Comments: Commission to Communion: "Tell us your views on next Archbishop of Canterbury's ministry"

I have to admit to some ambivalence about this. On the one hand, a wider sense of the priorities of folks across the Communion might just crack some of the insularity that seems to have surrounded Canterbury generally and the current incumbent particularly. On the other hand, I wonder if this would only reinforce someone's image that there is a worldwide Anglican Church, and not an Anglican Communion of autocephalous churches

Posted by Marshall Scott at Tuesday, 3 April 2012 at 4:41pm BST

This smacks of ecclesiastical imperialism, plain and simple.

What other province would ask the entire world who should lead the province?

What part of primus inter pares does the Church of England fail to understand?

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 3 April 2012 at 9:47pm BST

I agree with you Jeremy, but the problem is that if the rest of the Communion were not consulted like this then people would complain that the CofE wasn't being open about the process, and given that the ABC is primus inter pares in the Communion, the Communion ought to have some sort of hand in the process... Couldn't win either way I suppose!

Posted by Fr James at Tuesday, 3 April 2012 at 10:58pm BST

If the Roman Catholic branch of the universal Church can successively elect a Pole and a German as pope after centuries of Italians - who knows who may become the next Cantuar if the net is spread further afield? After all - last time round it was a pretty daring move to look next door to the Province of Wales to rustle up Rowan for Canterbury with all his formidable intellect and holiness.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 3 April 2012 at 11:36pm BST

I think it's a terrible idea. It would support the erroneous notion that the ABC should have some kind of influence over the other provinces of the Communion, but his views are no more important than those of any other bishop. I also strongly oppose the idea that the ABC should come from some other Anglican province (well, Wales is still part of the UK). Let the C of E tend to its own affairs and let the rest of us tend to our own.

Posted by Old Father William at Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 12:21am BST

James, it's only when the ABC doesn't like the primus-inter-pares concept that it becomes difficult. In other words, it would be easy if the ABC (or the institutions that surround him) would understand, and abide by, his very limited role.

Twenty years ago, all the ABC did was invite people to garden parties. The only reason the CofE "can't win" either way, as you put it, is because the ABC is getting too big for his britches.

Dr. Williams's departure from his office is of a piece with his conduct in it. He wants to justify the office's aggrandisement, so he is doing his best to give his successor more international legitimacy than he had himself.

I have half a mind to write a letter on the lines of, "thanks for the offer to listen to advice, but no such offer can justify curial centralisation of a loose family of churches."

The latest incumbent has shredded much of the goodwill and informal respect that his office commanded. And no stack of letters from individuals can give any worldwide basis to an office that entirely lacks formal international legitimacy.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 12:34am BST

If the Commission to appoint the next Archbishop of Canterbury is open to the opinions of everyone in the Communion - attractive as this may sound initially - this means that the GAFCON Provinces, which have already distanced themselves from the See of Canterbury, may, by sheer numbers, gain some advantage over the more moderate Provinces who are loyal to Canterbury, and want the future ABC to be less able to be influenced by the bullying tactics of the likes of GAFCON, who have issued their own quasi-Anglican prospectus in the 'Jerusalem Declaration'.

Can one be sure that the Commission will not fall into the same trap as the ACO, in favouring the ethos of a Covenant mentality - rather than the traditional Anglican ethos of Unity in Diversity?

All would be well if the Archbishop of Canterbury were only the Diocesan Bishop and Canterbury Primus. And perhaps, with GAFCON on the warpath, that may soon become his prime responsibility.

However, he is, at this time in our history, the Primus-inter-pares, which, whether this intimation of power is recognised or not, gives the office of ABC great influence over the affairs of the rest of the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 1:22am BST

Time for a nice Desmond Tutu- Una Kroll job share ? This could restore Canterbury's credibility. But only giants of the spirit, like these could do it.

or else abolish the bl--dy thing altogether, as a lost cause.

Or include a lay person in the shared post.

Time to THINK outside the tiny little old sexist classist box !

If you doubt me - think on Jesus' message of radical forgiveness (It is Easter for crying out loud) - then anything becomes possible...

Or maybe the C of E believes in, neither radical forgiveness or Easter !

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 3:38am BST

The CofE could've "won" if their head-boy had kept himself head of his church and not tried to be the Great Welsh Pope.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 4:41am BST

One other point. Canon Kearon tells us that the Archbishop of Canterbury is "the Focus of Unity for the Anglican Communion."

I thought that a bishop is the focus of unity within a diocese.

