Thinking Anglicans

more criticism of the ABC

Jim Naughton has written an article at Episcopal Café titled The self-trivializing Anglican Communion.

…About halfway through weighing some of the issues that I’ve written about here before, I had a sudden realization: reflecting on Rowan Williams’ letter wasn’t a worthwhile use of my time; writing it was not a worthwhile use of his. The issues at stake have become so trivial — We are not debating right and wrong, we are debating whether there should be trifling penalties for giving offense to other members of the Communion.—that to engage them at all compromises our moral standing and diminishes our ability to speak credibly on issues of real importance.

This isn’t to say that we don’t have to make a decision about whether to accede to the archbishop’s proposal — and I suppose I think that we shouldn’t because it would only encourage him to make other such requests — just that whether we accede or not make very little difference to the world, to the Communion, to our ecumenical partners, to our church, or even to a Communion news junky like me.

Which is why I was of no use to the reporters I spoke to on Friday afternoon; because, God bless them, they had to write stories based on the mistaken notion that all of this stuff still matters, and increasingly, it does not. In attempting to ram through a covenant that marginalizes the laity and centralizes authority in fewer hands, Rowan Williams has unwittingly made it clear that the governance of the Communion is as nothing compared to the relationships within the Communion, and the relationships are beyond his control.

Last week, Jim also wrote a piece endorsing last week’s Observer article criticising Anglican silence on gay persecution in Africa, see Complicity is too mild a word.

As Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has not only been complicit in the persecution of gay and lesbian Africans, he has actively abetted the cause of the Anglican Communion’s most virulently bigoted prelates, and twisted the Communion’s moral calculus beyond recognition…

…Williams’ silence on these issues would be less troubling had he not so frequently and publicly criticized the Episcopal Church for treating gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered Christians as full members of the Church. He used an invitation to the Church’s General Convention last summer to urge worshipers — during a sermon — not to pass legislation making it more likely that a gay or lesbian candidate would be elected to the episcopacy. When then-Canon Mary Glasspool, a lesbian, received sufficient consents to be consecrated as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles, Williams expressed his displeasure in a press release emailed far and wide at the crack of dawn (in stark contrast to his tepid criticism of the Ugandan legislation). And he continues to warn about the “consequences” that the Episcopal Church will face for Glasspool’s consecration.

Williams’ behavior suggests that there is only one sin for which an Anglican leader can earn public condemnation, and only one act that merits exclusion from the councils of the Communion: repenting of the Church’s age old homophobia. Calling him complicit in the persecutions of LGBT people in African suggests that he acquiesced in the creation of a climate of intolerance within the Anglican Communion. But in reality, he is one of its architects.

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Tim
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It’s taken me some time – the past 3 years or more – to form an opinion of ++Rowan, but I do now entirely see Jim Naughton’s approach as valid.

“All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing” would be a start; actively criticising one side but not the other puts him on the wrong side of the fence from me.

john
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john

‘the relationships within the Communion, and the relationships are beyond his control.’

I think that’s extremely well said. And the wider implications are huge. And also – because I do most fervently believe this – such ‘relationships’ can include ideological opponents, with whom – nevertheless – there can be a deep bond which transcends the apparent boundaries.

Chris Smith
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Chris Smith

Rowan Williams NEEDS TO BE CHALLENGED on this issue! There are very strong ethical issues at stake here. He should not be allowed to get away with such cowardice. Period. He is wrong on this and many other issues but on issues that directly impact glbt people, he needs to be publicly challenged. He has not been fair. It is wrong to punish other national Churches on the sexuality issues. This is about dignity and human rights and he is playing like he is a Monarch. Unacceptable behavior, Rowan!

Chris Smith
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Chris Smith

One more observation on this subject: Jim Naughton is to be commended for clearly stating something very important that needed to be said. His observation that Rowan Williams is one of the “architects” of intolerance and exclusion of glbt human beings within the Anglican Communion. Yes, Jim, I believe you are correct in stating this in your brilliant article for Episcopal Cafe. I wish to thank you for stating what needs to be stated and I hope there is more of this in the days and weeks that follow. This is indeed shameful and un-Christ like behavior on the part… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Rowan Williams, held accountable for words and deed? What ever can we be thinking? Surely accountability solely applies to Bishop Glasspool? The recent record is mixed; but only if you favor talk over acts plus impact. Rowan Williams somehow thinks that believing profoundly awful flat earth stuff about queer folks can be neatly walled off from demeaning queer folks as human. Hmmm, he ought to know? Thus, my guess is that he pretty much fails to get that queer folks really are part of the human family, running the ethical gamuts in similar ways to -ah, well – straight folks,… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“In attempting to ram through a covenant that marginalizes the laity and centralizes authority in fewer hands, Rowan Williams has unwittingly made it clear that the governance of the Communion is as nothing compared to the relationships within the Communion, and the relationships are beyond his control.” – Jim Naughton – This is a most intelligent reflection on ‘What To Do’ about the ABC’s recent Pentecost Letter. Any further attempt to take seriously the implied criticism of TEC and the A.C.of C. would give traction to the thought that the Covenant ought to be taken seriously by any Province other… Read more »

