Category : –Rowan Williams

(CEN) Andrew Carey–A diminished Lambeth Conference

It is absolutely no surprise that the Anglican provinces of Nigeria and Uganda [and Rwanda] have already stated that they do not intend to go to the Lambeth Conference in 2020.

This is entirely consistent with the view of many global south Anglican leaders that the fabric of communion has already been broken by the actions of North American Anglicans – initially by consecrating Gene Robinson as a practising homosexual bishop in 2003. The process of discipline that was begun through the Primates’ Meeting and the Windsor Report was rapidly abandoned and the can was kicked down the road. But it was plain to anyone that communion between Anglicans was so badly damaged that never again could Anglicans pretend to have an interchangeable ministry and common worship.

For 10 years after the consecration of Gene Robinson there were various attempts to put the show back on the road but even Rowan Williams’ valiant attempt to create an Anglican Covenant, which might help to set some limits to the diversity of Anglicanism, was rejected by the General Synod of the Church of England. I still cannot quite believe that Synod members humiliated their Archbishop in such a brutal way.

When Justin Welby picked up the pieces, he travelled tirelessly around the world meeting with Anglican leaders. It is clear he picked up the message that the Communion was ‘broken’ in a very fundamental way. But he concluded that, because Anglican leaders were willing to meet with him, they might be willing to start meeting together once again. It was a risk worth taking but it hasn’t paid off. The boycott by…[three] of the biggest Anglican provinces will stand. Like the 2008 Conference in which almost a third of bishops refused to participate, the 2020 conference will be a diminished gathering.

 

Can the Anglican Communion be saved?

 

In a fascinating essay the evangelical theologian Andrew Goddard agrees that the signs are not good for the Lambeth 2020.

The great risk facing Justin Welby, he argues, is that a failure to gather all the bishops of the Anglican Communion will mark the end of the Lambeth Conference as an ‘effective Instrument of Communion’. He cites four factors, which could equally be applied to the other instruments of communion – the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting – which are:

  1. The failure to discipline
  2. The Archbishop’s changed approach on invitations to the Lambeth Conference
  3. An unwillingness to explore the logic of impaired communion
  4. And the conscientious objection of a large number of bishops.

I admire Goddard’s optimistic outlook that the Anglican Communion can still be saved. He sees the Communion as breaking down, whereas my slightly more brutal approach is to say the faultlines are too great and can never be bridged. The damage limitation exercise that Archbishops must engage in is to keep all the parties talking but it is long past time to abandon the so-called instruments of unity/communion and the pretence that Anglicans are in the same ‘Church’ in any meaningful sense.

But where I mostly disagree with him is on the obscure but important point that Justin Welby is wrongly acting out of step with his predecessor by issuing invitations to the Lambeth Conference on a different basis. Readers will remember that Rowan Williams refused to invite Gene Robinson to the Lambeth Conference in 2008, but even this little gesture backfired because those who refused to attend weren’t opposed in any petty sense to one single bishop, but to a heterodox theology that led to his consecration.

But Rowan Williams was wrong to think that he had the power of invitation to individual bishops. In fact his invitations should have been directed to all bishops in good standing with their own provinces. It is an over-mighty Archbishop who thinks he can personally decide for himself who he is in communion with, and therefore who is in the Anglican Communion. Archbishops of Canterbury have never been this powerful.

One of the problems that resulted from the Gene Robinson crisis in 2003 was that Anglicans pretended they had powers that they didn’t. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s clear choice in 2008 was not the petty power to single out one particular bishop but the greater and properly exercised power not to invite the Episcopal Church of the USA because through its actions it had torn the fabric of communion.

That was the only way to save the Anglican Communion. Of course, he didn’t and the rest is history.

–This appeared in the Church of England Newspaper, 15 February 2019 edition, on page 11; subscriptions to CEN are encouraged

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates

Rowan Williams–A Sermon for Ascension Day in 2011

Jesus hasn’t just gone away. He has gone deeper into the heart of reality–our reality and God’s. He has become far more than a visible friend and companion; he has shown himself to be the very centre of our life, the source of our loving energy in the world and the source of our prayerful, trustful waiting on God. He has made us able to be a new kind of human being, silently and patiently trusting God as a loving parent, actively and hopefully at work to make a difference in the world, to make the kind of difference love makes.

