Comments: Guardian profiles Williams

Missing in this summary is Williams's actual commitment - that is to a Catholic understanding of bishops and an international view of his own primacy. He does impose this view, and last year combined it with a Protestant view of expected belief between Churches. He has lectured (by proxy) some peculiar stuff about the mother Church and how lack of innovation is some sort of gift.

And the primatial initiative in challenging or seeking to limit local development on these grounds becomes intelligible as part of the service of the mother Church - to those to which it is the mother.

This becomes conservatism for its own sake.

His view is not accepted across Anglicanism and he cannot impose it. I noticed this week how the Hansons book, Reasonable Belief, of 1980, rejects just his view on ministry - a very Anglican book.

It is his very definite policy on centralising that has come undone, unwanted by many and usurped by the schismatics with knobs on. His boat is shipwrecked and it is his fault; the rocks were seen ahead and he sailed straight into them.

Posted by Pluralist at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 2:22am BST

This is a fine and stimulating piece by Stephen Bates, though it leaves one distinctly depressed at the wayward drift of the Church under Williams. As he writes:

Actually, it may be just cluelessness. One former primate says: "I once asked Rowan what his strategy was. He twitched his eyebrows and said, 'There is no strategy.' That shocked me."

Posted by John Omani at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 5:20am BST

While a worthy piece, this paper demonstrates the blind broadside. Some souls have focussed on the question of allowing women to speak for themselves (after all, men haven't done a such a great job of protecting us for over 2000 years) or tolerating GLBTS (where some souls deny they come under the classification of eunuchs, forgetting that they have not only not provided for GLBTS but also for eunuchs).

The reason things are in such a fracas is much deeper than that. The conservatives got "busted" for being on the backfoot about more than allowing women a voice or treating GLBTs decently.

They had demonstrated a lack of concern for the poor, an irreverence for this planet and its occupants, an obliviousness of God's feminine traits and characters, negligence for the afflicted and outcaste, a lust for power and authority (with all and any means agreeable provided they "praised Jesus"), an ignorance of the whole passover "end of slavery" thing that Jesus obviously understood as he prepared to ride into Jerusalem on the back of donkey sending messages to the Daughter of Zion, a disregard for God's covenants of peace, partiality in applying matters of law, idolatry, setting high mounds for themselves at the expense of others, ignorance of the Jewish Oral and Written texts, oblivousness to the prophetic requirements for the Messiah documented in the Jewish texts, insults to the God of gods who is responsible for ALL creation.

Plus they demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that their infrastructure has ineffective mechanisms for allowing the abused, the oppressed or the prophetic to have a fair hearing or trial.

Some might want to raindance about GLBTs, but their problems were merely symptoms of a deeper malaise.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 9:41am BST

It's all very well. But what was Williams supposed to DO? Back Liberals - lose most of the C of E and most of world-wide Anglicanism. Back Evangelicals - and lose British Liberals, the American and Canadian churches, and most of London. The only thing he might have tried, right at the beginning, when his '
authority' was at its height, would have been to say loud and clear: the gay thing must not become a communion-divider. But would that have 'worked'? I doubt it.

Posted by john at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 10:22am BST

Another hap'orth:

We are all suffering here, but because he is the kind of person he is, because he is Welsh (and that much-maligned race is very good at it), and most of all because of his position, he - manifestly - is suffering much more than most, and, moreover, he is suffering for all of us Anglicans. There would seem to be something Jesus-like about that. Certainly, some of us find in it a humbling grandeur.

Posted by john at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 11:23am BST

OT but worth noting:

It appears we have another Lambeth boycott breaker. +Johannes Angela, of Bondo, Kenya is pictured on Ruth Gledhill's blog. This despite ++Nzimbi repeating only recently that the Kenyan bishops would not be there.
http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2008/07/lambeth-send-in.html#more

+Angela joins +Cyril Okorocha, of Owerri, Nigeria in ignoring the blanket boycott by their provinces.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4318938.ece

Our prayers should be with them, for they will undoubtedly face hostility when they return home (and perhaps some admiration and envy).

