Sunday, 20 April 2014
Justin Welby interview for the Telegraph
Cole Moreton has been interviewing the Archbishop of Canterbury for The Telegraph (and not just about same-sex marriages).
Part One (Friday) The Archbishop of Canterbury’s deadly dilemma
Part Two (Sunday) Archbishop of Canterbury: Sometimes I think: ‘This is impossible’
There are also these news items by Cole Moreton and John Bingham.
Justin Welby: the anguish I face over gay marriage
Church holds on to Wonga shares.
Other news outlets have covered the first part of the interview.
Kashmira Gander The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says Anglican Church cannot support same-sex marriage
Jack Simpson The Independent Justin Welby: Same sex ceremonies a balancing act for Church of England
Ben Quinn The Guardian Justin Welby: church ‘struggling with reality’ of same-sex marriages
BBC Welby: Church ‘struggling’ over same-sex marriages
Posted by Peter Owen on
Sunday, 20 April 2014 at 5:43pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Church of England
What surprises and disappoints me is his assertion that it is "impossible" for African believers to accept LGBT people and their relationships. You might have said exactly the same in the UK fifty years ago. But people can change: new beginnings and new attitudes are possible.
We help each other on that road when we treat people, and especially those who count as 'the other' with dignity and respect. Many churches in Africa are in the vanguard of doing that in relation to inter-communal strife - I know that because I worked there. Peace-making can happen in relation to all kinds of disagreements - but not by stigmatising or colluding in the stigmatisation of 'the other'.
Indeed, Jeremy. It's fear&loathing of the unknown. If a (Western) lesbian or gay male couple hosted an African student for a year, whatever the Biblical interpretation of that student, the fear&loathing would be Gone, Long Gone...
Reposting my comments on Justin's latest from a thread below:
Speaking of Welby, has this interview been posted here before?
[I note that it's credited to the Telegraph]
If some find marriage equality an "issue an almost impossible one to deal with" in terms of responding to a wedding invitation w/ a nice gift and joyful attendence, that's one thing.
However, if "impossible...to deal with" means denying the human rights (even life itself!) of those doing the (same-sex) marrying, that's quite another. The latter---discrimination and violence---is IMPOSSIBLE TO ACCEPT: I hope Welby understands and conveys this. Stay away from our weddings if you wish---that's your loss---but we will NEVER back down from our ***human rights*** to marry.
"What surprises and disappoints me is his assertion that it is "impossible" for African believers to accept LGBT people and their relationships."
It's nineteenth century paternal racism, which believes that white people are capable of insight and change, while black people are all just a little bit savage, and prone to following only their simple hearts.
So, for example, if a white man born in 1920 and raised in an atmosphere of pervasive reason uses the wrong word (perhaps "coloured" rather than "black') of an African-heritage priest, he's a racist who should be excoriated for his poor use of language. But if a young, educated black man decides that gays should be murdered, well, what can you expect, it's in his nature, isn't it?
The racism of low expectations, laid out for all to see.
"What surprises and disappoints me is his assertion that it is "impossible" for African believers to accept LGBT people and their relationships."
Indeed, Jeremy, and it also ignores the fact that there is a very large number of African lgbt believers who are campaigning for the recognition of their relationships in their countries.
Africa is not homogeneous, there is no one "African believer".
We should stand with those African lgbt people facing persecution from their own churches and with great Africans who fight for them, like Archbishop Tutu and Bishop Christopher Senyonjo.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is going from bad to worse.
'[T]here are other groups in many parts of the world who are the victims of oppression and poverty, who we also have to listen to, and who find that issue [i.e., LGBT equality] an almost impossible one to deal with.'
This is ridiculous.
He's retreating from the 'gay marriage will cause Christians to be killed' argument, because it is factually suspect, and because it collaborates with the persecutor.
So his next argument is that some 'groups' who themselves are 'victims' cannot 'deal with' the fact that elsewhere in the world there might be LGBT people who are no longer victims.
I'm trying to paint a picture of this, and all I can come up with is that Africans and LBGTs are together on a vessel called the S.S. Victimhood.
Both groups would like to get off the vessel. But the Archbishop would have us believe that there's an Alphonse and Gaston problem?
LGBT people worldwide must remain victims because African Christians are also victims?
The Archbishop is morally bankrupt.
I don't think Justin is a 'racist' and I don't think he is 'morally bankrupt'.
I do feel that a little caution is merited over sweeping statements, or we end up 'monstering' other Christians who we disagree with.
In my view, Justin is taking the wrong tack on LGBT issues in the Church of England. I have stated that quite a few times. I am not an apologist for his recent statements or the episcopal letter.
However, I am not such a fine figure of a Christian, that I can dismiss the life and personality of another Christian in dismissive terms. We certainly all need grace.
I also feel that 'Thinking Anglicans' potentially can make a contribution to discourse in the wider Church, but if we are not circumspect about the things we say we may not be taken seriously.
So I will try to draw a line between critique of people's policies, and ad hominems. The issue to me, is more about grace than dogma. And the challenge for Christians on both sides of the sexuality argument is to recognise a conscience different to our own, and find the love in Christ to bear one another, because we are one Church, and we are One in Christ.
This probably sounds a bit priggish but I'll have to take that. I just don't think Justin is a bad person, I believe in his goodwill, I simply oppose the approach he has taken.
[[ When I wrote "pervasive reason" that was the OSX automatic spelling corrector, which I must turn off, catching a mis-typing of "racism". ]]
"I'm trying to paint a picture of this, and all I can come up with is that Africans and LBGTs are together on a vessel called the S.S. Victimhood."
Actually, it's slightly simpler than that. Welby has fallen for the simple-minded analysis that everyone is either an oppressor or oppressed, but either (simple-minded form) never both or (slightly less simple-minded form) the latter means you aren't really the former.
So either African men cannot be sexist and homophobic because, as Africans, they are victims of racism and therefore incapable of oppression or, alternatively, African men might behave in a manner that is sexist and homophobic but they cannot be criticised for it (and are incapable of change) because of the legacy of racism, colonialism, horridism, etc.
It's nonsense, of course.
I think the shape of the debate/conversation now has the potential to change. It is interesting that Archbishop Justin has brought testimony into the public sphere - both his own testimony, and that he hears from some of the churches in Africa, as well - in fact - as that which he hears at home: and he is honest about the conflicts in that testimony.
However we all know that experience alone/testimony (which is after all narrated experience) alone cannot be determinative of theology - though the impact of experience on lived theology is greater than often acknowledged. And that applies to our own testimonies as well as those of others. It is no theology at all to take our testimony, slam it on the table and say "argue with that!"
But my main point is that if testimony is an allowed part of theological discourse, then we might end up with a more honest conversation. It doesn't seem that so many people want the conversation. But to include testimony as part of our public discourse is itself a profound change with deep theological significance.
I never thought that fighting for the welfare of one group logically entailed neglecting the welfare of another group -- au contraire.
Reading the archbishop's assertion that it is 'impossible' for African Christians to accept the prospect of Same-Sex Marriage - and, by definition, the reality of legalised homosexual relationships - I am mindful of the scriptural reference to the response of the archangel Gabriel to Mary's questioning of her call to become the mother of Jesus: "For nothing is impossible for God". Perhaps here is the ABC's answer to what seems to be his major problem with African (and maybe his own) acceptance of homosexuality.
'However, I am not such a fine figure of a Christian, that I can dismiss the life and personality of another Christian in dismissive terms.'
Nor am I. What I am dismissing is his performance in the job of Archbishop of Canterbury.
Like it or not, that job requires moral authority. At this point, Justin Welby has none.
He has lost it by denying the equality before God of LGBT people.
When you think about it, who is really dismissing lives and personalities?
"There's nothing to be afraid of, after all it's only love":
Sorry, but the dogmatic resistance to the lovely reality and actuality of people's love and desire for consecration of that love in marriage, feels to me like a kind of hardening, and a refusal to open up to underlying acceptance of people (regardless of gender) loving and caring and serving, and the sharing of that relationship with the community, in marriage, and blessing, and Christian love.
There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. When a man loves a man (or in my case, when a woman loves a woman) sorry, but that is natural, decent, lovely, precious... there aren't enough epithets to describe the beauty and goodness of it.
Please, church hierarchs, stop telling me my marriage would be wrong. It is simply marriage like anyone else's marriage. And it's going to happen anyway... hundreds of thousands of times... and more and more.
Because the old cultural dogma applied to an earlier stage in social development.
But the society we live in today is shaking off the old patriarchal fears and taboos, and the younger generation, and more and more ordinary people and Christians recognise now that actually... it's simply love, and faithfulness, and care... and the gender and orientation are not the determining factors of legitimacy, but the quality of the relationship and the love.
In the end, this breaking out of happiness, this generosity, this love will win. The Spirit is already celebrating in people's lives, and communities' joys.
It's time. At the very least, if you don't want to do it yourself, don't stand in the way of priests, and PCCs, and church communities... and ordinary people who love each other.
Please reconsider and rescind the episcopal letter, and let us agree to respect differing consciences, and seek the grace to live with each other's differences and care for each other in love.
This is all going to happen, because it's alive, and it's actual lives not theory. Nothing is going to stop it in the end. Because love is too strong. 'There is nothing to be afraid of.'
It is simple goodness. It is decent, lovely, and raises marriage up, makes it stronger, and our society and many Christians see that. Love is so precious, and God surely blesses couples who love and get married.
At root Welby is a "fixer" or "problem solver" who is approaching the situation as just that so "We do what we can, which isn't much." He has missed the wisdom of "think globally but act locally" -- it is only at the global level that action is constrained (since the WWAC is not a world-church with him at the apex). But locally there is a great deal he could do in England that would actually help to undermine the homophobia that drives the things he rightly condemns in Africa. The point is, whether they do that or not, they are right in and of themselves.
This situation is beginning to recall Oliver Twist begging Mr. Bumble for more gruel: "Please, sir, I want some more." Only the most loyal members will stay in an institution which continues to serve gruel.
As marriage equality activists chanted in New York State before we got marriage equality?:
"What do we want? Marriage equality. When do we want it? Now."
Mr. Welby's policies are misogynistic, racist, and homophobic. It doesn't matter what his motives are. At the very least he is a compromised moral authority.
The question is if people are organizing to resist his unacceptable policies. I find it troubling that equality as such does not figure in this church discussion.
Gary Paul Gilbert
Interesting. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams was an academic and world class theologian, but his leadership on the human sexuality file within the Communion was not effective. Archbishop Welby, not a theologian, but more of a practical pastor and shuttle diplomat, seems to be deploying a very different set of gifts but with the same unfortunate outcome. It must be something intrinsic to the office of ABC that no matter who the occupant it has the air of a kind of noblesse oblige. The Canadian and American churches ought to be very attentive to what this will mean going forward.