So if the world looks and feels like a world without God, the Christian doesn’t try to say, ‘It’s not as bad as all that’, or seek to point to clear signs of God’s presence that make everything all right. The Christian will acknowledge that the situation is harsh, even apparently unhopeful–but will dare to say that they are willing to bring hope by what they offer in terms of compassion and service. And their own willingness and capacity for this is nourished by the prayer that the Spirit of Jesus has made possible for them.

The friends of Jesus are called, in other words, to offer themselves as signs of God in the world–to live in such a way that the underlying all-pervading energy of God begins to come through them and make a difference.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Ascension, Christology, Preaching / Homiletics

A Rowan Williams sermon on the life and ministry of Oscar Romero on Archbishop Romero’s Feast Day

And so his question to all those who have the freedom to speak in the Church and for the Church is ‘who do you really speak for?’ But if we take seriously the underlying theme of his words and witness, that question is also, ‘who do you really feel with?’ Are you immersed in the real life of the Body, or is your life in Christ seen only as having the same sentiments as the powerful? Sentir con la Iglesia in the sense in which the mature Romero learned those words is what will teach you how to speak on behalf of the Body. And we must make no mistake about what this can entail: Romero knew that this kind of ‘feeling with the Church’ could only mean taking risks with and for the Body of Christ – so that, as he later put it, in words that are still shocking and sobering, it would be ‘sad’ if priests in such a context were not being killed alongside their flock. As of course they were in El Salvador, again and again in those nightmare years.

But he never suggests that speaking on behalf of the Body is the responsibility of a spiritual elite. He never dramatised the role of the priest so as to play down the responsibility of the people. If every priest and bishop were silenced, he said, ‘each of you will have to be God’s microphone. Each of you will have to be a messenger, a prophet. The Church will always exist as long as even one baptized person is alive.’ Each part of the Body, because it shares the sufferings of the whole – and the hope and radiance of the whole – has authority to speak out of that common life in the crucified and risen Jesus.

So Romero’s question and challenge is addressed to all of us, not only those who have the privilege of some sort of public megaphone for their voices. The Church is maintained in truth; and the whole Church has to be a community where truth is told about the abuses of power and the cries of the vulnerable. Once again, if we are serious about sentir con la Iglesia, we ask not only who we are speaking for but whose voice still needs to be heard, in the Church and in society at large. The questions here are as grave as they were thirty years ago. In Salvador itself, the methods of repression familiar in Romero’s day were still common until very recently. We can at least celebrate the fact that the present head of state there has not only apologized for government collusion in Romero’s murder but has also spoken boldly on behalf of those whose environment and livelihood are threatened by the rapacity of the mining companies, who are set on a new round of exploitation in Salvador and whose critics have been abducted and butchered just as so many were three decades back. The skies are not clear: our own Anglican bishop in Salvador was attacked ten days ago by unknown enemies; but the signs of hope are there, and the will to defend the poor and heal the wounds.

Read it all.

Posted in --El Salvador, --Rowan Williams, Church History

(Church Times) Lord Williams backs abuse survivors’ demand for independent safeguarding body at IICSA

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams, has given his support to one of the key demands of survivors of clergy abuse: the creation of an independent body to deal with safeguarding cases.

Speaking at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) on Wednesday, Lord Williams said that there was a “strong case” for handing over safeguarding issues to a new agency outside of the normal Church of England structures.

“There’s a strong case for having some such arms-length body,” he replied, when asked about it by the lead counsel to the Inquiry’s investigation into the Anglican Church, Fiona Scolding QC.

Lord Williams said that such a move would, in theory, free the Archbishop to take more of a leadership position in safeguarding for the whole Church, but admitted that the reform might never appear high on “any Archbishop’s list of priorities”.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Tablet) Rowan Williams Admits Failings Over C Of E Child Abuse

The Church of England was “naive and uncritical” when in came to abuses of power by clergy, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.