Posted by MJ at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 11:46am BST

But he wouldn't have lost most of world wide anglicanism - because all liberals asked for was plurality. The FOCA's are based in a limited number of provinces. OK, play the numbers game, but really, the Anglican Communion would be far better without the Victorian fundamentalists of Uganda, Kenya and Uganda.

I think most of the CofE can actually live with different approaches within one church - maybe not Reform or the Church Society but surely that has to be seen as an advantage given their inability to accept any views other than their own.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 12:03pm BST

Despite all of my frustrations with him, especially his mystifying refusal to understand, or even speak with, American Episcopalians, I've always felt sorry for ++Rowan Williams. With this civil war in the Communion, he's out of his depth. He's a very unworldly man forced to deal with very worldly matters of power and politics. In other contexts, he would be a superlative thinker and a saintly example to us all.

Posted by counterlight at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 2:12pm BST

And another boycott breaker:

+Beneah Okumu of Mumias, Kenya is listed as a pre-Lambeth visiting bishop in the diocese of St Asaph:

http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/dynamic/press_releases/display_press_release.php?prid=4633

Posted by MJ at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 2:24pm BST

"But what was Williams supposed to DO? Back Liberals - lose most of the C of E and most of world-wide Anglicanism. Back Evangelicals - and lose British Liberals, the American and Canadian churches, and most of London."

Actually, anyone who would have left had Williams "backed the liberals" has pretty much done so anyway. I'm not sure what your experience of the Church fo England is, John, but I find it hard to imagine that the C of E as a whole would side with the evangelicals (what its bishops might do is - of course - another matter). And then, of course, there's the Anglican Church in Australia (sans Sydney), New Zealand, Aotearoa, and Polynesia (the first two sub-provinces broadly liberal, the last perhaps less so), Wales, Scotland, Europe...

Apart from a handful of African provinces, it's not a matter of just peeling off countries from the Communion. This is about disagreements that divide provinces, dioceses, and parishes.

Posted by MRG at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 2:48pm BST

With every deference, the refusal to recognize the many inconsistent and contradicting forces at work in the church in these times, transecting the heart of Canterbury’s office, seems almost wilful.

It is sad in the face of the heroism this man is displaying. And it should be discarded and left behind.

Posted by Blair Mitchell at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 3:41pm BST

It would probably have been best if Rowan Williams had followed his youthful inclination to become a Roman Catholic. He clearly is not equipped to deal with plurality and diversity.

Posted by Richard Lyon at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 4:33pm BST

Thanks for posting this very thoughtful piece. I'd offer one refinement, and that is to say, that had New Hampshire not elected +Gene, some other diocese might have, and had nobody elected +Gene, the attack on TEC backed by IRD would have found another excuse. This is demonstrated in great detail on the web site of the Diocese of Washington [DC] under the title "Follow the Money," in which Jim Naughton reveals the power-hungry for exactly what they are.

While they pound on the Bible and misuse Scripture to beat of glbt people, they find no prpb;em with violations of Jesus' direct words about divorce and remarriage. Perhpas had +Gene not been elected, they might have gone after divorced and remarried clergy - ooops! That might be a little dicey for some of them...

As for Rowan - being holy is no excuse for being a waffler and betraying one's friends.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 4:35pm BST

MRG,

I'm a member of the C of E. It's the Evangelical churches by and large that are growing.

MJ,

Very heartening. Slightly off-topic but the Sudanese bishops always were coming. Virtuous lot. When the gay issue came up on their agenda they just agreed to move on to the next item. When a non-stipendiary priest from the church we go to was in the Sudan recently he was approached by a black businessman who demanded to know what Anglicans were doing in support of gay rights.

