Thinking Anglicans

Rowan Williams writes to the primates

Updated Wednesday and again Saturday

The reliability of this text (dated 18 December) has been the subject of some questions during the past day, so I have been slow to link to it. However, it is now available in full both here and here.

The part dealing with the Primates’ Meeting in Tanzania in February reads as follows:

…As Christmas approaches, preparations continue to be made for the Primates’ Meeting in February in Tanzania. A provisional outline of the programme is almost ready – but I am particularly glad that we shall have opportunity to celebrate in the cathedral in Zanzibar the anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in 1806, another great sign of God’s faithfulness and of what can be achieved by Christ’s disciples when they resist the powers of this world.

This meeting will be, of course, an important and difficult and important encounter, with several moments of discernment and decision to be faced, and a good deal of work to be done on our hopes for the Lambeth Conference, and on the nature and shape of the Covenant that we hope will assist us in strengthening our unity as a Communion.

There are two points I wish to touch on briefly. The first is a reminder of what our current position actually is in relation to the Episcopal Church. This Province has agreed to withdraw its representation from certain bodies in the Communion until Lambeth 08; and the Joint Standing Committee has appointed a sub-group which has been working on a report to develop our thinking as to how we should as a meeting interpret the Episcopal Church’s response so far to the Windsor recommendations. In other words, questions remain to be considered about the Episcopal Church’s relations with other Provinces (though some Provinces have already made their position clear). I do not think it wise or just to take any action that will appear to bring that consideration and the whole process of our shared discernment to a premature end.

This is why I have decided not to withhold an invitation to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the elected Primate of the Episcopal Church to attend the forthcoming meeting. I believe it is important that she be given a chance both to hear and to speak and to discuss face to face the problems we are confronting together. We are far too prone to talk about these matters from a distance, without ever having to face the human reality of those from whom we differ. However, given the acute dissension in the Episcopal Church at this point, and the very widespread effects of this in the Communion, I am also proposing to invite two or three other contributors from that Province for a session to take place before the rest of our formal business, in which the situation may be reviewed, and I am currently consulting as to how this is best organised.

The Episcopal Church is not in any way a monochrome body and we need to be aware of the full range of conviction within it. I am sure that other Primates, like myself, will welcome the clear declarations by several bishops and diocesan conventions (including those dioceses represented at the Camp Allen meeting earlier this year) of their unequivocal support for the process and recommendations of the Windsor Report. There is much to build upon here. There are many in TEC who are deeply concerned as to how they should secure their relationships with the rest of the Communion; I hope we can listen patiently to these anxieties…

There has already been extensive blogosphere comment on the passage quoted above, and also on the section concerning invitations to the Lambeth Conference in 2008 (see the original for this).

See Sarah Dylan Breuer, Fr Jake, Tobias Haller, and also see reader comments at Stand Firm and titusonenine.

Update
Remarks elsewhere suggest not everybody knows about the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC and its working group of four people (2 primates, 2 ACC members) set up to advise the ABC. See my earlier report here, which said:

This letter includes information about the initial report Joint Standing Committee’s group of four “set up to advise in the wake of the Episcopal Church’s 75th General Convention”:

…You will recall that the Joint Standing Committee appointed a small group of representatives from its number (two Primates and two laypeople, along with staff support) to assist me in preparing an initial response…

The membership of this group is not named in the letter but is: Archbishop Bernard Malango (Central Africa), Archbishop Barry Morgan (Wales), Mrs Philippa Amable (West Africa), and Mrs Elizabeth Paver (England). Their initial thinking is presented as follows:

It is clear that the Communion as a whole remains committed to the teaching on human sexuality expressed in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, and also that the recommendations of the Windsor Report have been widely accepted as a basis for any progress in resolving the tensions that trouble us. As a Communion, we need to move forward on the basis of this twofold recognition.

It is also clear that the Episcopal Church has taken very seriously the recommendations of the Windsor Report; but the resolutions of General Convention still represent what can only be called a mixed response to the Dromantine requests. The advisory group has spent much time in examining these resolutions in great detail, and its sense is that although some aspects of these requests have been fully dealt with, there remain some that have not. This obviously poses some very challenging questions for our February meeting and its discernment of the best way forward.

Update Saturday
The letter has been reported now by Associated Press , see for example, Episcopal conservatives may be invited to global Anglican meeting.

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Göran Koch-SwahneRichard LyonTobias HallerCynthia GilliattCheryl Clough Recent comment authors
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Leonardo Ricardo
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Leonardo Ricardo

“I am also proposing to invite two or three other contributors from that Province for a session to take place before the rest of our formal business, in which the situation may be reviewed, and I am currently consulting as to how this is best organised.” +++Rowan Yes, how balanced, “contributors” of ALL ideas/beliefs? I hope you “decided” to invite Presiding Bishop Katharine because she *is* one of the Primates as are other Primates at the Anglican Communion who are qualified to attend Primates meetings soley because they are PRIMATES. I would be hard pressed to “dig up” bonafide “good… Read more »

