Thinking Anglicans

American bishops: Telegraph editorialises

Updated Friday evening

Today, the Daily Telegraph catches up with the news, as Jonathan Petre reports Liberal bishops reject parallel Church, but compensates for the delay by printing this leader column: Communion no more. Part of it reads:

…The text of the American bishops’ statement is damaging. This is a national Church speaking with an (almost) united voice. The casus belli has shifted from the ordination of Gene Robinson, a bishop who is in a relationship with another man, to allegations of bullying by a group of primates led by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Dr Williams now finds himself out of favour with liberals and moderate conservatives in his own Communion. And, harsh though it may sound, he has only himself to blame.

In the past couple of years, he has allowed conservative Anglicanism to be hijacked by extremists. Archbishop Peter Akinola, Anglican Primate of Nigeria, is the leader of the Global South provinces opposed to the ordination of actively homosexual clergy.

That is fair enough, but he has also defended new Nigerian legislation that makes “cancerous” (his word) same-sex activity punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment. The deeply divisive figure of Archbishop Akinola was central to Dr Williams’s Tanzanian compromise; is it any wonder that it has been rejected?…

It takes a while for the RSS feed to arrive, but the Damian Thompson blog entry related to this is now on Holy Smoke: It’s all over for the Archbishop. He starts out this way:

Rowan Williams is finished as Archbishop of Canterbury. His authority has been utterly destroyed by the decision of the American bishops to reject his scheme to hold together the Anglican Communion.

If there is a Lambeth Conference next year – and it is hard to see how there can be, if its American bankrollers are kicked out – then I shall be very surprised if he presides over it.

Any Archbishop of Canterbury would have faced almost insurmountable obstacles to preserving the unity of the Anglican Communion, many of whose members do not recognise each other as Christians, let alone as Anglicans. But Dr Williams has not come even close to surmounting them.

Just as John Major never recovered from Black Wednesday, Rowan Williams has never recovered from Black Sunday: 6 July, 2003, when he forced his friend Canon Jeffrey John to withdraw his acceptance of the post of Bishop of Reading…

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Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Oh, oh! The Forest is beguining to move…

“How are the Mighty fall’n!”

badman
Guest
badman

It’s not often that I agree with the Daily Telegraph, but I agree with this. It is what has been said here on Thinking Anglicans for some time now.

The measure of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s failure is that he has lost the confidence of liberals and conservatives alike (Puritan extremists and institutional subversives are not conservatives, they are radicals). In his World Service interview on Sunday he thought that the fact that everyone criticised him was a sign of success. Maybe he should think again.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

To general astonishment the Frog, which everybody thought was nearing its bien cuit, suddenly jumped out of the pot.

Must have been Squiddy’s secular credentials ;=)

“This is what you get if you have a scientist running a church”

Stephen Bates
Guest
Stephen Bates

It’s not quite fair on Jonathan to imply the Telegraph is catching up on the news, as he is on holiday this week. The paper did in fact carry a report yesterday, written by a general reporter, which understandably missed the main thrust of the statement.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Stephen

I suppose I may have been unfair on the Telegraph management (as opposed to being unfair on JP!) but I was, and am still, unable to find any such report from 22 March on the Telegraph website. And I confess to not having read the paper version…

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Goran Your forest comment reminded me there are some great forestry imageries in the bible that are relevant for this time. e.g. Isaiah 11; Isaiah 37:22-35 I particularly like Ezekiel 17:22-24 “ ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every… Read more »

stephen bates
Guest
stephen bates

Daily Telegraph, 22.3.07; page 16: US Bishops Want Crisis Meeting Over Clergy by James Burleigh, single column story with large double column picture of Abp Williams looking pensive….

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Beautful Words of the Gospel of the Lord, Cheryl!

Steven
Guest
Steven

Hmmm. Petre is no more careful and accurate in setting forth the issue than Bates, to wit:

“The primates urged the American bishops to agree unequivocally to a moratorium on the future consecration of gay bishops . . .”

It’s amazing that these religion correspondents are so willing to play fast and loose with the facts in their area of journalistic expertise. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

Steven

cryptogram
Guest
cryptogram

Anglican Mainstream (I know, I know, “I have joined in schismatic worship”) is currently (3 pm) leading on a fatwa from Venables, saying in effect, that TEC should be chucked out asap. It’s a very poorly argued piece as we’ve come to expect from that singularly empty vessel.

Malcolm French+
Guest
Malcolm French+

1. Re: the “fatwa” from Venables. Clearly the foreign prelates don’t get it. In the Episcopal Church, they actually believe in synodical government. That’s why the US House of Bishops has referred the issue of a formal Episcopal Church response to the appropriate body – the Executive Council, at which all orders are represented. Their resolution is not a response to the Foreign Prelates’ Communique, but rather a piece of feedback to the body who have the capacity to respond. 2. I was struck by the arrogant phrase that Lambeth has yet to decide whether to “grant” the Americans’ request… Read more »

C.B.
Guest
C.B.