'Our' Sudanese bishop is Bishop Francis Loyo, who is one of the leaders in a very worthwhile project trying to alleviate misery in their part of the Sudan. Some of you might like to support it:

http://www.edithjacksontrust.org.uk/


Posted by john at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 5:17pm BST

I say to ++Rowan: If you try to be all things to all people you won't be anything special to anyone in particular. Trying to hold the middle will simply result in getting yourself skewered equally by both sides.

Posted by GoSane+ at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 6:40pm BST

"I'm a member of the C of E. It's the Evangelical churches by and large that are growing."

But the question I always ask and seemingly never get an answer to: Where is that growth coming from? Is it an influx of the previously unchurched? Or are they attracting the disaffected from the CoE, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, etc.?

If the former, more power to them. If the latter (as I suspect), then they are doing nothing to sow the Gospel on new ground, merely reaping what others have already sown and watered.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 7:45pm BST

"Trying to hold the middle will simply result in getting yourself skewered equally by both sides."

Or as one of my Texas friends says, "The only things you find in the middle of the road are dead armadillos and a yellow stripe."

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 9:08pm BST

I am not sure that the Archbishop of Canterbury would agree fully with how his position and approach have been portrayed, in that we have reached the Lambeth Conference with only five Churches from the Communion staying away - when at one time Peter Akinola had the names of 19 Primates in his pocket and was ready to play this card had he not got his way at Dar es Salaam.

From this point of view Lambeth is already a spectular success, for the viciousness of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué has been dissipated and the Primates Group never called since has had its power neutralised – and only the five most extreme stay away. The Lambeth Palace idea of separating those at the extremes from their less enthusiastic supporters has been a great success here at least.

But at the bottom of this there is a question of style, style of leadership and Rowan’s in particular – let me say clearly that we are not talking of someone who has stumbled into this style of leadership or someone who was unaware of how his leadership would leave him vulnerable and attacked by those on all sides. As I stumbled into just the beginning of an understanding of where he was coming from several years ago as he was setting off for England – I mumbled to myself: “No one is going to like this.. you will have no friends.” – there was that enigmatic smile ….

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 9:10pm BST

'But the question I always ask and seemingly never get an answer to: Where is that growth coming from? Is it an influx of the previously unchurched? Or are they attracting the disaffected from the CoE, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, etc.?

If the former, more power to them. If the latter (as I suspect), then they are doing nothing to sow the Gospel on new ground, merely reaping what others have already sown and watered.'

Mixture of both, I think. But on the latter level, it remains the case that they're not actually increasing the overall level of C of E attendance.

My view is: (a) more power to them; (b) they're certainly not for me; (c) I wish they/many of them were more 'live and let live'; (d) church growth depends less on Evangelical vs Liberal considerations than on hard work and application from rectors, PCCs and congregations.


Posted by john at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 9:42pm BST

Interesting intervention of Benedict XVI (The Independent):

Roman Catholic insiders say there are two motives behind the Pope's concerns. A decision has been taken within the Roman Catholic hierarchy that it is in its interests for the Anglican Church to maintain unity. Despite speculation about a group of conservative bishops breaking away to the Roman church, senior Catholics say such a move would be "premature", and that they are not encouraging defections. The other reason is that the Pope has developed a strong personal relationship with Dr Williams. "They get on, they are both theologians," a source said last night.

The Pope, who arrived in Australia on Sunday for the World Youth Day gathering of young Catholics and others, publicly expressed support for Dr Williams while remaining careful not to "intervene". The Pope added that the Church needed to avoid "further schism and fractures".

"We cannot, we must not intervene in their discussions and their responsibilities we respect," he said. "The words and the message of Christ are what offer the real contribution to Lambeth and only in being faithful to the message and only in being faithful to God's words can we find a mature way, a creative way, a faithful way to find a road together."

...In a demonstration of the strength of relations between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, Pope Benedict has sent Cardinal Ivan Dias, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, and the man who appoints all the bishops in Africa and Asia, to Lambeth from Rome.

He has also sent the theological heavyweight Cardinal Walter Casper who is said to be the "key man" in forging ever-closer relations between the churches.

