Thursday, May 17, 2007

"I know the truth. Don't confuse me with the facts."

An interview with Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, has been published at Global South Anglican (and thanks to Thinking Anglicans for pointing to this). It’s not a long read, but it’s worth reading, especially for those few paragraphs regarding the Anglican Communion.
Let me give one paragraph in full:


Q – So how do you see then things developing pre-Lambeth 2008 and post-Lambeth? If you can make a wish, what will that be?


A – I’m hoping and praying that we shall have no more actions that polarize the Communion between now and Lambeth 2008. This is the point I have already brought to the Canadian House of Bishops which we are trying to get across to the American House of Bishops. But also trying to say to some other provinces: Don’t step up the level of intervention in this crisis because all of that is just pulling us further and further apart. So I hope we can have a bit of moratorium on this, and in a way, a reflection on what kind of a church we want to be. Now, some parts of the Communion would be happy if we could be just a federation of loosely connected local bodies. I’m not happy with that. We could be more than that. We should be more than that. We should be living out of each other’s life and resources and vision and be more closely connected. Because I think that is what the New Testament assumes the local church should do and not live in isolation. They lived with each other, from each other’s life. So, that’s my vision.


As I have said before, I think we need to look closely at his vision for the Communion; for after the next question, he advocates pretty clearly for greater centralization of authority in some Communion-wide instrument.

As a part of this, he makes this statement:

"People turn to the Primates because there doesn’t seem to be anything else that works, a forum for people’s interest, that meets regularly, that can assemble at short notice, which can work together. At the same time, I don’t think the Primates’ Meeting ought to be isolated from other bodies. And I have some hope for the integration of the Primates in the Anglican Consultative Council. Perhaps that will give us a better tool."


I think this is very telling, very critical. Let's parse it a little.

"People turn to the Primates because there doesn’t seem to be anything else that works...." The only "people" turning to the Primates are those with an agenda of division. As has been noted elsewhere, the folks in the pew are largely unconsulted. This raises a real question how much the Primates are "a forum for people’s interest."

"that meets regularly, that can assemble at short notice:" this is why those who want division seek out the Primates. If they have to wait three years for the ACC or ten for Lambeth, the sense of crisis may pass, and folks may find they can live together, which is not what they desire.

"which can work together:" after the side meetings and refusals of communion at Dromantine and Dar es Salaam, this is simply laughable.

"At the same time, I don’t think the Primates’ Meeting ought to be isolated from other bodies. And I have some hope for the integration of the Primates in the Anglican Consultative Council. Perhaps that will give us a better tool." If the experience of the distortion of process and purpose of the Primates' Meeting is any example, I would fear for the ACC's life, much less its potential as "a better tool."

The Archbishop clearly looks for unity in the Anglican Communion, made incarnate in some Communion-wide conciliar instrument. Perhaps he maintains eschatological hope, in spite of the facts rapidly being established in the United States and Canada (and, credit where due: he does say, "Don’t step up the level of intervention in this crisis," which is surely a statement to the Africans, and South Americans taking on Episcopal and "Anglican" congregations).

But, there are many facts being established. The establishment of CANA has gotten a lot of press, as have AMiA and interventions by the Bishop of Bolivia. Uganda has taken on churches from Florida to Kansas. And, apparently under the radar, Kenya has established relations through several of dioceses. Indeed, one bishop has even spoken of “our hope that the discussion on the creation of an American Diocese will bear fruits.”

In light of the sheer weight and number of “interventions,” some maintenance of the Communion-as-it-is seems a pipe dream. It is certainly beyond Archbishop Williams’ control, and probably beyond his influence. He may not be satisfied with "a loose federation;" but if he doesn't express some willingness to work with those who will support “a loose federation,” he will find he doesn't have even that.

2 comments:

Bill said...

Marshall,

I think your parsing of Rowan Williams' comments is accurate. This leads me to believe that the future of the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion is pretty well doomed. It used to be that this feeling would have depressed me, but it no longer does.

I find it sad and a shame that we will probably have to continue on our own way alone before long, but only because I believe Jesus called for us to be one body. I think this will happen only in heaven however.

Peace my friend.

Marshall said...

Peace, Bill, to you as well.

Yeah, I've come to believe that "one body in Christ" is an eschatological hope, something we won't see until we see the Kingdom in fullness. I still believe it's worth pursuing, and I think the Episcopal Church will still pursue it. It just won't be in this Anglican-Communion-as-it-is. Perhaps in a generation....