I agree with Susannah here, signs are that Welby's acting in good faith. For once, I find C.S. Lewis instructive:-
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
Thus proving why we do not number C.S. Lewis among the 20th century's great political philosophers.
I'm not sure I can think of a "tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims."
If someone manages to become a ruling tyrant, then he or she is not likely to have much of a conscience in the first place.
"Thus proving why we do not number C.S. Lewis among the 20th century's great political philosophers."
I'm sick to death of C.S. Lewis, the Anglican world's Augustine of Hippo - inerrant and omniscient. Ugh. He had a few interesting concepts which he then served up, book-length, in clumsy allegory and ham-handed moralizing, completely undermining their interesting qualities.
Come on. It's time to let him go, already.
"Mr. Welby's policies are misogynistic, racist and homophobic" GPG
It would seem from this rather uncharitable comment and other similar unkind comments that Thinking Anglicans is fast descending into a Let's Bash the Archbishop of Canterbury Blog.
As the late great Tony Benn oft used to say - "Let's concentrate on the issues not the personalities" and in so doing a little more Christian charity wouldn't go amiss.
Well, Tobias, if he's a fixer, it's no wonder the Anglican Communion is irrevocably broken.
I've never seen a more laughable response. It's like Welby is doing some kind of skit. "Now, when I said we should give in to moral terrorism, people automatically assumed I was saying 'We should give in to moral terrorism.'"
If this is the best the CofE can do, we need to cut 'em loose.
There is, if I may say so, something about the firehose of self-righteousness in the comments here that can be rather off-putting. I don't like Susannah calling my piece a "hagiography"! I don't think +JW is a saint, and on the substantive issue of gay marriage I think he's wrong. But he's also a bit like Olof, the conscientious object-or, "More brave than me; more blond than you".
His statement that "the Africans" can't accept gay marriage is entirely true on an official level and we all know this, Of course, tho use "Africans" as a shorthand for "African bishops and organised opinion" is problematic. But it's not either useless or perverse. And the genuine popularity of homophobia in Nigeria is attested by every survey I have ever seen.
And even if he wants to bring the Church of England round to a more civilised stance with his facilitated conversations, he is quite right that these will take time. You're never going to persuade everyone, but it's a reasonable strategy to wait until the opponents are a strange and wholly isolated minority, as happened with women bishops.
Of course to reason like this is to suppose that the problems of LGBT people are not the most important issue facing the church today. Well, they're not. And people who disagree about that ranking of problems are not on either side heretics who deserve anathematising.
I'm sick to death of C.S. Lewis, the Anglican world's Augustine of Hippo - inerrant and omniscient. Ugh. He had a few interesting concepts which he then served up, book-length, in clumsy allegory and ham-handed moralizing, completely undermining their interesting qualities.
Couldn't agree more.. after all, when it suited him he married a divorcee!
I thought calling out someone's policies is perfectly OK on this, or any other thread.
I'm sure that we all think Justin Welby is a nice bloke.
For myself, I found it hard to credit the first time I heard this as an excuse for not consecrating Jeffrey to Reading. Interestingly, as we were told by The Times, Jeffrey came a close second at Exeter and has obviously had the all clear from Welby ..... so deaths abroad because of gay bishops are no longer a problem....... but it seems gay marriage is NEVER going to work.
My partner and I had a chat about this last night.
If a terrorist rang us up and said they would kill a dozen people if we got married, then I think we might delay. We were unsure about Justin Welby making this decision for us and unclear as to why he should think this is not a terrorist threat he is responding to.
We worked through what he had to say and it seemed he was getting himself tied up in knots about this.
But it was interesting listening to a radio programme on the Ukraine at the weekend where the journalist identified himself to the ethnic Russians as a CofE Christian and was dismissed because that Church was full of gays and pederasts and this typified the corrupt West the Eastward-looking Russians were now rejecting. Peter the Great's reaching out to the West at an end?
"Let's concentrate on the issues not the personalities"
If policies are racist, it is not reasonable to fail to say so just because it implicitly criticises the perpetrator.
Oh, Martin, I think he's a very nice fellow.
That's about the worst thing I can say about anyone. At least a "right evil bastard" actually has some backbone and believes in pursuing what he believes right!
I do, however, find this continuing assertion of a worldwide "Anglican church" to be nothing short of pernicious. I would at least think Welby less of a complete loss if he would correct that lie, promulgated by his disastrous predecessor (may his name be expunged).
Well, Robert Ian Williams, at least we can agree on something.
I have to say you Catholics have the master in Tolkien (though I always thought his description of Sauron's temple to Morgoth in *The Akallabeth* to sound a lot like St. Peter's).
We Episcopalians can, at least, claim to top Lewis with Madeleine L'Engle.
Andrew, I apologise for describing your profile of Justin as a 'hagiography'. I slipped into a careless use of language and it was unfair because your profile was certainly interesting and informative. I shouldn't have called your objectivity into question like that.
I agree that we should be careful to remain temperate in the words we use, because as I have said here before, I think the *grace* with which we interact in these debates (and church life generally) is as important as the struggle to win doctrinal arguments.
So as I say, I am sorry for using that word, and I retract it.
On the subject of Justin, however, I cannot agree with the impression that seemed to come across in your article (or was it careless words by your headline writer), that Justin is against 'telling priests how to behave'.
Very clearly, albeit collectively, the bishops in their episcopal letter (with its implicit threat of sanctions) IS telling priests (and local churches) how to behave.
You say that things need to proceed slowly, but this has been going on since Windsor (and before), it's been decades, and society and reality has overtaken the Church.
If 'unity in diversity'... an honest acceptance that there is no one position in the Church of England in reality... was adopted, then with grace and generosity, different church communities could get on and flourish in their own contextualised, community-related ways. And priests could do what they believe in their hearts they should do, at least out in civil society, where marriage to a partner is just law, and why should priests who care for their partners impose celibacy on them for further decades as the Church 'slowly' grinds on, in its fantasy of a uniform dogma, that Covenant-style, it is STILL trying to impose on all its members?
THAT attempt to impose uniformity is exactly why I felt uncomfortable with the concept of an archbishop who says he does not believe in 'telling priests how to behave'. I wish he had been directly challenged on that.
I found your article, as a whole, very interesting. It wasn't a hagiography, though you cut Justin quite a lot of slack I think, but then I have also defended him here at Thinking Anglicans, believing in his good intent, even if I disagree with his stance.
"I'm sick to death of C.S. Lewis, the Anglican world's Augustine of Hippo - inerrant and omniscient. Ugh. He had a few interesting concepts which he then served up, book-length, in clumsy allegory and ham-handed moralizing, completely undermining their interesting qualities.
Couldn't agree more.. after all, when it suited him he married a divorcee!" - Robert I Williams -
Go easy Robert. I know you're tough on divorcees, but I think you should examine more closely the reason C.S. Lewis married this particular divorcee.
"Let's concentrate on the issues not the personalities."
Like it or not, the Archbishop of Canterbury is one person. No one else is responsible for his policies.
He is tying himself up in knots because he is trying to balance the desire of CofE members and priests to marry in church, against the homophobia of the Global South.
The only reason he is doing this is because he views whether several hundred bishops attend the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference as more important than whether the Church of England marries hundreds of people a year.
In other words, people in England are being blocked from marrying in church, in order to avoid offending the sensibilities of persons abroad.
It is hard to imagine a deeper betrayal of Canterbury's pastoral responsibilities to English Christians.
Come home, Canterbury. Look to your own flock.
'As the late great Tony Benn oft used to say - "Let's concentrate on the issues not the personalities" and in so doing a little more Christian charity wouldn't go amiss. ' (Father David)
It's a pretty impressive display of chutzpah to reply to a criticism explicitly directed at "Mr Welby's _policies_" with an exhortation to attack the issue and not the person, when Gary's remarks did just that. If you don't want the personality _or_ the policies to be criticized, just say so. As written, your rejoinder comes off as a non sequitur.
'Like it or not, the Archbishop of Canterbury is one person. No one else is responsible for his policies.'
I don't know any theory that supports this understanding of leadership. It does not strike me as Christian either, which has a very particular understanding of leadership as shared. So I do not think any of us are absolved from judgement or responsibility for how things are working out. He isn't 'one person'. He represents us all actually - and that is partly why it is so difficult. I confess to struggling with the approach he is taking on certain issues but I do not want to forget that he is charged with exercising oversight over a church is that on certain issues close to being ungovernable.
Put simply, it's like this:
++Cantuar : "I think you need our help and I am prepared to offer that to you"
++Africans : "We will only accept your help if you do X (on a completely different issue); otherwise we'll take help from elsewhere or do without"
Now what is ++Cantuar to do? Either
A: "I have to be able to make my own mind up about X, but my offer of help is unconditional and remains open. But in the end it's up to you to choose to do what you think best."
B: "OK, because I judge that you really can't do without my help, you put me in a position where I have to do X".
Which of A and B respects the integrity of both ++Cantuar and of ++Africans? Oh, and to what extent is this about strengthening the power and status of ++Africans in their own dioceses?
There is also a C:
"If you cannot accept my help directly we will find other ways of giving it directly to the people who need it".
I'm also mulling over Andrew Brown's comment that not everyone agrees that lgbt issues are the most important topic for the church.
Obviously, the church should have resolved the issue a long time ago and now be able to fully concentrate on poverty, human trafficking etc.
But it hasn't and lgbt issues are in the media - partly because they make good news and partly because the church itself consistently puts them there.
In order to be able to be effective in other spheres I do think the CoE has to sort its views on gay people out quickly.
Internationally, lgbt matters should be one of the main concerns of the church, especially as homophobia is sweeping parts of Africa, Russia etc., and that with the full support of the Christian churches there.
To give the impression that this is really a side issue compared to other weighty issues is misguided, I believe.
Can a church that ignores increasing human rights violations really speak with moral authority on other issues?
David R: "he is charged with exercising oversight over a church that is on certain issues close to being ungovernable."
I don't think the Church of England is ungovernable over issues of sexual orientation and relationships.
I think the key is to let the Church govern itself.
By this, I mean that local churches should be allowed to get on and exercise their consciences in their local situations.
This would result in some priests and PCC's and local church communities whole-heartedly welcoming lesbian and gay relationships, and celebrating them.
In this way, a local church would respond in its own way to its own community, and could grow and flourish, in the exercise of its own conscience and faith journey.
Another local church could exercise a differently held conscience, and stand for that conscience, and could also get on with Christian mission, doing it in their particular, and community-specific manner.
This arrangement would reflect the reality on the ground, that Anglican priests, PCCs and members hold different views on lesbian and gay sex and marriage, not just one uniform view or conscience.
The problem comes - and what makes the situation ungovernable - when a top-down authority attempts to IMPOSE a UNIFORMITY, even though it knows this is the viewpoint and conscience of only one half of its priests and churches.
