.

Posted by: JPM on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 3:30pm BST

I fear +Rowan is too optimistic about the "reception" of the doctrinal convergence of the ARCIC agreements within the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church...not simply the agreements themselves on ministry and sacraments or indeed justification but the whole ARCIC "methodology". The Jerusalem Declaration after all wants to anchor Anglicanism firmly in its 16c Reformed mode and would appear to ignore completely any ecumenical convergence making Anglicanism a Reformation confessional church. Meanwhile on the Roman side, the CDF didnt seem to have much time for the ARCIC methodology either.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 5:40pm BST

JPM, thank you for that Box Turtle link. The situation in Uganda continues to be horrendous. It sounds like the Ugandan government's only concern with the newspaper that is calling for gay people to be hanged and then naming 100 of them is that the newspaper didn't file proper forms with the government and pay the proper fess. After they do that, let the pogrom begin! I wonder if Rick Warren still thinks Uganda is a swell place for Christians?
From the excerpts I looked at of the ABC's chat, there was also no mention of diocese poaching or extra-territorial intervention. And the ABC's view that all CofE folks are resigned to women bishops, but are discussing how best to carry it out sounds absolutely nonsensical to me.
Is the Archbishop of Canterbury living in an alternate reality? No concern about Uganda and other homophobic provinces (how many gay people has Akinola and his successor listened to?), no concern about diocese poaching, we're all on the same page of the hymnal regarding CofE women bishops, but repeated beatings about the head of the American church are called for.

Posted by: peterpi on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 6:02pm BST

Seems to me Dr Rowan's Statu confessioni is at hand. Will he respond?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 7:55pm BST

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been living in La La Land on the issues of women in the episcopate and ordination of gay and lesbian clergy who are not celibate. He is so out of touch with what is happening on the ground of reality that he is becoming another irrelevant and ineffective prelate. I do not say this out of disrespect but sheer frustration.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 8:00pm BST

My sentiments have already been expressed here---but I must second (third, etc) the OUTRAGE.

Gays are targetted for DEATH in Uganda, but Rowan is too busy boo-hoo'ing about the "setback" (supposedly!) which is the consecration of +Mary Glasspool BY and FOR the Diocese of Los Angeles?

Rowan doesn't have a log in his eye. He has the whole freaking FOREST! >:-0

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 10:18pm BST

I was not too impressed by his response on caste-based oppression and violence either.

Posted by: Savi H on Thursday, 21 October 2010 at 10:01pm BST

"I think that the importance of the ordination of women question is much greater in England than in most other parts of the Communion at the moment. Far more difficult for the Communion as a whole because of the deep theological and cultural issues involved is the question of gay clergy"

- ABC's statement in 'The Hindu' -

1 The fact that the ordination of women is more important to the C.of E. at the moment is despite the fact that many of us in other parts of the Anglican Communion have already acted on this important question of equality in ministry for all those who have been Baptized into Christ. This matter is as we say down under is 'Done and Dusted'.

2. Regarding the issue of gay clergy, this, too, has been theologically justified in many parts of the Anglican Communion where scientific evidence and social reality has brought about a profound change in the way gay people are perceived and treated in the light of the Gospel of O.L.J.C.
This is etill a sticking point with those few Provinces (e.g. Global South) which have refused to enter into theological dialogue with evidence from the resources that have become available to the Church by virtue of open examination of the facts surrounding human sexuality and human development. To deny such evidence is merely to hold back progress in just one more matter of human rights and dignity.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 22 October 2010 at 11:26am BST

Ron Smith, could you provide me with a way to contact you off list? You can reach me via

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Saturday, 23 October 2010 at 1:22am BST

With regard to the above, by Malcolm+ on Saturday,
I have no way of contacting you personally on your blog, Malcolm (and hopeless at facebook), but have found another way to give you my email address.

Secondly, anyone who is keen to actually hear someone speak of their own experience of 'being gay' ought to tap into 'Malcolm+' (ahown above) to access a wonderful speech by Joel, delivered to a full City Council meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, recently, on the subject of gay suicides among the young people of America. I'm pretty hard-bitten, but it made me weep!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 24 October 2010 at 11:35pm BST
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