Comments: Canada: Canterbury replies to letter

Well, I don't want to sound unkind but ...the bad news is he didn't say very much. The good news is he didn't use very many words to say it. Maybe it's typical british understatement.

Posted by -frank at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 12:49am GMT

It sounds like Rowan has taken the first step in his own personal 12 step program. I am powerless to do anything. Perhaps he can go on from there to conquer his addiction to convoluted circumlocutions.

Posted by Richard Lyon at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 1:23am GMT

Oje, since the ABC "will simply repeat" I'm surprised it took him so LONG to say "I apologise for not responding sooner"..perhaps, regrouping from such exhaustive circular speaking/thinking and tweeking does take a few weeks until *one* can "note" the "reference to the appeal of the Canadian Church to myself about interventions and irregular ordinations."

Which part of the REALLY IMPORTANT appeal didn't +++Rowan sense was URGENT?

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 2:36am GMT

Well, although he may not directly have authority over the people who are intervening, he could show his displease by withdrawing their invitations to Lambeth. I mean, if we do not invite Gene Robinson because he caused division, surely we can drop Gregory Venables for the same reason.

Posted by John Bassett at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 4:57am GMT

"I apologise for not responding sooner to this, but had had to focus in December on the preparation of the Advent Letter"

Gosh. I wish I had a job where I could write a letter a month.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 5:31am GMT

So much for the false and misleading information about "a sensible way forward."Who was it , who said that ?

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 6:05am GMT

What a feeble letter. How far do the illiberal destroyers of the Anglican way have to go before Archbishop Rowan manages to say anything less equivocal? Runcie was famously castigated for nailing his colours to the fence, but Rowan excels him. There are times when failure to speak loudly and clearly against an injustice results in collusion with the injustice. "First they came for the Americans, and I said nothing because I was not an American. Then they came for the Canadians, and I said nothing because I was not a Canadian... Then they came for me, but there was no-one left to say anything for me."

Posted by Fr Mark at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 8:20am GMT

Looking at the above comments, it seems Rowan is damned if he utters and damned if he doesn't. Do personal attacks on him aid any cause?

Posted by Lister Tonge at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 8:30am GMT

"Do personal attacks on him aid any cause?"

Probably not in the grand scheme of things, but it's highly understandable that frustration gets the better of us at times. After all, the words may be a bit strong, the charge itself isn't.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 9:21am GMT

What would people have him do? It's not like he can punish anybody, "Disinvite" people to (?from?) Lambeth? What would that do?

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 11:08am GMT

Yes, Lister, I know how you feel!

Rowan has been playing a complex game.
The invitation of TEC’s bishops to Lambeth was quite clearly the prize for BO33. Leaving just Gene out in the cold, rather than all those who assented to and assisted in his consecration, but with the promise that:
We’ll try and do something to get him there later.
Just what TEC would have had to do to get Gene to Lambeth?
I can only guess that in all the horse trading that has been going on something on the scale from implementing the Dar es Salaam demands to giving a unanimous assurance of no more same sex blessings. What happened at NOLA was deemed inadequate.
The decision of several major players not to come to Lambeth has made getting Gene to Lambeth (and in the control of the conference organisers) less pressing. The idea of Gene sitting in the lounge of a Canterbury hotel giving daily press conferences waiting for an invitation even as the conference was going on did not appeal to any at Lambeth Palace. But now there is the likelihood of a whole raft of non-attendees floating around England, each holding court and trying to capture the agenda, it sort of makes Gene look less threatening!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 11:33am GMT

As to the letter to Fred Hiltz, this is only the public response. We know that the Advent Letter was delayed and redrafted in the light of the Southern Cone adventures and that this is just another part of the strategy from several GS Churches who are ensuring that as many as possible are fully involved in the invasion so that no single partner can be picked off and isolated.

It is interesting to see Rowan attacked for the same things by both sides in this debate.

While we at LGCM have been appalled with his conniving at what Theo Hobson calls the death of liberalism and evident willingness to shift the default position of Anglicanism to a deeply flawed Fulcrumesque vision of things – we find criticising him for failing to exercise power he does not have rather pointless.

Back in 2003 I was writing essays saying how powerless he was. The coup organised by the Primates Group appears to have faltered, all hope of that powerlessness continuing rests on the Covenant and with the CofE saying they cannot cede any of their autonomy to an outside group – well that looks like a dead duck to me.

