Thinking Anglicans

Rowan Williams in Rome

Updated Friday morning

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave an address today, in Rome. He was the guest of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The address was part of a symposium being held at the Gregorian University, to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Cardinal Willebrands, the first president of the Council.

You can read the full text of the address here.

Reporting of this event by the media:

Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury claims differences between Anglicans and Roman Catholics are not that great by Martin Beckford and Nick Squires

Guardian Rowan Williams urges Rome to rethink position on female bishops by Riazat Butt and John Hooper

The Times Archbishop of Canterbury tells Pope: no turning back on women priests by Ruth Gledhill and Richard Owen

Associated Press Struggling Anglican leader in Rome for papal talks by Nicole Wingfield

Reuters Anglican head challenges Vatican over women clergy

Agence France Presse Anglican leader urges ‘convergence’ with Catholics

Reporting on the blogs:

Alan Wilson What kind of Unity? and of Church?

Ruth Gledhill Rowan in Rome: The Fightback Begins

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Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
10 years ago

Rowan Williams says (with I can only imagine a smile in his heart) that in fact the ecclesial deficit lies, not with Anglicans but firmly at the heart of the RCC – “existing forms of primacy are – on the one hand – despite all their historic ups and downs, fundamentally unavoidable embodiments of the agreed principle or – on the other – so allied to juridical privilege and the patterns of rule and control I have referred to earlier that they simply fail to do what they say they are there for.” OOH! Not fit for purpose!! Quite a… Read more »

Joe
Joe
10 years ago

Gosh, I like Rowan. There is such an integration of holiness with theology, a kind of integrity that is both prophetic and disarming. I haven’t been keen on a covenant, and still have worries to be sure, but this sort of theological reflection does give a basis for a graciously wide understanding of the Church, which a covenant just might be able to grasp. ‘A shame he doesn’t participate more directly in the creation of such schemes. I can understand that he might not want to overpower them and wants to let them get on with it, but he’s uncommonly… Read more »

Jakian Thomist
Jakian Thomist
10 years ago

Dr. William’s speech on his commitment to the women priesthood is very important. Despite his protests, this does reaffirm one very fundamental distinction between the CoE and the Catholic Church. That distinction is not going to change given Pope John Paul II’s decree on women ordinations several years ago. I think this is positive for the CoE also. The existing compromise was untenable since women priests were destined to be second-rate preachers. At least soon they will have full equality which is consistent with the reasoning which introduced women priests in the first place. Once issues surrounding partnered gay clergy… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
10 years ago

Joe, whether or not the current Archbishop of Canterbury has a “graciously wide” understanding of the church, those whom the proposed covenant is designed to assuage have an understanding that is neither gracious nor wide.

To judge the covenant on the basis of a single personality is dangerous and misguided.

Lucid? Don’t make me laugh. That speech was heavily coded, highly qualified, and rather convoluted. Which seems this Archbishop’s style.

MarkBrunson
10 years ago

Oh, good Lord!

Rowan’s been forced – forced! – into doing something by the sheer weight of public outrage at his fumble-fisted handling of everything from female bishops to Rome to the murderous Ugandan legislation, and suddenly he’s integrating holiness blah-blah-blah?!

No wonder everybody in the world runs right over Anglicans and considers them too naive to live!

Seriously, what is wrong with you people?!

JCF
JCF
10 years ago

“At least now ALL Anglicans no longer have to be suffocated by the compromise and can make the choice for themselves as to which “moral” is the correct one.” – Posted by Jakian Thomist

As so many Roman Catholics are doing, with their feet, in the USA [A good many to TEC, more (admittedly), to “None of the Above/Church of Dawkins”]

Spirit of Vatican II
Spirit of Vatican II
10 years ago

Rowan Williams’ speech is a glorious statement – majestically mature theology that shows up the pettiness of curial obsessions, without using a single ungracious word. At long last Anglicanism has given its reply to years of petty carping from the Vatican. The reply is just common sense at one level: “Cannot we agree to disagree fraternally about minor matters?” On another level it reflects the full tide of ecumenical dialogue over the last century and the mind of one steeped in New Testament ideals and praxis of koinonia. Is anyone in the Vatican, even Cardinal Kasper, capable of responding to… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Father Ron Smith
10 years ago

The Archbishop of Canterbury, in his Willibrands Symposium address, does not pull any punches on how he sees the Roman Magisterium as a barrier to any real progress on ecumenical relationships – either with the C. of E. or elsewhere. Critics of Archbishop Rowan would do well to recognise his considerable skills as as consummate theologian within the High Church Anglican tradition. His Catholic and Orthodox leanings – gleaned from a life-time of study on the history of the Church – stands Rowan in good stead – especially when he confronts Rome on it’s out-dated institutional organisation. We need to… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Rosemary Hannah
10 years ago

I think the solution is quite clear, RW does believe women can and should be priests. He no longer believes that LGBT people are morally right when they enter into committed physical relationships.