Is the claim to being the "Focus of Unity" for the Communion effectively a claim that the entire Communion is the Archbishop's diocese?

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 5:16am BST

If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts!
Play games, all sorts.
You must be kind.
You must be witty,
Very sweet and fairly pretty,
Take us on outings, give us treats,
Sing songs, bring sweets.
Never be cross or cruel,
Never give us castor oil or gruel.
Love us as a son and daughter,
And never smell of barley water.
If you won't scold and dominate us
We will never give you cause to hate us.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 6:16am BST

Mark, we already have a Nanny State in England - the last thing we need is a Nanny Archbishop. Rather than Mary Poppins as the next Cantuar we need a Shenouda III.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 7:40am BST

When an English diocesan bishop is appointed, there is wide consultation by the secretariat of the Crown Appointments Commission. Leaders of community organisations, business, other churches, other faiths are all asked whether they have any view on the sort of person needed for the post. Doubtless in the case of an new ABC, the Commission Secretariat feels it right that there should be a global dimension to this. It is not an opportunity for people to press specific candidates - the GAFCON lobby could not achieve the appointment of Nazir-Ali or Okoh simply by shouting louder, but an opportunity for those beyond the diocese to comment on what is or isn't needed in relation to the global dimension of the job. Nor is it about the perceived performance of the individual retiring.
The rather dyspeptic comments (from the usual suspects) are therefore very wide of the mark. If you think the ABC should stick to his last in Kent, write to Canon Kearon and say so. Stop imagining conspiracies. And recognise that someone over the retiring age of 70 isn't going to be appointed, nor is someone who isn't a British citizen, nor, sadly, is a woman, until the legislation currently before synod has passed all its stages, and that ain't going to happen within 12 months.

Posted by cryptogram at Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 9:17am BST

Episcopal Cafe posted an update, a "clarification from The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon..." that affirms the letter seeking opinions from the Anglican Communion on priorities for ministry of the next ABC. Then, the clarification goes on, "In a separate letter to all Primates and Provincial Secretaries the same question about the priorities for the ministry of the next Archbishop is asked, together with a request for nominations, as on previous occasions." So, it is, and evidently has always been, an opportunity to put forward specific candidates. The link to the Episcopal Cafe article is here.
http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/archbishop_of_canterbury/share_your_views_on_the_next_a.html

Posted by Lois Keen at Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 10:19am BST

I don't need to imagine conspiracies. Canterbury has interfered with other provinces long enough.

Fortunately, the Church of England itself has now flatly rejected Canterbury's centralizing Covenant.

This latest announcement is merely another, subtler bid for interprovincial legitimacy.

Perhaps it's frustrating for Lambeth's latest machination to be labeled for what it is.

But face facts. Trust in Canterbury, and the ABC's international influence, have both sunk quite low.

It's not a good time for Lambeth to seem to be advancing the same centralizing agenda, just more covertly.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 12:28pm BST

May I say what I have said elsewhere on Thinking Anglicans? The Bishop is the SOURCE of Unity because s/he is the source of Holy Order in the diocese. The bishop is not the FOCUS of unity as we are all allowed to disagree and to have opinions of our own. But it is the bishop who ordains and/or validates those ordained elsewhere. The ABC is a primus inter pares but is primarily a SOURCE of unity in his own Province as the principal consecrator of bishops.

Posted by commentator at Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 1:40pm BST

Jeremy is wrong. In the past, Archbishops of Canterbury did much more than invite those of other parts of the Communion to garden parties. An Australian,I remember the warm welcome for Archbishop Coggan in Canberra fifty years ago, or that for Archbishop Runcie in Goulburn at the completion of the cathedral tower. I think, for example, not least of the courteous but courageous visit of our present, distinguished spiritual leader, Archbishop Rowan,only recently to Zimbabwe.

Posted by John Bunyan at Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 10:33pm BST

I, too, remember the warmth extended to Archbishop Michael Ramsey (of blessed memory) on his visit to Aotearoa/New Zealand a long time ago. His first Liturgical Reception was held in the Auckland Town Hall; and after his inspirational sermon, he was processed down the centre aisle, in cope and mitre with pastoral staff, and seemingly everyone in the audience knelt for his Blessing. Wondrous days of loving togetherness in the association with the see of Canterbury. Are those days really gone?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 5 April 2012 at 11:46am BST

