Two bishops write in today’s newspapers:
Geoffrey Rowell on Age of Benedict must be one of Christian unity
The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI predictably provoked anxious comment in the Western media because of his role as a defender of orthodoxy. Was he not someone who had said that non-Roman Catholic churches were not churches in the fullest sense? Yet in a fascinating conversation I had with him some three years ago he said that an ecclesial community, because it is ecclesial, must have the marks of the Church, and that Anglicans had them in a very deep way. Faced with the challenge of secularism in Europe, Christians needed each other for the work of mission: “No one of us can do it alone.” In answer to my question about how he understood the celebration of the Eucharist in churches — ecclesial communities — whose orders the Catholic Church did not recognise as valid, he replied that in such celebrations there was indeed a true feeding on Christ, and therefore there was a real and transforming grace.
I remembered that warm conversation when I studied the new Pope’s first message at the end of the conclave. He spoke of the grace of Christ in the Eucharist as that which must sustain and transform. He spoke of his own “primary commitment” and “compelling duty” to work towards “the full and visible unity of all Christ’s followers”. Expressions of good feelings, he said, are not enough; concrete gestures are required, and above all “ that interior conversion which is the basis for all progress on the road of ecumenism”. All are summoned to a purification of memory to receive the full truth of Christ, whose searching judgment at the end will ask of us “what we did and what we did not do for the great good that is the full and visible unity of all His disciples.”
Kenneth Stevenson An Anglican dispatch to Rome
But just how far is Pope Benedict XVI likely to go in the wider cause of Christian unity, or indeed to build some bridges (the meaning of the word pontiff) in his own church, which, under the surface, seems as much in need of its own ecumenical movement as the Anglican communion?
My litmus test comes from some of the advice given by one of his predecessors, Pope Gregory the Great, to an earlier archbishop of Canterbury. In AD597, Augustine arrived at Canterbury from Rome with a mandate to heal the wounds of Christianity, at the time divided between Celtic, Old Roman and Frankish, and to evangelise the recently arrived Anglo-Saxons. Gregory advised him to take a moderate line with the different Christian groups, provided they worked together and accepted his authority.
But his advice about what to do with pagan temples was even more intriguing: do not knock them down, just destroy the idols inside them, and replace them with Christian symbols.
I have frequently thought about those words, as they seem to me to have a wider application. When Christianity meets new terrain, as it has done before and will do again, it needs to enter the constructs and mind-sets of the people concerned – and not destroy them. But then comes the more tricky process of ensuring that the old idols inside are replaced by Christian truth.
Of course, analogies break down. But I cannot help thinking that the new pope’s track record, the result of his early formation, is based on a profound mistrust of new ideologies.
Yes, consumerism and relativism can run riot and become their own kinds of dictatorships. But they are themselves only the demerits of what could be deeper merits – that faith has to be appropriated (not just given), and that 20th-century European history has so many deep scars that many people find it hard, if not impossible, to trust any kind of authority, which has to be at least partly won and not simply assumed.
Controversial German theologian Uta Ranke-Heinemann explains why she’s glad that her former classmate has been made pope. Read this interview with her: A Humble Intellect (hat tip Andrew).
Martin Marty Considering Pope Benedict XVI
And here is A Mennonite look at the Holy See
Christopher Howse writes about a long-dead cardinal in Cardinal home from the Hill0 Comments
The Yorkshire Post carried two stories by Michael Brown
‘Autocratic’ Dean quits over wine and women
Wine, women and evensong: Claims that rocked cathedral
The picture from the Yorkshire Post is captioned:
Requiem: Dean Methuen pictured at the High Altar at Ripon Cathedral, reading from the mid-13th century Latin Bible during a requiem Mass similar to the funeral service of Richard III in 1485 – part of a Richard III symposium held at the cathedral in 2002.0 Comments
The Living Church carries a long interview with Robert Duncan. The full text is here.
An extract to give the flavour:
TLC: So, as a body within the Episcopal Church, what’s your “lifespan”?
