Updated yet again Saturday morning (scroll down for details)
For details of the proposal see earlier article.
Charlie Bell has written a blog post: The proposals on Canterbury – and why they are wrong.
His arguments are detailed and clear, and I recommend you read them in full. He concludes:
Unfortunately this is another example of cart before horse – the proposal in general is a good example of why theology and ecclesiology need to be embedded at the heart of decision-making and policy change in the Church of England. This proposal should be – at the very least – paused and reflected on with some seriousness before it goes further. Whilst in paragraph 19 and 20 we are told that we need to be ‘realistic’ about what can be done, and that ‘to begin to address the questions facing the Communion is, in the end, about the conversion of more than structures, but of the hearts of all involved, and of their practice of relationships through the Church to which we all belong.’ This may well be true, but this proposal is putting practical changes before the deep thinking about the nature of the Anglican Communion that needs to be done. It is not fit for purpose and should be rejected until this work is complete – or even started.
Unfortunately, this proposal – with its apparently unrecognised ecclesiological implications – is not new in terms of major change being brought in for what appear to be pragmatic reasons, yet carrying these major repercussions. I have written previously about the changes to consecrations implemented during Covid – which appear to be permanent. The entire direction of travel is concerning, and needs rethinking. We have experts in theology and ecclesiology – it remains mystifying that they are not invited to the table in the name of pragmatism. The O’Donovan review into the CNC must surely be the start (incidentally a review that did not consider the communion implications in detail but did (5.19) refer to the Canterbury CNC) – not the end – of the work required.
The Church Times has published a detailed article: Communion is asked: Do you want to help choose the next Archbishop of Canterbury?
This is also detailed, and worth reading carefully. It includes the following observations:
…The consultation document is not a neutral document but instead a piece of advocacy for the new proposal. It argues that many of the issues that the Archbishop of Canterbury addresses are global concerns that call for a Communion-wide response. It states: “The Communion-wide brief of the Archbishop can help facilitate learning from churches whose life is vibrant and growing.
“This dynamic enhances the role of the worldwide Communion and its significance for the Church of England. These considerations alone suggest that the balance of representatives on the CNC does not reflect the current nature of the role.”
It points out that the structure of the Anglican Communion, and the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury, is “rooted in England’s colonial history”. It argues, therefore: “The Church of England and the Communion cannot escape asking why a British cleric should always be primus inter pares” [“first among equals”]…
And it notes the following anomaly:
…The document suggests that the five international CNC members would come from each of the five regions in the Communion: the Americas, the Middle East and Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Europe.
The proposal, however, specifically excludes “the four provinces of the British Isles” i.e. the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church of Ireland, as well as the Church of England. Since the diocese in Europe is part of the C of E, this would leave this region to be represented by one of the Extra-Provincial Churches (Spain, Portugal, Bermuda, or Falkland Islands)…
The Times has a report by Kaya Burgess: Alarm over Anglican plan to give overseas churches more say in choosing future Archbishops of Canterbury. This is behind a paywall, so many people will not be able to access in full, but it starts out this way:
…English priests and worshippers have expressed surprise and anger at proposals for a five-fold increase in the power that Anglican churches overseas will be given in nominating the Church of England’s most senior bishop.
Concerns have been raised about whether the proposals could set back hopes to see a woman or a backer of same-sex marriage appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury, as many Anglican churches globally still do not allow women to become bishops while most steadfastly oppose the idea of conducting gay marriages in church…
And among comments from some clergy, it also includes this quotation from me:
“There’s no way any other province of the Anglican Communion would tolerate having someone from the Church of England added to their selection process for bishops. I don’t think there’s any valid argument for it.”
My wider point was that, even if none of the concerns existed about gender, sexuality, etc, this would still be a very bad proposal on ecclesiological grounds.
The Church Times has this: Leader comment: Wider still and wider . . . Representing the Communion on the CNC for the see of Canterbury.
Today the Times has no less than four letters, all opposing the proposal, from Christina Baron, Nigel Seed, Desmond Tillyer, and Anthony Archer.