Monday, February 19, 2007

Sunday Posts -- Batch 3

From the New York Times: Archbishop of Canterbury Appears to Chide Faction of Anglicans

February 19th, 2007 posted by kendall at 12:06 am

Facing a possible church fracture over the issue of homosexuality, the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion reminded bishops of the need for humility as church leaders gathered Sunday for services on the island of Zanzibar.

“There was a great saint who said God was evident when bishops are silent,” the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, told hundreds who packed a 173-year-old stone cathedral. “There is one thing a bishop should say to another bishop; that I am a great sinner and Christ is a great savior.”

Nearly three dozen leaders of the world’s 77 million Anglicans have gathered in Tanzania in an attempt to resolve the long-simmering conflict over homosexuality. The most conservative archbishops, led by Archbishop Peter J. Akinola of Nigeria, are demanding that the group take firm action against the Episcopal Church of the United States, which consecrated a gay bishop in 2003 and has not banned blessings of same-sex unions.

Read it all.

From ENS: In Zanzibar, Anglican Primates join in repentance at former slave market

February 19th, 2007 posted by kendall at 12:04 am

Read it all.

From the Telegraph: Anglican Church on verge of schism

February 19th, 2007 posted by kendall at 12:01 am

The worldwide Anglican Church was battling to survive last night after talks broke down amid acrimony during the final stages of the primates’ meeting in Tanzania.

A group of leading conservatives may issue a minority statement today separating themselves from the rest of the Church if they do not win significant concessions.

Such a development would be a disaster for the Communion, and it would be difficult to see how the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, could prevent it becoming a schism.

But a breakthrough might still be achieved if the primates can devise a compromise that they believe will protect conservatives in America who have rejected the leadership of their liberal Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori.

They have until the end of today, the last day of the meeting near Dar Es Salaam, to reach agreement before issuing an official communiqué, which is supposed to reflect the consensus of the primates.

Read it all.

From the Living Church: Divisions Remain as Deadline for Communique Approaches

February 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 11:59 pm

The fact that they remain divided was symbolically expressed in events surrounding the Feb. 18 Eucharist at Christ Church Cathedral in Zanzibar. In one of several breaks with custom, staffers told the press after the service that no group photograph would be taken. Conference organizers declined to offer an explanation.

The primates’ vestments, as well as the con-celebration and reception of the Eucharist, also spoke to their divisions. In a further break with precedence where the primates either all vested for choir offices or for Eucharist, in Zanzibar the primates dressed in a range of styles from business suits to Eucharistic garb.

Two primates wore suits to the service, four dressed in a plain purple cassock; nine wore cassock albs; two wore cassock, surplice and tippet; and 15 wore Eucharistic vestments. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wore a cassock alb with purple cincture. Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria did not attend the service due to an injured back. He remained in Dar es Salaam for the day, conference organizers said.

Six primates attended the service but declined to receive the Eucharist.

The service also suggested a leftward shift from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams. In his sermon to the cathedral congregation, he offered oblique criticisms of those not receiving the sacraments, and encouraged an inclusive church centered round love. At the June 2005 Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham, England, and at the February 2005 primates’ meeting in Dromantine, Northern Ireland, Archbishop Williams’ tone spoke strongly to the need for order and discipline within the Communion, deprecating the actions of The Episcopal Church.

Two of The Episcopal Church’s staunchest allies within the primates’ meeting will have left before the final document is completed. Archbishop Mauricio Andrade of Brazil flew to Rio de Janerio on Feb. 18 to attend a meeting of his province’s House of Bishops, while Southern Africa Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane returns to Capetown at noon on Feb. 19.

Read it all.

Leander Harding: Pastoral Dynamics and The Subgroup Report

February 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 9:38 pm

The long-suffering orthodox in this country, and in an especially poignant way those who endured the indignities of the General Convention, were looking in this report for a witness from their pastor. The witness was not forthcoming. The great objections to the report are that the report does not acknowledge what actually happened at the GC. The lack of a witness to reality in the report is felt as a deep betrayal.