Bishop Duncan: Well, of course we claim to be, constitutionally, the Episcopal Church. And there’s every evidence, both from what the Windsor Report says and what the primates said in accepting it, in their communiqué in Northern Ireland, that we are the Anglicans. If the Episcopal Church’s constitution says that we’ll be constituent members of the Anglican Communion, and the Anglican Communion now says, Episcopal Church, you’re in time out. In fact, you’re not only in time out, but it appears you’re making a decision to walk apart. If in General Convention 2006 the Episcopal Church determines to walk apart, then the question we ask is, who is the Episcopal Church? And our legal basis will be to say, we are, of course, because they have broken the constitution.
TLC: Do you think General Convention will be the turning point?
Bishop Duncan: Oh, yeah. The Presiding Bishop has made it clear, and he made it clear in Northern Ireland, that this church has thought about this, prayed about this, and is committed to this course, and there’ll be no turning back. And I think he reads the situation right. We also believe there’ll be no turning back. We intend, one of the issues for us going into General Convention, and we will be in General Convention, is to attempt to force this Church to make a very clear decision, unmistakably clear as to whether they’re going to walk with the Communion and repent from these actions, return to standard Anglican practice, or really going to move forward. They call it moving forward; we call it walking apart.
If they determine to move out, well, then they’ve determined to move out. We’re the Anglicans here. We’ll also stand in a way that says, we’re the Episcopal Church where we are. You know, there’ll be infinite court battles, but it’ll be very interesting, since the Communion will have said the Episcopal Church walked apart, and the Episcopal Church’s Constitution says that you’ve got to be constituent members, and we’re the only ones they recognize as constituent members, so who’s the Episcopal Church, legally? It’ll be very interesting time. I mean, we don’t want to go to court, but it’s quite clear the Episcopal Church is always ready to go to court, and this time I think they might not be so willing to go to court, because we think there’s every reason they’ll lose.
Some further analysis and quite a lot of comments on this can be found at The Questioning Christian in two posts: The Revolutionaries (Finally?) Hoist Their Flag and Bishop Duncan Needs Better Lawyers. Additionally, Fr Jake has comments here. For comments from conservatives, read titusonenine.
Mark Harris has now weighed in with Emerging Corporate Megalomania
It’s worth noting another letter that has been part-published. In the Anglican Journal report on the Canadian bishops’ statement, the following also appears:
Archbishop Williams… also sent a letter to the joint meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) which began April 28 – to which he had earlier been invited to attend but which he declined attending citing previous engagements.
In his letter, which the Canadian primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, read aloud, Archbishop Williams said he remained “hopeful” that the Anglican Communion, deeply divided over the issue of homosexuality, could still move forward together.
“The recent primates’ statement has, I know, been hard for many to hear. But what it represents is an attempt to hold some space for us all to decide where our future lies in regard to the (Anglican) Communion; to think about how we act with the goal of allowing our relations in Christ to develop, not to cut off the possibilities of moving together,” he wrote. “It undoubtedly challenges people on different sides of the current debate; essentially we are trying to find a way of moving forward as a church, not as a collection of interest groups of ‘left’ or ‘right.’”
He added that the primates’ statement “also represents a deep reluctance all round to move hastily in the direction of separation.”
The Anglican Communion’s present situation, he added, “is in some ways nothing new: we are always living between testimony to God’s overwhelming and unsurpassable gift and our own countertestimony of confusion or faithlessness.”
Archbishop Williams said he could not offer “an easy solution to our tensions,” adding, “that would be presumptuous.” But he added, “I can only send my greetings and prayers as a brother in this confused environment, and urge you all to look to the Lord of the church for patience, mercy and renewal.”
Canadian and American bishops welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter, which had come as a surprise. Archbishop Hutchison had earlier admitted to being stung by Archbishop Williams’ decision not to attend the joint meeting, saying he took it to mean the Archbishop of Canterbury did not wish to be associated with the beleaguered Canadian and American Anglicans.
The Living Church has reported that:
Over 40 American bishops and the secretary general of the ACC, Canon Kenneth Kearon, joined the Canadian bishops at dinner on April 27. Originally scheduled to attend the joint meeting of American and Canadian bishops, Archbishop Rowan Williams withdrew from the dinner following the primates’ meeting in Dromantine, saying it would be inappropriate for him to attend given the present estrangement between the North American Churches and the rest of the Anglican Communion. (TLC, March 27)
I can find no public record of Rowan Williams saying anything like this, not even in TLC’s own report.1 Comment
There will be a general election for the Church of England’s General Synod in September. Church House Westminster held a consultation for returning officers on Tuesday of this week. In connection with this a lot of guidance material has been placed online. Although intended primarily for the returning officers much of it will be of more general interest.
