Thinking Anglicans

Lam Pal clarifies the letter to Bishop Howe

Updated

The following comment from Lambeth Palace has been issued:

“It should be understood that the Archbishop’s response to Bishop Howe was neither a new policy statement nor a roadmap for the future but a plain response to a very urgent and particular question about clergy in traditionalist dioceses in TEC who want to leave TEC for other jurisdictions, a response reiterating a basic presupposition of what the Archbishop believes to be the theology of the Church.

The primary point was that – theologically and sacramentally speaking – a priest is related in the first place to his/her bishop directly, not through the structure of the national church; that structure serves the dioceses. The diocese is more than a ‘local branch’ of a national organisation. Dr Williams is clear that, whatever the frustration with the national church, priests should think very carefully about leaving the fellowship of a diocese. The provincial structure is significant, not least for the administration of a uniform canon law and a range of practical functions; Dr Williams is not encouraging anyone to ignore this, simply to understand the theological priorities which have been articulated in a number of ecumenical agreements, and in the light of this not to increase the level of confusion and fragmentation in the church.”

Update
The Living Church has a report by George Conger that elaborates a little on this: Archbishop Williams’ Letter ‘Not a Roadmap for the Future’

Second Update
Episcopal News Service has issued a report on the whole episode: CENTRAL FLORIDA: Howe letter quotes Canterbury; Lambeth issues clarification.

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Richard Lyon
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Richard Lyon

Lambeth Palace has an opening for a media spin consultant.

Andrew
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Andrew

As predicted yesterday, here is the LamPal clarification. ++Rowan intends to remain in communion with TEC. He intends to remain also in communion with whatever else pops up, even though, I believe, he would much prefer that nothing else does. The CofE without her eldest daughter would look like rather peculiar family.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

I’m afraid I don’t see how this clarifies much of anything. It seems to be saying that a diocese can exist outside the structure of the national church or province. That’s not how I read the canons of the Episcopal Church. The diocese is a creation of the national church; its choice of a bishop must be ratified by the General Convention.

If Rowan thinks a diocese can somehow be created by the Anglican Communion, then I’d like to see something that supports that thinking, other than Rowan’s own beliefs.

Leonardo Ricardo
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Leonardo Ricardo

Ah yes, the *audience* IS much larger than once thought…thank you Lam Pal for drawing the “secret” curtain back!

Merseymike
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Merseymike

RW’s aim is, and always has been , to keep as many people on board as absolutely possible, and to elongate processes to enable that if necessary.

In doing so he irritates everyone equally.

Really, he does himself no favours. You can’t please everyone all the time.

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

So if lots of similar “peculiar” circumstances arise, they will continue to provide counsel in kind? They should have called someone like Senge in a long time ago. They would have known that they needed to proactively scenario the different strategies and their outcomes. They would also have known that these modellings needed to take into account the various stakeholders and their influences. It looks like the only models they have been using are predicated on the bishops being the legitimate manifestation of their charges’ will and authoritative in making that happen. The recent Church of Sweden example clearly demonstrates… Read more »

Ian Montgomery
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Ian Montgomery

Pat O’Neil says: -
The diocese is a creation of the national church; its choice of a bishop must be ratified by the General Convention. I must disagree about General Convention. The reatification of a Bishop’s election comes from on the one hand Bishops with jurisdiction and on the other hand by a mayority of the members of each Standing Committee and all must be received within a set time frame. It is only when a bishop has been elected within a certain time prior (a very few months) to a General Convention that the consent process is turned over to… Read more »

revkarenm
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revkarenm

Once again, it is clear that neither the ABC, nor his spokespersons understand TEC the way that most of its members, not to mention its Consitution and Canons understand it. Indeed, in TEC, the diocese exists as an extension and presence of the national Church. For TEC, “the Church” is the national Church, whose constitutional and sacramental relationships are embodied in the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. As Episcopalians, we are in communion with our diocesan bishops and the national Church, its House of Bishops and its House of Deputies. A diocese or a bishop in TEC… Read more »

Davis d'Ambly
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Davis d'Ambly

“not to increase the level of confusion”

Seems, however, that that is exactly what the email did…

JCF
Guest
JCF

Is Rowan Cantuar a frustratingly ineffective communicator? Yes.

At the same time, I’m both relieved, but unsurprised, by this clarification.

