Friday, July 07, 2006

Some Clarification from Canterbury

The latest contribution to Anglican dialogue came today in the comments of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the General Synod of the Church of England on the state of the Communion. I certainly commend it to your reading. There is also comment available at Thinking Anglicans. That is where I left the comment below. I also thought I would post it here.

You know, this is helpful, and in more than the simple statement of "Don't overthink my comments, nor project onto them your own eisegesis." This offers a definition of "communion," as distinct from either Roman or Congregational models. The clarity of the limitations of his own office, and of depending on consent, describe things well. "Catholic sacramental unity without centralisation or coercion" - I think that'll preach.

I fear he has believed that progressives really want unalloyed, defensive independence. My own sense - and certainly my sense of the General Convention - is that most do not want that. We want the relationships, based on the thought that we might have something to learn from each other. Sadly, there are a few radicals, and a few more reactionaries, who are already convinced that they have nothing to learn from each other.

While "historic links to Canterbury have no canonical force," he seems to underestimate how highly they are valued emotionally and morally. Certainly, much of the discussion - shouting really, since there are far too few places where people really exchange with one another - has demonstrated that many value it highly, if not above all else. I do think decisions about who gets invited to Lambeth (and I hope he invites everyone, raising a first opportunity to consent) will be seen as particularly meaningful, whether "canonical" or not.

So, let's also not overthink this statement, or project onto it our own wishes. Let's mull this over for a while.

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