The provisional timetable is:
1 Notification to electors of the election timetable to be followed in the diocese and issue of nomination papers:
Not later than Tuesday 19th July
2 Notification of the validity of any nomination:
As soon as any nomination is received
3 Closing date for nominations:
Friday 2nd September
4 Issue of voting papers:
Friday 9th September
5 Closing date for return of voting papers:
Friday 30th September
6 Day of the Count:
Monday 3rd, Tuesday 4th, Wednesday 5th, or Thursday 6th October
The final timetable may differ slightly from diocese to diocese.
There have been a number of changes since 2000. Some of the more significant are:
1 Synod has been reduced in size by 105 members.
2 There will no longer be a representative archdeacon from each diocese. Instead the archdeacons will be eligible to stand for election in their diocesan proctorial election although at most one can be elected in any diocese or electoral area.
3 Clergy with permission to officiate are now eligible to be candidates. Only those who are also a member of a deanery synod are electors.
4 Candidates will only have to provide one copy of their election address. Dioceses will be responsible for making copies and sending them to all electors.
Full details of who are eligible to be candidates, who the electors are, the number of clergy and laity to be elected by each diocese and a full set of rules are included in the online material.6 Comments
Updated Friday, and again Saturday
The following statement was unanimously adopted by the Canadian House of Bishops meeting in Windsor, Ont., on April 27.
Statement of Commitment by the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada April 27,2005
This is their response to the Windsor Report and the Dromantine communiqué.
The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed the statement.
The statement was reported by Reuters as Canadian Anglicans Skirt Requests Over Gay Unions in a story which erroneously attributes the US decision on their ACC attendance to the American HoB rather than their Executive Council. The Canadian decision-making body on that issue is the Council of General Synod which meets May 6-8.
Further press coverage
Anglican Journal Bishops agree to hold off on blessings
Toronto Globe and Mail Anglican bishops call moratorium on same-sex blessings
Religion News Service via Beliefnet Canada’s Anglican Bishops Agree to Moratorium on Gay Unions
The Living Church Canadian Bishops Won’t Halt Blessings of Same-Sex Unions
The Times Ruth Gledhill Rebel bishops reconsider same-sex blessings
The reports are a little confusing. In fact, the situation in New Westminster, which is the only Canadian diocese where SSB are at present formally authorised, is unchanged, but will be reviewed at the diocesan synod which meets on May 13 and 14:
Attracting the most media attention will be synod’s discussion on Saturday afternoon on how to respond to the Windsor Report, a document authored by an international group of Anglicans for the Archbishop of Canterbury, which tried to define the nature of Anglicanism.
One item in the Windsor Report is a call for a moratorium on the blessing of same sex unions until the next Lambeth Conference in 2008.
A proposed response is being put together by the Revs. Richard Leggett and John Oakes. The two priests, respectively at Vancouver School of Theology and Holy Trinity, Vancouver, come from the opposite ends of the theological spectrum, but together plan to come up with a single proposal.
A pre-synod session on April 16 at which the two men presented a draft response drew more than half of synod delegates, showing high interest in the issue.
Volunteering some of their time during school spring break to help prepare packages of papers for Synod delegates were Jen Nurse of St. George’s, Fort Langley, Stephanie McGee of St. Helen’s, Surrey, and Cara Ingham of St. Mary’s Kerrisdale.
Indicating national interest in New Westminster’s decision will be the presence of Canadian Primate Andrew Hutchison. He will preach at the opening worship Friday morning, and serve as the “synod partner” for the gathering.
At the Canadian House of Bishops meeting that Archbishop Hutchison chaired on April 27, Bishop Michael Ingham along with his 40 colleagues agreed “neither to encourage nor to initiate” the blessing rite until the national Canadian General Synod in 2007.
Bishop Ingham afterwards said that the phrase “neither to encourage nor to initiate” comes from a communiqué issued by Anglican Primates in February, and has been interpreted to mean there should be no further actions beyond those already started.
“I made it explicitly clear to the Canadian House that, in view of the upcoming Synod in New Westminster, I could sign the statement issued today only on the understanding that I would be governed very much by the advice of my own Synod,” said the bishop.