I profoundly disagree with him on the latter point, but I think that is what he believes.

MarkBrunson
10 years ago

Absolutely. Astounding.

The human mind will glorify any amount of pap as great theology if it doesn’t inconvenience them. So much better a poor leader than having to choose – or *horrors* BE – a good leader.

We’re in the gutters of history, not because of our leadership, but because of *us*!

Mark Wharton
Mark Wharton
10 years ago

This is very interesting; the fact of the matter is that Rome responded to a great need – the Anglican church did not. The love that Rome has shown towards her brothers and sister so hated by the members of their own communion is beautiful and a true expression our Catholic faith. Let us all rejoice for God has called catholic Anglicans home to Rome.
The devil on the other hand has strengthened his hold over Anglicanism; as Catholic Christians we should weep that he has such hold over a church.

MarkBrunson
10 years ago

“This is very interesting; the fact of the matter is that Rome responded to a great need – the Anglican church did not. The love that Rome has shown towards her brothers and sister so hated by the members of their own communion is beautiful and a true expression our Catholic faith. Let us all rejoice for God has called catholic Anglicans home to Rome.” Wow. Put us right in our place there. Good shot, sir. Huzzah. And, for centuries, and still, Anglicanism has shown love towards those hated and driven out by the Roman church. So, pretty much even,… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
10 years ago

“This is very interesting; the fact of the matter is that Rome responded to a great need – the Anglican church did not.”

Really? Seems to me the CoE (there is no such thing as the “Anglican church”) responded to an even greater need…the need of fully one half of its membership to feel that they can be complete members of the church, with all of its ministries–lay, priest, bishop–open to them.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
10 years ago

Mark
“her brothers and sister so hated by the members of their own communion”

I’m sorry to remove the glow of martyrdom from you, but actually – we don’t hate you, we simply disagree with you.

anthony
anthony
10 years ago

“Don’t expect everything all at once from Rowan.” No, Father Smith, no, we won’t. But your somewhat gushy encomium forced me to finally break down and read the dratted speech, which I had been trying to avoid. I’m glad I read it, the press accounts missed all the main stuff, understandably. It was a gutsy paper to deliver, inasmuch as it was a challenge to the RCC and did not kowtow or prevaricate. It presented a coherent argument from start to finish. But the content struck me as cerebral and bloodless, high-level school theology, alien to the pew-level view of… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Spirit of Vatican II
10 years ago

Mark, we are happy to find the old Rowan still in sterling form. The point he makes is also very apt at this moment, and is lucidly and challengingly posed, recalling Rome to its commitment to the ecumenical process, which lies deeper than quarrels about gender and authority: “Therefore the major question that remains is whether in the light of that depth of agreement the issues that still divide us have the same weight… Are they theological questions in the same sense as the bigger issues on which there is already clear agreement? And if they are, how exactly is… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Spirit of Vatican II
10 years ago

In light of the “pap” “convoluted” and “blah-blah” dismissal of this speech, I reread it carefully. Its theme of theological convergence is a very powerful one, applicable in several ways. What gives it power is that it is rooted in the thought of Vatican II, Ut Unum Sint and agreed Ecumenical statements. That is, he is asking the Vatican if it takes seriously any longer the unfinished ecclesiological revolution of the Council. He boldly asks that the practical consequences of theological convergence be drawn. It does not require juridical unity — indeed such a unity would be a triumph for… Read more »

Jerry Hannon
Jerry Hannon
10 years ago

“The devil on the other hand has strengthened his hold over Anglicanism; as Catholic Christians we should weep that he has such hold over a church.”-Mark Wharton The gall of this man, the hubris, the deceit, seems unparalleled with this statement. OK, now I guess I should call the Anglican dissenters to women’s ordination and consecration as “led by Satan,” and simply going back to Satanic Central Administration in Rome. Hogwash! Neither the dissenters, nor the Romans, nor the Anglicans (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, US, Canada, wherever) are under the hold of “the devil,” Mr. Wharton. Each has different beliefs,… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
10 years ago

Spirit
thank you. I liked the speech too.
I think there’s a danger that those of us who condemn Rowan over his stance on lgbt issues and on Uganda unthinkingly criticise and dismiss everything he says.