I would find it difficult to describe Rowan Williams as a "courageous" spiritual leader. If anything he took a very cowardly road in the shabby treatment of gay candidates for bishop in England and by his deplorable exclusionary position taken over Bishop Gene Robinson's attendance at Lambeth. I believe Rowan Williams was weak in his so called leadership when it came to dealing with the glbt community and women moving to positions of leadership in the Church. I do think Jeremy may have this right. I agree with his assessment of Rowan Williams. It appears Rowan wanted an Anglican type magesterium, which would be similar to the failed imperial model adopted by Rome in the Third Century. Top-down central control is not working and has not worked for several centuries. Rowan seems to have wanted "control" and this to me is very much alien to the principles of the Reformation and Anglicanism in general. How is it possible for those who feel disenfranchised as a result of Rowan dragging his feet and bending over backwards to accommodate Fundamentalists and their narrow views. We do not need an Anglican "Pope" in the guise of Archbishop of Canterbury.

Posted by Chris Smith at Thursday, 5 April 2012 at 4:21pm BST

Feel my faith in the Church restored by the Chrism Mass at Southwark.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 5 April 2012 at 5:01pm BST

Guessing that those who thought up and publicized this are not those who will be stuck with wading through and winnowing the replies.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Thursday, 5 April 2012 at 7:28pm BST

As to whether a magisterium would have developed out of the Covenant, I believe there was a divided opinion on this and that Rowan thought it was not inevitable. His Holiness, I am informed, thought it was.

Even those who have supported this present Covenant and who do not want or hope for a magisterium, then go on to say that "the next step after the Covenant is to find a formula on advising the Communion on what is and what is not adiaphora".

I'm sorry - but that sounds like a group of people telling us what we must do ....... vaguely magisterial?

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 5 April 2012 at 8:15pm BST

Egad -- previous Archbishops of Canterbury traveled?

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 6 April 2012 at 1:55am BST

I pray we get a David - a man after God's own heart - rather than a Saul of the people's choice

Posted by david wilson at Friday, 6 April 2012 at 9:59pm BST

"Stop imagining conspiracies. And recognise that someone over the retiring age of 70 isn't going to be appointed, nor is someone who isn't a British citizen, nor, sadly, is a woman"

The beatings will continue until morale improves, eh crypto? O_o

***

I'm ambivalent about this effort, truthfully. It's difficult to object to gathering information (opinions), in principal. It's only the possible outcome---"we've listened your opinions, now Submit to Authority!" (the Vatican model)---which is so potentially problematic.

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 7 April 2012 at 7:45am BST

JCF,
nothing to do with beatings but with the CoE being an established church and the ABC automatically having a seat in the House of Lords and therefore being part of the legislative bodies of the UK.
Non British nationals cannot be members of the British law making bodies.

And as we don't yet have any women bishops it's 100% impossible for the next ABC to be a woman.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 7 April 2012 at 9:28am BST

Yeah, I get that, Erika. I was mainly reacting to cryptogram's tone.

Regardless of whether the CofE hears from a mere Colonial like my Yank self on this subject, you will have my prayers as the Church By Law Established makes its choice.

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 7 April 2012 at 8:11pm BST

any one COULD be the next abc even a woman or someone from over the seas- if they are wanted !
Where there's a will there's a way !

THE way of Jesus is not about worldly pomp and power.

I would appoint someone who embodies the opposite of what most church pundits pronounce.

Let's have *an unordained person * who is godly and prayerful rather than some prelate -

we've tried the prelates !

* no need to gasp and splutter ! *

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Sunday, 8 April 2012 at 1:37pm BST

Laurence,
that might all be possible if the church was disestablished.
Until then, there simply isn't a way.

The more impotant question, to my mind, is why the historic fact that the ABC is the primus inter pares of the Anglican Communion should not be changed.
If we really want unity and a greater sense of communion, wouldn't it be better if the office was filled by rotation from all the provinces?

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 8 April 2012 at 2:05pm BST

Erika, it's a question I've raised from a different angle, before, and, perhaps because of the direction I took, that's why.

My point was that the Bishop of Rome could come from anywhere in the Roman Catholic world, so, how could a position that can only be filled by a person from one particular governance be considered a focus and expression of unity for a worldwide communion? If the ABC is to be head, shouldn't the ABC be subject to being chosen *by* the AC at large and *from* the AC at large, not by a Crown Committee from the UK or Commonwealth.

It makes more sense, of course, to follow your suggestion and make the AC a completely separate thing from the CofE's structure, and make the *primus inter pares* head of the Communion and chosen from the entirety of the Communion, rather than it automatically being the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 10 April 2012 at 9:53am BST
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