Thinking Anglicans

Archbishop's Pentecost letter

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written his Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion.

The press release about it, together with Notes to Editors is reproduced in full below the fold.

Read the full text of the letter by going here. Another copy here (scroll down).

Press release starts here:
In his Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury encourages Anglicans to pray for renewal in the Spirit and focus on the priority of mission, so that ‘we may indeed do what God asks of us and let all people know that new and forgiven life in Christ is possible’.

The Archbishop acknowledges that Anglicans are experiencing a period of transition in the world: ‘when the voice and witness in the Communion of Christians from the developing world is more articulate and creative than ever, and when the rapidity of social change in ‘developed’ nations leaves even some of the most faithful and traditional Christian communities uncertain where to draw the boundaries in controversial matters – not only sexuality but issues of bioethics, for example, or the complexities of morality in the financial world.’

In response to the current situation the Archbishop makes clear that when a province ‘declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard to see how members of that province can be placed in position where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole. This affects both our ecumenical dialogues…and our faith-and-order related groups’

Dr Williams goes on to makes two specific proposals. Firstly, that members of provinces that are in breach of the three moratoria requested by the Instruments of the Communion should no longer participate in the formal ecumenical dialogues in which the Anglican Communion is engaged. Secondly, that members of these provinces currently serving on the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (a body that examines issues of doctrine and authority) should, for the time being, no longer have full membership, but retain the status of consultants. ‘This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as acceptable limits of diversity in its practice’.

The Archbishop finally urges that ‘everyone should be reflecting on how to rebuild relations and to move towards a more coherent Anglican identity (which does not mean an Anglican identity with no diversity)’ and to remember that ‘there are things that Anglicans across the world need and want to do together for the care of God’s poor and vulnerable that can and do go on even when division over doctrine or discipline is sharp’. All this entails ‘…praying for a new Pentecost for our Communion. That means above all a vast deepening of our capacity to receive the gift of being adopted sons and daughters of the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It means a deepened capacity to speak of Jesus Christ in the language of our context so that we are heard and the Gospel is made compelling and credible. And it also means a deepened capacity to love and nourish each other within Christ’s Body’.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Q. Practically, what does this letter mean for Provinces, national or regional churches who have broken any of the moratoria?

A. Representatives of those Provinces, national or regional churches whose decision-making bodies have gone against the agreed moratoria a) will be asked to step down from formal ecumenical dialogues such as those with Orthodox Churches or the Roman Catholic Church, and b) will no longer have any decision-making powers in the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order that handles questions of church doctrine and authority.

Q. What are the agreements that have been broken?

A. As far back as 2004, the Anglican Communion leadership agreed to three moratoria: 1) No authorisation of blessings services for same-sex unions; 2) No consecrations of bishops living in same-sex relationships; 3) No cross-border interventions (no bishop authorising any ministry within the diocese of another bishop without explicit permission). These have been affirmed repeatedly in subsequent years at the highest levels of the Communion.

Q. Is anyone being asked to leave the Communion?

A. No. By proposing these actions the Archbishop is working to safeguard the common life of the Communion. His proposals come after several churches broke the Communion’s agreed moratoria (their promises to the Communion). Nevertheless the churches concerned remain full members of the Anglican Communion.

Q. Why did the Archbishop decide to issue this letter now?

A. His comments are made at the season of Pentecost when Christians pray for a renewing of the Holy Spirit which is the Spirit of communion and of fellowship. The letter also comes shortly after the Episcopal Church broke one of the moratoria by appointing a bishop in a same-sex relationship.

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Fr Mark
Guest

The Archbishop states that “there are Anglicans who have a strong conscientious objection to infant baptism. Their views deserve attention, respect and careful study, they should be engaged in serious dialogue – but it would be eccentric to place such people in a position where their view was implicitly acknowledged as one of a range of equally acceptable convictions, all of which could be taken as representatively Anglican.” In stating this, his argument is that as Anglicans opposed to infant baptism cannot be taken as holding a “representatively Anglican” view, so also those arguing for equality for gay people in… Read more »

Tim
Guest

A society or organization is measured not by the wealth of its wealthiest members, but by how badly it mistreats the least well-off of its members. (This is not an original quote.) This sentiment applies at two levels. Individually, a species that divides against a subset of itself (say, LGBT people) will not stand. For this reason, the moratoria are wrong and I don’t blame TEC for forging ahead with the Gospel message of real inclusion. It is unjust to restrict (in this case) LGBT folks’ standing while progress proceeds at the pace of the slowest[0]. At multi-Province level, it… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Mark Harris has listed some people whose position may be affected by this proposal.