What Rowan has done – at least in part – is to force the homophobes into the open. Robert Ian Williams (bless him!) keeps reminding us of this when he points to the alliances being formed. Robert points out that the Southern Cone’s Bishop Don Harvey in Canada would be diametrically opposed to the theology and liturgy celebrated by Sothern Cone’s bishop Scofield – there is no way these men can see the other as biblically orthodox – they agree on one thing, and one thing only!

What amazes me is just how powerful hate is, and hating homosexuals particularly so! The theology of the uniting force of the scapegoat is vividly alive here!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 11:35am GMT

I agree with Martin Reynolds that the ABC is "powerless", but only up to a point. He has, or at least had, a huge personal authority when he took office. As a renowned and respected theologian and someone who was called a "holy man" even in the secular press, people were prepared to listen to him and hoped for some kind of leadership.

I know the forces that conspired against him were unexpected and unexpectedly strong. And yet!
Could a man known for complex theology not have argued more openly against the crude simplifications often applied even by bishops?
Could a man known for his "holiness" not have spoken out more against scheming, lying and deliberately vilifying perceived outsiders and heretics?
Could he not have done more to stabilise the tone of the debate?
Was it really impossible to at least mention early and clearly that boundary crossing is not acceptable in the Anglican Communion?
He did find it possible, after all, to criticise TEC for being too soft on gays. He has shown that he CAN be outspoken if he tries. What does that say about all those instances where he doesn't speak out?

I suppose what I'm seeing is that in the battle for unity he has allowed true Christian values to be burried. Sadly for him and for all of us, it hasn't even brought him the unity he wanted.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 12:51pm GMT

Look what's happening in Jerusalem. While homosexuality isn't on their radar, I doubt they'd be all that open if it were. Their society is more conservative than ours, and their religious and political situaiton is more complex than Nigeria. So, I'd kind of think, all things being equal, +Akinola et al would expect some allies there. Yet, by their arrogance, the GS/GAFCON crowd are losing potential supporters. It's like the situation with Don Harvey in this diocese. UnChristian behaviour will not win you support among those for whom obedience to the basic Gospel imperative to love one's neighbour is actually taken seriously. Giving them enough rope is working. Far better in the long run than primatial fiat. Let 'em bluster. What will it say to the part of the world even bothers to look when they don't show up at Lambeth, huffily organize some other grandstanding conference, after walking all over the manifestly humble Bishop of Jerusalem? It'll be obvious he's the one mistreated by a group of holier than thou power mongers. The more they are allowed to get away with, the better, it'll just make them more arrogant, and accelerate their slide into purple faced, ranting obscurity. I think it's beginning.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 1:49pm GMT

Martin Reynolds (et. el.) --

I agree that the +ABC is without canonical authority outside the C of E (& those extra-provincial dioceses & churches directly under his authority), but he does have the opportunity to speak clearly on the difference between right and wrong. Many people who disagree on the "presenting issue" feel strongly that he has failed to do so. Perhaps if you are an Oxford Don there is no such thing as "right" and "wrong" (but I had always hoped that Jane would set him straight).

I also present overdue Kudos to Robert Ian Williams -- in spite of the repetition, he is quite right & his contribution has not been adequately acknowledged (IMHO).

The obsession is with the penis (anyone notice raging against lesbians? Me neither). The is not a sign of sound mental health.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 2:46pm GMT

Martin and Robert:
Don Harvey is actually quite theologically compatible with John-David Schofield. Harvey sent several postulants to Nashotah House. He led our diocesan lenten clergy retreat in 2003, and spent the whole retreat in cassock (the rest of us were in jeans), and he was the only bishop wearing a zucchetto at Andrew Hutchison's enthronement at GS '03.
Malcolm Harding, on the other hand, is an evangelical, and not at all compatible with Harvey or Schofield.

As an aside, I have heard through the grapevine that the parish of one of Harvey's boys is in a major turmoil. It seems two widowed members of the choir, a man and a woman, merged their households without benefit of holy matrimony. The rector sacked them from the choir. In response, at least half the choir quit, and the annual meeting is shaping up to be a big fight. At least we know it's not all about homosexuality!

Posted by Jim Pratt at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 3:07pm GMT

John Peel (of blessed memory) said that the first person to mention the Nazis in any argument lost. I think that's what has happened to Fr Mark (Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 8:20am GMT). To adapt Pastor Niemöller's exhortation to the situation of the Anglican Communion is otiose. The effects of the neo-puritans' policies and actions are unChristian enough, sufficiently against the building of the kingdom, without comparing them to genocidists.

Posted by Justin Lewis-Anthony at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 3:38pm GMT

The immensely threatening risks of having VGR invited to Lambeth all involve media and public perceptions.