This is why I advocate 'unity in diversity', where we find our eternal unity in Jesus Christ, even though we have different views. And then, where tensions of belief exist, the prime challenge for each of us is to explore GRACE towards each other.
This grace, rather than a rigid insistence on doctrinal rectitude, is where we can each find Christ.
The Covenant was a pretty disastrous, failed attempt to IMPOSE a uniformity, and it was motivated and driven by people wanting their view on sexuality to be enforced on everyone.
The episcopal letter tried the same thing: to IMPOSE a uniformity, with the risk of sanctions to back it up.
Whereas, if you let priests and PCCs act on their sincere consciences, then I can't see at all that you will find them 'ungovernable'. Instead of 'imposing', facilitate. End the denial of our diversity, and just pray for flourishing in diverse ways in diverse contexts, and the grace to do so with generosity to others, in our mission of helping to draw people to Jesus Christ.
"He represents us all actually."
I think members of the various and autonomous churches in the Anglican Communion might strongly disagree with you.
"And even if [Welby] wants to bring the Church of England round to a more civilised stance with his facilitated conversations, he is quite right that these will take time. You're never going to persuade everyone, but it's a reasonable strategy to wait until the opponents are a strange and wholly isolated minority, as happened with women bishops.
"Of course to reason like this is to suppose that the problems of LGBT people are not the most important issue facing the church today. Well, they're not. And people who disagree about that ranking of problems are not on either side heretics who deserve anathematising."
It's eerie how well the following words fit the above:-
"I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a 'more convenient season.' Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."
'He represents us all actually - and that is partly why it is so difficult ... I do not want to forget that he is charged with exercising oversight over a church is that on certain issues close to being ungovernable.'
That's the crux. If 'government' entails everybody thinking the same, it's absurd and unachievable. If it entails everybody acting the same, it's ever more unachievable. So why not understand 'governance' more loosely? As he seemed to do in his Synod address.
"If a terrorist rang us up and said they would kill a dozen people if we got married, then I think we might delay."
I confess, Martin, that my gut reaction is to tell this terrorist (if he called Yank *me*) "The United States Air Force has traced your call: look up!"
[Yes, yes, I'm a pacifist. Drones, Bad. But a terrorist interrupting me on my *wedding day* couldn't count on getting an immediate Christian response! >;-/]
"I'm also mulling over Andrew Brown's comment that not everyone agrees that lgbt issues are the most important topic for the church."
Unfortunately, most of the senior management of the CofE think that they are, so in thrall to the idea that the CofE really exists to make sure that the sun never sets on Anglicanism.
SSM is legal in this country. It's no longer, outside the nuttier end of commenters on Telegraph blog postings, a topic of debate. A few elderly curmudgeons are still putting quotation marks about marriage, but for most people, the world has moved on.
The only place where it's still a topic of fervent, and fervid, debate is the CofE. Not because its members are up in arms (after all, on most polling SSM is _more_ popular amongst CofE members than the population at large) but because of some complex theory about Africa. The CofE is condemned to fighting a desperate losing rearguard action, one which will have massive long-term implications in England, against something which is a completely done deal, just so that homophobes in Africa, who for some reason Welby wants to make common cause with, can continue in their homophobia unchallenged. It's lose all the way: the CofE is making common cause with people to whom history will not be kind, and in support of that is taking positions here which will further distance it from the population. When the dust settles, the CofE will just look like a bunch of colonialists who have made a link to the most regressive elements in the colony in order to further their own ends. Which is not, in 2020 or so, a good look.
Andrew Brown's post is insightful, but not least of all his conclusion, "Of course to reason like this is to suppose that the problems of LGBT people are not the most important issue facing the church today. Well, they're not. And people who disagree about that ranking of problems are not on either side heretics who deserve anathematising."
One could argue that the positions of both the current and previous archbishops of Canterbury align with such a view. In fact, I think one could find leadership in North America positioned on this same wave length. The advancement of equality for LGBT people is seen by some, even those generally predisposed to it, as a kind of "luxury" a kind of gravy that is enjoyed by affluent western democratic countries. Where, after all, governments been doing all the heavy lifting, and the church has much bigger problems to resolve.
Is that enough? Is that really giving form and shape to "respecting the dignity of every human being"? Hardly. One needs to remember that equality for the GLBT community is not a problem for the church. Rather the church is, and has been historically, a serious problem, in the sense of obstacle, for the GLBT community.
Justin Welby is trying to hold things together. It's a morally precarious exercise but at least he has some anguish about it. Maybe anguish is what Anglicans do best - "it's all so difficult, what are we to do?".
No doubt he's muddling through in the best way he knows how. It is though very damaging that English people, Christian and non-Christian, Anglican and non-anglican are not being ministered to due to the geopolitical pretensions of the so called Anglican Communion.
Still ++Justin is feeling his way through things without much of a script, a little like his predecessor.
On the other and I derived great cheer from reading the amicus brief in the marriage case in Virginia submitted by Episcopal bishops from Virginia in conjunction with the United Church of Christ, various Jewish groups and others.
Of course it is interesting that the Episcopal Church in Virginia goes right back to the beginning of the colony prior to the Revolution, prior to which it was the established church in the English colony while other traditions trace their lineage to the Puritans (UCC, Universalists).
At any rate it is interesting that in some parts of the world Anglican bishops are able to do the right thing and that is very comforting. The amicus brief is a good read.
Some of the other supportive briefs are also very illuminating and could serve as resources in Pilling facilitated conversations:
May I respectfully submit that the Church of England is not the only Anglican Provincial Church that has the gender/sexuality issue high ion its agenda. This probably is the true situation for mosr of us around the world. In my own ACANZP Province (New Zealand and Pacific Islands Province), our May General Synod is about to debate these issues in an atmosphere of severe opposition by the conservative evangelical steam - to any affirmation of the Church's need to bring justice to the LGBTI community, bith inside the Church and external to it.
What concerns us most about the Archbishop of Canterbury's equivocation on these matters, is how it affects our own relationship with the Church of England's position as the 'Mother Church' of the Anglican Communion. In an admittedly minor way - in these days of provincial independence from our birth Mother (as is only to be expected on those matters of local responsibility for our own people's spiritual and moral welfare - what the ABC says and does in the international arena is seen to be interpreted by outsiders as being applikcable to all Anglicans around the world.
As various TEC contributors to this blog - as well as others of us in other provinces of the world-wide Communion who want to exclude homophobia and misogyny from our provincial Churches - some of us just want to get on with this Gospel emphasis right now, not wanting any further vacillation to impede the course of human justice on this vital matter.
This is the real basis of any criticism of the Archbishop of Canterbury - not a desire for the breakup of the Anglican communion. That seems more like the agenda of GAFCON and the Global South.
"He represents us all actually ..."
If you mean CofE "us all," that's up to other CofE to judge.
He most emphatically *does not* represent TEC, or any other autonomous church. I am not going to stand for the "one global church" lie any longer.
We gave "Cantuar" (which, in itself, is ridiculously pompous) our respect and it was spent away frivolously. Got to get it back, or recognize the authority that goes with it is gone. The ABC's have, for some time, been absolute disasters and we in the rest of the world can no longer afford their bumbling malevolence.
I have to disagree Ron... the best witness is the Gresham boy ( who didn't cash in on Narnia) but was deeply upset by his Mother's re-marriage.
CS Lewis moved the boundaries to suit himself.
Jeremy – there are some interesting reflections appearing on ‘leadership’ in the light of the sacking of David Moyes from Man Utd. In today’s Times (23/4) Daniel Finkelstein challenges three popular assumptions about leadership that for me speak into expectations and critiques of the ABC.
1.The assumption ‘that it is possible to make sensible judgments about performance over very short periods of time’.
2. The assumption that ‘any changes in the fortune of an organisation are down to its leader’.
3. The assumption that ‘it is it possible to separate the success of a business leader from that of his or her team, from market conditions and from the strength of the product’. In most cases this is impossible, he says.
It is right to call leaders to account, but we the assumptions we are making about leadership need calling to account just as vigorously.
Suzanna. Thank you. I always value your reflections on these threads. I did say ‘close to’ ungovernable by the way. Brief responses to yours. First I observe that ‘local’ on this thread more usually means global regions vs CofE or Canterbury. Second, the saying goes that clericalism and anti-clericalism are two sides of the same error. I feel the same about your ‘local’ vs ‘imposed, top down centralised authority’. It is not for a local church to decide what it believes or doesn’t is it? Nor does ‘local’ guarantee some kind of unprejudiced, liberal flourishing based on loving free choice. As someone who has spent a lifetime worshipping and ministering in ‘local’ churches I do find this rather idealistic. ‘Local’ and ‘catholic’ sit in important tension in the Anglican tradition. They are not for separating. It is not perfect but the genuine diversity it has allowed is a source of wonder to those looking in from outside. Thirdly, what business does the church of Christ have in seeking to 'govern itself'? Finally, the claim around at the moment that the ‘bishops’ or ‘ABC’ are acting as a bully boy, top–down authority is laughable. Indeed their every attempt to articulate anything authoritative (wisely or unwisely) is mocked precisely because they cannot impose any such thing.
David Runcorn, it has been 18 months since Welby was announced, 14 months since he became Archbishop, and 13 months since he was enthroned. The "grace period" is now over. It is time to evaluate his policies and priorities, which are becoming increasingly obvious.
Chief among those policies and priorities is his evident decision to lead, and lead vigorously, on women bishops, but to draw the line there, and throw the conservatives a bone by continuing to discriminate against LGBT people.
It's politically savvy--it offends a much smaller group within the church, and it tries to keep the peace with the Global South. But it is a pastoral mistake within the CofE, and it is threatening to become a public-relations and political disaster in the UK.
For now the hierarchy has to choose whether to discipline priests who marry in violation of the guidance--and in that choice, the CofE will provoke the wrath either of the Global South or of Parliament and English society.
It's not as though this next bump in the road was not foreseeable.
Indeed, on the issue of women bishops, Welby has acted as a 'holy thug,' and quickly, in order to head off Parliamentary intervention.
On the issue of equal marriage, however, he was instrumental in pursuing the very different parliamentary strategy of proposing and securing the infamous 'quadruple lock.' Which, thank God, people like Jeremy Pemberton are in the process of picking.
Justin Welby is not stupid. The man is a graduate of Eton, Trinity Cambridge, and the business world. He has proven himself to be intelligent and effective when he wants to be.
But on equal marriage, he's a ditherer? Trapped by his institution? Controlled by his team? Limited by his product?
I'm afraid the story doesn't wash.
Indeed this recent "equal marriage causes murder" contretemps marks the point when those of us who were hoping for better are forced to conclude that although Welby has led on women bishops, he will (like his predecessor) put interprovincial harmony ahead of justice for LGBT people.
Very English. But not something that others in the Communion will abide quietly. And LGBT priests in England will not abide it either.