Think about it: if this email had said what +Howe and the StandFirm/T19 crowd *thought* Rowan intended, wouldn’t he have said that “orthodox” priests OUGHT to leave their heterodox bishops, in order to remain in the “Windsor-Compliant” AC?

But he didn’t. He is saying “EVERYBODY, STAY PUT!” (and within one’s own diocesan boundaries)

Beyond that, he was trying to calm +Howe’s (easily) ruffled feathers (doing so in that “I mean what I don’t mean” Rowan-kind of way ;-/)

obadiahslope
Guest
obadiahslope

What Revkerenm and others may have misunderstood (in my view) is that the Archbishop was NOT simply saying that Bishops only relate to Canterbury directly. Rather that within a complicated Anglican system Bishops are connected to him. As has been made clear recently the Bishops are invited individually to Lambeth not in provincial blocs. At the same time the other Anglican “instruments of unity” are made up of provincial representatatives. This is fundamental to the structure of both the ACC and the Primates’ meeting. An Anglicanism made up of relationships, can have relationships between provinces and dioceses BOTH relating directly… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

Who wrote this? Happily, this statement does not actually employ the word, “clarification,” or I would use the line of Inigo Montoya to Vizzini (regarding, “inconceivable”), “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” (viz. “The Princess Bride”) As it is, it sounds like something from Sir Humphrey Appleby to make sure that the Prime Minister Jim Hacker doesn’t understand what is actually happening. (“Yes, Prime Minister”) The “clarification” at least does state that this was addressing a specific situation and not intended to be a unilateral redefinition of the Anglican Communion… Read more »

Jerry Hannon
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Jerry Hannon

The ABC, and his media “expert” minions, may have created an unintended invitation to dioceses in every Province of the Anglican Communion (ignoring local canons and local civil laws pertaining to property, which would be unaffected by whatever the ABC might think) to declare themselves free of their Province, but in communion with Canterbury. Just imagine a handful of dioceses in England who feel that the CofE is not sufficiently “liberal,” and another handful of dioceses who feel that the CofE is much too “liberal,” and all of whom begin to act independent of the CofE per se. Admittedly, this… Read more »

John Henry
Guest
John Henry

++Rowan Cantuar’s confusion may have been triggered by +Robert Pittsburgh’s Resolution to disaffiliate from TEC. The rationale for the Resolution has been presented by Dunkin’s canon lawyers as follows: “The Diocese is acting within its own canonical and constitutional structures. The governing documents of the diocese lay out a clear path for changing the Constitution of the diocese. The proposed Resolution One follows that course exactly and allows the diocese to make decisions about its future in good order. The Episcopal Church has no authority over its dioceses. It is by Diocese that consent is given to bishops, and by… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Rowan Williams answered a specific problem via a general statement, the result of which was huge confusion at the very least, much of which has not gone away. Indeed his importance of the national Church seems little other than administrative. I will read again (and make a comment) but I think this response to clarify is inadequate and may add to the confusion.

choirboyfromhell
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choirboyfromhell

Okay. Secure the sirens, klaxons and emergency strobe lights. Set a fire watch. Back to Level Orange from Level Red. Everybody calm down and report any suspicious activity. In otherwords, SNAFU.

(If you’re an American, and/or military, you know what that means)

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

revkarenm, that is also what I imagined the TEC to be, though Ford Elms seems to have a different understanding. I suppose one cannot just Google and get the correct answer! Priests splitting from dioceses was not, I had thought, the issue, but rather dioceses splitting from the TEC. Has the TEC any properly theological status, or is it just a pragmatic arrangement at the service of dioceses, like national or regional episcopal conferences in the RCC (particularly before Vatican II? Dioceses are the basic atoms of the church, the basic local churches. But are there any theologically significant mediating… Read more »

Richard Lyon
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Richard Lyon

The rationale that Pittsburgh is using to justify its proposed separation from TEC sounds like it could have been cribbed from Rowan’s email. It can be found on the Daily Episcopalian site. Rowan may have thought that he was just engaged in good hearted theological speculation. However, he may be surprised to learn that he has taken the lid off Pandora’s box and he can’t get it back on. In a highly political world it’s not as simple as saying I never intended for my musings to be used that way.

Eric Schnaufer
Guest
Eric Schnaufer

Rowan is an undoubtedly an introvert meaning he processes his information privately and puts it out without comprehending all the possible problems other people may have with his thinking. He really needs someone who can honestly tell him the problems he might cause with his “solutions” before any communication goes out.