Two other sources of information about recent Anglican visitors to Rome:
The RC Diocese of Westminster has published excerpts from the press conference that Archbishop Rowan Williams and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor held on 25 April.
Anglicans Online has published Pierre Whalon’s Dispatch from Rome which also discusses the papal audience of that morning. Pierre Whalon’s earlier report was on the Sunday inauguration: Dispatch from St Peter’s Basilica.
Reuters has a video clip of the papal audience in which RW’s interaction with the Pope is clearly shown. This may not work correctly in some browsers: it worked for me in Internet Explorer 6 on WinXP. The Reuters video page has a strip marked Vatican Channel and the clip is labelled Pope Meets Religious Leaders.
ENS catches up
Anglican leaders meet with Pope Benedict XVI
Bishop John Flack, Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See wrote earlier about his time in Rome during the death and funeral of Pope John Paul II. Now he writes again, this time about the election and inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI, the comings and goings of Anglican dignitaries, and shaking hands with the new pope.
Read on…0 Comments
Rowan Williams preached today at St Paul’s Cathedral. The service was to mark the sixtieth anniversary of Christian Aid.
The full text of the sermon is here.
The Lambeth Palace press release is here: Archbishop condemns lack of trust in fight against poverty.
The Christian Aid press release is here: Archbishop backs trade campaign at Christian Aid anniversary service.
This has provoked several strong responses: The Fat is in the Fire: The Network and the Windsor Action Covenant and also Windsor, DOA. But clearest of all is this from the Bishop of California, Bill Swing: The House of Bishops: All for One and Some for Something. Some extracts from these:
Bill Swing asks NACDAP these questions:
1. Why do you usually avoid House of Bishops meetings? And why will you not go to the altar rail and receive Communion alongside your sister and brother bishops?
2. Rumor has it that you receive lots of money from private foundations and give it to support African bishops who, in turn, will attack the Episcopal Church. Is there an audit of your receipts and disbursements? Could I review it? What are the goals of the foundations that financially support you? What African bishops receive your money? What American Episcopalians whom you know are on the staffs of African bishops?
3. If the bishops of the Episcopal Church are not invited to Lambeth Conference 2008 but the Network bishops with Bishop Robert Duncan as head are invited, will you attend?
4. What are the names of Network bishops who have consulted lawyers to ascertain the possibilities of someday separating “Network properties” from “Episcopal Church properties?”
5. In what situations around the USA is the Network in conversation with individual congregations, strategizing as to how the congregation can leave the Episcopal Church, take its assets, and join the Network?
6. It is stated that Bishop Duncan is on record as promising “to wage guerilla warfare on the Episcopal Church.” Is this true? Also on the House floor he has been accused of paying lay people of his diocese to go to a neighboring diocese to try to persuade conservative members to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Network. Is that true?
Mark Harris writes:
This Covenant is an attempt to hijack the Windsor Report and make it the instrument of the realignment effort. It is yet another effort to spin an advisory committee’s report into a partisan litmus test.
…All of this would be of no great import if it were not for the last pledge, not bulleted, which is the real basis of the covenant, and its only focus. That last pledge states, “If General Convention chooses finally to walk apart, I will not follow, but will remain a faithful Anglican, God being my helper.”
This then is the opening salvo of the battle of General Convention. One may be sure that the Network will come to Convention with pledge lists of persons who they contend will not be bound by General Convention action IF the Convention “chooses finally to walk apart.” And of course, it will be the Network and its leadership that will want to determine if General Convention has so chosen.
This Covenant is a marshalling of numbers, and an attempt to get members of this Church to pledge disavowal of actions of General Convention, leadership of the bishops of their dioceses, if not viewed as “Windsor Dioceses” and teaching of their clergy, if not viewed as “Windsor Parishes.” Its purpose is to implement resistance to any leadership other than that of the realignment groups, and in particular the Network itself.
The fat is in the fire and the play is unfolding. It is time to be watchful. It is not a time to be nice, for these are not nice times.
It’s heart breaking. It really is. The Windsor Report has some deep flaws. But I have remained hopeful that it can be a starting point, a place to facilitate communication and unity. Certainly the folks who produced it had that hope for it. The Network does not. It chooses instead to use Windsor as a weapon, a method of labeling and relabeling those who it dislikes. This is an especially interesting development considering the Network’s own deep criticism of Windsor in the days after it came out. Now all of a sudden the Network wants to embrace Windsor, but only in so far as it pushes us forward into the rift.