Cedric
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Cedric

I’d have thought what needs to happen is obvious. If RW cannot lead the entire communion, then it needs to divide – LGBT-tolerant on the one hand, with sterling leadership from TEC & ACoC, and the Canterbury-Africa axis on the other.

C

Fr John
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Fr John

Readings on this site make very clear how out of touch the ABC is with reality. He is now completely in the grip of those nauseating right wingers, and losing the plot moment by moment. Yes he and Pope Benedict need to be challenged publicly, and shown up for what they are. The ene mies of the working of the Holy Spirit. All liberal catholics of faith need to join together and support the movements of the Holy Spirit where is to be realised, and found. Equally unafraid to expose the ABC, and POPE for their negative, unchristian views. Let… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

The overriding principle that should govern an approach to the Anglican Communion now is that the Anglican Communion is not a Church and those who want it otherwise should be checked in their ambitions.

Counterlight
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Counterlight

As far as I’m concerned, the Archbishop of Canterbury hath no dominion in the realm.

Columba Gilliss
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Columba Gilliss

We must not lose sight of the dangerous sidelining of the laity and what are called by some the lesser clergy in decision making! One of the most important — perhaps the most important witnesses the Anglican Communion can make to Rome and much of Orthodoxy is that God speaks through all the faithful.
Columba Gilliss

Rosemary Hannah
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Rosemary Hannah

Attacking Williams is pointless. What one needs to do is to attack the actions taken. The man is a fallible human. The actions are evil. We need to speak clearly against these actions, and utterly condemn them.

Uriel
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Uriel

I sometimes wonder what the pressures are on Rowan; where precisely they come from. I remember that he was regarded as a liberal choice when he was appointed; and he had written sympathetically about homosexuality. If I am not mistaken (I may be) he had ordained a homosexual to the priesthood. There was a grand outcry from the “traditionalists” when he was made ABC. His near-turnabout is puzzling, unless there are pressures on him we don’t know about. It doesn’t change anything in this discussion, but my curiosity is roused as to just what or who is running him.

jnwall
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jnwall

The ABC has made maintenance of the Anglican Communion his first priority, perhaps his only real priority.

His methods have been distraction, diversion, and delay. He probably does not care whether the Covenant is adopted or not, so long as at the end of the day it no longer matters.

The process has not always been pretty, but so far its working.

Uriel
Guest
Uriel

He clearly has made it his priority, but I can’t help wondering why. It’s not a question with an answer, or probably even very important to the unfolding of events; but I do wonder all the same just why he has decided to go this way.

Chris Smith
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Chris Smith

The power really does rest with The People Of God (lay persons) and the minute the Anglican Communion moves toward a stronger and centralized hierarchy like the Roman Catholic model, it is time for action by lay people to stop such a misguided move. Yes, of course we should not attack Rowan Williams the man, but attack and condemn his immoral policies regarding the exclusion of glbt people to all levels of leadership (Priesthood and Episcopate) and his attempt to punish the Anglican Church of Canada and the American Episcopal Church for their INCLUSIVE theology on this issue. The Latin… Read more »

Rob
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Rob

Reading these comments is astonishing. Have none of you paid any attention to the repeated statements by the instruments of Communion that consecration of non-celibate gay bishops is unacceptable? You people are like the person that shoved his hand into a bee hive then expressed shock at being stung. I suppose seven years is a long time to wait for the hint of discipline and perhaps that is part of the problem. Overly indulged spoiled children always squawk the loudest when they are finally set straight. Open your ears people. You may see this as a rights issue, but the… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

“Overly indulged spoiled children always squawk the loudest when they are finally set straight.” Yes. YOU do. What worries you is we will – and do – accept the “consequences” and will both be out of your ability to do any more harm to and quite happy, competent, and joyfully Spirit-filled without you. We will. You can’t make God do anything to us, because He is with us, and it scares you to death. Live in the 16th century. Put up garlic to keep away queers and vampires. We’ll be here long after you and your alleged “christianity” is gone.