"On the issue of equal marriage, however, he was instrumental in pursuing the very different parliamentary strategy of proposing and securing the infamous 'quadruple lock.' Which, thank God, people like Jeremy Pemberton are in the process of picking." Jeremy
Jeremy Pemberton and I would not have married in a CofE church (or a church of any other denomination), even if it had been possible to do so - we would have chosen to marry in a register office in any event. To suggest that he is 'picking' at the 'quadruple lock' is, therefore, mistaken.
It's disappointing that the ABC is carrying on with this theme. The international human rights community has not attributed a single massacre to gay friendly churches in the West. I don't doubt that that is what he was told, but given the power struggle happening there, it is beyond credulity to think that a group of murderers took time out from their power struggles to make a statement on LGBT tolerance!
The ABC loses credibility every time he opens his mouth and gives affirmation to this claptrap. It is exceedingly hurtful to many for absolutely no gain - except of course to affirm the homophobes in Africa who are fanning the flames of actual violence against actual LGBT people there.
The idea that Africa is uniformly and rabidly homophobic is countered by Desmond Tutu, Bishop Senyonjo, and numerous LGBT people and their supporters (some of whom I actually know).
Given the ABC's own position on LGBT equality, combined with lack of verification from the human rights organizations, he gives the appearance of using the murders to further his own anti marriage equality position.
Yes Justin, it IS impossible. It is always impossible to solve problems when the information you are using is absolute rubbish.
I'm glad that Susannah Clark and others have stuck to their guns on this - notwithstanding the slip of accusing Andrew Brown of hagiography. I don't think he has come up with the right tone re Justin Welby in his article, and neither does he get it right in his comments on this thread...those who accuse others of turning on the firehouse of self-righteousness perhaps need to be careful about their words as well. To my mind there are some interesting angles in this thread - not least the contribution from Mark Bennet.
It is entirely possible to have attended Eton and Cambridge and to have a successful career in business and also to be stupid. I'm not saying Justin Welby is - I've not met him - but I have met people from that background who are.
Jeremy, very thought-provoking post, thank you.
"And LGBT priests in England will not abide it either."
It's not for bishops to tell priests how to conduct their private and personal relationships (unless they are engaging in some kind of immorality). It's not for bishops to tell priests they may, or may not, pledge their relationships in civil marriage, which is a legal and widely accepted civil provision, over which the Church has no remit.
And if bishops say that priests cannot marry, and attempt to impose that (as they have)... then, if they also believe that sex should only take place inside marriage, they are effectively imposing unwanted celibacy, against the conscience of the priest involved, not only on the priest but on the priest's partner (who is under no sort of orders, may not even be Christian, but who is a human being with normal human sexuality).
So no, this episcopal edict cannot hold, and needs to be rescinded.
Otherwise, it is pursuing the goals and the methods of the discredited 'Covenant' all over again.
IMPOSING a UNIFORMITY on a diverse church where no such uniformity of conscience exists.
The actual lives and actual decency of priests, and other gay and lesbian people, can't be IMPOSED upon like this.
The Church has to afford a 'space for grace' and accommodate diverse and different local Anglican churches, their PCCs, their communities, in ways that empower and enable mission.
The styles, consciences, and expressions of this mission will vary. But the key words are 'grace' and 'love'.
The challenge that makes a priest or a church morally right is not some imposed dogma. It is the challenge to interact (even with tensions) with grace and generosity of spirit.
And the challenge to grow as communities, locally and nationally, in good conscience and a true recognition that we are all ONE in CHRIST, even though it is a unity in diversity.
At the heart of all this is people who are living actual lives, loving actual partners, who are owed far more respect and recognition than the official hierarchy seems prepared to give.
We often forget the partners and the disrespect and marginalisation being shown to them.
Laurence, I hear you as to same-sex marriages in church. Fair point. You and Jeremy P have bravely posed a slightly different question (same-sex marriages in the priesthood).
Will, I guess it's all relative! I grant that Welby is intelligent; that's obvious from his public appearances.
Whether he is intelligent enough (or wise, or far-sighted) is now very much in doubt.
Jeremy So 14 months should be enough for one man to sort out the problems of the global Anglican communion. And grace has a time limit. Well I have never before thought to give thanks to God that the Anglican church is not a football club but I do now.
"So 14 months should be enough for one man to sort out the problems of the global Anglican communion"
Wouldn't sorting out the problems of the English communion, which is his job, be a more realistic problem to tackle? The only reason he has global relations as an issue is because he's made it so.
'So 14 months should be enough for one man to sort out the problems of the global Anglican communion.'
It is certainly long enough for us all to understand where his priorities will lie, as he works to do this--and whether he thinks that disagreements are 'problems' that need to be 'sorted out.'
'And grace has a time limit.' Human patience and politics certainly do. And what of the traditional expectation that a sinner repent of the sin?
Homophobia and discrimination are sins.
"[Canterbury, Canterbury], return unto to the Lord thy God."
'"[Canterbury, Canterbury], return unto to the Lord thy God."'
Jeremy, I've begun to be severely afraid that Canterbury, in fact, *has*.
There appears to be an assumption that Welby wants to change church policy, but is being held back by some African provinces. But does he?
The crucial first step, which Welby has yet to take, is for the Archbishop to state, plainly, what he believes about homosexuality. We know that he opposes equal marriage: does he also believe that gay relationships are sinful? If so, does he want that belief imposed on the church?
If these "facilitated conversations" are going to achieve anything, we must know where we all stand.
Most of us here have been celebrating the marriage of Jeremy and Laurence - and rightly so. Perhaps I might mention another marriage - between John and Ruth, which will take place at 11am on May 10th at St Margaret's of Antioch, Crossgate, Durham. If any member of TA is in Durham on that day, please come along.
There is absolutely no point in keep on bashing Archbishop Welby over the issue of Gay marriage. Surely, those who wish to see the Church change its understanding of the marriage bond (as it clearly has over who can be ordained to the priesthood and, as looks increasingly likely, who can be consecrated into the episcopacy) must lobby parliament, as Westminster has clearly stated that such unions may not be solemnised by the Church of England. To enact any such change will require the Act of Parliament to be amended. So rather than sending emails to Lambeth should not the protagonists be lobbying their M.Ps instead?
James, I think it's pretty clear that Welby indeed does believe that homosexuality is "wrong" and homosexual desire, behaviour and marriage is somewhere between undesirable and sinful. So all the rest is just looking for a figleaf so he can advance his views and stay in with his similarly-opined friends like Nicky Gumbell and the rest of the Alpha Course/HTB homophobes.
The CofE is led by a man whose views on homosexuality are exactly what you'd expect of a middle-aged conservative evangelical. It's hardly surprising that he, therefore, advances con-evo views on homosexuality, even if they are slightly covert.
Thank you for this discussion. We are agreed in having strong questions about the ABC and Bishop's approach at present. What I have been challenging is the framework of expectations that shape responses to him. I have suggested these are easily unrealistic.
We disagree on this but I would be interested to know if you think Daniel Finkelstein's observations on leadership make any contribution here.
You seem to have misunderstood the nature of the legislative provisions made for the Church of England in the new act. These are designed precisely to allow the CofE, via its own internal processes (which means the General Synod) to pass Measures to change the law if, at some future date, it wants to do that, because it has decided that it has changed its mind.
Lobbying Parliament would be entirely misplaced.
congratulations to you and Ruth, and what a lovely idea to invite all TA readers to your service! Would that Durham wasn't quite so far away!
I like what Daniel Finkelstein says about leadership. But I agree with Jeremy that it's not so much a question of obtaining cast iron results within 14 months rather than one of setting a tone, starting a trend.
And there, Justin Welby is utterly confusing to me. He speaks positively of gay relationships and strongly against homophobia. But he votes against marriage equality, signs the pastoral statement that forbids gay priests to enter into civil marriage, he suggests that there might be a link between lgbt rights in Britain and Christian deaths in Africa but provides no evidence for that claim, nor does he enter into discussions on what the right approach would be if there was indeed such a link.
It sounds a little like "let's be nice to them while making sure we don't actually treat them as equals".
That much one can say after 14 months.
And that one can criticise.
Because it does not bode well for the future.
Father David, I'm not sure why the Archbishop of Canterbury should be immune from lobbying. As you well know, the Archbishop is a member of the House of Lords. Surely with that status comes a measure of political and public accountability.
David Runcorn, the fundamental problem is that several Archbishops have been trying to aggrandize their international role.
They have been unwilling to disavow the fiction that the Anglican Communion is a global church--it is not; it is merely a family of independent churches--and with that fiction as a false justification, they have sought a role for Communion offices and officials (including themselves) that the underlying structure will not support.
This being so, the first thing that an Archbishop of Canterbury should do is minimize expectations. Make clear to everyone that he isn't going to try to impose uniformity across the Communion because he has no mechanism (much less right) to do so.
This would both decrease calls for uniformity from the Global South and soothe Covenant-provoked anxieties elsewhere.
And of course such a modest approach would have practical consequences. Rather than worry how equal marriage plays in other provinces, the Archbishop of Canterbury would be more free to focus on how it can be provided at home.
As for your football metaphor, I do not find it very helpful here. Moyes did not attempt to run the rest of the league as well as his own team; Moyes was unable to fulfill expectations as to a team that he did, in fact, run.
What we are dealing with here is something different. Archbishops of Canterbury have been trying to tell other provinces in the Communion how to order their own affairs. That project was always doomed to failure. England itself, Canterbury's own province, recognized this and drove the last nail in the Covenant coffin.
So the present Archbishop might as well concede defeat and admit the implications--which are that he cannot prevent equal marriage from going forward in other provinces, and that he therefore should not and will not try.
Simple words and actions from one leader can easily indicate a change in philosophy and approach. Consider the actions of the present Pope, who is doing much to rehabilitate the Catholic brand.
"Lobbying Parliament would be entirely misplaced."
Well, Simon, there's one slight exception to that. One thing that the legislation does, mostly at the behest of the CofE, is make it unlawful (or, at least, the resulting marriage invalid) for someone who is otherwise authorised to conduct weddings to do so for a same-sex couple in a place of worship otherwise designated for marriages, unless the governing body of the organisation has agreed. So one element of the legislation is to prevent liberal vicars from conducting same-sex marriages over the head of general synod.
I'm in two minds about that. On the one hand, I don't see why the internal disciplinary affairs of a religious organisation should be the topic for primary legislation, and if a vicar is authorised to conduct marriages she should be authorised to conduct all legal marriages, and if she uses that authority in a way her employer doesn't like, that's between her and her employer, not the government.
On the other hand, holding the CofE's hand to the fire and preventing it from playing "well officially you can't get married in church, but if you go and see Rev. so and so she'll sort you out" stops the issue from festering in some sort of semi-official hinterland, and prevents the CofE from playing both ends against the middle.