…But the enemy that presents itself in the Network is not that of ultra-conservatism or homophobia. The enemy that presents itself in the Network is the evil of pride, deceit, lust for power, and a thorough drive to divide the Church. Not all members of the Network are engaged in this kind of behavior, but the Network perpetrates it on behalf of all who it calls “orthodox,” leaving those on the so-called right who truly wish to be in communion without a voice.
I call on Anglicans and Episcopalians of good conscience, whatever their political stripes or feelings about human sexuality, to reject the evil, schismatic vision that the Network is trying to perpetrate. If we have to split in the end, let it be because we have tried every possible remedy, every conceivable avenue of dialogue, and nothing else seems like it can be done. Let it not be because a small group of the power hungry possessed swept us into armageddon like battle with our friends and neighbors for the purpose of fulfilling their own ambitions….
Various reports concerning the inauguration of the new pope yesterday and his meeting today with ecumenical leaders including an Anglican delegation that included two ECUSA bishops as well as several prominent Anglican conservatives.
Catholic News Service
Anglican leader says pope to give energy to united Christian witness includes extensive quotes from RW
Andrew Brown Opus Dei will be in the ascendancy in Pope Benedict XVI’s church
John Hooper in Rome and Stephen Bates Williams to meet new pope today
Richard Owen New Pope seeks a spiritual revival as he takes the throne
Ruth Gledhill Words of inspiration not lost in translation
Richard Owen Pope prayed: ‘God, don’t do this to me’
Damian Thompson Then came the name ‘Josephum’ and gloom set in
Christopher Morgan and John Follain Pope in talks with rebel Anglicans
And for a different perspective, Appointment of Pope Benedict sits uneasily with Arabs on Aljazeera.com
An earlier column that I missed: Andrew Brown on opendemocracy.org Cardinal Chernenko?
Synod meets in York from Friday 8 July to Tuesday 12 July. There is now a (very) preliminary agenda on the CofE website. It’s an rtf file, so for convenience I have reproduced its contents below.
Business Committee report (¾ hours)
Presidential Address (½ hour)
Eucharist and closing ceremonies (1¼ hours)
[Group work (1¼ hours)]
Further Miscellaneous Provisions Measure: Final Drafting and Final Approval (25 minutes)
?Amending Canon No 24 (Clergy Discipline): Promulgation (5 minutes)
Fees Orders (½ hour)
Clergy Discipline Measure Rules
?Clergy Discipline Appeal Rules
Clergy Discipline Measure Code of Practice
(1 hour for the three)
Approval of petition renaming Diocese of Southwell (?deemed approval – allow ½ hour)
Ordinal: Second Revision Stage (2 hours) and Final Approval (1 hour)
Women in the Episcopate (2¾ hours)
Strategic Financial Review: progress report (2 hours)
2006 budget (1 hour)
Church Urban Fund (1½ hours)
Anglican/Methodist Covenant: interim report from Joint Implementation Commission (2 hours)
Standing Orders Committee report (¾ hours)
Constitutions report: Liturgical Commission and other Commissions (½ hour)
?Review of Diocesan Practice on Communion before Confirmation (1½ hours)
Hind follow-up (2¼ hours)
Inter-faith relations: MPA report (2 hours)
Trade Justice: presentation and questions (1 hour)
Archbishops’ Council annual report (deemed approval – allow ½ hour)
?Audit Committee: annual report (¾ hours)
??Euthanasia: MPA report (1½ hours)
Diocesan Synod Motion
Parochial Fees (Oxford) (1¼ hours)
[See below the fold for the text]
Private Member’s Motion
Human Genome (Guildford DSM)
Update a public statement by the Bishop of Dallas has been published here
Some correspondence has emerged:
The Living Church reports:
In the May 1 print issue of the magazine, TLC reported that the April 6 letter to Archbishop Williams was written to clarify some points made in a letter which was hand-delivered to him following the March 11-16 House of Bishops’ meeting at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas.
The two letters of 6 April were signed by a total of 21 bishops, including 18 diocesan bishops (there are 100 domestic US dioceses plus several overseas dioceses within The Episcopal Church). The letter to Rowan Williams asks for a meeting at the end of May. No mention of this letter or request is included in the other letter to Frank Griswold.
