The Archbishop of Canterbury gave an opening address to the General Synod of the Church of England in which he spoke to each of the three concerns I raised in my previous blog posted yesterday morning.
In his address he had this to say:
About the response to the Episcopal Church General Convention -
"The first thing to say is that the complex processes of Convention produced – perhaps predictably – a less than completely clear result. The final resolution relating to the consecration of practising gay persons as bishops owed a great deal to some last-minute work by the Presiding Bishop, who invoked his personal authority in a way that was obviously costly for him in order to make sure that there was some degree of recognisable response to the recommendations of the Windsor Report in this regard. I think that he – and his successor-elect – deserve credit and gratitude for taking the risk of focusing the debate and its implications so sharply.
However, as has become plain, the resolutions of Convention overall leave a number of unanswered questions, and there needs to be some careful disentangling of what they say and what they don't say. This work is to be carried forward by a small group already appointed before Convention by the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC. And I have also written directly to every Primate to ask for a preliminary reaction from their province. The next Primates' Meeting in February next year will digest what emerges from all this."Well, OK, but who are the members of this "small group?" The question still is unanswered.
About the Covenant Working Group -
Again, is the consultation taking place only among church officials and members of conservative groups in England? And, more importantly, when will we get to know who the members of the working party are? "Being established" means the process is already underway, but I suppose not concluded. So, patience is in order. But I sure hope patience is not followed as it is in the "small working group" situation by no answer at all.
"A working party is also being established in consultation with the Anglican Communion Office and others to look more fully at the question of what sort of ‘Covenant’ could be constructed to fulfil another significant recommendation of the Windsor Report."
And about the action of the Church of Nigeria concerning Canon Minns election -
"There has also been an announcement from Nigeria of the election by the Nigerian House of Bishops of an American cleric as a bishop to serve the Convocation of Nigerian Anglican congregations in the US. I have publicly stated my concern about this and some other cross-provincial activities."I am unaware of a first person public statement by the Archbishop on this matter. His office has made a statement. Has there been more?
So, the three questions I asked are referenced here. Not necessairly answered, but referenced.
More importantly the Archbishop said several things in his comments that are worth noting:
(i) He acknowledged the considerable work done by the Archbishop of York, "who made an outstanding contribution to its discussions." That contribution was received as a mixed blessing. When he spoke at the open hearing his comments went considerably longer than allowed and the time keeper was not able to keep his remarks anywhere near under the time limit for statements. He spoke in a variety of venues and while some thought it outstanding, others (myself included) felt he overreached his welcome.
(ii) He acknowledged the cost to the Presiding Bishop and the Presiding Bishop Elect in their efforts to see B033 passed. He spoke of the risks they took, but not of the pressure that was brought to bear on them. There is no acknowledgement that he or his staff brought that pressure to bear. Perhaps they did not, but most likely they did.
(iii) He expanded on his Reflections and ends with this clear vision:
"I make no secret of the fact that my commitment and conviction are given to the ideal of the Church Catholic. I know that its embodiment in Anglicanism has always been debated, yet I believe that the vision of Catholic sacramental unity without centralisation or coercion is one that we have witnessed to at our best and still need to work at. That is why a concern for unity – for unity (I must repeat this yet again) as a means to living in the truth – is not about placing the survival of an institution above the demands of conscience. God forbid. It is a question of how we work out, faithfully, attentively, obediently what we need to do and say in order to remain within sight and sound of each other in the fellowship to which Christ has called us. It has never been easy and it isn't now. But it is the call that matters, and that sustains us together in the task."
The Archbishop's remarks to General Synod provide a quite useful expanison on his comments in his Reflections essay and deserve a careful read.