Divided Christendom has yet to be that vision of reconciliation through which human kind can believe. Nevertheless ecumenism has come a long way. When we are downcast it is worth looking backwards to see how far we have come. That progress slow as it is may not yet have produced full reconciliation – it has encouraged us to stand where others stand and in so doing to begin the process of understanding God’s purpose for this world.
In my work within the Anglican Communion I have been left with little doubt as to the centrality of the need for reconciliation not just between fractured Christendom but between members of the same world family of believers. What is known as ”˜The Windsor Report’ – as I have said a recognition that we did much of our work within these walls of St Georges’ – sought to produce a road map for greater understanding of the divisions within Anglicanism. Much of that division centred on and stemmed from questions of sexuality, but my experience at that time and since has left me with little doubt that behind the headlines of the main agenda there were significant questions to be asked to do with authority, power and influence. Certainly there were sharp divisions over the question of a practising gay bishop, division that represented contrasting interpretation of Scripture and the understanding of Tradition ”“ but whatever lies ahead for Anglicanism I am convinced that reconciliation must take account of what I have termed those other agendas. What this illustrates for me is that the process of reconciliation often involves the less obvious issues.
I am reminded of the words of the late Lord Hailsham during his lecture on Morality and the Law here in 1984: ”˜One of the great evils of the present day is the tendency to sound off about specifics without an examination of first principles.’