On day eight of a three-week hearing on the Anglican church as part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), Lord Williams of Oystermouth said that a mindset in which the authority of an ordained minister was thought to be “beyond criticism” was a “definitely a problem” when it came to preventing abuse.

“So much of this turns on how we understand the exercise of power in the Church, in which we have often been in the past — myself included — naïve and uncritical,” he admitted. “It did take us an unconscionably long time for us to really focus on the need of the complainant and the proper care,” he told the inquiry.

He added that this “top down model of authority” leaves “little mental or spiritual space for a victim to speak out in the confidence that they will be heard”.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Christian Today) Rowan Williams: How theology helps us understand ‘Being Human’

[We] are in a cultural and work environment where it seems that individualist assumptions prevail, assumptions about control, assumptions about unavoidable conflict, assumptions about there being always a private area into which we can retreat and shut the doors…If we live in an uncooperative environment, if we’ve developed uncooperative selves, the field is not lost. Something can be reclaimed. But it can be reclaimed only by a careful, systematic challenge to those assumptions about what the human is that so imprison us – a challenge to our (in the broader sense) educational philosophies. That’s a challenge that needs clarity about what a person is and isn’t; clarity about the difference between the person and the mere individual; clarity about the capacity of human agents to do what my sources describe as transcending the merely natural, transcending the simple list of things that happen to be true about me.

Such clarity is not easily available either for a simply materialist view of human life – the human individual as a machine… – or for a purely spiritualist view of human life – human identity is just the sovereign iron will that lives somewhere in here and imposes itself on the world out there. Somewhere in between is an understanding of human identity, human personality, as fascinatingly and inescapably a hybrid reality: material, embedded in the material world, subject to the passage of time, and yet mysteriously able to respond to its environment so as to make a different environment; able to go beyond the agenda that is set, to reshape what is around; above all, committed to receiving and giving, to being dependent as well as independent, because that’s what relation is. I am neither a machine nor a self-contained soul. I’m a person because I am spoken to, I’m attended to, and I’m spoken and attended and loved into actual existence. Which takes us back to the question of human dignity and the sacred, and to that pervasive, mysterious, nagging sense that there is always something about the other person that’s to do with what I can’t see and that can’t be mastered.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Books, Theology

(Spectator) Tim Wyatt–Archbishop Justin Welby’s stance on sharia law is a welcome relief

In firmly rejecting [Rowan] Williams’s proposals, Welby has identified the problems with integrating sharia law. But he’s also done more than that, by giving an insight into the vital role the Church of England can play in community cohesion. Unlike criticism from politicians or the press, Welby can speak to Muslim communities – who often feel excluded, misunderstood and hated – from a position of sympathy not antagonism. As a fellow person of faith, he has a voice in these knotty questions of law, God and ethics that no government minister or newspaper editorial could offer. When he calmly but clearly explains why sharia cannot be incorporated into British law he has a chance of actually being heard by British Muslims. He and his fellow Anglicans, with their long track record of standing up for minority faith groups, can and must act as critical friends to other believers, challenging and protecting in equal measure. In doing so they will build greater cross-cultural harmony than any Home Office strategy ever could.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) Don’t let faith schools take in more pupils on the basis of religion, leaders warn

Faith schools must not be allowed to admit more children on the basis of religion, leaders have warned.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph a group of 70 faith leaders, politicians and academics warned that lifting a cap which stops new faith schools admitting more than 50 per cent of children on the basis of religion would be “deleterious to social cohesion and respect”.

The signatories, led by former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Andrew Copson, chief executive of Humanists UK, warn that the policy, promised in the Conservative manifesto, “allows schools to label children at the start of their lives with certain beliefs and then divide them up on that basis.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Rowan Williams: Nativity is a powerful reminder of our own vulnerability and weakness

Dr Williams is chair of Christian Aid and called for support for its Christmas appeal as he said, ‘life doesn’t have to be like this. We can build a world with deeper justice, greater fairness, greater security for all.’