Pluralist
10 years ago

Let’s assume Rowan Williams wants a Civil Partnership with Joseph Ratzinger. RW: These differences between us aren’t that major, we should be able to get together. JR: They are fundamental. We’d never get along. RW: (Long speech takes place that people struggle to follow, but JR can) JR: It’s all very well, but nothing has changed, and what’s more I’m trying to steal your children and put them in my nursery with your wallpaper and approved toys. RW: Oh that changes nothing fundamental. It takes two to ecuminate. Or go shopping… http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2009/11/archbishop-of-anglicanism-at-woolworths.html

Jeremy
Jeremy
10 years ago

Agree with Anthony.

This is indeed whispery, hinty, querulous stuff.

It might be well suited to a university debate (note the location). But it is unlikely to make much of an impression in the pews.

“Epic?” “Brave?” “Powerful?” Only in a seminary.

Spirit of Vatican II
Spirit of Vatican II
10 years ago

Rowan upholds papal primacy — the issue is how it is interpreted. Anglicans tend to like the primacy of honor as symbol of unity and touchstone of orthodoxy that prevailed in the 4th century. The pew-view may be that papal primacy as defined in an increasingly power-centered sense from Gregory VII to Pius IX is the essence of the RCC. But given that the current conception of primacy was defined only in 1870 at a divided and unfree Council and that it has been supplemented by a strong stress on episcopal collegiality in the 2nd Vatican Council, I think quarrels… Read more »

Robin
Robin
10 years ago

> The fact that the LBGT question has, for the moment, seemingly been put on the ‘back burner’, ought to be seen for what it undoubtedly is: the need for the ABC to address just one important issue at a time – especially considering Rome’s vulnerability in the matter of pedophile priests and their cost to the Roman Catholic Church – in terms of both money and credibility.

Do you think so? I had assumed it was just loathsome cowardice and betrayal.

Deacon Charlie Perrin
Deacon Charlie Perrin
10 years ago

++Rowan states: “Since then, this latter issue [the ordination of women] has been defined by the highest authority in the Roman Catholic Church as one in which the Church does not have the liberty or the competence to license change as regards the historic prohibition against women in holy orders.” The same proof text from Matthew that Rome uses to establish it’s primacy, “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church…” (the one where Peter gets the famous “keys to the Kingdom”) also gives Rome all the room it needs to do whatever it wants: “What… Read more »

H. E. Baber
10 years ago

As far as the “unity” of the RC Church goes what we see on the ground in the US is a population exchange. If you look at the statistics for “Nones,” individuals who give no religious preference and, at 15% the fastest growing “religious group” in the US, 35% are ex-Catholics–far in excess of the 22-24% of the US population who are RC. That figure for RCs in the population has remained constant over the years because the ranks are filled by Hispanic mass immigration. I suspect that this in microcosm is what’s happening in churches generally. Affluent, socially liberal… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Cynthia Gilliatt
10 years ago

“The fact that the LBGT question has, for the moment, seemingly been put on the ‘back burner’, ought to be seen for what it undoubtedly is: the need for the ABC to address just one important issue at a time – especially considering Rome’s vulnerability in the matter of pedophile priests …”

Huh? I don’t see the connection.

Grandmère Mimi
10 years ago

Rowan’s address was weak tea, indeed. To reverse his failure thus far as the Archbishop of Canterbury, he’d need something akin to a road to Damascus experience. Is it possible for Rowan to make the leap from this statement… “For many Anglicans, not ordaining women has a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptised men and baptised women,” he said. …to this statement: For many Anglicans, not ordaining GLTB persons has a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptized straight persons and baptized LGTB persons? I guess not. As US Episcopal Bishop Barbara Harris said: “How can you… Read more »

toujoursdan
10 years ago

If “Global South” means Africa, China and a few Pacific Islands then I would agree. But Catholic churches in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and elsewhere are nearly as empty as they are in Spain, France, Italy and Québec, and the Latin American countries are following the same path. Mass attendance is trending down and they are adopting laws that the Catholic Church opposes. Argentina just had their first legal same sex marriage. Civil unions exist in Uruguay, Colombia and Ecuador. Domestic Partnership exist in Brazil. What the Global South is sociologically seems to be shrinking year by year.… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
choirboyfromhell
10 years ago

Chilling dose of reality, H. E. Baber…I’m afraid that you are probably quite right in your assessment.