Read it all.

No, sorry to disagree with Leander, but I must most strenuously do so. The great objection to the report is that it is inaccurate. It does not correctly understand what TEC did at GC 2006 and what TEC intended. It is simply incorrect in its evaluation of resolution B033. I believe the reason for this, but I do not know it, is that no one who wrote the report (and how many people did write it? who did they talk to? How did they go about it?) actually took the time to crosscheck their evaluation with people from a multitude of different viewpoints who were actually there.

If the author(s) had done so, they would see that the report completely misunderstands the general language employed in B033. The language is lifted directly from resolution A161 which was defeated in the House of Deputies at General Convention earlier the same week.

Resolution A161 states with regard to bishops: “Accordingly, we are obliged to urge nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees, and bishops with jurisdiction to refrain from the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion…”

The explanation provided for this language is as follows:

“The resolution does not specify what constitutes a “manner of life” that “presents a challenge to the wider church;” we leave this to the prayerful discernment of those involved in nominating, electing, and consecrating bishops. Concerns we discussed were by no means limited to the nature of the family life; for example, the potential of bishops to serve effectively as pastors for all within their diocese, and their level of commitment to respect the dignity of and strive for justice for all people are also relevant.”

The subcommittee report, however, commended this widening of language:

The group noted that while the Windsor Report restricted its recommendation to candidates for the episcopate who were living in a same gender union, the resolution at General Convention widened this stricture to apply to a range of lifestyles which present a wider challenge. The group welcomed this widening of the principle, which was also recommended by the Windsor Report, and commend it to the Communion.

But if you actually look at the explanation for resolution A161 which is where the language for B033 came from, you can see that the “widening” is not intended to provide for even greater compliance to Communion teaching and practice but rather to provide greater space for diocesan nominating committees and conventions to decide for themselves what sort of manner of life might pose a “challenge” to the wider church, and in a number of cases it would be used to argue FOR the new theology of TEC and AGAINST the theology and practice of the Anglican Communion.

This is in fact what is now happening with the consent process to the episcopal election in the diocese of South Carolina. The person elected, Mark Lawrence, is supportive of the teaching and practice of the Anglican Communion and a large number of standing committees and bishops are voting against him BASED on resolution B033. So a resolution which supposedly backs the Windsor Report is in fact being used to negate the Windsor Report and indeed making an already bad situation in the Communion worse. There is now a real chance that South Carolina will not get the necessary consents by the March 9th 2007 deadline, in which case what will be communicated is: no one of traditional faith can be consented to as bishop in this province again.

One of the many untold stories this week is the connection between South Carolina and Tanzania. It will interesting to see how all this does or does not effect the final outcome of the meeting–KSH.

A BBC Northern Ireland Sunday Sequence Segment on the Tanzania Primates Meeting

February 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 8:33 pm

It is right at the beginning of the programme (starts maybe a minute in after some music), and includes an interview with the Guardian’s Religion correspondent Stephen Bates who is in Dar Es Salaam.

An Editorial from the (London) Times: Anglicans have come close to an open split but baulk at schism

February 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 8:16 pm

At the heart of Anglicanism lies a terrible dilemma. Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, as the commission exploring the possibility of unity between the two traditions reminds us, the Anglican Communion is not a single Church demanding adherence to a disciplined codex of canon law. It is a fellowship of 38 provinces, each with its own prayer book, traditions and legal structure, bound together only by bonds of trust and fellowship. When any one of those provinces takes a step considered by others to be morally or theologically unacceptable, there is no legal or institutional method for dealing with the breach. Tolerance and compromise — loving or begrudging — are the only way that the communion can be preserved. The alternative is schism.