Pluralist
Guest

I’ve commented on the clarification, combining it with Pete Broadbent’s points made at Fulcrum.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2007/10/clarification-confusion-communion.html

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Ian is correct. I mis-stated the process. However, that does not change the fact that under the canons of TEC, a diocese is a creation of the national church and does not exist outside of it. As revkarenm notes, it is clear that Rowan (and possibly a good deal of the rest of the AC) simply do not understand the polity of TEC.

The Anglican Scotist
Guest

It may well be that Archbishop Williams understands the claims provincial church entities make about their status, and has dismissed them as false.

It sounds like he needs to make an argument for his position, or at least cite the documents that would make the argument for him.

As he himself said in another–but related–context: Whatever happened to persuasion?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

It is evident that Ian Montgomery is spinning the spin from Lambeth Palace.

The idea that all and singular must have the same “beliefs” – lest they be punished, is Calvinism and Calvinist congregational disciplin.

Whereas what TEC and the Anglican churches have is an Idea of the diocese as franchise (described in detail above by RevKaren) derived from Roman “Canon” Law.

The latter is not true, but even less is the penal way the Way and the Gospel.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

How can someone who owes his office to a closeted decision made by Buckingham Palace via ten Downing street, talk about the diocese?

Was Gene Robinson elected by his diocese …yes
Was Rowan Williams elected by the popular will of the Anglican Church people of southern Kent…no.

Furthrmore , just like a Pope… a private letter reflects is his opinion and not Church doctrine.

You know, we Welsh people get confused sometimes with the English language and its double meanings. Lost in translation.

MJ
Guest
MJ

Prior Aelred – “Membership in the WWAC has always been through provinces/national churches…You can check any definition from any source to obtain this information. Any suggestion that this is not the case seems Orwellian.” As I pointed out on a previous thread, and repeat here – +Williams is merely affirming fundamental Catholic ecclesiology that the bishop and diocese constitute the basic ecclesial ‘unit’. Forming together into provinces or ‘national churches’ is a convenient means of administration for a particular people, but not an ecclesial necessity. Previous Lambeth Resolutions have made this clear: Resolution 49, 1930: “The Anglican Communion is a… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

Reading Pluralist’s clarification my confusion diminished somewhat. It is surely correct to say that since Bishops are consecrated by other bishops, they cannot stand alone, but must belong to a church. In the RCC that means the church as a whole; but since some decades before Vatican II and especially after Vatican II national or regional Episcopal Conferences have asserted their importance. In the early church local synods — of the African bishops in Carthage for example — had huge importance. The question is whether this importance entitles them to some kind of properly theological status. Ultramontanists tend to think… Read more »

Andrew Carey
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Andrew Carey

Robert Ian Williams said: “How can someone who owes his office to a closeted decision made by Buckingham Palace via ten Downing street, talk about the diocese? “Was Gene Robinson elected by his diocese …yes Was Rowan Williams elected by the popular will of the Anglican Church people of southern Kent…no.” I find it interesting that so many people claim that TEC’s polity is misunderstood – often the very same people who then falsely describe the C of E’s. Direct election isn’t everything. The majority of the members of the Crown Nominations Commission, appointing an Archbishop of Canterbury, are elected… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

revkarenm wrote: “TEC will not enter into any kind of a Covenant that creates a worldwide catholic style “Anglican Church” with RW,or his successors as its plenipotentiary patriarchs, and with bishops deriving their authoritty and sacramental significance by their communion with him. We have all seen the way that this theology works out in the real world. Lay people vanish from significance and authority becomes more centralized, irrelevant and abusive. We’re not going that way, no matter how good the ideas sound to some theologians, and no matter what promises have been made in dialogue with the Romans and the… Read more »

cryptogram
Guest
cryptogram

Whilst Fr Joseph is right up to a point, I suspect that the ordination of bishops solely by bishops of their home province (or almost so) is a hangover from the days of difficult travel. I suspect that some of the fall-out over +Robinson would have been avoided were it normal for overseas bishops to be invited to act as co-consecrators. One of the things we might hope for from the upcoming Lambeth is an agreement to be much more international in the consecration of bishops. At the very least it would provide an early warning system of +Robinson style… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

“those duly constituted DIOCESES”

Is The Diocese in Europe, belonging to the Province of Canterbury, but geographically outside Southern England, an example of this?