Firstly, VGR coming without censure or punishment would leave certain con evo realignment leaders more livid than not. That puts a good match to the considerable kindle of their antigay feelings, backed up by all the familiar legacy negatives with which so many believers were raised. How many preachments of dirt, danger, disgust would we start hearing, yet again.

In that event, we get to Two. VGR would respond to his critics, as their increasingly angry antigay remarks turned up the heat on every hot button burner.

And not VGR, wimpy and alone. No doubt any number of Anglican believers would rally round VGR - with a variety of views and feelings expressed.

Who knows? Even rather conservative Anglican believers, maybe even some from Africa or Asia, would possible get a chance to say that fighting about sex is not their preferred option for worldwide Anglican witness.

In these events, we get to Three. The myth of Anglican orthodoxy as now preached in the con evo realignment is exploded in public - one may be sure the media would pick up - by sheer Anglican diversity. To many listening, thanks to the media, the antigay Anglicans would sound even less convincing and even more one note than they sound even now, and many people who hear the battle noises would simply tell themselves, Well the religious believers are all at it, again, with polity guns and apostolic knives and weaponized doctrines.

If just the right combustible Lambeth mix occurred without game fixing strategies from Carey-like maneuvering in hot Lambeth moments, we could get a dramatic risky shift to the left in worldwide Anglicanism - tired of the persistent rightwing Anglican pressure to fight about differences (See dear old Eric Berne's game, Let's You And Him Fight), weary of being told what to think by people who do come across as holier than thou (not least in their trash talking of modernity and apostates and the evils of other world religions), and seeing even more clearly how people with antigay feelings are being played to achieve a new sort of con evo power in Anglicanism.

Just see the risky shift and group polarization literatures in empirical studies of group psychology.

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 3:52pm GMT

"(anyone notice raging against lesbians? Me neither)."

Maybe not many public rants, but the practical effect on us has been the same. My own church involvement has certainly been drastically curtailed since my partner and I have started to live together openly. And on this forum too, people have made no distinction. In that context the term Gay applies to male and female.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 3:53pm GMT

Jim,
I don't altogether agree with you about +Don Harvey. I think he's a nose of wax. What I used to think was integrity on his part, I now think is more likely to be talking a good talk for whatever audience he has. I think, if he got a good position in the Southern Cone, he'd be quite happy moving as far down the candle as need be. I doubt he'll get Primate, there's Americans up for that job, the former bishop of ENandL doesn't have much of a chance. The question is, for me, will he be satisfied with Exarch of the Faithful Canadian remnant?

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 4:38pm GMT

The reason nobody brings up lesbianism is that there's no Scriptural prohibition against it. (The one possible mention, in an ambiguous proof-text from Romans 1, was read by early theologians, including Augustine and Clement of Alexandria, as referring to heterosexual women.)

This makes it quite difficult to make a Scriptural case against "homosexuality" - it simply isn't there - which is why nobody brings it up. Peter Akinola, the Biblical literalist Himself, had to amend Leviticus, in fact, creating a prohibition that doesn't exist.

All very funny, actually! And it leaves the so-called "orthodox" with only Tradition to help them. Well, they're certainly right on that score: the Church has Traditionally been exceedingly homophobic.

Exceedingly anti-Semitic, too, but somehow that always gets forgotten....

Posted by bls at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 4:50pm GMT

john peel was wrong. see Liddon's Law, which states that whenever a fascist is losing an argument he will invoke Godwin's Law (qv)

Posted by poppy tupper at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 5:34pm GMT

Justin L-A: Thanks you for your comment, but I am not so wild or unhistorical as to have tried to compare the Archbishop to the Nazis. (I think there is doubt as to who actually was the originator of the lines you atribute to Niemoeller, anyway.)

What I was trying, and evidently failing, to express was that there are important questions of justice and oppression at play here: it is not merely about what is expedient in terms of ecclesiastical politicking. I would hope we would as Christians want our yea to be yea and our nay to be nay, and to eschew the world of "Yes Minister" doubletalk. There is an old-fashioned middle-class English fear of anyone speaking clearly and directly which lies behind a great deal of how this whole debate gets conducted (or avoided) in the C of E. Isn't it Gwendolen who says "When I see a spade, I call it a spade", to which Cecily replies "I am glad to say, Miss Fairfax, that I have never seen a spade"?

Posted by Fr Mark at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 6:17pm GMT

Justin

Fr Mark is on the money. Try sitting in a few of these biblical orthodox sermons for a few months or years. If their desires for Jesus to come down from the clouds and murder all this planet's occupants isn't a mass genocidal fantasy, then I don't know what is. Remember serial killers first fantasize about murdering victims before they actually begin to do so, they often practice on animals and "lesser" beings before they go for their true targets.