Jeremy thanks for this but I specifically invited your comments on Daniel Finkelstein's comments on leadership - not my use of the football metaphors. His article was triggered by the sacking of Moyes but is a more general and, I think, helpful reflection on expectations of leadership in the present culture - and that includes church.
i don't really feel I can add any more to the discussion on the ABC or the anglican communion. We come to widely different conclusions there.
"and drove the last nail in the Covenant coffin." Jeremy
But isn't it still lumbering its way slowly round the Communion? - for example, the Province of Southern Africa adopted it as recently as October 2013. When and how is it to be killed off, officially?
In church terms, Interested Observer, Welby's not a con-evo. He, like Gumbel, is an open evangelical: an evangelical who's "open" to other perspectives. They tend to be passionate supporters of women's ministry who believe in "gifts of the Spirit." With the exception of a handful of affirming evangelicals, they also tend to oppose gay relationships.
Welby's said gay relationships can be "stunning," talked a lot about church teaching and Africa, but hasn't given his own opinion. Talk about a mixed message! I'm sure it's a politician's neutrality, but we can't talk properly until we know where we are with each other.
Jeremy, I was principally seeking an end to Welby bashing rather than Welby lobbying. I'm sure that we are all at liberty to express our views to the ABC and I am sure that our dear Primate has quite a large post bag on this particular issue. We can all make our feelings known, both those in favour of changing the rules governing those who are allowed to be married in church and those who do not wish the Church to follow where society leads and desire to uphold the traditional understanding of marriage but let us all do it in a spirit of Christian charity.
Correct me if I'm wrong Simon but I am sure that it would be illegal for me or any other member of the clergy of the Church of England, by Law Established, to currently marry two people of the same gender. For that to take place Parliament would have to give its approval, would it not?
Yes Parliament would have to give its approval to a Measure passed first by the General Synod, in the same way as for all GS Measures.
David Runcorn to Jeremy: So 14 months should be enough for one man to sort out the problems of the global Anglican communion.
But David, Justin has neither authority nor responsibility for any part of the global Anglican communion except the CofE. He needs to tend to his own sheep, not try to shear the sheep that belong to other shepherds.
I thought it instructive when his visit to the Canadian primate (not the Canadian church, as he only met with Fred and then only briefly), was mentioned in the Anglican Journal but received not a single mention in the secular media. No one noticed that he came, and no one noticed when he left.
He has no international position, except one that he imagines and arrogates to himself (not that he's the first ABC to do this).
"[L]et us all do it in a spirit of Christian charity."
Certainly. But let us not allow Christian charity to block vigorous debate, to bar constructive criticism, or to suppress the truth.
I don't think it's very Christian to stay silent in the fact of false statements ('global church' forsooth) that are used in calculated ways to perpetuate rank injustice.
"In church terms, Interested Observer, Welby's not a con-evo. He, like Gumbel, is an open evangelical: an evangelical who's "open" to other perspectives"
Or so they say, except when it comes to it their positions never change, no matter how much they claim to be open to change. It's cynical PR: "I'm open to listening to other perspectives, but [sotto voce] I'm always right". Upthread l'affaire Moyes is being referred to: moving up the ladder of great managers, Welby reminds me of Brian Clough on the Michael Parkinson show:
Michael Parkinson: How do you react when someone says, "Boss, you're doing it wrong?
Brian Clough: Well, I ask him how *he* thinks it ought to be done. And then we get down to it, and we talk about it for twenty minutes, and then we decide that I was right.
John Holding you claim - 'Justin has neither authority nor responsibility for any part of the global Anglican communion except the CofE. He has no international position, except one that he imagines and arrogates to himself.'
You are completely mistaken - as well as being very disrespectful.
The fourth of six aspects of the job of ABC outlined when the process was set up that led to JW's appointment clearly states:
'The Archbishop is the Focus of Unity for the Anglican Communion. He is convener and host of the Lambeth Conference, President of the Anglican Consultative Council, and Chair of the Primates’ meeting. In these roles he travels extensively throughout the Anglican Communion, visiting provinces and dioceses, and supporting and encouraging the witness of the Church in very diverse contexts. As primus inter pares among the bishops, he has a special concern for those in episcopal ministry.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is, along with the Bishop of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch, widely regarded as an international spiritual leader, representing the Christian Church. On overseas visits, a meeting with the Head of State is almost always a part of the programme, as are meetings with other significant political persons.'
Furthermore a member of the Primates Meeting of the Anglican Communion elected by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion was part of the appointment group and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion was present as a non-voting members (and I with those who feel that group should have been more involved).
Not just in his imagination then - he is just trying to do his job.
Openness to the merits of extra-biblical sources of knowledge says nothing about humility, Interested Observer.
Think of like law. A legal positivist doesn't ignore the merits of a law, but grants supremacy to its source. They'll apply what they believe to be a bad law if it's posited by a legitimate body.
Welby (who, like oh-so-many evangelicals, read law but never practiced) is open to experience, but, like the dogmatic supporter of parliamentary sovereignty, believes that his source of authority (the Bible) trumps all. So gay relationships can be both "stunning" and sinful.
Such is the unjust fruit of legalism. Law slays justice.
Naturally the job description to hire an Archbishop of Canterbury would seek to magnify that role. Once again, that doesn't make it so.
John Holding is entirely correct in stating that the Archbishop of Canterbury has 'neither authority nor responsibility for any part of the global Anglican communion except the CofE.'
The Archbishop convenes a meeting or two, now and then, yes. His role as host or chair does not, however, give him any authority or responsibility whatsoever over any other province.
Furthermore, the Archbishop of Canterbury is not '_the_ Focus of Unity.' He is actually only one of four 'instruments of communion.'
If you can find someplace where the Communion has formally bestowed upon the Archbishop the title "Focus of Unity" I will happily consider your evidence. Until then, with John Holding, I will consider "Focus of Unity" a title that the Archbishop has arrogated to himself.
Besides, it's tosh. It doesn't mean a thing. It tries to imply central power without saying so. In other words, it's post-colonial bootstrapping.
Of course, any central power in England would be wholly illegitimate. Why should the rest of the Communion defer in any way to someone in whose selection they have no voice whatsoever?
Obviously Lambeth is doing its best to make the Archbishop the equivalent of the Pope. That doesn't mean anyone else will go along with it.
'[A]s well as being very disrespectful.'
So sorry, guv'nor! [touches cap]
Actually, respect is exactly what several Archbishops of Canterbury have now lost around the world--perhaps for good.
And once lost, respect cannot be won back by calling critics 'very disrespectful.' The phrase arrogates to the one criticized something that in the first place he does not possess. The phrase assumes what it is trying to prove.
Re. John Holding "I thought it instructive when his [Welby's] visit to the Canadian primate (not the Canadian church, as he only met with Fred and then only briefly), was mentioned in the Anglican Journal but received not a single mention in the secular media. No one noticed that he came, and no one noticed when he left."
True enough. However, the visit was billed as personal and private ( to the primate). Also,Church issues never make news in the Canadian press unless unless they are about some scandal or controversy. It's also interesting that there seemed to be effort on the part of either the ABC or the Canadian Church to connect with either the public or political leaders during the visit.
As for David Runcorn, I think his rejoinder to Holding overstates the case. The ABC is merely primus interpares with no jurisdiction in National Churches, unlike the Pope who has universal jurisdiction. It is also fair to say that Primates' meetings which the ABC chairs are not an entirely acclaimed gathering. It is also fair to add that the office of ABC is seen by many in North America as a "figure head" who ought not to be influencing our synodical governance on behalf of so called "instruments of unity".
Thank goodness and the Lord that Archbishop Justin has a wider perspective than some of the Little Englanders who comment on this blog.
I know, Mr Byron, what is it with evangelicalism and legal professions?
I would like to ask what "focus of unity" actually means.
Does it mean he is like a Prime Minister trying to govern a country of people with different views in a way that doesn't cause civil strife?
Or does it mean he is like the Queen, a figurehead we can all recognise as representing something of value to all of us but who never tries to make us all think and do the same thing?
When did "focus of unity" become "President of Anglican Communion politics"?
"Archbishop Justin has a wider perspective"
No, he has a very narrow perspective. He doesn't like homosexuality, and he doesn't like homosexuals (well, the uppity ones that don't keep to the back of the bus, anyway). Everything else he says and does is organised around that idee fixee. He's now found some other people in Africa with a similar worldview, and he's trying to make an internationalist case for what is actually just discrimination, plain and simple. Just because you have people from many countries joining you in your discrimination doesn't make it any better.
As for any parallel to the Queen, it might help to remember that much of the Anglican Communion is not in the Commonwealth, and is not accustomed to looking to London for any purpose whatsoever.
Jeremy: As for any parallel to the Queen, it might help to remember that much of the Anglican Communion is not in the Commonwealth, and is not accustomed to looking to London for any purpose whatsoever.
You might want to add that even those parts that are members of the Commonwealth, even those that are actual monarchies whose Queen is also the Queen of the UK, do not look to London for any purpose whatsoever.
As far as I know, only those parts of the Anglican communion in the UK's remaining colonies look to London in secular matters ...but even they, being as far as I know, parts of independent parts of the Anglican communion, do not look to London in religious matters.
Jeremy has correctly unpacked what I wrote. I very carefully mentioned "power and responsibility" -- and the ABC has none outside the Cof E.
As for the job description, as far as I can see, that was an inside job, describing what the CofE would like to think the ABC is and does. It's not a whole lot based in reality. (At a guess, it might have been accurate when Michael Ramsey was at Canterbury: it hasn't been since.)
Re., my previous post,that should read " It's also interesting that there seemed to be NO effort on the part of either the ABC or the Canadian Church to connect with either the public or political leaders during the visit. "
Re, the comparison of the office of the ABC and the Queen and the former's role in, say, Canada, for example, fine for the ABC to visit Canada, visit the Calgary stampede and wear a cowboy hat, and remind us of the warm fuzzies of being bound by Common Prayer etc. Totally unacceptable to, as the former ABC Williams did, warn of "dire consequences" for this or that policy, or to connect violence in Africa and the advancement of civil rights for members of the GLBT community in North America.Totally unacceptable for the Secretary of the Anglican Communion to attend a Canadian synod in the manner of a kind of nuncio for the ABC or The Communion office.
Rod Gillis, I agree that Canon Kearon has also made missteps--in the service, presumably, of Lambeth's same program of self-aggrandizement.
Thanks again for the engagement. Some helpful reflections but a few responses if I may ...
Rob Gillis - I never said that the ABC had any 'jurisdiction' across the global communion. As to' over stating', all I did was quote the official job profile for the ABC. I presume you find that does overstate things?
John - 'a focus of unity' is not the same at 'the centre of power' - least of all in gospel terms. The ABC's work is being consistently presented here as some kind of bid for power. Why? I do not agree - though I have made clear that does not mean I support his aspects of his policies.