“Rat” LOL.

peterpi
peterpi
10 years ago

I appreciate everyone’s comments, because while I’m well-read and quite familiar with the Queen’s English, college dissertations make me fall asleep, and so far as I can tell, that’s the only medium in which ABP Williams speaks. So I’ll cheat and continue to get the Cliff’s Notes version via this forum. It’s nice to see Abp Williams uphold the value of women’s ordained ministry and the validity of their calling to Pope Benedict XVI. How about doing same for those who would block women in the CofE? *** “Rome would be far more honest and sympathetic, in my view, if… Read more »

Kurt
Kurt
10 years ago

As far as Rowan goes, I think he deserves a little praise. So, one and a half cheers for the good Archbishop: “Hip, hip hooray! Hip, hip…”

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn USA

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
10 years ago

Mimi,
that’s all very true, but the lgbt issue is not what occupies RCC and Anglican relations at the moment. The current situation there is that Rome has responded to the CoE’s decision to ordain female bishops by offering Anglicans a seperate Ordinariate, and Rowan’s speech was in that context.

That his moral credibility is weak because of his appalling stance on lgbt issues and his silence over Uganda does not diminish this speech in Rome.

john
john
10 years ago

I thought it was a spunky performance by RW, especially considering the context and recent events (Kasper’s comments on this issue came as near to an apology as one will ever get from official RC quarters). But, pace our dear friend ‘Spirit’, I wish all Anglicans (and RCs, Orthodox and Baptists and Methodists and all Christians) would abandon even lip-service to ‘Papal primacy’. That primacy is a historical accident and even if it were not it is so easily open to abuse (no need to enumerate instances) that it should be buried. In citing the C of E and Anglicanism… Read more »

Charlotte
Charlotte
10 years ago

“The aging secular population of Old Europe will die out because gays and women who reject traditional sex roles will not breed and be replaced by young, fertile immigrants and the socially conservative populations of the Global South who will repopulate the Church” — H.E. Baber. This worry has been around since the late 19th century, though then it was more commonly phrased in racist terms, as “Rising Tides of Color” that would overwhelm the Anglo-Saxon culture and Protestant religion of the US. In fact, what happens — worldwide — is that middle-class people of any color or ethnicity tend… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
Rev L Roberts
10 years ago

Surely ‘the devil’ is, in fact, in the detail ?

Father Ron Smith
Father Ron Smith
10 years ago

“The devil on the other hand has strengthened his hold over Anglicanism; as Catholic Christians we should weep that he has such hold over a church.” – Mark Wharton, on Friday – Oh, to have such wonderful powers of discernment of the Devil’s work as you have, Mark Wharton. Most of us who are ‘catholics’ within the Church, however, no not have such a close relationship with ‘His Eminence’, as to make the sort of statement you here profess. “Judge not, that you be not judged” is, I think, quite an important corollary to the sort of rash judgment of… Read more »

Ed Tomlinson
10 years ago

cantankerous and difficult eh?!

I love you too John ; ) but fret not that is only my persona on uber liberal sites like this one!!

Neil
Neil
10 years ago

Fr Ron Smith does make me smile when he wants to elevate matters ‘epic’ to such a portentous level! I rather regret there isn’t a musical term – rather like Allegro or Adagio – PORTENTOSO – especially dedicato to Fr Ronaldo

anthony
anthony
10 years ago

M. Baber, I recall then Archbishop Ratzinger in the 1960’s saying (and I cannot provide a citation) that he envisioned the possibility that the church might be in future much smaller, a remnant in the biblical sense. My impression was that he viewed this possibility with acceptance, as part of God’s plan.

Grandmère Mimi
10 years ago

“That his moral credibility is weak because of his appalling stance on lgbt issues and his silence over Uganda does not diminish this speech in Rome.”