Otherwise it seems nonsensical to regard a diocese as operating outside of its church, especially in the C of E, which is the established church and accountable to Synod, Parliament and the Supreme Governor. It would be like a UK constituency under its MP defying Parliament to align itself with, say, Brussels.

Depends, though, if we’re talking about abstract realities or concrete ones.

John B. Chilton
Guest

MJ,

Thanks for adding in some meat to chew on in this debate. But look again at this that you provided,

‘Resolution 43, 1920:
“Whereas it is UNDESIRABLE that dioceses should remain indefinitely in isolation or attached only to a distant province, the gradual creation of new provinces should be ENCOURAGED, and each newly founded diocese should as soon as possible find its place as a constituent member in some neighbouring province.”‘

The operative phrases/words here I think are “indefinitely … distant” and “soon … neighboring.”

Martin Reynolds
Guest

“There is one way, at present, the Archbishop might demonstrate his “concern” for ordinary faithful Anglicans and stem the tide of those “taking refuge in foreign jurisdictions” and that is to withdraw Lambeth invitations from every bishop and/or primate who permits same sex blessings to occur and/or who has given consent to the election of non-celibate homosexual bishops. Short of that, the Communion will break apart, as it should. And the responsibility for its loss will fall, as it should, squarely on the Archbishop’s shoulders.” So writes Fr Matt Kennedy at the end of this interesting piece on Stand Firm… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Concerning Andrew Carey’s piece on the appointment of bishops in the Church of England, is use of the adjective “jesuitical” in its perjorative sense still permissible?

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

It seems good to have a closer look at Lambeth 1930 which spent some time reflecting on the nature and status of the Anglican Communion. In response to MJ, however, it needs to be asked what “duly constituted” means in Resolution 49. How is a diocese “truly constituted”? To the best of my knowledge, no diocese has ever been constituted by the “Anglican Communion” (whatever that might be in this context). The Anglican Communion has never been structured in imitation of the Roman Catholic Church and this is one reason why the situation in places like Germany can be so… Read more »

MJ
Guest
MJ

John B. Chilton – “The operative phrases/words here I think are “indefinitely … distant” and “soon … neighboring.” Yes, but these are on purely practical, not theological grounds – dioceses may group together in order to prevent isolation and to function more effectively within a given national culture. But a diocese does not become theologically ‘more’ of a Church when it groups with others. A diocese under it’s bishop IS the Church Catholic in that particular area – the bishop should be the visible source and foundation of unity in their own ‘particular Churches’ (dioceses) – the basic ecclesial portions… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

There are really only two models for a communion of (geographically organized) churches, on the one hand the Roman model in which national or regional churches are ultimately subject to a central authority which must approve local decisions, and, on the other hand, the Eastern Orthodox one in which decisions of international councils and conferences must be locally accepted. It is hard to see a middle way between these two models. And it should be obvious that the Protestant, including the Anglican, model has been the “Eastern Orthodox” one. At the end of the day, conferences and gatherings and meetings… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Andrew, We live in a society that assumes democracy to be somehow God given. This causes problems for the concept of the KINGDOM of God. I have heard reference many times to the “Commonwealth” of God, ‘kingdom ‘ connoting oppressive hierarchy. It’s a little bit reactionary, I think, since what we’re talking about isn’t all that well expressed in words, but given that the Almighty has authority over it, Kingdom seems as good as any. It’s a bit arrogant to think we can ever expect God to be subject to the democratic process! There is also the unspoken, and little… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

“A diocese under it’s bishop IS the Church Catholic in that particular area – the bishop should be the visible source and foundation of unity in their own ‘particular Churches’ (dioceses)”

Therefore there is no issue with the bishop of New Hampshire, as he is the visible source and foundation of unity there, duly elected by the people.

So where’s the catch?

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

Michael – I understand that for some “Catholics” (in a specific sense of the word), the church is “a diocese under its bishop” rather than, say, the local gathering of baptized believers. But I find it utterly unreal to speak of “the Church Catholic in that particular area” in a way which disregards, say, Lutherans and Roman Catholics. It just doesn’t make sense to imply that each geographical unit has precisely one bishop, unless you follow a centralized model which declares every bishop who is not in communion with the centre episcopally non-existent. (I am not as well informed on… Read more »

Aloysius
Guest
Aloysius

By the way, “Lambeth” issued that “clarification” on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter to the Bishop of Central Florida because of developments yesterday in the Virginia lawsuits – make no mistake about it.

