Last week, David Edwards explained why The Church of England should not break communion with any Anglicans, in It was never meant to be perfect:
SO WHAT are the lessons for 2005? One is that the Church of England should not be ashamed to be as comprehensive as it has been and is, and ought not to break off communion with any Anglicans anywhere. If any Anglican group is defeated, the Church is impoverished.
And if any group triumphs, the victory is short-lived because, in reaction, another group grows in conviction, as the Evangelicals are currently taking advantage of the radicals’ self-inflicted disaster and the Anglo-Catholics’ disarray.
If a mission to England is really wanted, it has to be acknowledged that the ordinary English are never going to become completely what popes or Puritans, Evangelicals or Anglo-Catholics, liberals or radicals want.
One reason for this reluctance is that some 70 per cent of the English believe that they are already Christians — and also believe that what they know about Jesus Christ (which may not be much) does not fit neatly into the picture painted by any of the ecclesiastical parties.
Yet the vision of a complete Anglican consensus is utopian. This is partly because the English do not like to be told what to think or do by any dictatorship, whether personal or corporate. But a more edifying reason is that Anglicanism at its best has always tried to be not a theological or denominational system, but merely Christian.
The back page interview was of Mark Russell youth worker, lay preacher, and youngest member of the Archbishops’ Council. I particularly liked his comment on Leviticus.
Keith Ward argues that Christians must join the most important debate — about the universe in How science supports faith:
MANY of us are still afraid of science and of what it might do to faith. We would rather close our minds to discoveries, and stay with the old “certainties”. The best example of this is American creation science, which still tries to defend the first chapters of Genesis as scientific fact, in defiance of virtually all informed scientific opinion. That is why many physicists say that their God, their intelligent cosmic mind, is not the biblical God, the God who made the universe 6000 years ago, and who deprived snakes of their legs.
Here is the point. That is not really the biblical God. Christians should not be tied to primitive myths for ever, while much of modern science longs to open up a vision of a beautiful 15-billion-year-old universe, with billions of stars and galaxies, singing the glory of a Creator beyond all spaces and times.
This is the real debate for the Churches. There are many prominent Christians engaged in it. Pope John Paul II was a leading figure in opening up conversations between theology and science. John Polkinghorne and Arthur Peacocke are just two of the best-known Anglicans who lead the field, and their books are a good place to start.
But Anglicans must be trained and ready to take on board the best of modern science; to separate ancient myth from scientifically informed knowledge; and to tackle head-on the problem of whether the universe is cruel, terrifying, and pointless.
The modern scientific view of the universe will set this problem in a different light — one, perhaps, for which the laws of the universe have to operate as they do in order for life-forms like us to exist at all. Perhaps the universe can be seen to be both beautiful and dangerous — but never pointless. Perhaps it can be seen as the basis for a transformation into new and greater forms of life, as Romans 8 implies.
Whatever the upshot, it is probably true that all our thinking about God will have to be done in a new way. That is because all our traditional thinking was done before modern science told us the truth about the physical universe, when people had a different (and largely mistaken) idea of what the universe was like.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has issued an Update on Relations with the Anglican Communion. This document is dated 27 April 2005, and refers to a letter of 17 December 2004. from Cardinal Kasper to Rowan Williams.
Part of the Update document reads as follows:
Overview of recent developments
In 2003, the decision of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America to ordain as bishop a priest in an active homosexual relationship, as well as the introduction of a rite of blessing for same sex couples in the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada, created new obstacles for relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. As a result of these actions and the uncertainty they created, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity agreed with representatives of the Anglican Communion to put on hold the plenary meetings of the International Anglican – Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), while maintaining close communication with the Anglican Communion Office and with Lambeth Palace. Established in 2001, IARCCUM is an episcopally led body aimed at fostering practical initiatives that would give expression to the degree of faith shared by Anglicans and Catholics.
Faced with major tensions within the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, established the ‘Lambeth Commission’, mandating it to prepare a report -eventually entitled The Windsor Report – on possible future directions for the Anglican Communion. As part of the Anglican discernment process, Archbishop Williams asked Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to join him in setting up a joint ad hoc sub-commission made up of IARCCUM and ARCIC members, to reflect, in light of the work of ARCIC over the past 35 years, on the ecclesiological issues facing Anglicans.