He said: ‘One of the most serious forms of powerlessness that anyone can experience is, of course, hunger. Take a country like South Sudan: after years of merciless and bloody civil war, food security has become a major question in South Sudan. This year, a famine was declared. Countless young people faced starvation. It’s not the only place in Africa, or indeed throughout the world, where this is a problem. Places like Burkina Faso are facing some of the same challenges.

‘But South Sudan is particularly vivid in my own memory: I visited there a couple of times in the last 10 years. I’ve seen what life is like in the refugee camps. I’ve seen the feeding programmes, combined with educational programmes, that many local churches and charities take up. The challenge is enormous, and it’s one that we are determined to face this Christmas, and to respond to. A gift of £10 will feed a family in South Sudan for a week. A gift of £40, for a month.’

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, --South Sudan, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Christmas, Poverty, Stewardship

The Sermon by the Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams, read at the Solemn Requiem for Bishop Geoffrey Rowell

Geoffrey worked with myself and our dear friend Kenneth Stevenson on a book entitled Love’s Redeeming Work, an anthology of spiritual writing in the Anglican tradition. I don’t think that
Kenneth would mind if I said that the heavy lifting, in terms of the volume as far as the later period was concerned, was done by Geoffrey in his heroic labours on the vast mountain of
material from the late eighteenth to the twentieth century. His share of that book reflects those Tractarian roots already mentioned, but it also reflects the generous engagement which made him so open to, and so enthusiastic about, resources well beyond his own tradition, including resources beyond the United Kingdom. His voice was always advocating in the editorial
discussions we shared for a better and more accurate representation in the book of Anglicanism outside Europe and North America.

In the introduction to his section of that volume, the last page touches briefly on a number of perhaps predictable theological heroes – Lightfoot and Westcott, of course; Archbishop
Michael Ramsey; and then, more surprisingly, Charles Kingsley and Charles Raven. There they are, rubbing shoulders in one paragraph – probably as uncomfortable there in each other’s
company as they no doubt are in the Kingdom of Heaven. In that paragraph Geoffrey speaks of two things which this unlikely calendar of saints might have in common as representatives
of Anglican identity. He speaks of those great Anglican teachers, above all Archbishop Ramsey, for whom ‘contemplative prayer was not just for enclosed religious’, and he speaks
of what he calls the ‘characteristically Anglican sympathy with new knowledge’: a depth of hinterland in prayer and devotion, a sympathy with new knowledge – never uncritical, but
never hostile.

Then, in the last paragraph, he goes on to quote another name familiar to Geoffrey’s friends – John Henry Newman, on the Church that ‘changes always in order to remain the same’. To
believe that at a time of rapid, disorientating change, is particularly hard. But Geoffrey held to that and lived by it; and that is why he turns, at the very end of that introductory essay, to Lancelot Andrewes – and to T. S. Eliot: the tongues of flame in-folded, the fire and the rose one. If Jesus is indeed the resurrection and the life, and if because of that we cannot fall into nothingness, it is because the fiery trial of discipleship and ministry in Christ’s Church is not to be separated from the flowering of God’s generous purposes and the fulfilment of our humanity in ways we cannot imagine. We do not fall away, for God is God, and Christ is God. Knowing this is the key to knowing ourselves and knowing what song is sung by the whole of reality. Remember Geoffrey’s pitch in hearing and singing that song. And so we endure – as the Apostle says, ‘abounding in the work of the Lord’, as did Geoffrey
so abundantly. And we look with him at the cloud of witnesses, alive with the living Lord whom he adored and adores.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A Look Back to the Telegraph in 2003–“[Archbishop Rowan] Williams denounces same-sex marriages”

