8/26/2008

Just so we are clear....

The Archbishop of Canterbury just sent a letter to the bishops of the Anglican Communion, the purpose of which was to set "out his personal reflections on the Lambeth Conference."

He begins the letter by saying, "As the Lambeth Conference of 2008 comes to an end, I want to offer some further reflections of my own on what the bishops gathered in Canterbury have learned and experienced. Those of you who have been present here will be able to share your own insights with your people, but it may be useful for me to add my own perspectives as to where we have been led."

The reflections offered are of some value although it is difficult to say just how much they have to do with the realities of discussions at Lambeth that have no conclusions and the wish fulfillments of the incumbent of the See of Canterbury.

But the title give the letter is surely the results of the wish fulfillments of his staff, or God forbid of his own understanding of his office. The title for the communication, on the Anglican Communion web site, is this: Archbishop’s Pastoral Letter to Bishops of the Anglican Communion." The letter itself does not refer to this as a Pastoral Letter. Very little of this will make much difference to anyone outside the niceties of Anglican Land, but the title, "A Pastoral Letter" evokes various letters in the New Testament canon and letters from a pastor bishop to the people and clergy of the diocese, or in the case of a Primate to the Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury is properly engaged in writing pastoral letters to his "flock," in his case the Church of England. He has no defined pastoral role in the Communion as a whole. Even as "first among equals," (a title by the way that has no warrant in Anglican thinking prior to the mid 1980's) he is not in any sense "pastor" to the bishops of the Anglican Communion.

To his great credit, the Archbishop appropriately considers his letter a series of personal reflections. But his staff seems to think that he issues Pastoral Letters. He does not.

Just to be clear.

Let he who is first among equals remember the word "equal."

14 comments:

  1. I just wish +++Himself would spend at least as much time being pastoral to LGBT Anglicans as he does pandering to the uber-Orthodox. We're staying. They are leaving for GAFCON anyway!

    Then again, you did say it wasn't a "pastoral letter," didn't you?

    Sigh.

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  2. It's certainly not a pastoral letter, either in the technical sense or in the more ordinary sense of providing sound guidance rooted in the Gospel.

    A related pet peeve of mine, Mark. Don't ever pray for Rowan in the list in the Prayers of the People that begins N. our presiding bishop, N. our bishop, etc. Rowan certainly needs our prayers, but he is not the pope or metropolitan. He should be prayed for in another place, if people want to pray for him.

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  3. I'm ready to throw the Covenant into Boston Harbor and the Archbishop under the bus.

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  4. I tend to disagree. While he certainly isn't a pope or metropolitan (and I don't want him to be), his office does provide "pastoral" care (or attention) to the Communion - particularly those provinces and people that are under great trial or persecution.

    We are Anglican because we are in communion with the See of Canterbury, unless we simply want to be just another "continuing Anglican" denomination or just another Protestant denomination among the thousands that can't seem to remain as one.

    I came to The Episcopal Church, a convert, because I wanted a "catholic" Christian expression and something that was international in scope and diverse. Throwing "+++Himself" under a bus or having an attitude that we are just as well without his office accomplishes nothing but making us just our own little myopic, parochial club. IMHO.

    I hope we don't become our own worst enemy, or just like those on the other side we love to disparage.

    In our Prayers for the People, we do include "Rowan, the Archbishop of Canterbury," because it is through that office that we are Anglican.

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  5. 4 May 1535+27/8/08 10:51 AM

    Re Bill Carroll's comment: I always pray for +Rowan in that slot in the intercessions, because it seems to me to be aimed at "all bishops and other ministers," not just at the bishops and other ministers of this Church. I put him in right along with Benedict, Bartolomeos and all the other foreign metropolitans who haven't a shred of jurisdiction here.

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  6. I don't envy the Archbishop for the tightrope walk he is maintaining between camps. Though I do surely wish he would do what Liz mentioned, and take up the pastoral role that all those +++ come with.

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  7. What of its content?

    I have blogged on this over at Pluralist Speaks.

    It is all one way in direction, is full of assumptions about majorities agreeing in that direction, and yet it comes across as feeble in terms of what he is going to do (in a way that won't satisfy the breakaway conservatives - indeed they now specifically reject the Pastoral Forum as being not what they are now asking for).

    It looks like it is all falling to pieces.

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  8. 4 May 1535+27/8/08 5:12 PM

    re Bob G+'s comment--

    Your last observation seems to me to point to a basic contradiction (one indulged in regularly by +Cantuar himself). It is through the Archbishop of Canterbury that bishops are invited to the Lambeth Conference (determining who is in communion with the C of E and which national churches are parts of the Anglican Communion are slightly different issues, as I understand it). Yet (and I admit that this is my hobbyhorse) nothing could be more profoundly _unAnglican_ than to tie being "Anglican" to having some connection to a foreign prelate. If "Anglican" doesn't mean lay supremacy in independent national churches--the dual principles of the Reformation in the ecclesia Anglicana --then it has no valid meaning at all, and is simply one of Humpty-Dumpty's arbitrary signs. I understand that such things happen to language (to take the current examples, I rather doubt that Jackson would recognize today's Democrats or Lincoln today's Republicans): nonetheless, people--particularly Archbishops--who use terms in such upside-down ways have to expect to be called on it.

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  9. Just one more silly/feeble swipe at "controlling" the "beliving" of the Communion...this man ought change his staff/advisors/secretaries entirely...really, they are so obvious and cleverless...if they/he intend to manipulate by PRETENDING "things" are decided or, in fact, different than they REALLY are they ought get ought hire a top-notch outside advertising/PR firm or a Las Vegas magician

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  10. 4 May 1535+27/8/08 6:24 PM

    Just to come at that point from a different direction, without worrying so much over the semantics: The proposition "The Anglican Communion consists of all those dioceses whose bishops are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, regardless of their national churches" is logically invalid because it assumes two mutually contradictory premises, one, that the English Reformation was wrong to insist on lay supremacy in national churches and two, that there is a bishop in Christendom called "the Archbishop of Canterbury." These are contradictory because if the English Reformation was wrong, then all Anglican orders are at least schismatic if not indeed "completely null and utterly void," and the See of Canterbury has been vacant since the death of Cardinal Pole. Thus there are no bishops to be in communion, and no archbishop for them to be in communion with. +Rowan is a bishop if and only if his bishops-to-Canterbury ecclesiology is wrong.

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  11. LGBTQYZ...
    How many letters are there on that thing now?

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  12. Communion is through Christ, the rest is mere politics.

    I could care less about being Anglican, as long as we're doing what's right. If "catholic" means nothing more than another ecclesial structure, it is nothing worth the effort.

    The Archbishop of Canterbury has betrayed his pastoral duties, sold his trustworthiness for political leverage, and shown himself incapable of leading a truly "universal" communion. It is time to establish ties - and true "catholic communion" - away from politicos like Rowan Williams and the decaying edifice of Canterbury.

    Enough is enough.

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  13. I'm as anglophilic as the next guy, and pretty stodgy religiously (I'm not absolutely sure of the validity of Merbeckeless Masses, for instance) but I'm quite over the pretensions of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ever-increasing importance ascribed to the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church is not a creature of the Anglican Communion, which has only been around since the latter half of the XIXth century. And if it had been up to a previous Archbishop of Canterbury there would be no Episcopal Church in the US in the first place. The Anglican Communion can be a useful tool in spreading the Gospel and in strengthening the Churches that belong to it, but it is not our link to the Church Catholic, and Rowan is not some sort of Anglican Patriarch.

    Yet.

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