The signatures include the diocesans of 10 out of 11 of the “NACDAP” dioceses (Albany, Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, Rio Grande, San Joaquin, South Carolina, Springfield, Western Kansas.), except Keith Ackerman of Quincy, and also two suffragans and an assistant bishop serving in NACDAP dioceses.
They also include 8 other diocesans who do not belong to NACDAP:
The research mentioned in the letters can be found here.
The Living Church has published a further item.0 Comments
Further Update 27 April
This commentary has been published by Via Media USA
Update 25 April
There is an editorial in the Living Church about Connecticut: Harsh Treatment
Many thanks to commenters who posted links to news reports on this last week, while I was away from home.
The New York Times carried several reports:
22 April Dissident Priests Not Punished, but Their Fate Is Still Unclear
21 April Dissident Episcopal Priests Are Called Part of a Strategy
18 April Episcopal Clergy to Meet on Dispute Over Gay Issues
In the 21 April story, we read this:
…But as the bishop of Connecticut, Andrew D. Smith, prepared to suspend the priests, he described them as local troops in a nationwide strategy by conservative Episcopalians to secede and then establish a “replacement” church that would take the place of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. in the world Anglican Communion.
In an interview at his office in Hartford on Tuesday, the day after a meeting with the priests that seemed only to deepen the impasse, Bishop Smith said that the priests never had any intention of returning to the fold. Instead, he said, they were bent on “kind of a ‘Please, go ahead and shoot me’ ” approach that would make him a villain and win them public support.
Bishop Smith said the priests were following a strategy laid out in a memo written in December 2003 by a member of the American Anglican Council, a group of orthodox Episcopal parishes that includes those led by the six priests. The memo laid out steps that priests can take to distance and then eventually sever themselves from the parent church.
The memo said the strategy would “generate significant public attention” and added that the church authorities, knowing “well how conservatives could quickly become the ‘victims’ in the public mind,” would be reluctant to discipline priests.
“If you read that memo and then look at what happened there, there are a lot of similarities,” Bishop Smith said…
This weekend Rowan Williams visits Rome again, this time for the inauguration of the new pope. Earlier reports were incorrect, and he is in fact the second modern archbishop to attend such an event. The first was Donald Coggan in 1978.
Meanwhile, some more commentary on the new pope from British newspapers this week:
In The Times:
Stephen Plant Prophecies and the challenges that follow
…Yet, writing in 1995, that modern-day Cassandra, the liberal historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto, already foresaw Benedict’s election (or that of someone very like him) and with it the challenge he must now take up: “The effect (of Christian fundamentalism) will be mitigated if the Catholic Church — the world’s biggest and most widespread communion — keeps up what may become a unique commitment to moral absolutism in defence of human dignity, individual freedom, social justice and the sanctity of life. Yet the tempters who are always cajoling the Pope to compromise will probably triumph — not when the present pontiff dies, because the long life in office of John Paul II has strengthened the moral fibre of the cardinalate, but in the next pontificate after that.”
The first part of Fernández-Armesto’s prophecy is likely to be unpopular with anyone who cannot tell the difference between intolerance and the steadfast defence of absolute truth, or who are liable to mistake moral and theological precision for the ruthless maintenance of tradition. In this camp is pretty much everyone, Catholic and Protestant, agnostic and atheist, who thinks that the Vatican’s consistent anti-modernism is a terrible hindrance to human progress. But the second part of Fernández-Armesto’s prophecy will upset those who believe that because the Church has resisted modernity in the past it can go on doing so in the future…
Daniel Johnson The best man for the job
As usual, the BBC got the story all wrong. The task for the new Pope is not to take sides between liberals and conservatives. Nor was that the choice the cardinals faced in this extraordinarily rapid conclave. All cardinals are, by definition, conservative.
No, the great issue for Pope Benedict XVI is the one that he set out in his remarkable sermon at the preconclave Mass in St Peter’s. Does he wish to lead the Church down the primrose path of secularism, following the Christian heartlands of Europe in their descent into moral relativism, or does he intend to turn towards the new missionary Church of Latin America, Africa and Asia, to reaffirm the faith of Christ, the faith of St Peter, the faith of John Paul II? That is the real choice.