When the Lambeth Commission published The Windsor Report in October, 2004, once again the Anglican Communion sought a response from its ecumenical partners. Cardinal Kasper was asked by Archbishop Williams to write a letter offering reflections on The Windsor Report (this letter can be read here ) and, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, travelled to London for conversations with him and staff of the Anglican Communion Office in early February. On both occasions Cardinal Kasper emphasised the importance of clarifying both ecclesiological and moral issues related to the current situation.
The Windsor Report presents an ecclesiology which has broad similarities with that set forward in ARCIC’s agreed statements, and proposes various practical steps to situate the autonomy of Anglican provinces more clearly within the interdependence of the Anglican Communion. In February of 2005, the Anglican Primates endorsed The Windsor Report, and reiterated that the Anglican Communion’s teaching about human sexuality remains that stated at the Lambeth Conference of 1998, which affirmed the traditional Christian understanding of marriage and human sexuality.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is of the opinion that these developments affirm the general thrust and conclusions of the understanding of the nature of the Church put forward in the ARCIC dialogue to this point, and that this provides a foundation for continued dialogue and ecumenical co-operation.
Robert Barr of the Associated Press has filed the first wire service report on the establishment of the Panel of Reference.
A copy of his report, which is appearing in newspapers across the USA and elsewhere, can be read here.
It contains some significant inaccuracies:
…a panel to deal with one of the most explosive issues in the Anglican Communion – bishops who cross boundaries to support rebellious congregations
The issue being addressed here is explicitly stated to be: parishes which find it impossible in all conscience to accept the direct ministry of their own diocesan bishop or for dioceses in dispute with their provincial authorities
…and instead affiliated with like-minded bishops from Africa and other areas. These cases are known as “extended episcopal oversight.”
This term is the normal English term used to describe the lawfully appointed kind of oversight. It is precisely this form that those purporting to affiliate with like-minded bishops from Africa are rejecting.
Eight more members of the panel are to be appointed next week.
The number of members shall be “not less than nine”, including the chair. The announcement gives no indication of the actual number to follow.
Some of these conservative bishops have antagonized other bishops by conducting confirmation or ordination services outside their dioceses.
To the best of my knowledge, no active, serving bishop (diocesan or suffragan or assistant) from any NACDAP diocese has conducted any such irregular service yet.
Williams called on all the leaders of the national churches to report within 14 days on all instances of extended oversight in their territories.
No, he called on them to file copies of existing alternative oversight schemes within 14 days, and any subsequent amendments thereto within 28 days. No call for instances of extended oversight to be enumerated has been made in this announcement.
A 1998 resolution adopted by all Anglican bishops declared that gay sex was “incompatible with Scripture” and opposed gay ordinations and same-sex blessings.
The Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution 1.10 was not “adopted by all Anglican bishops”, but rather the vote was: 526 in favour and 70 against, with 45 abstentions.21 Comments
due shortly from Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office says:
A senior Primate, the Most Rev. Peter Carnley of Australia, has accepted the Archbishop of Canterbury’s request to serve as chair of “The Panel of Reference” created by Archbishop Williams in response to the request of the Primates Meeting in February.
Carnley is the Archbishop of Perth, Anglican Co-Chairman of Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, a member of the original “Eames Commission” on Women in the Episcopate and was spokesperson for the Primates at their recent meeting in Ireland.
The names of the other members of the panel have not been released yet but “will be issued next week”.
The announcement also includes the full text of the legal instrument, dated 6 May, establishing the panel. See below the fold.
For convenience in evaluating that text, here are the relevant quotes from earlier documents:
15. In order to protect the integrity and legitimate needs of groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their Provinces, we recommend that the Archbishop of Canterbury appoint, as a matter of urgency, a panel of reference to supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions made by any churches for such members in line with the recommendation in the Primates’ Statement of October 2003 (xii). Equally, during this period we commit ourselves neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary interventions.
footnote (xii) is a quotation from Lambeth October 2003
xii) “ … we call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates.”
