The Archbishop Speaks, Answers (sort of) and Reflects Again.

Well, about the time I thought maybe my mutterings in the last post were not of consequence, the Archbishop comes to the rescue! And to his credit, he did considerably more.

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 -

"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."

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.

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.


  1. DF in Massachusetts7/7/06 8:40 PM

    Rowan Williams said of Frank Griswold,

    "...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."

    How nice of Rowan to overlook the costs and risks to GLBT Episcopalians. Practicing straight "liberals" are so high maintenance!

  2. I could wish the Ruth Gledhill/Network spin on Rowan's original reflection had been less successful than it was. On reading this address, I see few signs that the Archbishop wants to bring into being a hard rightist, obscurantist Communion or that he is hoping to exclude liberals and progressives from the Anglican Covenant development process. He appears to have serious reservations about Alternative Primatial Oversight and still more serious reservations about Canon Minns' Nigerian-American bishopric.

    However, almost uniformly, the response in the American Church, both in the breakway rightist groups and in the mainstream, has been, once again, to assume that ++Rowan is, at best, a captive of the extremist right, and, at worst, their supporter. I suppose it is possible that liberals and progressives in the American church could so completely fail to understand what is being asked of them that they could posture their way out of the Anglican Communion even faster than the hard right wing could posture their way into the Nigerian Communion. Depressing thoughts, but as we move nearer and nearer to the anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, historical parallels do suggest themselves.

  3. Mark, I'm sorry, I don't get it. To paraphrase Clint Eastwood, "What we have here is a failure of leadership." Failure both from the ABC, and more importantly from within TEC. I speak now specifically of the House of Bishops. Where is the person of the stature of a Bp. John Hines to bring consequences to bear against both liberal and conservative extremes who are trying to hold the church hostage to achieve their narrow ends? What about the 80% in the middle who want this incessant warfare to stop? Why are we worrying about what the ABC is going to do instead of worrying about what WE are going to do?

    Looking for the ABC to play "Big Daddy" and referee this street fight is absurd. Time for TEC to put its own house in order. It would start with the House of Bishops imposing some order on the anarchy. Unfortunately, as much as I sympathize with GLBT, their leadership has become as much a part of the problem as the leadership of AAC and the Network. Both are prepared to destroy TEC in order to "win."

    I don't get it.

  4. Anonymous --

    Hmmm -- I've heard more than a few elderly conservatives say that John Hines is the cause of all the problems in TEC -- the fact is that the PB has no coercive power & must rely on good will & persuasion & it is apparent now to practically everyone that good will is in short supply -- I would not be surprised if the Network Nazis attempted flight from the leadership of BPE Jefferts Schori was influenced by her answers to Louie Crew's Witness interview when she suggested that the time should be up for dioceses which don't want to obey the canon law of TEC (although how this is to be effected remains murky)

  5. Well, as of 5 p.m. BST, the Church of England has just voted itself into the 'second tier' of liberal churches. Synod just voted that women could be ordained as bishops, as it is not inconsistent with the faith to do so.

    It will still take years, but there we go.

    Let the games begin....

  6. Wendy --

    Sadly, no -- they need 2/3s in each order to change the canons & the laity fell short (so much for the worries about Cardinal Kasper's appeal to the bishops) -- with 5 year terms which began in 2005, the only solution is to work to change the minds of the lay members or to campaign to elect different people in 2010 (when the next 5 year term begins)

  7. Prior A, actually this just allows them to put it forward at the next Synod, where they will need the 2/3. This is just a preliminary vote.

    And of course, however, it will be seized upon as the 'liberal' churches deviating from 'biblical teaching' and acting 'autonomously' and 'without regard' for the 'orthodox' in the Communion.

    It almost doesn't matter what we do over here....England will end up second-tier if this ridiculous Covenant thing is attempted.

    And a good thing too, I say!

  8. Correction--according to the BBC, today's vote was indeed the required 2/3, and the next step is amendments in canon law.

    ++John Sentamu presided at the debate, but not without his own eloquent plea that if the Church could ordain women as priests, there was no theological justification to prohibit their consecration as bishops. ++Rowan just sat looking pained.

    It will be very interesting to see how the CofE holds together. The Forward in Faith people are already making plans for alternative oversight--which will not only exclude women bishops, but any male bishop who has ever ordained a woman as a priest.

    As I said, let the games begin.

  9. Wendy --

    Not to flog this to death, but this is what is on Ruth Glendhill's blog (http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2006/07/general_synod_d_1.html):

    "The online discussion group COIN is debating now whether the fact that the two-thirds majority that will be needed when the final legislation comes before synod was absent in the house of laity, where the figures show just 64 per cent in favour. The consenus seems to be that the handful needed can be persuaded to change their minds. But also it must be remembered that it will be a different synod by then. It is almost certainly going to take more than four years, beyond the life of this synod, to get to final approval. So women bishops will be a big campaigning issue in the next synod elections."

  10. As I said, PA, this will take years. But they voted to keep it on the agenda.

    Let's remember that Ruth Gledhill is just a journalist with a spin. And an online discussion group, as we all know, may have influence but no real existence. As many things are influential even without existence.

    But even considering it, as I've said, puts the CofE (where I now live, move, have my being and earn my living) in a messy spot in terms of being the evidently orthodox centre of the Anglican Communion.

    This is fuel to the fire of the 'orthodox' conservatives. It means, to biblical literalists (both inside the CofE and outside it) that we over here are not 'orthodox'--Jesus didn't have women apostles, so we can't make them bishops. We won't have a woman bishop, and we won't have a bishop who has ever ordained a woman.

    The truth is, the CofE can ill afford to limit the ministry of its ordained women. Overwhelmingly, the congregations here that are growing and thriving--even in unfavourable situations--are led by women priests. (See Bob Jackson's 'The Road to Growth', 2004, Church of England Publications.)

    Obviously, to anyone with eyes to see, the future of this Church depends in large share on the ministries of able women. And this Church will not long survive if it continues much longer to limit their advancement to higher offices.

  11. 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 ... 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.

    Cost? Risk? From whom?

    I resent the fact that Rowan Cantuar is implying that there were Vengeful Gay Shock Troops! before which ++Frank and +(+)Katharine had to throw themselves, like lambs to the slaughter (to heroically engineer B033's passage).

    LGBT (and allied) Episcopalians, with few exceptions, aren't going anywhere (except back to church again next Sunday).

    Rowan (like "Anonymous paraphrasing Clint Eastwood": are you sure, Anon, you don't mean Strother Martin from Cool Hand Luke? "What we have here, is a failure to communicate!"?) seems to be (best case!) positing a moral equivalency between Right and Left: this is completely unjustified.

    LGBTs will take their licks, and go on as fully-committed Episcopalians (albeit as Episcopalians looking for CHANGE in '09!). We're not running to (for example) Canada, looking for "Alternative Canonical Governance"!

    ++Frank and +(+)Katharine face nothing more daunting than some uncomfortable silences from their (long-time and continuing) LGBT friends. Knowing that as they did, no wonder they found it so easy to cave to the ABC's cell-phone voice in their ears! >;-/

  12. 'Network Nazis'?

    Good grief, people! Has anyone here read the Sermon on the Mount?


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