Uriel
Guest
Uriel

I’d be careful if I were you, Rob. From my perspective, it is the so-called “traditionalists” who are acting like “overly indulged spoiled children.” They seceded, etc, clearly *against* the canons, then shouted tyranny when they were inhibited, then deposed according to the rules. But projection is pretty common, and I am not surprised at being accused of precisely what the other side is doing in spades.

jnwall
Guest
jnwall

Rights vs Morality? This is precisely a moral issue because it is a rights issue. It is a matter of dignity, justice, and regard for one’s neighbor, moral values to which we are called as God’s people.

Christianity always teeters on the brink of becoming a purity cult. Those who choose the homophobic reading of scripture have fallen over.

Doxy
Guest

“Overly indulged spoiled children always squawk the loudest when they are finally set straight.” Freudian slip, Rob? “TEC has made this bed, now they have to sleep in it.” I agree. And I think it’s time we started pitching our “bed” in England, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, and anywhere else the Gospel is being put under a bushel by people who apparently have never read it. Since we have already violated the moratorium on recognizing God in people who happen to be gay, why worry about the one on boundary-crossing? +Rowan himself has indicated that it is not in the same… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

Rob — there is no difference between a “rights issue” & a “morality issue” – none!

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“Have none of you paid any attention to the repeated statements by the instruments of Communion that consecration of non-celibate gay bishops is unacceptable?” About as much as you have paid any attention to the actual structure of the Anglican Communion and the “powers” of its “Instruments of Communion.” +Andrus is right in his letter (see thread above): having failed to coax the bishops of the Anglican Communion into something resembling a Jr. Varsity Vatican, he has decided to try to assert powers of discipline which he simply does not have. The fact that there are those in the Communion… Read more »

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

Below is a selection from thoughts I wrote on my own blog concerning the deafening ecclesiastical silence (eventually broken by South Africa’s Anglican bishops) surrounding the trial in Malawi in contrast with the clear protests and denunciations from the UN and governments around the world: “Is homosexuality the issue that we really want to define the Christian faith? Already, when people are asked what the Christian faith is all about, opposition to abortion and homosexuality immediately comes to their minds, not the Incarnation or the Resurrection, or salvation, still less anything that could be called “Love.” Are those who are… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Like uriel I am puzzled by the Archbishops strategy and wonder where ( if anywhere ) he gets his advice. He simply isnt going to please anyone and is surely now exasperating his admirers.What to do for the best I know not. It seems to me we are paying for the decision made probably unconsciously in the heady days of the early 1960’s ( Anglican Congress/MRI etc) not to go down the path of United national churches on the South India model and to develop more as a global communion despite all that Lambeth 1948 said about provisionality and the… Read more »

David da Silva Cornell
Guest
David da Silva Cornell

“Have none of you paid any attention to the repeated statements by the instruments of Communion that consecration of non-celibate gay bishops is unacceptable?” Rob, you *do* understand that we are not Roman Catholics, right? That we, as Anglicans, are not subject to a Magisterium? And that statements of the instruments of Communion simply do not necessarily “express the mind of the Communion” or carry any force of law whatsoever? I.e., that, if “The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England,” then most assuredly the Archbishop of Canterbury hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of the… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

Poor Rob seems so cross, and not deeply satisfied by being so straight and right !

The self-appointed and bogus ‘Instruments’- oh the hubris ! – have no authority at all. The notion of ‘Instruments’ is a novel idea that is not being ‘received’ (any day soon). This stuff was invented to keep us queers out. Irony is we’ve never been out in that sense–we’ve been in since the day 1–

now say thank you nicely (!).

oh my

Cedric
Guest
Cedric

So we’re all agreed then: let the ABC and his allies / associates / groupies in ACNA, Africa & Asia go and play; and let a separate LGBT-friendly communion be organised around TEC/ACoC.

Everybody happy.

C

Chris Smith
Guest
Chris Smith

Yes, the comments by the poster “Rob” reflect both Catholic and Protestant Fundamentalism. There has been a kind of sabotage of progressive voices in all branches of Christianity since the election of John Paul II. John Paul I would have taken the Catholic Church in the direction the Council Fathers of Vatican II envisioned, but John Paul II entered the picture and every element of progress was stopped and continues to be impeded by Catholic Fundamentalist elements. This will not go on forever. The same is true for Anglicans. It will run its’ course and run out of steam. The… Read more »