The full paragraph from Lambeth October 2003 reads thus:
To this extent, therefore, we must make clear that recent actions in New Westminster and in the Episcopal Church (USA) do not express the mind of our Communion as a whole, and these decisions jeopardise our sacramental fellowship with each other. We have a particular concern for those who in all conscience feel bound to dissent from the teaching and practice of their province in such matters. Whilst we reaffirm the teaching of successive Lambeth Conferences that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own, we call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates.
The Canadian Council of General Synod met on 6 and 7 May. As explained in the advance press release, the main agenda item was the official response of the Anglican Church of Canada to the request from the Dromatine Primates’ Meeting concerning the Nottingham meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, two bodies with identical initials.
Before the meeting, Anglican Journal published a news story International body will respect Canadian decision in which Kenneth Kearon is interviewed. Anglican Essentials, the conservative lobby group in Canada, had responded to the bishops’ statement this way. The Church Times carried Canadian bishops stop gay blessings and apologise while the CEN saw it as Canada declines request to halt same-sex blessings.
The decision made was:
The text of the resolution adopted by CoGS follows:
1. That this General Synod thank our Primate, The Most Reverend Andrew Hutchison, for using his best efforts to explain the reality of the Anglican Church of Canada to the Primates of the Anglican Communion, and to explain the Primates’ Communiqué to the Anglican Church of Canada.
2. That the Council of General Synod affirm the membership of the Anglican Church of Canada in the Anglican Consultative Council with the expectation that the duly elected members attend but not participate in the June 2005 meeting of the Council.
3. That the Council of General Synod welcome the invitation to the Anglican Consultative Council in order to explain the current situation, the steps that were taken by the Dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada and the General Synod and the underlying theological and biblical rationale with respect to the decision to bless committed same-sex unions.
4. That this Council ask the Primate, in consultation with the Windsor Report Response Task Group a) to formulate the presentation to be made to the Anglican Consultative Council at its meeting in June, 2005, as contemplated by paragraph 16 of the Communiqué and b) to name participants in the presentation in consultation with this Council.
5. This Council encourages the Primate to consider attending the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in June 2005, and to participate in the presentation contemplated by paragraph 14 of the Primates’ Communiqué.
More details of how the decision was reached are contained in the Anglican Journal report, Canadians will not ‘participate fully’ in international meeting – Members will still attend.
Official details of the meeting’s first day can be found at daily highlights: May 6, 2005 and of the second day here.
News reports of the Canadian decision:
Reuters Canada Anglicans to sit out council over gay clash
Canadian Press Cdn Anglicans won’t fully participate in global meeting amid same-sex schism
A Message to the Church has been issued by CoGS.
A passionate plea for Christian unity against the background of the crisis in the Anglican Communion, was made by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s wife, Jane Williams, at an evangelical conference last weekend…
The other speaker at the conference was Tom Wright whose presentation is also online: The Holy Spirit in the Church.
In The Times there is an article by Gordon Urquhart All aboard the lean, clean, missionary machine which discusses the relationship of the new pope to movements such as Opus Dei and the Neocatechumenate.
Pope Benedict is one of the staunchest supporters of the so-called “new movements”, the fundamentalist, traditionalist groups which began in southern Europe and grew exponentially in the second half of the 20th century, particularly during the reign of John Paul II — Opus Dei, Focolare, Communion and Liberation (CL), the Neocatechumenate (NC), Charismatic Renewal and others…
A column published earlier by two William Temple experts Alan Suggate and Wendy Dackson on the Via Media Dallas website: A Letter to Archbishop Rowan Williams.
The official topic of this talk is “The Authority of Scripture”, but the unofficial title of this talk is “The Bible: Who knows what it means?” Who has the authority to interpret scripture, and who holds interpreters accountable? And why does it matter so much? What makes this text different from all other texts, that we spend so much time pondering questions like, “who knows what it means?” Who cares what it means, and why?
The Church of the Province of South Africa has issued this statement, on Marriage and Same-Sex Relationships in the light of the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa in Bloemfontein, 30 November 2004. It restates the Church’s position on Holy Matrimony as a lifelong and exclusive union partnership between one man and one woman, and goes on to say:
Our Church has repeatedly affirmed that partnership between two persons of the same sex cannot be regarded as a marriage in the eyes of God, and that consequently we do not recognise or bless such liaisons. There is currently a well-known process of discussion and debate about matters of human sexuality in our Church but while this continues, our stance remains unchanged.