Don’t we just love how Episcopal litigation is what is driving the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office these days? Rowan Williams speaks from his heart, then the henchmen have to come in and “fix it” because it proved to be a “problem” for David Booth Beers. And now we know.

Has Rowan turned into Tony Blair now? Who’s lapdog is he? David Booth Beers?

MJ
Guest
MJ

Thomas Renz: “It just doesn’t make sense to imply that each geographical unit has precisely one bishop”

It is how the Church quickly developed and organised itself, was the norm pre-Great Schism, and continued as the norm until the Reformation. Our current situation is anomalous, because the Church is in schism. But one need not ‘unchurch’ others while affirming the basic ecclesiological norm. Where such situations are ‘fixable’ then they should be – as Lambeth affirmed in regard to Europe with its overlapping Anglican, Episcopal, Old Catholic and Lutheran jurisdictions.

MJ
Guest
MJ

Hugh of Lincoln: “Therefore there is no issue with the bishop of New Hampshire, as he is the visible source and foundation of unity there, duly elected by the people. So where’s the catch?”

The catch for many is that a bishop, or diocese, or regional grouping is not a law unto itself. The bishop is meant to express, and be the guardian of, the unity of faith and practice of the WHOLE Church Catholic, as it has been received and interpreted. If a bishop is not recognised as doing that by (part of) the wider Church then problems arise.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“By the way, “Lambeth” issued that “clarification” on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter to the Bishop of Central Florida because of developments yesterday in the Virginia lawsuits – make no mistake about it.”

What devlopments yesterday? I’ve not seen a paper this morning.

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

Michael – you are quite right that one need not abandon the idea. Indeed, we may/should long for a return to the situation in which the Christian world could be divided into geographical regions, each with its own bishop. But it isn’t the world we live in and for that reason alone it is wrong to say “A diocese under it’s bishop IS the Church Catholic in that particular area”. At present to speak in such terms, in any way other than as a pious wish of what should be, reflects an ecclesiology which is inherently violent. In the past… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Matt Kennedy is referred to above. He is talking about the maintenance of orthodoxy of belief (as tested by attitudes to same-sex relationship blessings and consecrations). But there is no guarantee at all of so-called orthodoxy once you have the relationship between a diocese, a bishop and a national Church on this Catholic model. It is the baptismal-unity model. What Matt Kennedy is talking about is something to do with being Reformed, that is the fellowship that exists on the basis of doctrinal standards (and whichever doctrinal standard you want). Where this has all gone wrong is that those who… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

Thanks to John B. Chilton for pointing out that the points quoted by MJ actually prove my point (rather than the contrary). There are three extra-provincial sees directly under the ABC: The Lusitanian Church, The Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain (both of which, according to Bishop Pierre Whalon, worked with the ACC to combine with the Diocese of Gibraltar & the Convocation of American Churches in Europe to form a single province, but decided it was not practicable & have formed an ad hoc arrangement with each other & the Old Catholics of Utrecht) & Bermuda (which is simply not… Read more »

MJ
Guest
MJ

Thomas, I’ve a feeling you’ve misunderstood slightly. To say a diocese is the Church in a particular area is merely to say that the diocese is not LESS than Church. Bishop and diocese, with the Eucharist, (the ‘local church’) constitute a full and catholic church in that area; the eschatological community is present in its fullness – something which being a member of a province or ‘national church’ does not ADD to. A diocese does not ‘lack’ something ecclesial by not being part of a wider cultural grouping, although they may do so practically. The local churches in communion with… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

“the WHOLE Church Catholic”

One, holy, catholic and apostolic Church?

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

Democracy is the least worst option, Ford.

4May1535+
Guest
4May1535+

We seem to be discussing two different aspects of a diocese (corresponding, historically, to two different aspects of a bishop in England–Vicar of God or licensee of the Crown). Theologically, as has been pointed out, there is a venerable tradition that a diocese is the fundamental local church (as opposed, on the one hand, to a parish, or, on the other, to a province). That does not, however, answer the question of where dioceses come from or who can combine them, or even extinguish them altogether. In TEC, these latter functions are performed by the Province (in a process which… Read more »