http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2010/05/who-is-on-standing-commission-on-unity.html

I would add that the list of provinces affected by the inclusion of the cross-border intervention moratorium might be:

Rwanda
Nigeria
Kenya
Uganda
Southern Cone

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

While this is perhaps tangential to the main thrust of the letter and where most criticism will come from on here, I am ,to say the least, bemused that on the one hand the Archbishop asks “how we move to a more coherent Anglican Identity” and yet says those who have a conscientious objection to Infant Baptism are to be accorded attention, respect etc….When i was a Director of Ordinands I occasionally encountered a potential ordinand who told me he would not, if ordained, baptize infants. I pointed out that I could not send them to a selection conference if… Read more »

JPM
Guest
JPM

Let’s not forget Uganda! They have been one of the most active in grabbing up U.S. real estate.

Neel Smith
Guest
Neel Smith

Perhaps, to safeguard the life of the communion, it’s time to invite the Archbishop to step down.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Yes, my error, Uganda added to earlier list.

David | Dah•veed |
Guest
David | Dah•veed |

Orthodites are claiming that the subsaharan churches all stopped the border crossing, with the exception of Rwanda, when they released their lot in North America to the ACNA. So they argue that this should not affect the representatives from their churches, namely; Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda. The AMiA is still a part of the Anglican church in Rwanda and the Orthodite units associated with the Southern Cone have a foot in two boats, ACNA and the Southern Cone, so perhaps their reps will be asked to move away from the table and to seats in the back of the room… Read more »

Deacon Charlie Perrin
Guest
Deacon Charlie Perrin

Well there you have it. The ABC is not an Anglican.

This whole letter reeks of uniformity of thinking, practice, and understanding. One cannot get much less Anglican than that.

How much influence did Tony Blair, the Closet Roman, have in the selection of this man as the ABC?

Chip
Guest
Chip

And what about Southeast Asia which participated in the consecration of the AMIA bishops?

Chris Smith
Guest
Chris Smith

“How we move to a more coherent Anglican identity” sounds like code word for “Magisterium” which is a Roman Catholic model and the Roman Catholic model is having tremendous difficulties because of the right wing slant of the last and present pope. I hope Rowan is NOT trying to institute an Anglican Magisterium type of “Anglican identity” because it will face the same problems that the Roman model face. Rowan is confusing me.

JCF
Guest
JCF

To the border-crossing Anglicans, (re self-imposed down-stepping): “After you, Gaston.”

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Is this an Anglican fudge? No one is kicked out, and the invaders from Africa and Southern Cone receive the same punishment as we ECUSA do. It also keeps “Archbishop” Duncan in his place.

I think that the US and Canada will still have their own good relationships with the Orthodox and Roman Catholics, based on common mission and much collegiality.

If it comes to nothing more than this, it is probably a fair enough deal.

Suem
Guest

I’d like to know how bothered the various members and provinces affected by this will be? Are they to be eventually excluded or simply relegated to “consultant status”? I guess the ABC has had to eventually bow to pressure to “do something” – but to what extent does this measure have the teeth to actually wound any of those who have broken the moritoria? How far will it pacify those conservatives who want drastic action against TEC? Will those who have been pressing for TEC to be disciplined feel aggrieved that conservatives will also be included in that reprimand? I… Read more »

Edgar Wallace
Guest
Edgar Wallace

Another deeply disappointing, although not surprising, statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Anglican unity and identity will not be found by pushing aside those who disagree with the official line. I fear this will more deeply divide our communion.

Copyhold
Guest
Copyhold

Who has authority to appoint (or unappoint) the members of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order? And who does it speak for?

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

Perry Butler (Friday) has mentioned another specific category of possible divergence from the traditions of Anglicanism – that of Lay Celebration at the Eucharist. This is definitely on the agenda of at least one of the Global South Prelates – Secretary Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia. Will this fact outlaw the Sydney Diocese from the Councils of the Church? One wonders whether this is of the same adiaphoric order as Infant Baptism, Divorce and re-Marriage, and the Ordination of Women and Gays. If so, then we need a much clearer identification of what is, and what is not – Adiaphora,… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

I was completely unaware that there was such an animal as the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order.