It then reassures church members that the decision has no implications for religious freedom in South Africa, as ministers of religion are under no compulsion from the state to approve or perform same-sex marriages.
The Anglican Church of Canada has published the Report of the Primate’s Theological Commission of the Anglican Church of Canada on the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions. The official press release is Theological Commission finds same-sex blessing to be a matter of doctrine.
A summary of the report is here and says:
The full text of the report is here.
The Anglican Journal reports this as Commission finds that blessings are a matter of doctrine.1 Comment
Several items that appeared in last week’s Church Times are now available:
The Road to Bishopthorpe by Adrian Leak. In May the Crown Nominations Commission meets to choose the next Archbishop of York. This article examines the history of the office.
Not married to the monarchy by Sam Wells who says that the establishment of the Church of England should be provisional.0 Comments
The BBC Today radio programme interviewed both the Bishop of Trinidad and the Bishop of Chelmsford this morning.
Listen here with Real Audio (5 minutes).
The text released to the press by the Bishop of Chelmsford appears below:
Statement from the Bishop of Chelmsford
I was very sorry to hear that the invitation which had been extended to myself and Lydia, together with a group from the Diocese of Chelmsford to visit Trinidad and Tobago in May this year has been withdrawn by Bishop Calvin Bess.
The links which exist between dioceses across the Communion are a marvellous way in which we can learn from each other the necessary lesson of how to live with diversity and difference of culture and practice whilst sharing a common faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We remain wholly committed to our link with Trinidad and Tobago, as well as our links with dioceses of our sister churches. We assure them of our love and prayers.
The journey of friendship often encounters times of difficulty and misunderstanding. We do not believe that walking away from the commitments we have made is in the best interests of either diocese, or of the wider communion of which we are a part. We remain committed to challenge and to be challenged by the contributions to the life of the whole Church by our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.
3 May 2005
The Church of England Newspaper reports this event as Bishop’s West Indies trip cancelled over gay support17 Comments
The Bishop of California Bill Swing has again attacked NACDAP on his diocesan site and in the Witness with This Mutiny Will Fail; the Church Will Abide. After summarising remarks made by another, unnamed, but easily recognisable bishop, he comments:
There have been people inside the Episcopal Church and outside the Episcopal Church who have been plotting our church’s demise long before there was an Episcopal election in New Hampshire: for almost half a century. The plotters have been living in a fury of win-lose for generations. Finally, they have assumed that they cannot win and take control of the Episcopal Church so they seek to destroy it and assume control as the orthodox remnant. Timing is everything for them. They see the present moment as the perfect storm where wealthy American ideologues and angry African bishops and cultural divides and shocked ecumenical and interfaith partners converge to assist their victory.
What they don’t realize is that the Episcopal Church has more staying power than they suppose. When our bishops, priests, and deacons took a solemn oath at ordination vowing to be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, worship of the Episcopal Church, we meant it. Millions of laity for hundreds of years have confirmed their faith in context of the Episcopal Church — in good times and bad. Together we gave our sacred honor to the revelation of God in Christ as lived out in the Episcopal Church. Our history has been earned with countless sacrifices. We have all been embarrassed as well as enhanced; won some, lost some. With prayer, sweat, and endurance we have built cathedrals, seminaries, religious communities, youth camps, schools, social ministries, hospitals, and churches. We will abide. Although the Southern Cone finds us unacceptable, we will abide. Even though the Archbishop of Canterbury and the primates and Anglican Consultative Council sever us from their fellowship, we will abide. Personally, I don’t think that the Archbishop of Canterbury would ever do that, but should he dismiss us, we will abide.
I genuinely grieve that we have all reached this moment. But this is not the last moment, only a passing moment. There will be fairer days, and in the light I expect to see the Episcopal Church afloat on the deep and sailing. This mutiny will fail. The Episcopal Church will abide.
Another view of NACDAP plans can be found in What would +Rowan do? by Thomas Bushnell.7 Comments
One of the most interesting factors in the current General Election campaign is the way that the polls have barely moved over the weeks since Parliament was dissolved. It may still be that the result on Thursday will prove them inaccurate (electors often tell pollsters how they would vote in an ideal world rather than one in which their own self-interest is at stake) but it does suggest that most of us have not changed our intentions as a result of the campaign.