Pluralist
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Something unconvincing about this. Is it a bit like Paul’s Letter to Timothy, written in a manner that someone thinks Paul would write? This bit looks rough: “This meeting will be, of course, an important and difficult and important encounter.” Is this Rowan Williams? “…another great sign of God’s faithfulness and of what can be achieved by Christ’s disciples when they resist the powers of this world.” It is a letter written on an aeroplane, apparently, so it might a little variant from material in books. It needs a statement to say it is authentic now that it is in… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

Two things caught my attention. First, he focuses his hope for a “loyal opposition” on the Camp Allen meeting, and not on the Network. Granted, Network bishops were there; but so were a number of bishops who, while not happy with the way some things are happening in TEC, are not about to leave TEC. It would be quite possible to invite Wimberly or MacPherson or (even better!) Geralyn Wolf. It would be possible to call moderates who haven’t gotten a lot of attention, such as Johnson of West Tennessee; or bishops who have suffered cross-provincial attacks, such as Lee… Read more »

Peter Ould
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And of course Simon, you wouldn’t want to forget the discussion going on at http://www.peter-ould.net/?p=188 would you?

Merry Christmas.

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

“This is why I have decided not to withhold an invitation to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the elected Primate of the Episcopal Church to attend the forthcoming meeting.”

Well isn’t that generous? And then he graciously undercuts her authority by promising to invite ‘others’ to a pre-meeting.

I suggest that someone invite former Archbishop Carey, for those who are uncomfortable around ++Rowan.

Of course, if ++Nigeria and ++Uganda and others simply don’t show, then what will ++Rowan do?

My sainted mother would say, what a gutless wonder he is.

cryptogram
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cryptogram

“This is why I have decided not to withhold an invitation to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the elected Primate of the Episcopal Church to attend the forthcoming meeting.”
Well isn’t that generous? And then he graciously undercuts her authority by promising to invite ‘others’ to a pre-meeting.

I don’t think this is at all ungracious in English English, though it may sound so in US English.

Leonardo Ricardo
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Leonardo Ricardo

“My sainted mother would say, what a gutless wonder he is.” Cynthia ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and my sainted mother, RIP, would have said: “Oh don’t worry my dear, we shall see what we shall see what’s in those “oddly wrapped/warped packages” under OUR Episcopalian/Anglican Christmas Tree…but, in the meantime, remember to love God and others, brush your teeth, say your prayers and go to bed and NEVER forget that God loves you and EVERYONE (don’t forget to remember your Dads Great Aunt Grace in England) else too! Not one of God’s creatures was heard to be hated, excluded… Read more »

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
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mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Umm. Looks more like ++Rowan is constructing a bomb-proof case against the GS prelates by turning their own casuistry again’ ’em. By setting out the agreed history of TEC’s offer, he cuts the ground from under those who argue for exclusion. He has therefore not decided on the grounds that he is a nasty contaminated northern liberal, but because that’s what the rule book says, despite the grumblings.

canonical
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canonical

Cynthia and Cryptogram First off, I think this letter shows that Williams has been taking some pains to find a way to invite the ones who so graciously, voluntarily excluded themselves, rather than make a difficult scene more difficult for all concerned. As usual it displays a Williams, totally clueless as to how his words will undoubtedly be read in most of North America. Maybe he doesn’t give a damn! He probably thinks that Schori will be relieved and delighted, if not just tickled pink to be on the list with the real almightys. No doubt about it. He has… Read more »

laurence
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laurence

Thanks for the christmas vision Leonardo. Many thanks.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

I’m sorry. I see this as ABC’s Christmas Present to the US Episcopalians and other compassionate leaning Anglicans around the world. I am spending Christmas Day celebrating that Schori is attending. That is a huge breakthrough. God loves pragmatism. It finds ways forward when “the perfect” way is blocked. ABC has found a pragmatic solution where some had tried to make it a complete impasse. It is not perfect, and there are dangerous precedents that many camps may later come to regret, but at least there is the opportunity for engagement. It seems appropriate for this stage in humanity’s development.… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

Of interest to some here – there is a profile of ++Akinola in today’s New York Times. I don’t have access, but it is being posted on various other lists. It is quite revealing, in his own words. I was especially struck by his own assessment of his humility. Perhaps it can be posted or linked on this list.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Personally, I have had quite enough of “unsigned” letters in all this Anglican Nastiness.

(my 2p)

Tobias Haller
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Tobias Haller

One thing I think it would do all, on all sides of the question, to consider, is the AoC’s apparent unwillingness to “expel” anyone from the Anglican Communion. His own words aside, the WR appears to emphasize “choosing to walk apart” — and even its strongest language of “last resort” refers to “withdrawal from membership” (not “expulsion from membership”); and the Covenant development process suggested that those who might wish not to sign on might accept a secondary status — for themselves. The Archbishop seems to be setting the stage for people to choose to “walk apart.” I recall he… Read more »

Richard Lyon
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Richard Lyon

I think that the ABC is just hoping to keep the waters muddy enough to avoid any conclusive action on way or another. I suspect that his fondest hope is to maintain such state of affairs until he can manage to retire.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Honestly, I wonder whether Dr Williams himself could tell which it is…