What the fight against communism was for John Paul II, the fight against rampant secularism will be for Benedict XVI. And all those anti-papist commentators who protested at the attention given to John Paul II’s illness, death and funeral will be gnashing their teeth once battle commences.
…Pope Ratzinger will be even more controversial than his predecessor. He began life under the Weimar Republic, which collapsed because it took moral relativism to extremes and succumbed to the secular ideologies of Left and Right.
…Where I do expect movement during the Ratzinger pontificate is on ecumenical relations with the Orthodox and perhaps also Protestant churches. The last Pope opened up this Pandora’s box, bringing several of the smaller Eastern churches back into the Catholic fold. If the battle against the intolerance of secularism is to be won, Benedict XVI will have to find a way of reaching out to his fellow Christians to make common cause…
…Setting out his vision for his papacy as he celebrated his first Mass as pontiff in the Sistine Chapel, Pope Benedict told the cardinals who elected him on Tuesday that he would reach out to other religions such as Islam — provided that there was “reciprocity” — and continue to implement the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
In gold and white vestments, seated before Michelangelo’s Last Judgment and speaking in Latin, the man who once dismissed other Christian churches as improper said that his primary task was to work to reunify all Christians and that sentiment alone was not enough.
“Concrete acts that enter souls and move consciences are needed,” he said. He wanted “an open and sincere dialogue” with other religions and would do everything to promote the ecumenical cause, a reference not only to Anglicans but also to Orthodox Christians…
In the Independent:
Catherine Pepinster A German Pope chosen to save Europe
“The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope comes as an enormous disappointment for all those who hoped for a reformist and pastoral Pope.
“But we must wait and see, for experience shows that the role of the Papacy in the Catholic Church today is so challenging that it can change anyone. Someone who enters the conclave a progressive cardinal can emerge as a conservative (such as Montini – Pope Paul VI), and someone who enters the conclave a conservative cardinal can, indeed, emerge as a progressive (Roncalli – Pope John XXIII).”
Küng goes on to discuss which first signals from the new pope will be important, and the problems which were not tackled by his predecessor.
There are others who are not happy with the outcome of the election.
Reuters “South Africa’s Tutu Disappointed at Pope Choice”
The Scotsman “Bishop [of Oxford] Denounces New Pope’s Election”
The Telegraph, in “Pope Benedict offers olive branch to critics” carries all three criticisms.
The Times reports that the pope’s elder brother is not happy either.3 Comments
In his first sermon as pope, Benedict XVI has said that he intends to work tirelessly for Christian unity, suggesting that ‘concrete gestures’ are needed. He also sent greetings to the representatives of other ‘Churches and ecclesial communities’
He said that he…
assumes as his primary commitment that of working tirelessly towards the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all Christ’s followers. This is his ambition, this is his compelling duty. He is aware that to do so, expressions of good feelings are not enough. Concrete gestures are required to penetrate souls and move consciences, encouraging everyone to that interior conversion which is the basis for all progress on the road of ecumenism.
Theological dialogue is necessary. A profound examination of the historical reasons behind past choices is also indispensable. But even more urgent is that ‘purification of memory,’ which was so often evoked by John Paul II, and which alone can dispose souls to welcome the full truth of Christ. It is before Him, supreme Judge of all living things, that each of us must stand, in the awareness that one day we must explain to Him what we did and what we did not do for the great good that is the full and visible unity of all His disciples.
The current Successor of Peter feels himself to be personally implicated in this question and is disposed to do all in his power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism. In the wake of his predecessors, he is fully determined to cultivate any initiative that may seem appropriate to promote contact and agreement with representatives from the various Churches and ecclesial communities. Indeed, on this occasion too, he sends them his most cordial greetings in Christ, the one Lord of all.
The full sermon (in English translation from the spoken Latin) is available ‘below the fold’…10 Comments
Official Anglican reaction to the election of Pope Benedict XVI
England: Archbishop of Canterbury
We wish Pope Benedict XVI every blessing in the immense responsibilities he is about to assume on behalf of Roman Catholics round the world.
His election is also of great significance to Christians everywhere. I look forward to meeting him and working together to build on the legacy of his predecessor, as we seek to promote shared understanding between our churches in the service of the Gospel and the goal of Christian unity.
He is a theologian of great stature, who has written some profound reflections on the nature of God and the church. His choice of the name Benedict suggests that he wants to connect his vision of the Church to the monastic spirit of service and contemplation.