Read up on pscyhology and sociology. Rose coloured glasses do not make for robust thinking.

Erika, I'm with you, and there's a lesson here for some males. Some souls foolishly think that an offence done against "another" does not equate as an offence against themselves. That is why male priests were able to collude and turn a blind eye to sexual predators if the targets were women and children. But as we have seen in this debate, they take a rather dim view if it is potentially themselves that might be violated.

Both arguments have the same pattern - it's okay to insult and violate "lesser beings" (whether that be non-humans, non-Christians, non-males, non-heterosexuals), but "Don't attack us. Particularly, don't insult our divine sponsor and it's probably not a good idea to insult his mother, but all other souls are fair game unless they've been given our rubber stamp."

I don't distinguish whether an accusation of act of violence is done against a male or female, adult or child, Christian or non-Christian. Violence is violence and God detests priest who cover themselves in violence (Malachi 2:16), and despises those selfish and complacent who think they are "above" the "lesser" beings who are being "punished" by Jesus. See Isaiah 32, the complacent are rebuked and God restores peace, as is also the case in Matthew 25:31-46.

A soul's merits is best measured by what they do to the "least" of us. I give those of confusing sexuality grace and hope and an offer to live reverential lives. I desire no less for them than I do for "perfect" males - safety, sufficiency, contentment and companionship.

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 7:39pm GMT

"Patience is a virtue." That's an old maxim.

Someone who blogs under the title "The Anglican Centrist" called Rowan's approach "dithering". And there may be something positive in this characterization.

Both sides are fuming that Williams refuses to take sides. Instead, he promotes lonstanding Anglican principles and reiterates them whenever anyone demands that he *do something*.

In the end, the is is all a waiting game. Who will get impatient with the lack of resolution and take their marbles and go play somewhere else. Today, it looks like some of the hardliners on the Global South are the closest to taking their marbles. (That is, the ones they haven't already lost ;)

I suspect that TEC will depose Schofield in March and Williams will revoke his invitation. So far, he has supported the canonical actions which are consistent with prior Lambeth resolutions.

All of us need much more patience. Anger of VGR's withheld invitation serves no practical end. A majority of Anglican bishops around the world appear to not recognize the legitimacy of his jurisdiction. Meanwhile, probably a dozen conservative "bishops" of various degrees of legitimacy have had their invitations withheld.

There always needs to be a balance between pragamatism and principle. Insisting only on principle is the sign of an extreme position.

Posted by ruidh at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 7:41pm GMT

I have never claimed Bishop Harvey for evangelicalism!...However the Canadian Anglicans are not leaving in droves for Southern Cone.
They are more reserved about their religion than the Americans.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 9:10pm GMT

Erika Baker --

Sincere apologies -- I did not mean to trivialize you pain, but I do think that the hysteria is really about the threat to patriarchy -- there is something about the notion of a male allowing himself to be penetrated that drives certain people nuts.

Mind you, I speak as a straight white male celibate who has changed his mind about these issues some years after entering the monastery who relies only on the stories of the experiences of others.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 9:17pm GMT

"Isn't it Gwendolen who says "When I see a spade, I call it a spade", to which Cecily replies "I am glad to say, Miss Fairfax, that I have never seen a spade"?"

Just for the record, Fr. Mark, you've got it backwards. It is Cecily who calls a spade a spade, and Gwendolen who has never seen the instrument in question.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 9:55pm GMT

Sorry Robert, confusing the bishops, my fault. My praise of your reminding us of these false alliances based solely on the hatred of Gays remains.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 9:57pm GMT

"A majority of Anglican bishops around the world appear to not recognize the legitimacy of his [+VGR's] jurisdiction."

This reminds me of what some people say about gays in general, and it's part sloppy language and part sloppy thinking, "i don't have anything against X personaly, but i just don't believe in homosexuality."

This is like saying, I don't have anything against that apple that just hit the deck, but I don't believe in gravity.

+VGR is duly elected, consented to, and consecrated. It's not up to them.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 2:13am GMT

The Americans are not leaving in droves for the Southern Cone either. The number of Anglicans/Episcopalians in the San Joaquin Valley could not be described as a "drove". IMHO. They are spread thinly on the ground.

Posted by Anthony W at Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 7:09am GMT

Prior Aeldred
Absolutely no apologies necessary, and my "pain" really isn't worth mentioning. The freedom and integrity that came with being open more than cancels out any pain any church could inflict.