What actual evidence is there to support claims being made here that Lambeth or the present ABC are pursuing policies of 'self-aggrandisement'? This is very serious. What is the measure of this?
What evidence is there, Jeremy, that the quoted job profile for the ABC was simply an inside CofE bid to centralise power at Lambeth as you claim? How do you know?
'Obviously Lambeth is doing its best to make the Archbishop the equivalent of the Pope'. Really? Seriously? Your source for this? Is it even possible?
Jeremy - being a 'focus of unity' is historically understood to be at the centre of what episcopal minister involves in the Anglican tradition. I am baffled to told unless I can find somewhere this was voted on (and why would anyone feel the need to?) you and John will assume the present ABC is making it up in a bid for power (and see my comment on 'power' above).
What is plain here is the level of discontent about the ABC and the world wide anglican communion. Perhaps hardly surprising given the issues he and we are living and working with.
But without more linkage to some evidence it is hard to engage with what reads at times here as statements of personal disillusionment.
@ Jeremy, re Kearon,dead on! And, with regard to the ABC, the primus interpares thing requires a well tuned balancing of primus with interpares.
David Runcorn: 'Obviously Lambeth is doing its best to make the Archbishop the equivalent of the Pope'. Really? Seriously? Your source for this? Is it even possible?
Of course it is possible. It would have to be a long-term project. But get in the habit of telling independent provinces what to do, and who knows what might happen?
Even before the Covenant, the previous Archbishop was trying to tell several provinces how to order their internal affairs. The Covenant would have been a further step--no, more like five or six further steps--down the road of aggrandising Canterbury and centralising power at Lambeth.
I have no inside information as to who drafted the job description. But it appears to be part and parcel of the let's-make-London-Rome programme. Certainly it sounds all the wrong themes.
As for "focus of unity," a bishop is of course a focus of unity _within his or her diocese_. Is the diocese of the Archbishop of Canterbury now the entire world?
Then we have "As primus inter pares among the bishops, he has a special concern for those in episcopal ministry." This sentence is the height of doubletalk. It uses pastoral concern to mask political ambition. It really means that Canterbury seeks to be bishop to the world's bishops.
Such innocent-seeming statements are not, once you analyze them, so innocent after all. Read them with a skeptical eye and the implications are troubling.
It is not the disillusionment of several posters on this board that matters. Entire provinces have become disillusioned.
Around the world, Anglicans are much more inclined to regard the Archbishop of Canterbury as illegitimate, and a meddler.
@ David Runcorn, David I realize you did not say the ABC had any jurisdiction. I was pointing out an obvious difference between the ABC and The Bishop of Rome with whom you compare him as a spiritual leader. Interesting that Archbishop Welby likes to remind us all that he is not the pope. He isn't.
As for the "job description" of the ABC it does indeed overstate things. I agree with John Holding on that one, it is an "inside job". The solicitation of views by the C of E search committee last time around was rather pretentious. The expansion of the authority of the so called "instruments of communion" is very problematic.
Thanks again Rob and Jeremy for your perspectives
Rod - the comment on ABC and Rome was also part of the job profile quote, not my words.
'Inside job' - well this remains unproven and with all respect Jeremy I think you claim a great detail about the motivation of others here without saying how you know. What is plain is a total breakdown of trust among some here. This is distressing. 'Read with a sceptical eye' - that that is how it reads and the trouble is that this tends to exclude more honourable, if flawed, understandings. I guess your challenge to me is that I am on the innocent of the spectrum by comparison. Maybe. Like Erica and others I am just very puzzled and frustrated but resisting more intemperate judgements.
@ David Runcorn, "the comment on ABC and Rome was also part of the job profile quote, not my words."
David,sure enough, but since you introduced the job description into play, I took it that it was for the purpose of supporting the comparison.
There may be similarities by way of comparison between the ABC and the Bishop of Rome, but a comparison would also highlight many more and radical differences.
With regard to your comment on motivation, point taken. Sometimes it is difficult enough to be clear about one's own motivation let alone that of others. Notwithstanding,in the church debate often tends to be wrapped in pious admonitions. North American Anglicans have been on the receiving end of that throughout the human sexuality debate. Examples abound, ostracizing the former Bishop of New Hampshire from Lambeth, Primates' admonitions to the Canadian Church and TEC, the ARCIC fiasco surrounding the former Presiding Bishop etc. Hard nosed political analysis is not only fair comment, but it is more honest than some of the passive aggressive pious spin that so often characterizes debates in churchland.
So, a job description asserts that the ABC is a focus of unity for The Communion. It should not surprise anyone that there will be push-back from some in the Communion who may wish to challenge the limits of such an assertion. Nor should it surprise anyone that any given ABC is going to work at unity in The Communion with domestic priorities solidly out in front. I think naming that as a possible motivation is a reasonable and plausible accounting of the evidence. How "foreign policy" plays at home is a pretty basic element of any political calculus.
Rod Very helpful and I agree with you. Thanks
My use of the job profile was actually to challenge John Holding's claim that
'Justin has neither authority nor responsibility for any part of the global Anglican communion except the CofE. He has no international position, except one that he imagines and arrogates to himself.'
On the North American church I need to listen and my understanding is limited. But it would be fair to say that other parts of the communion as well as the CofE have experienced the NA church often acting alone and forcing the pace on issues like sexuality by making appointments without regard for their impact on the wider communion.
David Runcorn --
Just to be clear, I have never claimed that the present ABC is where the aggrandisement of Canterbury began. If you had read my previous posts carefully, you will have noted that I specifically stated that he was not the first to have misconceptions about his international role. In fact, if you had read clearly, you will have noted that I traced the present problems back several ABCs, since I stated that Michael Ramsey was probabaly the last ABC to enjoy the position in fact that WElby and his recent predecessors would like to have.
Any remaining position he has would be enhanced, mind you, if he currently (or Rowen in the past) had paid attention to parts of the Anglican Communion they obviously dislike intensely, like the Episcopal CHurch of Scotland, or the ACC or TEC or the other branches with whom he/they disagree for political (and possibly also theological) reasons. Or at least given us as much attention as parts of the church -- with whom I assume they feel some agreement -- that are happily homophobic and actively persecuting gay CHristians, happily ignoring several resolutions of successive Lambeths, and (some of them) happily proclaiming themselves to be out of communion with the rest of us.
Makes one think.
Funny how "Little Englander" has been co-opted as a way to shut down people who are not interested in establishing through ecclesial means the empire that England once enforced through military means.
James Byron: 'Welby (who, like oh-so-many evangelicals, read law but never practiced) is open to experience, but, like the dogmatic supporter of parliamentary sovereignty, believes that his source of authority (the Bible) trumps all. So gay relationships can be both "stunning" and sinful. Such is the unjust fruit of legalism.'
I don't think one can blame "legalism" for these problems. To reach the position you describe (and BTW, I have no idea whether ++Justin or anyone else _has_ reached that position), one's legalism would have to be decidedly selective, for two reasons:
1. It's only in very recent English translations of the Bible that anything in the New Testament declares gay relationships in general to be sinful [*1]. Those translations are not the "authorized version", nor, to the best of my knowledge, have they received formal approval under the Prayer Book (Versions of the Bible) Measure 1965. Therefore, a thoroughgoing Church-of-England legalism would not be able to cite them as the "source of authority".
2. Whichever translation of the Bible you choose, there is an Old-Testament commandment that declares gay relationships sinful. However, a thoroughgoing Church-of-England legalism would recall that article 7 of our Articles of Religion gives someone [*2] now living on Earth authority to decide that any particular Old-Testament commandment is a "civil precept", applicable only to ancient Israel, not to modern England. Therefore, an Old-Testament commandment as a "source of authority" cannot "trump all".
[*1] Older translations instead declare, even-handedly with respect to sexual orientation, that certain types (not specified in detail) of both gay and straight relationships are "unrighteous" (1 Corinthians 6:9), and hint at some sort of causal link between these relationships and idol-worship (Romans 1:26-27).
[*2] The article is not explicit as to _who_ has that authority. The conscience of the individual believer? The Ordinary of the place? Parliament? (I think most likely the latter.)
". .other parts of the communion as well as the CofE have experienced the NA church often acting alone and forcing the pace on issues like sexuality by making appointments without regard for their impact on the wider communion. "
Which would be far more impressive if they showed at least reciprocal concern for those parts of the communion going ahead with things like declared schism, poaching on other territories, and certain minor innovations like the murder and torture of gays and lesbians. Autonomy is, apparently, unevenly understood, and apply only when convenient to bolster the AC's dreams of empire.
Once I hear some real protests aimed at, say, the RCC or the Orthodox for their practices, or the Baptists, or anyone else, I might buy that this isn't a power grab. But, let's face it, it is and always has been about establishing a Rome-lite.
We need to formally disassociate ourselves from the AC. It is no longer useful and certainly not a community that bears witness to anything more transformative than the status quo of straight male privilege.
"[O]ther parts of the communion as well as the CofE have experienced the NA church often acting alone and forcing the pace on issues like sexuality by making appointments without regard for their impact on the wider communion."
The Anglican Communion is a family of independent churches. Nothing more.
Given the (lack of) structure, why should the rest of the communion have any official say in the internal policies or appointments of ACoC or TEC?
Once again, the idea that ACoC or TEC should seek approval from everyone else assumes a degree of central authority and control that does not exist and never will exist.
And thank God, too. For ACoC and TEC have "acted alone" and "forced the pace" in the past. They led on the ordination of women priests--another North American "innovation" that has found worldwide acceptance.
Indeed, it might be useful to review the timeline of ordination of women bishops in the Anglican Communion:
1990 New Zealand
2013 South India
???? England (still "struggling"!)
Perhaps the CofE should pick up the pace.
Re David Runcorn, "it would be fair to say that other parts of the communion ... have experienced the NA church often acting alone and forcing the pace on issues like sexuality by making appointments without regard for their impact on the wider communion. "
David, North America did act, and the initiatives taken have forced the pace of issues, and this has had an impact throughout The Communion.
However, with regard to impacts this has been felt not only abroad but here at home as well in terms of conservative (largely clerical) reaction. The negative impact internationally has been largely in terms of reactions from bishops, like those in GAFCON, unless one buys into the unfortunate recent comments by Archbishop Welby.
The sexuality debate, and the policies either developed or under consideration ( Marriage) in North America have resulted in a reactionary attempt to develop a more centralized "curia" like role for the Primates, and add greater authority to the so called instruments of communion, including the role of the office of the ABC.
I am not trying to defend the present structure of the Anglican communion it has always been an evolving one actually is is facing huge challenges. But it has always been as something more subtle and ecclesially significant than Jeremy's ‘family of independent churches. Nothing more.’ What kind of relationship needs to emerge out of all this is another discussion. I am not sure what theology of the church lies behind much of this discussion. I genuinely want to know. We seem much clearer what we do not want than what we do.