He will be in much in our prayers in the days and weeks ahead.
USA: Presiding Bishop (Most Revd Frank Griswold)
Along with many others, both within and beyond the Roman Catholic Church, I offer my prayers for Pope Benedict XVI as he takes up the august responsibility of his office. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide him in his words and his actions and that he may become a focus of unity and a minister of reconciliation in a church and a world in which faithfulness and truth wear many faces.
Scotland: senior bishop (Rt Rev Idris Jones, Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway)
On behalf of the Scottish Episcopal Church, I offer the warmest of welcomes to the new Pope – Pope Benedict XVI. We send the assurance of our prayers for him as he leads his Church forward. Our hope will be that under his leadership the church will continue to work for the poor and underprivileged in the world, and that the cause of unity among all Christians will be encouraged, as well as co-operation with those of other faiths.
Ireland: Archbishop of Armagh (Rt Revd Robin Eames)
As Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland I extend to Archbishop Sean Brady, the clergy and people of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, the prayerful good wishes of the Church of Ireland on the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI.
I pray that God will bless and guide him as he takes up his new privileges and heavy responsibilities at this time.
Other reaction from the Church of Ireland
Archbishop of Dublin
Chair of the Christian Unity Committee of the Church of Ireland
Canada: Primate (Most Revd Andrew Hutchinson)
I welcome the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as new Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Our two churches have a long history of ecumenical co-operation for the proclamation of the Gospel and the development of humanity. I look forward to continuing our work together and for opportunities to conduct dialogue at every level of the church.
The new Pope has chosen the name Benedict, which derives from the Latin word for “blessed”. We offer our prayers and best wishes to our sisters and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church. I invite all Anglicans to join me in celebrating this election. May all of us be truly blessed by his pontificate.
Australia: Primate (Most Revd Peter Carnley, Archbishop of Perth and Anglican co-chair of ARCIC)
The presence of such a distinguished theologian will help sharpen the dialogue between Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church. We certainly hope that the ecumenical progress achieved over the last quarter century may be further developed and brought to fruition with the help of the new Pope’s incisive mind.
Meanwhile, we all rejoice with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters that the conclave came to such a speedy decision and we pray earnestly for Cardinal Ratzinger as he prepares for his important new work.1 Comment
On this feast of St Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury and martyr, there is a sharp reminder that the role of a Christian is to stand as a challenge to many of the norms of society, and to criticise authority, whatever the personal consequences.
Alphege, a saintly hermit, was called to high office by Dunstan, and became his successor as Archbishop. He was captured by the Danes, who demanded an enormous ransom for his release. Alphege refused to pay it and forbade anyone from doing so, knowing that it would impoverish the ordinary people even more. He was brutally murdered by his captors at Greenwich on this day in the year 1012.
As we approach a general election, the political parties invite us first to consider our own interest. Who will reduce my tax? -allow me to jump ahead if there is a wait for health care? -secure my pension? -keep England for the English? and so on.
In the days of Alphege ordinary people had no say in the affairs of state, but today we do have a share, both through the ballot, and through the freedom to keep campaigning on important issues between elections. Christians have a responsibility to look at the coming election through Alphege’s eyes, and identify those policies which would impoverish the marginalised, who miss out on many of the good things our nation has to offer.
Beyond casting our votes, now is an excellent time to remind those seeking election of our concerns. We need trade justice, not just a free market. We need to give a welcome to those who need asylum, knowing that those we welcome will enrich our nation as generations of immigrants have done before them. We need to care for children and the elderly, and health provision assigned by need.
The present Archbishop has written to our political leaders about negative campaigning, which appeals only to the greed, the fear and the selfishness of the electorate. He said, ‘Election campaigns can quickly turn into a competition about who can most effectively frighten voters with the prospect of what “The Others” are going to do.’
Surely no party would want to claim that fear, greed and envy were their core values. Wouldn’t the British rather be known as the true heirs of Alphege?0 Comments
Today’s news is all about the preparations for the Conclave which begins at 4.30pm Italian time today (2.30pm GMT). If the cardinals decide to hold a vote this evening then it is possible that white smoke will be seen over the Sistine Chapel later today. News stories include
Fulcrum has published an article by Oliver O’Donovan on Pope John-Paul II