Pluralist
Guest

This including the ‘other side’ is one means to scupper the whole thing – you can’t exclude one without excluding the other. It forces more talk, makes it all more unlikely.

In my imaginary parallel approach my cartoon character says:

I have decided to punishes both of you. This will no doubts of course satisfy no one. It will mean not just involving the intervention of shy lenswhing DEC but shilenshing the bi-shitle riders too.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2010/05/gottle-o-gear-pentecost-message.html

MarkBrunson
Guest

Worse than a Magisterium, it’s a British Imperium. At least in Rome, the Bishop of Rome can be from Bavaria, or Poland, or France. How soon do you expect someone other than a British citizen to be Archbishop of Canterbury?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Mark Brunson has a good point.

It’s when a Westminster-appointed prelate claims powers he never had, in order to enforce an “Anglican identity” that never existed, that what is really going on becomes apparent: a British power grab.

Michael
Guest
Michael

I attend a TEC church in the LA Diocese. The anger and spiteful sarcasm in the emails above is consistent with the anger locally. The Archbishop’s letter seemed to me extraordinarily reasonable and measured bearing in mind TEc’s history since Windsor. There many TEC attendees who do not see being a Christian as requiring them to support gay marriage, which is not the same as respecting gay rights. Until we actually start to discuss the issue of sex, free sex, adultery, pornography, broken marriages, parental obligations to children, divorce, as well as the homosexual matters, gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

On the UK news today (Saturday) it says RW has said the Americans will have to leave a Committee that decides on Doctrine’ ! It sounded like the news-writer was struggling to make some (any!) kind of sense of it ! For RW to urge greater coherence is amazing — he hardly models it himself. When will the C of E’s own gay bishops come out of their closet of shame ? I am amazed anyone wants to be ‘in communion’ with the C of E with all its duplicity, hypocrasy and double-dealing from the highest levels to the ‘lowest’… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“support gay marriage, which is not the same as respecting gay rights”

That’s just WRONG, Michael. Full-stop.

You don’t have to “attend” (interesting word choice: w/o *membership* in a parish?) a marriage—ANY marriage—if you don’t want to.

But to DENY marriage (and no substitute will do, thank you!) between two people of the same sex (two who are gay), and then say you can still support “gay rights” is an OXYMORON.

Mutually-exclusive. Can’t do it.

[We now return this thread to the discussion of the ABC, who holds (juggles) the same oxymoron as does Michael.]

Copyhold
Guest
Copyhold

Michael, how does any of this prevent you from “letting Christ live in [you]”?

Ren Aguila
Guest
Ren Aguila

I must welcome what Michael (29 May, 3:49 PM BST) said. I think it’s sad that inclusiveness in liberal circles does not extend to those who disagree with their conception of marriage, family, and human rights. The decision affects churches across the Communion, both liberal and conservative, and I think can be attributed to only one thing: our failure to be humble enough to understand that we might actually be proven wrong on the other side of eternity.

Michael
Guest
Michael

I attend a church physically located in S California: in St Paul’s words, I am a living stone, that is a member of the Body of Christ in whom I live and move and have my being, at least I try to do that. I respect the gay members of this physical church and from time to time, we discuss this sex issue without anger. As an Anglican I believe in the great three, Scripture, Tradition and Reason. When JCF argues that it is impossible to support gay rights without supporting gay marriage, I must respectfully disagree. On more reflection,… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“When JCF argues that it is impossible to support gay rights without supporting gay marriage, I must respectfully disagree.” But the issue ISN’T “support”, Michael (as in that which is requested of the congregation: BCP, p.425, “Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to ***uphold these two persons*** in their marriage?” NB: it says “these two persons” IN the ’79! On that point, no revision necessary! :-D) No, the issue is whether a tyrannical majority would DENY marriage to a minority on the basis of something like “We think God told us that what you… Read more »

Jeffrey Hookom
Guest
Jeffrey Hookom

>> “[I]t would be eccentric >> to place such people in a >> position where their view >> was implicitly >> acknowledged as one of a >> range of equally >> acceptable convictions, >> all of which could be >> taken as representatively >> Anglican.” It is perfectly reasonable to remove someone from a position of speaking on behalf of the Communion about the specifics of contentious adiaphora. It is another thing entirely to prevent someone from acting on behalf of the communion when (a) their work on behalf of the communion is unrelated to contentious adiaphora, or (b) they… Read more »