The communion now stands on the brink of schism. The pretext, which has racked the Church for more than a decade, is the split over ordaining gay priests. But the issue now goes far deeper. It has become a test of whether the Episcopal Church, the small but influential American branch of Anglicanism, has broken the bonds of fellowship with other churches, especially the conservative African and Asian provinces in the “Global South”, in ordaining a homosexual bishop. After agonising debate, an extraordinary conference in Windsor in 2004 decided that the Episcopal Church had indeed broken these bonds and should apologise. The Americans have since done so — but in terms that appear to many conservatives to be insouciant.

Primates from 35 provinces have gathered at a summit in Tanzania to decide two crucial issues. Are they willing to accept a report by four senior Anglicans (plus the Archbishop of Canterbury) concluding that the Americans have shown sufficient repentance?

Read the whole piece.

Churches back plan to unite under Pope

February 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 8:14 pm

Radical proposals to reunite Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the Pope are to be published this year, The Times has learnt.

The proposals have been agreed by senior bishops of both churches.

In a 42-page statement prepared by an international commission of both churches, Anglicans and Roman Catholics are urged to explore how they might reunite under the Pope.

The statement, leaked to The Times, is being considered by the Vatican, where Catholic bishops are preparing a formal response.

It comes as the archbishops who lead the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion meet in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in an attempt to avoid schism over gay ordination and other liberal doctrines that have taken hold in parts of the Western Church.

The 36 primates at the gathering will be aware that the Pope, while still a cardinal, sent a message of support to the orthodox wing of the Episcopal Church of the US as it struggled to cope with the fallout after the ordination of the gay bishop Gene Robinson.

Were this week’s discussions to lead to a split between liberals and conservatives, many of the former objections in Rome to a reunion with Anglican conservatives would disappear. Many of those Anglicans who object most strongly to gay ordination also oppose the ordination of women priests.

Rome has already shown itself willing to be flexible on the subject of celibacy when it received dozens of married priests from the Church of England into the Catholic priesthood after they left over the issue of women’s ordination.

Read it all and there is more there.

Kendall Harmon: An Appeal for Calm

February 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 8:09 pm

Jim Naughton, a shrewd observer of the contemporary Anglican scene, says that reasserter expectations were “apocalyptic” going in to this Primates meeting. An exaggeration, to be sure, but for some, not by much. I tried to move people away from these unrealistic ideas before this meeting started, an attempt which seemed to bear little fruit.

But now we have apparently an equal and opposite reaction to a near nadir of darkness and despair in some quarters among reasserters. There has also been too much rejoicing and what is frankly schadenfreude by some reappraisers, and that surely has not helped matters.

I have mentioned a number of times that some reasserters have become addicted to despair. In the medieval church, they identified something called the sin of despair which was a quite serious matter in which people stepped so close to the edge of darkness and looked so far in that they lost any sense of God being in charge of the world.

Can I remind people that hope is one of the theological virtues? That hope in the New Testament means confidence grounded in the character of God?

Can I also remind people that the report given early at this Primates meeting was simply a report, one that has already run into heavy sledding as it is being evaluated. This subcommittee report, which on the record was not even seen by one of the members of the “Gang of Four” whose names are attached to it before it was released, is but one part of the data gathering process in Dar Es Salaam. This process further included statements from three bishops other than Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and that it is up to the Primates to decide what to do with this all information and how to proceed. The Windsor Report was taken by the Primates at Dromantine and in some ways modified, a point made by Gregory Cameron early at this Primates Meeting. What this Primates meeting decides to do is still as yet unclear.

But what is clear is that it is VERY LATE, and there is still no resolution of this crisis and this controversy. That was not the intention of those who originally planned this Primates meeting, but that it is the case means there is still significant disagreement and toing and froing behind the scenes. Let us wait and see what develops and let us pray—really pray—for a genuinely evangelical and catholic outcome that moves the Anglican Communion forward for the gospel at the beginning of the twenty first century—KSH.


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