John's claim that the present ABC has ‘arrogated to himself’ an international role outside of the CofE when it was plainly in the job profile remains baffling to me. Whether he should have any international role is a different discussion.
My comment on the NA church was to point out, as others have here, that no one in the present context is innocent of pushing agendas or playing power games.
Re, David Runcorn "My comment on the NA church was to point out ... that no one in the present context is innocent of pushing agendas or playing power games."
A fair and reasonable observation David. It would be less than honest to try and make a categorical denial. At some levels the previously open ended ethos of Anglicanism, in terms of cross cultural theological debates,is now a klug.
There are no purely theological problems. There are only cultural problems with a theology component. Perhaps what Anglicanism needs is a Communion version of the "prime directive."
The notion that Anglicanism could use an international focus of unity is not a bad one; but I don't think the office of the ABC, or any configuration of bishops will do the trick---too many agendas and vested interests. The Communion has a great number of lay people, men and women who have had careers in a diplomatic service. Be interesting to see what would happen if a panel so composed were to engage in some "shuttle diplomacy". Of course, it require great humility on the part of bishops and other clergy, to agree that lay people may actually have the more effective gifts to help sort things out, or at least bring down the temperature.
'I am not sure what theology of the church lies behind much of this discussion.'
Why should any theology of the church take precedence over the theology of baptism?
Why should a will-o'-the-wisp of Anglican unity draw us into disallowing thousands of marriages?
"Not just in his imagination then - he is just trying to do his job. "
How many Americans, Canadians, Latin Americans, South Africans, etc., helped write this job description? Likely none. The English elevated their own without consulting the world. This is the last vestige of English Imperialism and it is a sorry sight.
"My comment on the NA church was to point out, as others have here, that no one in the present context is innocent of pushing agendas or playing power games."
May I be permitted to respond in connection with the Diocese of Los Angeles, who is accused here of electing Mary Glasspool for reasons of agenda and playing power games?
It's all well and good to take abstract pot-shots at TEC (and ACC) but these decisions do involve concrete people making concrete decisions for concrete reasons.
TEC elects (not appoints) bishops. This involves a dog-and-pony show, which admittedly has its negative draw-backs. But when it works well, it does give significant insight into those proposed to be consecrated bishop.
I was involved in the election process. Mary impressed me from the get-go with her experience (as a long-term canon to the ordinary in another diocese) and her profound spirituality and love of the Lord. In my opinion and in the opinion of the diocesan convention, she stood heads above most of the other nominees.
That's why she was elected bishop, not because of she, or the diocese, was pushing an agenda or because she or the diocese was playing political power games.
Our decision to elect her bishop suffragan was been repeatedly validated since her election. Most of us think she is the best preacher of our three bishops and she recently gave a knock-you-over good sermon at the service for the renewal of vows during Holy Week, which is available both in written form and an You-Tube on the Web. (I would give the link; when I do, my comment goes to spam. But it's easily searchable.) Her only agenda and her only political power game is evangelizing for our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Church of England hierarchy apparently doesn't understand (or care about) the huge harm it's doing to Anglican relations over here. They seem to be content with an Episcopal bench of heterosexual males with too many Dr. Proudies, afraid to consider the gifts that women and gay and lesbian persons have for making the Gospel alive to those alienated from the Church. For God’s sake, even the Bush administration condemned the proposed African homophobic laws and Lambeth is spinelessly afraid to say “boo” on the subject. Even moderates here increasingly don’t want to be identified with a misogynist, homophobic, murder-justifying group that CofE appears to be.
dr. primrose 'May I be permitted to respond in connection with the Diocese of Los Angeles, who is accused here of electing Mary Glasspool for reasons of agenda and playing power games?
By all means comment - but it is not in connection with anything I have said here. No such accusation exists.
And please note I have more than once admitted to sharing the sharp criticisms and questions about the CofE and ABC - my own UK corner of the Anglican church. But whatever my opinions of Anglican life and practice elsewhere, I would not, as a matter of policy and courtesy, express criticism of your own bishop or church in the terms you do of mine here.
Rod thank you again - I wish, as I often do, this was conversation over a coffee.
Can I ask you - if the laity is the answer, what are you assuming is the problem? Presumably clergy - ordained leadership at all levels. Well I do acknowledge this is in the mix but I still think this is an example of treating a symptom and not probing deeper to the real cause. Diagnosis is all.
And if this is only a symptom then why would 'not' clergy/'not' bishops fare any better than the clergy/bishops they replace in the church? As has been said clericalism and anti-clericalism are two sides of the same problem. How often revolutionaries have a way of behaving same way as the oppressors they have overthrown. Treating symptoms will not cure the problem.
American business consultant and psychotherapist Ernest Friedman finds there are presently deep levels of anger, suspicion and mistrust of authority in all organisational/business life in Western culture and that these are driven by toxic levels of anxiety. Much of his writing seeks to address how leadership can be positively exercised effectively in such an environment. I find what his says compelling and transformative in this context.
And here is one quote of his I chanced on yesterday:
'While every crisis has its context, there is one universal: to focus on the outside agent rather than on their own response.' ( from: A failure of nerve - leadership in the age of the quick fix). i.e. we blame 'them'.
"How many Americans, Canadians, Latin Americans, South Africans, etc., helped write this job description? Likely none. The English elevated their own without consulting the world. This is the last vestige of English Imperialism and it is a sorry sight."
Right, and for all the false claims of some global church, what American, Canadian, Latin American or South African will ever be Archbishop of Canterbury? Hell, even the RCC is Christian enough to recognize that a world church must pull its top man from more than one country and societal outlook.
This is all about making sure the sun never sets on the empire.
'I would not, as a matter of policy and courtesy, express criticism of your own bishop or church in the terms you do of mine here.'
If Canterbury would stop trying to be _everyone's_ bishop, then there would be much less criticism.
"I would not, as a matter of policy and courtesy, express criticism of your own bishop or church in the terms you do of mine here."
The obvious problem being that your ABC's have meddled in TEC affairs in the most arrogant, hurtful, and imperial manner. Williams and Sentamu came to our General Convention to lobby against LGBT inclusion. And our leaders actually hit the "pause button" because of them. Thank God we moved forward at the next one.
Your ABC said that a massacre occurred in Africa because of "things" (justice for LGBT persons) happening "far, far, away in America." Despite the fact that not a single human rights organization can corroborate that statement, it hit world wide news and was spirit crushing for many, including me.
If your ABC is going to meddle in our affairs, and brazenly oppress our LGBT members with his clap trap, we are most certainly free to question the intelligence and morality of the position and rail against his unjust stance.
The one fact we do have is that hateful Christian conservatism has contributed to LGBT teen suicide. In that regard, Justin, and Williams before him, are on the wrong side of defending children, and that is hideously awful.
Rod Gillis: 'Of course, it require great humility on the part of bishops and other clergy, to agree that lay people may actually have the more effective gifts to help sort things out,'
Out of all the provinces, it's the CofE that actually _has_ lay supremacy. May I join with you in commending the idea to other provinces.
Cynthia: 'How many Americans, Canadians, Latin Americans, South Africans, etc., helped write this job description? Likely none.'
Given the history of the early years of the CofE, you'll excuse our nervousness about allowing officials of overseas churches influence in ecclesiastical appointments.
That nervousness is such that, within living memory, allowing officials of overseas churches influence in ecclesiastical appointments was a criminal offence (known as "Praemunire") punishable by indefinite imprisonment and the forfeiture of all lands and goods. The offence was abolished by the Criminal Law Act 1967, i.e. around the time ++Justin started secondary school. Perhaps it helps to understand that that's the environment our current generation of bishops grew up in.
Nevertheless, you raise a good question about who actually _did_ write that job profile. The text of the job profile was released to the press and to General Synod 6-8 weeks before the members of the Crown Nominations Commission for Canterbury were chosen, so the CNC can't have written it. The copy that was released to General Synod bore the name of William Fittall, but it's not clear whether that was a claim of authorship or just a signature on a covering letter.
It occurs to me that we've heard a lot from everyone (including me) about how harmful membership of the Anglican Communion is for their own provinces.
The TEC folks are concerned that the Communion is restraining them from pursuing justice and equality for their female and LGBT members, both in recruitment to the episcopacy and in access to the sacraments and other ceremonies commonly called sacraments [*]. I worry that the presence of any joint decision-making institutions at Communion level will undermine the independence and lay supremacy of the CofE. The GAFCONites think that pursuit of equality by people with whom they are in communion damages their pastoral discipline.
So I have to ask - has _anyone_ got a good word to say about the consequences of Anglican Communion membership for their own province? If so, then let's hear it, and have a bit of good news for once. If not, then the way forward seems obvious.
[*] Here, I am not neutral - I agree that justice does demand equality in those matters.
not quite an answer to your questions, more a supplementary question.
What does "being in the Anglican Communion" actually mean?
Primates meeting up every once in a while pontificating about each other's churches can easily be dispensed with, as can the Lambeth Conference.
But is the Communion more than that? Are there local links and projects that would be harmed if it was dissolved?
Many of our parishes have close links with an African parish. Is that one of the only ways we currently have to show that we are not all morally corrupt, that "The West" isn't a scary place? Is it a means of forging personal links, of being in genuine Communion?
And if so, would those links exist after a break up? Would African bishops permit their churches to continue to have those links? Already, there have been reports that they have refused to accept financial support from "corrupt" Western churches. Does that currently hold true only for high visibility projects?
My own instinct would always be to connect more, talk more, rather than to loosen ties. But I have no evidence either way. Yet, I wonder whether we don't need to answer those questions before we say that, at a political level, the Communion has no value for us?
Erika: "My own instinct would always be to connect more, talk more, rather than to loosen ties. But I have no evidence either way. Yet, I wonder whether we don't need to answer those questions before we say that, at a political level, the Communion has no value for us?"
I very much share that view. I am opposed to separation, and in favour of connecting, talking, sharing... even in the face of differences.
I don't even think we *can* break communion in the deepest sense, which is shared union in Christ.
We are in communion with all other Christians, whether we like it or not.
My long-term local Anglican church in Berkhamsted has long-term connection with the Anglican Church in Uganda. It has various bonds of fellowship with the Christians there.
And my daughter is now working there in Uganda, extending that connection.
The last thing we should do, I feel, is separate and separate and separate into tinier and tinier sects.
We are diverse. We are different. But we still have a union in Jesus Christ to try to honour, and also the very human benefit and decency of building relationships, communicating, trying to create understanding, even if it is only understanding of *why* we may hold some different views on certain things.
Thanks Erika - and I would add that there is a hospitable discipline in Anglican diversity that goes some way to ensuring that when I connect I do not only connect with people who I like and who think like me.
"How great and wonderful thing it is brethren (and sistren) to dwell together in Unity" - Scripture.