Two thoughts on Venables’ rant – First, either there is something significantly lost in the cultural translation here, meaning threats and bluster are accepted form that really do not mean what they say and everyone knows it; or he knows that he is speaking from weakness and can’t back it up, so he is making up for it with hyperbole. I can not imagine a Primate who knows what the GS and other Primates are going to do, i.e., kick TEC out, speaking this way. People who actually have the upper hand don’t speak this way, they don’t have to.… Read more »

David H.
Guest

A British ‘net friend, the Mad Priest, has commented that it’s quite telling that the Telegraph editorial has taken this tone. If a fairly politically & religiously conservative newspaper is spinning the situation this way, then ++Canterbury might be in real trouble with “the ambivalent, ‘Middle-England’ CofE” Christians.

The whole thing is here:

http://revjph.blogspot.com/2007/03/thats-it-grand-tufti-if-torygraph-is.html

Curtis
Guest
Curtis

“Must have been Squiddy’s secular credentials ;=)”

That must be the most amusing item I’ve seen today. I’m thinking +Squiddy is a bit more apt. I’ve actually grown a bit fond of my PB +Squiddy lately…

Pluralist
Guest

Mention is made of Tom Wright as a replacement Archbishop (surely it would be after September 30 and failure of his strategy that would cause Rowan Williams to resign) but this would be a third in a row – Tom Wright has annoyed the Anglican Mainstream end, and attacked the John Robinson legacy, and he might try to keep and reign in Akinola but could not reign him in, and he has a track record against TEC too. Also we would not know what to call him, as he uses Tom for simpler people reading his books and NT for… Read more »

John Richardson
Guest
John Richardson

Can’t help commenting as I read these comments, “One Church, two Religions.” Where it will end is anyone’s guess, but it won’t be one Church, one Religion, that’s for sure.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

+Epting just answered that one at Camp Allen.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

One Church, two Religions?

We all share the same faith but we don’t share the same beliefs. ‘t was ever thus!

It’s only because somehow sexuality has become the litmus test for who’s in and who’s out that this appears to matter.

Fr Joe O'Leary
Guest

Pluralist, Rowan did the best he could with a very difficult situation — no one seems to have a concrete suggestion as to what else he could have done, apart from schismatic proposals. Bishop Wright would not have sustained the diplomatic game so patiently and the Communion could well have split by now. The results of Tanzania were bad — a myopic bureaucratic murk — but the blame for that falls on the primates. The US response is a wholesome one and puts an end to the Windsor strategy; it takes the risk that the US will be excommunicated; but… Read more »

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Perhaps Fr. Joe’s right – but it’s still bl**dy uncomfortable at the moment. If ++Rowan’s doing the only thing he can (and I still wonder why he’s not more strident about +Harare), he’ll get no credit for it, that’s for sure, even if it does work out for something not approaching the worst. The credibility of the fundamentalists is fast disappearing down the plughole – who can say whether this was part of the expected strategy even at Tanzania. It seems odd only to get verbal agreement on the statement from the primates, perhaps deliberate room was left for manoeuvre?… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Fr Joe is partly right. In the present context Rowan is trying to do the best he can. However there are two main failures here. The first was the Lambeth Commission itself. We maintained from the moment we understood this option was on the table that it was the wrong answer to the Communions ills. We pointed out immediately that such an option would exacerbate the conflicts and that what was needed was not a judicial committee but a wide ranging Commission aimed at reconciliation. The issues have never been fully aired and the root problems needed to be thoughtfully… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I would be happy to see the Communion go. I think there needs to be an acknowledgement that there are in fact, two religions, and that the Church will never be able to be anything other than a compromised, reactionary force whilst it contains evangelicals.

We need a liberal and progressive denomination able to move away from the harmful and somewhat ridiculous elements of conservative Christianity.

William R. Coats
Guest
William R. Coats

Very thoughtful comments Martin. Thanks. Alas, though, the reality of things has moved so far beyond these comments. A split in the Communion has already occured; only its final shape is in doubt. Trying to find this or that way to re-start matters is useless. In reality – and here I give them credit – the Right wing has been better organized and much shrewder than we at any time gave them credit. Sometimes you win; sometimes you don’t. The Communion as we have known it is finished. That there are now two Anglicans is a fact – one too… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

Martin —

I agree with you about the Windsor Report — the basic approach was already put forward (& rejected) in the Virginia Report — I am so sorry that everyone uses “Windsor” rhetoric (better if it had been issued from the “Parish of SS Ethelmertz & Enematube by Retching-under-Tweed near Old Pudsey” but American Anglophiles would probably be charmed even by that).