Actually, I think that is a good thing. The search for and promotion of political policies is not something that should be compressed into a few frenetic weeks. It goes on all the time as parties evolve their strategies and commitments and try them out on the public. There have been no major surprises in the manifestos, and the arguments for and against specific ideas have been well rehearsed with us in advance. The campaign itself, and thank God it’s much shorter in the UK than in many countries, acts primarily as a check and balance. It ensures that the parties don’t pull any rabbits out of the hat. The last thing democracy wants is for some issue to emerge at a late stage. It isn’t good for short term impact to affect long term decisions about who should govern us. We saw that in Spain not long ago, when a terrorist attack was planned to gain the most influence in the late stages of an election, and it wasn’t a positive experience.
What the campaign has done is to focus us on the broad thrust of the main parties involved. Rather in the manner of our Victorian antecedents, who used to depict virtues in human form in the stained glass windows of our parish churches, I’ve increasingly begun to see each of the campaigns as a personality in its own right.
The Conservative campaign is the “bloke in the pub”. He’s a familiar figure, always ready to reduce complex arguments down to populist sentiment. He likes to imagine that we must all be thinking the same as he, because it really is quite self-evident. Labour reminds me of a certain type of local official. You can find him in the spheres of education, social services, benefits, health or other “caring” professions. Convinced that he knows better than we what’s best for us, he is prepared to offer or hold back information just as much as it suits his case. And he’s unable to extricate himself from targets – even when they are riddled with perverse incentives. The LibDem entity is by contrast a clean shaven, earnest evangelist (beards and sandals have moved over to the Greens these days). He offers something plausible, superficially appealing, and which clearly makes sense to him. But it leaves his hearers unconvinced that it would all work out so well in practice. In my own constituency the only other contestant is UKIP. I’m still trying to decide whether this personality is the Conservative one’s slightly loopy best mate or the same chap himself when he’s had a few more drinks and is prepared to tell us what he REALLY believes. (There’s a separate debate to be had as to why all the personalities are quite definitely male.)
The point of those caricatures, which I hope you will excuse as the nearest a person who can’t draw can get to a cartoon, is that all three of the main campaigns have their value. But all three remain significantly flawed. And that is exactly as it should be. We should be suspicious of any political organisation that seems too perfect. And we should expect to be governed by people and institutions no less imperfect than ourselves. The choice between the bloke, the official and the evangelist is a real one. And in some ways it’s a deeper choice than between the particular policies and arguments which have so signally and so properly failed to shift our intentions over these last few weeks.1 Comment
From Trinidad comes this report in the Trinidad and Tobago Express about the withdrawal of an invitation to John Gladwin to visit there: ‘How terribly unfortunate’.
An invitation extended by the Anglican Bishop of Trinidad and Tobago, Calvin Bess, to Bishop John Gladwin of the United Kingdom to visit Trinidad has been withdrawn, after it was learnt that the latter has expressed solidarity with the pro-gay Anglican churches in Canada and the United States…
However, according to the Outlook, a mid-March story in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper indicated that a group of clergy in Britain had broken sacramental ties with Gladwin in an unprecedented revolt against his liberal views on homosexuality. The Telegraph story stated: “In what could be the start of an escalating conflict, at least eight conservative clerics have told the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev John Gladwin, that they will refuse to share Holy Communion with him.”
Gladwin reportedly responded by saying that it was his right to express his opinion and that he wanted to give space to those who were anxious about such matters.
This revelation, according to the Outlook article, was the catalyst for Bess-who has the support of the local Cathedral Chapter-to withdraw the invitation, and this was done via a letter dated April 12…
This matter was reported fully here on TA under the heading Ugley Puritans. As noted previously, the original letter to The Times simply restates the fact that the Church of England (and every member thereof, regardless of their personal opinion) is at present in communion with both the Canadian and the American provinces of the Communion.
Ruth Gledhill has reported this same Trinidad story in The Times today: Bishop told to forget Caribbean trip after airing liberal gay views. This version of events omits all mention of the Telegraph newspaper. (Those who are unable to access The Times website may find this copy useful.)