Erika, I’m afraid it does to me.

anthony
anthony
10 years ago

Spirit of Vatican II (a moniker that these days seems eerily akin to Ghost of Christmas Past) – I appreciate your reading of Archbishop Williams’s paper. It is a helpful analysis, and clarifies the Archbishop’s argument. You make it clear what he is proposing. I expect that the proposals will cut no mustard with the Vatican. Anthony

anthony
anthony
10 years ago

Some of my objections to his speech were prompted by the Archbishop’s rhetorical style, which seems largely derived from Cicero’s First Catalinarian oration. Cicero’s hammering questions are effective, because they are simple, dramatic, and deeply ironic. In the Archbishop’s use, questions are frequently a passive-agressive means to manipulate the audience’s concurrence, and they sound whiny. The paragraph Spirit of Vatican II quoted is a good example. All its sentences are questions, including the first pseudo-proposition. “Therefore the major question that remains is whether in the light of that depth of agreement the issues that still divide us have the same… Read more »

JCF
JCF
10 years ago

“Rowan upholds papal primacy — the issue is how it is interpreted. Anglicans tend to like the primacy of honor as symbol of unity and touchstone of orthodoxy” I appreciate this, SV2, as it takes me back to *my* “ecumenical prime” in the 80s and (early-mid) 90s. Certainly, the ecumenism of “Ut Unum Sint” (both coming out of ARCIC I, and going into ARCIC II) had that promise… …but where ARCIC II started to go astray (in terms of its lack of reception by Anglicans in the main), was in its emphasis on *Papal* primacy. I think many Anglicans are… Read more »

anthony
anthony
10 years ago

Still fretting over the Archbishop’s very important Roman speech, I tried decoding a small part into direct statements. The Archbishop quite likely would not be happy with my version, but it is his thoughts and mostly his words. IMNSHO it is a lot easier to grasp than the original, and would have sounded more self-confident and authoritative, while he was standing up in his clothes before all those cardinals. I used the passage quoted in my previous post and by Spirit of Vatican II above, 20 November 2009 at 1:29pm GMT: >That deep agreement renders our remaining divisions less weighty.… Read more »

MarkBrunson
10 years ago

It’s utter pap. Nothing new. Nothing useful.

An utter failure as an archbishop in any church.

Coward. Self-promoter. Enabler.

If this is what a worldwide AC can offer, so much the better to be out of it. Realpolitik. The Faith of the Possible.

This “Christianity” is a shameful scam.

anthony
anthony
10 years ago

More realistically: ABC: “Therefore the major question that remains is whether in the light of that depth of agreement the issues that still divide us have the same weight. Are they theological questions in the same sense as the bigger issues on which there is already clear agreement?” Curia: (sotto voce) Yes. ABC: And if they are, how exactly is it that they make a difference to our basic understanding of salvation and communion? Curia: They don’t make any, Rowan, but they’re showstoppers. ABC: “But if they are not, why do they still stand in the way of fuller visible… Read more »

anthony
anthony
10 years ago

Deacon Perrin – The RCC does not blame Jesus for the prohibition against conferring Holy Orders on women. They blame the Holy Ghost. The RCC has publicly stated that the prohibition is not scriptural but comes from Tradition. BTW Pope John Paul II said more or less what you recommend almost 30 years ago with all kinds of gongs and trumpets. I am told that it was only the intervention of Cardinal Ratzinger that persuaded him not to make it an ex cathedra infallible pronouncement.

anthony
anthony
10 years ago

“How can you initiate someone and then treat them like they’re half-assed baptized?”

Hey Grandmere! It ain’t hard when you are badass yourself!

God love Bishop Barbara Harris whatever she may be up to these days. She brought joy to our hearts in my Boston days, for sure. Anthony

Marshall Scott
10 years ago

Well, anthony, I imagine you don’t like the rhetorical technique in sermons, either (as if this weren’t – when clergy talk, there isn’t really that much difference except in structure between “lecture” and “sermon”). The point is not the speaker’s deniability, but to call for a response from the listener. Now, I agree with your note about what the responses are likely to be; but he at least called rhetorically for a response, for which the listener is accountable, instead of just leaving his own opinions on the table as so much interesting decoration. As to his subject: surely we… Read more »

john
john
10 years ago

Presumably all those who approve of RW’s speech (= most people here) ought logically also to approve of separate ‘internal’ provision for opponents of WO, as RW himself does (as, indeed, he implies here)?

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