Anyway, the Diocese of SC is considering asking ++Rowan to consecrate Mark Lawrence uncanonically (according to the paper):
http://islandpacket.com/features/story/6430581p-5730765c.html

Pluralist
Guest

I think we are at a crossroads regarding the Communion, and that we need to possess the new way forward: rather like Goethe says – “win for yourself if you are to possess it.” Instead recent disputes have made Christianity more like an “indication of a feeble mind and contracted understanding.” (Wilberforce) An important approach is levelling the playing field for the generous orthodox and liberals now; not a rearrangement of discriminatory attitudes and bias. The situation is like having spun a spider’s web from which institutions have stood little chance of escaping. Lambeth, Windsor, Tanzania – it’s a big… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Erika While I can empathise with your comment that sexuality has become the litmus test, I would posit another option. Personally, the litmus test has been whether the churches condone tyranny or genuinely sponsor gentleness. It just so happens that the best litmus test on whether a theology is gentle or tyrannical is how it interprets and acts towards the “least” of souls. In these times, that happens to be GLBTs. In Jesus’ times, it happened to be lepers. We need to understand the underpinning dynamics or we get caught up in scapegoating a particular caste (e.g. Pharisees) or phenomenom… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

In the light of the realised or ‘realising split’ we could help ‘its final shape’ ourselves. The open, generous grouping could consider this:- It could be a creative act a loosening of boundaries and old categories to give up, sit lose to, or otherwise water-down ‘the historic episcopate.’ Various strategies could achieve this, like ordinations held by a group of ‘lay people’ and so on. I think it has lost any symbolic value it had , for me. And in case what a high price we have had to pay for a symbol. It could signal space for new thoughts,… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Cheryl, You’re right, of course, the litmus test has been whether the churches condone tyranny or genuinely sponsor gentleness. But, leaving the Reformation aside, all previous arguments about minorities have been fiercely fought yet not split the church. Witches, slavery, apartheid, women’s ordination – they’ve all been contained within the church and supporters of both sides have been able to remain in the same church, often in the same parish church. When the dust of history had settled and emotions calmed no-one understood what the whole fuss had been about when the right answer is so patently obvious (in the… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Bill Coates offered the most vigorous and effective rationale for the HoB to reject the Dar es Salaam ultimatum. America has far more experience of what it is to exist with individuals, parishes and diocese living out the fullness of diversity and consequently has much to teach us all on how that generosity works (or does not) in practice. No other Province has the same polity as TEC, which is not to say we do not have the same diversity, rather that diversity manifests itself differently in our leadership structures. Each, in our own way has been trying to avoid… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Cont:
In this context: “This Covenant is grossly premature, many Provinces have not even begun to think in this way about the Communion. The process and urgency suggested would in fact shut down the possibility of the reasoned and careful debate such an innovation requires and rather force people into a hostile reaction.”

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

“I would be happy to see the Communion go. I think there needs to be an acknowledgement that there are in fact, two religions, and that the Church will never be able to be anything other than a compromised, reactionary force whilst it contains evangelicals. We need a liberal and progressive denomination able to move away from the harmful and somewhat ridiculous elements of conservative Christianity.”—Merseymike

Amen! Calvinist evangelicalism has brought Anglicanism nothing but trouble for 450 years.

Pluralist
Guest

What Laurence Roberts and Martin Reynolds says is significant if developments go towards an alternative approach to communion or spiritual commonwealth. Let’s suppose Nigeria carries on, with some others of doing its reforming an Anglican communion on its understanding, and worse case TEC is also locked out. There’d be a kind of chaos for a while – and not even considering TEC is in. Nevertheless in even such meltdown provinces would themselves make their own arrangements, and we just might see development towards more democratic, lay involved and accountable structures as part of the realignments that have some provinces make… Read more »

Fr Joe O'Leary
Guest
Fr Joe O'Leary

Has the Anglican Communion gone? It is rather premature to say so. I think the Windsor process will be abandoned, since its defects have become clear. I don’t think the primates will have the stubborn fanaticism to excommunicate any church or that any church will withdraw from the Communion. Some churches may declare they are not in communion with others within the Communion, but people can live with that situation, which may only be a temporary one. Fr Reynolds suggests “a wide ranging Commission aimed at reconciliation”, a sensible proposal that would induce christian irenicism rather than the insiduous legalism… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Nice one TEC!
This attitude is exactly what I want to see so that the fudge-makers are confounded and we get clear decisions!

Nice work Rowan – you have got TEC speaking clearly at last! (I know it was not easy to get them to do that)

Tim
Guest

“opposed to the ordination of actively homosexual clergy”

You could move that `actively’ a few words left, too, unfortunately.