I agree that it is about patriarchy. For women it's always been about that, and lesbianism is just one further manifestation. The strangest experience for me has been an increase in male attention since I've started to live with my partner, and even the frequent question whether there is anything that could make me "go straight" again. It's almost as though many men feel I've rejected them personally by living with a woman.
Women wanting to be like men, men acting like women, it all threatens the established order and threatens our certainties. And because sex is such a deep, instinctive, emotive issue interwoven with all our deepest fears about who we are, who our offspring are, whom we are linked with, it is only natural that sexuality has become the last enormous battle ground.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 7:36am GMT

Pat: I stand corrected, thanks. I fail the Wilde test miserably!

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 8:22am GMT

Ford,
I think +Don Harvey is quite comfortable with a broad spectrum of churchmanship (witness his close relationship with +Len Whitten, which is more than just their family ties), but that doesn't mean he's going to change his stripes. And I'm not sure he'll have to in the Southern Cone. Isn't Bishop Lyons of Bolivia a Son of the House?

And you're right, he'll never be Primate. That job's going to go to Duncan or another American, and there don't seem to be enough Canadians following him for a separate Canadian province.

Posted by Jim Pratt at Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 2:53pm GMT

Maybe, Jim. I'm not in the most Christian of places lately, and I'm disinclined to cut him any slack at all. I remember his change of heart on OOW, his ostensible reason for it, and what I suspect was his real reason.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 4:25pm GMT

Jim Pratt,

Mr Harvey has voluntarily relinquished all spiritual authority (see Canon XIX). This is the equivalent of the RC procedure of laicization. Therefore, in my view, he is for all juridic purposes no longer a bishop. (Ontologically he remains a bishop, but ony ontologically.) It is therefore not correct to refer to him as a bishop. The Southern Cone has, in effect, licensed a lay person for episcopal purposes, which takes lay presidency to a whole new level.

Posted by Nom de Plume at Friday, 25 January 2008 at 3:04am GMT

"The Southern Cone has, in effect, licensed a lay person for episcopal purposes, which takes lay presidency to a whole new level."

Interesting. The idea that Don Harvey is now a "lay president" will give chuckles to a good many when I spread this about. It's kind of like the Pope becoming a Wee Free.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 25 January 2008 at 11:48am GMT

Bishop Harvey says as reported on Virtue online that as a charismatic Anglo-Catholic he has no problem with Evangelicals. Well that is I suppose the case if he closes an eye to their ribena-grape juice eucharists...or their throwing the left over bread away after Holy Communion. or their denial of baptismal regeneration, and the confessional, prayers for the dead, and denouncing devotion to the Saints and our lady as unbiblical.

Furthermore Sydney regard the charismamtic movement as heresy ( i agree there).

Just close yopur eyes Bishop Harvey...get on board the Jensen boat... The Good ship GAFCON...but theres a time bomb in the hold, called LAY PRESIDENCY...and any one who values the Apostolic succession must be out of their mind to get on board.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 29 January 2008 at 12:35am GMT

Robert Ian Williams: Bishop Harvey says as reported on Virtue online that as a charismatic Anglo-Catholic he has no problem with Evangelicals. Well that is I suppose the case if he closes an eye to their ribena-grape juice eucharists...or their throwing the left over bread away after Holy Communion.

It might be as well for all of us who feel strongly on one side or the other not to make blind assumptions that words mean the same thing in different places. For example, in Canada even the strongest evangelical anglican will use wine and is hardly likely to throw the leftover bread away (though giving it to the birds is not a bad option if you have lots too much...but I digress). Those abuses are unique to the CofE and are highly unlikely to be on Harvey's radar. Anymore than the equally unique degree of disregard of the canons and episcopal authority that seems to be accepted without question at both ends of the CofE spectrum.

Evangelical anglicanism in Canada is what it is (not my cup of tea at all), but it is wildly different from the kind of evangelical anglicanism I sometimes see described by members of the CofE on this and other boards.

Best not to assume that local abuses are in fact typical of an entire groups. Better to verify whether they are local or more widespread, and regulate one's response accordingly.

Posted by John Holding at Wednesday, 30 January 2008 at 1:13pm GMT

"is hardly likely to throw the leftover bread away"

Not so. It was happening in EN&L and Mr. Harvey had to put a stop to it. I'm not sure if it was an Evangelical stance in some sense, or just someone with little theological understanding, one of the "Buddy Christers", but it certainly happened here. And wouldn't any True Evangelical have issues with throwing the bread to the birds as following the traditions of men, to whit, that uberPapist, St. Francis?

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 1 February 2008 at 4:07pm GMT
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