Thinking Anglicans

Pentecost letters: more news and analysis

Rebecca Paveley reports in the Church Times Primates of Canada and US ‘distressed’ at plans for Anglican sanctions.

An extract from Bishop Katharine’s pastoral letter appears on the Comment pages of the paper.

Bishop David Hamid notes that the sanctions being imposed by the Anglican Communion Office extend to Europe, see Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost Letter: A European Consequence.

Andrew McGowan has written an excellent analysis in The Anglican Babel: A view from Australia. Read it all, but here is an excerpt:

… ++Katharine is still right here, however, and ++Rowan wrong. He is wrong in a tragic way—seeking, doubtless at great personal cost, a unity in the terms that existing Anglican Communion structures assume or require, but which in fact has now escaped us.

++Rowan is wrong in identifying the TEC ‘Communion Partners’ or others ‘who disagree strongly with recent decisions’ as those who want to be aligned with the Communion’s general commitments. I believe the vast majority of the members of TEC, including its leaders, do want to be aligned with the Communion’s general commitments and are, with specific and well-known exceptions. I have no more desire than the Archbishop of Canterbury to brush past the difficulties those exceptions present; but when did attitudes to homosexuality, rather than to the Creeds or the Sacraments, come to define the ‘Communion’s general commitments’?

This is an ecclesiological as well as a theological mistake, in that it characterizes the Communion not by its vast common depth of faith and hope, framed in specific and diverse history, but by the conversations of the thin layer that constitutes the ‘instruments of unity’, whose success has of late been desultory, and future significance increasingly uncertain.

++Rowan is also wrong in equating the positions in Inter-Anglican bodies such as IASCUFO with representation of the Communion as a whole. This is precisely the sort of context where Anglicans need to have the breadth of visions and voices that might take us forward in faith and charity, even if it is to a place of mutual disagreement and realignment. The removal of a TEC member of IASCUFO makes it a weaker body in all respects.

The position is slightly different regarding exclusion of TEC from the ecumenical dialogue groups, but the result no more inspiring; our dialogue partners may indeed now have a better chance of knowing ‘who it is they are talking to’—they will know precisely that they are talking only to some of us.

And while numerous commentators have suggested there are power grabs or constitutional problems with the dis-invitations, few have noted that membership of such bodies has never before been seen as a question of delegation, or of representing national Churches; rather their members have been chosen for expertise, and with a necessary diversity that reflects our own (than you Bruce Kaye for this point).

Not all blame, even for these specific missteps, should be laid at the feet of the Archbishop of Canterbury or of the Anglican Communion Office. It is patronising to conservatives in the ‘Global South’ and elsewhere to absolve them of responsibility. But here is where the singling out of TEC, at least as it appears in Canon Kenneth Kearon’s subsequent letter, becomes inexplicable (nb., after a week or two of no clarification, maybe change ‘inexplicable’ to ‘outrageous’). Most groups who have disregarded the other moratorium, of cross-border interventions, have not been mentioned in the prescriptions for dis-inviting participation in international bodies…

Fr Jake also has an analysis, see The Dark Side of Canterbury…Perhaps

…What if, in a desperate move to hold the Anglican Communion together, Dr. Williams is playing a very dangerous political game?

In order to play such a game, the role of Archbishop of Canterbury would have to be seen as a postition from which one can wield power. Ecclesiastical power, in this case. But a manifestation of power just the same, even in its weakened form in today’s reality.

One way to have others recognize your power, your authority, your ability to dominate another, is to proclaim that certain people must be punished for their actions. Check.

But by what criteria would the person attempting to solidfy their power choose the victim that would set the example? Of course they would choose the one who is the most desperate to hold on to the bonds signified by the relationship with the one doling out the punishments.

So, in this case, who would be the most desperate? I would suggest that would be TEC…

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Perry Butler
Perry Butler
13 years ago

It is particularly odd to remove participants from dialogues with Lutherans and Old Catholics.Both groups formally bless same-sex relationships, the C of Sweden has a partnered lesbian bishop… you could argue from a purist point of view ( not mine!) that the AC should have suspended theses dialogues because of this. The cross border moratorium has clearly been transgressed by Nigeria and Ruanda and others…what a pitiful one-sided mess it all is……When will we reach the point where we can (going back to Lambeth 1948) ask ourselves “What (and i suppose “who”) is the Anglican Communion for? meanwhile back in… Read more »

Prior Aelred
13 years ago

Perry Butler has a point — it would make more sense to let TEC represent the WWAC in dialogue with the C of S & the Old Catholics (since we actually agree with them)! Of course the C of E & the rest of the Anglican Communion in the West does the same thing as TEC — they just lie about it (Jesus did have something to say to hypocrites …) But it actually a misnomer to speak of the Anglican “Communion” ever since certain African primates refused to receive “Communion” from the ABC since the Presiding Bishop of TEC… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
13 years ago

“..when did attitudes to homosexuality, rather than to the Creeds or the Sacraments, come to define the ‘Communion’s general commitments?’ “ – Andrew McGowan, Australian Theologian – A very good point, Andrew. However, this reality seems to have been overlooked by many of the Bishops of the Communion, who seem to think that questions of human sexuality are of a higher order than creedal definitions. Canada, some time ago decided that same-sex relationships were not of ‘first-order’ importance in the hierarchy of theological definition and debate. Andrew’s opinion here, it will be noted, is not from the Diocese of Sydney,… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
13 years ago

“A VOL theologian wrote to say that Jefferts Schori’s letter with her declaration of a “continuing Pentecost,” is a Montanist heresy, one of the earliest and probably the first in the sub-apostolic era (ca. 200 A.D.). – Virtue on line – Exactly what is ‘A VOL Theologian’? This is surely an oxymoron? For a virulent blog like the oddly-named virtueonline, the brain-child of an ex-Baptist, who bills his blog as ‘The Voice for Global Orthodox Anglicanism’ from within his little enclave of ACNA – and to speak of a ‘VOL Theologian’ is a bit of a puzzle to say the… Read more »

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x