Also attending will be Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, who has spent the past two days with the Pope in Australia. This is the first time that three cardinals will attend a Lambeth Conference.

Some Roman Catholics fear that unless divisions over issues including homosexuality can be healed, they will act as a forerunner to a similar battle in Rome. The Roman Church's apparent unity masks long-running splits over birth control, priesthood celibacy and the interpretation of Scripture in the modern world.

Catherine Pepinster, editor of the British Catholic newspaper The Tablet, said: "The last thing that Rome wants is a lack of unity in the Anglican Communion, however difficult it finds ecumenical relations with that Communion."

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 3:11am BST

Certainly is an interesting intervention. Leaves me rather conflicted - as I suspect it does you!

Posted by john at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 9:55am BST

There is an interesting battle going on here Fr Joe.

We don’t often see the divisions and internal politics of the Vatican spill over so visibly – but the English and Welsh hierarchy with their supporter at the Tablet are telling one story supported by the Vatican department responsible for Ecumenical Affairs and the Incomparable Damian Thompson/Catholic Herald – apparently supported by some big bitters in theCDF – is saying that Benedict is about to announce some special welcome for disenchanted Anglicans as a slap in Rowan’s face.


It’s all quite amusing really!


Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 1:45pm BST

Spirit of Vatican II: It appears that the liberal media, such as the Tablet and the Independent, are spinning this story to suit their agenda.

See Damian Thompson, editor of the Catholic Herald, in today's Telegraph:

"(There is) more evidence this morning that Catholic liberals are panicking at the prospect of an influx of conservative Anglicans. They want us to believe that Pope Benedict is "shunning defectors" in an attempt to shore up the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Not true. Liberals claim that Pope Benedict has "let it be known that he does not support the defection of conservative Anglicans to the Roman Catholic Church". He has done no such thing.

The Pope is supporting moves by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to construct a model whereby a group of rebel conservative Anglicans, the Traditional Anglican Communion, can be received en masse and occupy their own structures inside the Roman Catholic Church. This model – which is being constructed in secret – could serve as a blueprint for mainstream Anglicans wanting to convert as a group.

To understand what is going on, it is important to grasp that Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican's head of ecumenism who is attending Lambeth, is not a close adviser to the Pope. He and the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger have clashed publicly in the past. Likewise, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who is also attending Lambeth, is not close to the Holy Father.

Always remember: it was Cardinal Ratzinger who sent a personal message of support to conservative Anglicans meeting in Dallas in 2003, thereby horrifying Kasper – who, as a professional ecumenist, probably is unsympathetic to Anglo-Catholics rocking the boat. But he, thank God, is soon to retire.

I'm intrigued by the role played by the liberal Catholic magazine the Tablet... Benedict is an old adversary of the Tablet, which spent many years blackening his name. Recently, Rome asked the English bishops to explain why they never distance themselves from the publication, which this year carried an article advocating lay celebration of the Eucharist.

I just hope that Anglo-Catholics will not be taken in. Let's put this bluntly. Far from wanting to preserve the Anglican Communion, Pope Benedict wishes all its members to become Catholics. He realises, however, that corporate reunion is now impossible, and so he and his key advisers in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are considering ways in which groups of Anglicans can be received into full communion with the Holy See."

Posted by John Omani at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 5:58pm BST

Damian Thompson: "The Pope is supporting moves by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to construct a model whereby a group of rebel conservative Anglicans, the Traditional Anglican Communion, can be received en masse and occupy their own structures inside the Roman Catholic Church."

Spin, on top of spin, on top of spin: the "TAC" isn't in communion w/ Canterbury (and, um, hasn't been for *years*, contra Nigeria ;-/). Ergo, even IF the above is true, it has NO bearing on the current membership of the AC.

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 7:36pm BST

John, your analysis so much more erudite than mine!!!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 8:07pm BST

I did mean to type "big Hitters in the CDF"

Not "big Bitters in the CDF"

But The Lord moves in ..........

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 8:37am BST
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