[Francophones] Tr : Canterbury in a Corner
Bishop Venuste Mutiganda
audivia2002 at yahoo.fr
Sam 18 Juil 17:02:57 GMT 2009
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De : Anglican SPREAD <charles.raven at anglicanspread.org>
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Envoyé le : Samedi, 18 Juillet 2009, 18h12mn 04s
Objet : Canterbury in a Corner
Canterbury in a Corner
I clearly recall being told by the previous Bishop of Worcester, Dr Peter Selby, that I and my congregation had painted ourselves into a corner. Following his public denunciation of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 in 1999 we had felt unable to receive his episcopal ministry and it did not seem to occur to him that there could possibly be an Anglican future independent of his oversight – a future which the formation of GAFCON and the FCA has now made much more secure. Some ten years on the same theological tensions have led to a momentous week in which TEC has blatantly rejected the Anglican Covenant process and the Archbishop of Canterbury himself is revealed as having painted himself into a corner.
TEC’s decision to overturn the moratorium on gay bishops and to push ahead with ‘gay marriage’ liturgies, not to mention the Presiding Bishop's description of personal salvation as a ‘heresy’, coming so soon after the formation of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) underscores the fact that profound underlying differences within the Anglican Communion are now institutionally embodied in North America.
Once ideas take on institutional expression, it is much more difficult to sidestep them. Since becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has desperately tried to avoid coming to a point of closure, but there is now a general recognition that he must now act decisively if he is not to be overtaken by events since the fault line in North America runs through the whole of Western liberal Anglicanism, not least in England itself.
The reality of this fault line has been somewhat obscured by the existence of those who identify themselves as ‘centrists’ such as Fulcrum in England, who have tried to hold together the institutional status quo and doctrinal orthodoxy. As Anglican Churches on both sides of the Atlantic have, in their different ways, come progressively under the sway of secular liberalism, this synthesis has become increasingly unconvincing and this week Fulcrum bishops Tom Wright and Graham Kings have finally acknowledged that TEC has effectively put itself out of the Communion.
This will increase pressure on Rowan Williams to take a similar line with TEC and, as a corollary, recognise the ACNA, but it will be very difficult for Williams to do so because it presents him with a personal dilemma in a way which it does not for Wright and Kings. Kendall Harmon Kendall Harmon notes that in the debate on D025, the resolution affirming the right of those in same sex relationships to be ordained within TEC, ‘speakers insisted “This is who we are!”’. Dr Williams’ problem is that he is not being ‘who he is’. Having protested shortly before his appointment to Canterbury about the need to ‘come clean’ and accept practicing homosexuals for ordination , it is hardly surprising that TEC’s General Convention humiliated him by ignoring his personal plea for restraint. He was asking them not act on the very teaching which his writings and public statements did so much to legitimize for over twenty years.
Although in a corner, there is a tactical way out . Rowan Williams is a resourceful dialectician, on paper and in practice. So it would be unsurprising if he were to bend to orthodox pressure and at least put the wheels in motion for a process to recognise the ACNA, thus regaining the initiative and gaining goodwill from the orthodox, while continuing to recognise TEC.
Superficially, this would look like a win for the ACNA, but there would be a price. It would be a step back into the murky world of Lambeth politics, so thoroughly discredited at the last Anglican Consultative Council in Jamaica, and interminable TEC funded ‘indaba’ which only serves to give plausibility to those with whom the orthodox should not be in fellowship. It would be tragic if those who have made such a costly stand were to relativise and undercut their position in this way.
The point becomes clearer when we think of the impact in England, which must now be Rowan Williams’ main concern. If both TEC and the ACNA have official recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury, then it lends plausibility to those who would set back reform by arguing that both ‘extremes’ have their place in an Anglican mixed economy which may one day settle down into a new synthesis. The attraction of such an argument should not be underestimated given the English tendency to compromise and the particular pressures to cultural conformity which come with the Church of England’s establishment privileges.
Archbishop Peter Jensen, speaking of the GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration, reminded delegates at this month’s launch of the FCA in Britain and Ireland that ‘the mark of a Christian statement, a statement which professes the true faith, is that it also says ‘No!’…. Its affirmatives take strength from its negations.’ A real ‘yes’ to the ACNA must therefore also involve a clear ‘no’ to TEC (and of course the similarly minded Anglican Church of Canada) and with the present Archbishop of Canterbury this possibility must be considered as belonging to the realm of the miraculous rather than the probable.
So if Canterbury is in a corner, what is the way forward for the Communion in general and the Church of England in particular? At its most essential, it is to gather around the Jerusalem Declaration as a contemporary statement of authentic biblical Anglicanism which gives a confessional rather than institutional focus of unity. Canterbury may be painted into a corner, but the Anglican Communion is not. The Bishop of Worcester was not essential to our Anglican future; the Archbishop of Canterbury is not essential to the Communion’s Anglican future.
18th July 2009
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