Trouble starts when the 'holier than thou' crowd starts a schismatic movement by proclaiming their own sanctity on grounds of a spurious 'orthodoxy', in which they assert their moral superiority. The next step is to form your own church - GAFCON.
Even the Archbishop of Canterbury has no defence against such hubris.
"So I have to ask - has _anyone_ got a good word to say about the consequences of Anglican Communion membership for their own province? If so, then let's hear it, and have a bit of good news for once. If not, then the way forward seems obvious."
I believe that there's a ton of good news, Feria. The Good News is happening at a more grassroots level. I know a lot of TEC parishes and TEC organizations partner with Anglican churches in poor regions in Africa and elsewhere to effect positive change. Many terrific things are happening. As a person who travels internationally (living for months at a time in England), worshipping together in Similar Prayer, if not absolutely Common Prayer, is meaningful. My experiences of the people in English parishes and Cathedrals are wonderful.
The problem is CoE leadership. That is the Bad News. I wish they would just shut up and let the rest of us get on with the Good News, unhindered by their ridiculous posturing and machinations.
I know that CoE has a CNC that appoints the leadership, and there seems to be no appetite to move towards elections such as TEC has. But I have to say that our church leadership is far more functional and not tied in knots about which boundaries to draw. There really is an enormous gulf between CoE leadership and English Anglicans, let alone the English public. And it is sad to see the leadership on the wrong side of moral issues. Praise God for a thoughtful people who have come to more just and humane conclusions, in spite of church leadership.
The Good News is you, Feria. And Erika, and Jeremy, and everyone working to feed the hungry, advocate for the poor, and do justice, loving absolutely ALL of God's people.
'Even the Archbishop of Canterbury has no defence against such hubris.'
The defence is to lower expectations. To say that member churches in the Anglican Communion disagree on important issues, whether marriage equality, women's ordination, or hermeneutics.
And then to say that such disagreement is normal, and that there's not much that the Instruments of Communion can (or should want) to do about it.
That kind of modest approach would clarify that it is theological conservatives, through GAFCON et al., who are trying to impose their vision on the entire Communion, through such attempts as primates' communiques and the Covenant.
That kind of modest approach would also suggest that such attempts to impose unity are fools' errands.
Yes, Rome will find this frustrating, because Anglican diversity will continue. But I suspect that the present Pope is less troubled than his predecessors by theological liberalism and diversity.
Yes, some people will refuse to attend conferences. Regrettable, but the Communion family meetings will continue.
Canterbury can, if it wishes, keep inviting those people to the conferences, and thus can continue to regard them as in the Communion.
Erika: 'Are there local links and projects that would be harmed if it was dissolved?'
Indeed - that's the kind of area where I thought any positive value was most likely to reside. Certainly, I know from experience that those kinds of local "twinning" relationships can be enriching - but I've never been in at the start of one of them to know whether the AC did anything to facilitate (or indeed to hinder) its formation.
"And then to say that such disagreement is normal, and that there's not much that the Instruments of Communion can (or should want) to do about it.
That kind of modest approach..."
The thing is that this wouldn't even be a radical modest approach. It would simply be a return to what the Anglican Communion was before homosexuality became the fulcrum for an internal power battle.
I so wish Rowan Williams had been firm right from the start and instead of trying to delay gay equality here for the sake of institutional unity, said clearly that we have always had national churches ministering in local situations and that we would continue to do so.
Might have lost us a few schismatics but saved us years of wrangling and power battles and small shifts in perception to the point that most people now talk about an Anglican Church!
Compromise is one thing but having clear boundaries is vital.
'Might have lost us a few schismatics but saved us years of wrangling and power battles and small shifts in perception to the point that most people now talk about an Anglican Church!'
People in lots of provinces can legitimately talk about an 'Anglican Church'--in Canada, for instance. It's also a phrase used to describe the Church of England.
That said, the line to draw is where anyone asserts that the Anglican Communion is one 'global church.' That is exactly what we are not. That phrase has to be named for what it is--a lie.
As for the previous willingness of some Archbishops of Canterbury to be buffaloed, perhaps that spinelessness will now end, given that GAFCON is denouncing the Church of England.
It all depends on where the Archbishop's priorities are. Does he put a figment of global unity ahead of his pastoral responsibilities to his English flock?
yes, people can legitimately talk about "an" Anglican church. But not about "The Anglican Church" meaning the communion of all independent Anglican churches.
And that's the way it is being used increasingly even by people who should know better, including Justin Welby.
It's really important because while we are a group of churches "bound by affection", we are not accountable to each other in the way the One Church people would like everyone else to believe.
As for GAFCON, you're right but I'm not holding my breath. The communique was published here on 27 April, there have been 4 whole working days since.
Unless I don't understand the process involved in making a formal response. Should it really take that long?
I too wish Rowan had given a stronger lead on this but I do think 'losing a few schismatics' wildly understates the impact this would have had at the time (and for what it is worth would have forced a choice too soon for a large number of people who now wholly support same-sex relationships, CPs and marriage). When RW was appointed ABC (2002) the conservative evangelical wing of the CofE was larger, highly mobilised, well organised and actually a very dominating presence within the wider CofE evangelical tradition of which I am a part. The fall out would have been very significant in terms of numbers, churches breaking away and very significant loss of income in some dioceses. It is a measure of how far things have moved that this level of threat is nowhere near as apparent. I appreciate that for those of us who most need and look for leadership in these changes this is still far too slow and represents a shameful compromise with prejudice. I am just making the point that the pressures and consequences at the time were much more significant than your comment suggests.
Re David Runcorn, April 29, "Can I ask you [Rod]- if the laity is the answer, what are you assuming is the problem?"
David,just seing your post now,but I think there are actually several problems. The major problem is culture. It's no accident that The Anglican Church of Canada and TEC are moving on GLBT rights, including marriage, in tandem with a major and fast paced shift in their social contexts, including a shift in civil law. Likewise, while I comment on a social and cultural context elsewhere with some hesitation,the issue flows from very different cultural contexts in say, parts of Africa, for example.
To cut to the chase, and leaving out some important nuances, there are at least two other problems which are related. (1) Bishops: all bishops in whatever context, have vested interests in this issue. (2) skills: diplomacy is a skill set. Utilizing skills in diplomacy available from professional and experienced lay practitioners seems to me something well worth considering. Mistrust exists, and may have become malignant at this point; diplomacy, using more neutral actors, may give us the best shot at reducing down mistrust.
'Unless I don't understand the process involved in making a formal response. Should it really take that long?'
It will probably take until 2019.
I doubt that Lambeth will say anything formal in response to this latest GAFCON foot-stamping. GAFCON is calling for more discipline within the Church of England. That is something that the English bishops are very unlikely to provide.
And GAFCON suspects as much, which is why their communique calls for 'confidence.' Whatever that means, they wouldn't call for it if they didn't think it was lacking.
And indeed it should be! After all, if an English bishop were actually to attempt to discipline a priest for marrying--for *marrying*, for God's sake, for entering into an *'honorable estate'*--the media and indeed political consequences would be disastrous.
At the same time, the Archbishops also do not want to give CofE conservatives a casus belli.
And by this time I suspect that Canterbury has been sufficiently rattled by the response to his marriage-causes-murder remarks that he will realize that his best course may be to keep quiet. With those remarks, and with the infamously unpastoral St. Valentine's Day guidance, the archbishops have badly misjudged the mood of their church and society.
So the facilitated conversations will buy time while equal marriage becomes more accepted, indeed embraced, across England. By the end of two years, the CofE will appear to be even more of a discriminatory sect, the quadruple lock will be even more manifestly unjust, and the politicians will be happy to get rid of it.
The real question, however, is how all this plays into Lambeth 2018.
(to be cont'd)
(part 2 of 2)
Canterbury must be regarding Lambeth 2018 with trepidation. The possible specifics are unknowable, but we can broadly foresee two possible chains of events.
Which is to be preferred?
1. The first likely outcome is the boycott. Either the CofE does not impose the discipline that GAFCON asks for, or the CofE moves to change the quadruple lock. Perhaps Canterbury has the courage and grace to invite to Lambeth Bishop Mary Glasspool--and any other Communion bishop who by that time is openly LGBT.
Given these developments, or others like them, the GAFCON provinces decide that they will not attend Lambeth 2018. They feel they need to justify this decision, so they issue a strongly phrased document that bewails the Communion's wayward theology.
In option 1, the runup to Lambeth is unpleasant, and it detracts from Canterbury's international prestige. It looks like a schism.
But Lambeth itself is a very pleasant, stress-free event. The political pressure is off, so tension is low. Bishops do not find that much to disagree about. Canterbury says that the boycotting provinces will be invited back for 2028.
The boycott will also have boosted the CofE domestically, in that it will be seen to have taken a position that most English people agree with.
2. The second likely outcome is the fudge. The CofE manages to avoid any legislative change, bishop appointment, or other major event that signals where it stands. The conservative party at General Synod manages to hold the line at ordaining women bishops. Bishop Glasspool is not invited to Lambeth. Given that the CofE seems to be trying, the GAFCON bishops decide that they will attend Lambeth, even if it means that when certain people approach, they have to hold their noses.
Of course this makes Lambeth itself a much more exciting, even fraught, event. Global South bishops will be in the numerical majority, and they will not settle for indaba. What resolutions will they try to push through? Will the CofE find itself on the receiving end of a Lambeth Conference call for more discipline? How would that play in the UK?
I wish the Archbishop would prefer sequence 1. For both theological and institutional reasons, he will probably prefer sequence 2. Can he really secure that outcome though? The CofE will accommodate its own society and culture, and GAFCON will draw its own conclusions.
But they've also asked that any priest who marries should be disciplined. I thought maybe the Archbishop might answer that somehow.
But I suppose you're right, there won't be any formal response at all.
Erika, I don't think anyone in the CofE hierarchy is going to go beyond the pastoral guidance, which is already (justly) subject to the criticism that it seeks to impose one side of the debate as an interim solution.
Perhaps the CofE bishops have realized that their retributive pronouncements do nothing more than alienate many English Anglicans.
Boko Haram is now kidnapping young women because they have had the temerity to educate themselves.
For these Islamists, any excuse will do. The fight isn't against gays in particular. It's against modernity. It's against equality for all.
So, Your Grace, should we graciously restrain from educating women, because kidnappings will result?
Let us now note with sadness and outrage the recent news out of northeast Nigeria.
Boko Haram Islamist terrorists have killed more than 300 people in an attack on a village. The village had been used as a base by Nigerian forces searching for the hundreds of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram.
Lest Boko Haram kidnap or kill innocent people, can we now expect bishops or archbishops to call for gracious restraint in educating young women?
Or does the hierarchy call on the CofE to heed Islamist bigotry, or exercise gracious restraint, only when too much progress is made in achieving social justice for LGBT people?