The Archbishop of Canterbury and his fellow Anglican leaders denounced gay marriages yesterday in an effort to avert schism in the worldwide Church.
In a unanimous statement, the primates, who are the heads of the Church’s 38 provinces, distanced themselves from maverick bishops who are poised to introduce same-sex blessings.
The move will dismay the Church’s liberal wing, which had hoped that Dr Rowan Williams and other reforming primates would champion their cause.
But it will be welcomed by traditionalists and should postpone a fundamental split in the Church over homosexuality, the most divisive issue it has faced since women priests.
In a pastoral letter released after a critical summit meeting in Brazil last week, the primates said that “the question of public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions is still a cause of potentially divisive controversy”.
They added: “There is no theological consensus. . .therefore we, as a body, cannot support the authorisation of such rites.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anglican Primates, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(New Statesman) Rowan Williams on Rod Drehers’ new book-The Benedict Option:a new monasticism for the 21st c.

The lack of specific discussion of groups such as the Catholic Worker movement and the Bruderhof is such that it is hard to envisage just what Dreher’s Benedict-inspired communities might look like – though he strongly commends home-schooling and likes the idea of orthodox believers living in close proximity to one another and to their church. What is left most worryingly vague is how such groups might maintain a level of self-criticism, and how they would handle issues around authority and management of conflict. Benedict has a fair bit to say about this, and Dreher shows he is aware of it and of the problem of alienating a younger generation by excessive exclusivism. However, more information on how actual communities have discovered and handled (or failed to handle) such matters would help.

The Benedict Option is unsettling. It confronts the prevailing consensus about how far the majority is willing to make room for principled dissent and public argument – yet at the same time shows a rather dispiriting lack of confidence in public argument. It puts a solid and appealing case for religious communities to be more serious about the disciplines that sustain prayer, compassion and integrity; but it is also a jeremiad against the decline of a certain sort of American public piety, and the sinister plans of relativists and revisionists.

The book is worth reading because it poses some helpfully tough questions to a socially liberal majority, as well as to believers of a more traditional colour. Yet it also fails to note the irony of advocating what it does in a climate where liberal triumphalism has already been shaken by a very un-Benedictine set of influences, through the resurgence of populist conservatism and protectionism. And neither restating liberal nostrums nor Dreher’s “strategy of hibernation” – to borrow a phrase from Adorno – seems an adequate answer to this.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Church History, Religion & Culture, Theology

Rowan Williams–A Sermon for Ascension Day in 2011

Jesus hasn’t just gone away. He has gone deeper into the heart of reality–our reality and God’s. He has become far more than a visible friend and companion; he has shown himself to be the very centre of our life, the source of our loving energy in the world and the source of our prayerful, trustful waiting on God. He has made us able to be a new kind of human being, silently and patiently trusting God as a loving parent, actively and hopefully at work to make a difference in the world, to make the kind of difference love makes.

So if the world looks and feels like a world without God, the Christian doesn’t try to say, ‘It’s not as bad as all that’, or seek to point to clear signs of God’s presence that make everything all right. The Christian will acknowledge that the situation is harsh, even apparently unhopeful–but will dare to say that they are willing to bring hope by what they offer in terms of compassion and service. And their own willingness and capacity for this is nourished by the prayer that the Spirit of Jesus has made possible for them.

The friends of Jesus are called, in other words, to offer themselves as signs of God in the world–to live in such a way that the underlying all-pervading energy of God begins to come through them and make a difference.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ascension, Preaching / Homiletics

Rowan Williams Interviewed by the THE

What guidance can religious leaders offer in these times of political uncertainty and polarisation?
I think that religious leaders have an absolute duty to be crystal clear about human equality, about the porous nature of national boundaries, about the indivisible character of human interests and well-being. In other words, you can’t have a globe in which one bit of the human race profits indefinitely at the expense of another, or in which the suffering of one part of the human race is irrelevant to the well-being of another. I think that’s built into the DNA of every major religious tradition and that’s perhaps what religious leaders should be saying.

Have academics and religious leaders become more politicised recently?
I think they have always been political. If you look at the history of the university in the 17th century, the great political arguments get hammered out in universities as much as in court or in Parliament, so I don’t think that there’s anything new about academics or religious leaders having a political profile. I think that sometimes we nurture a bit of a fiction that, in the old days, clergy and dons just kept to themselves; they never did.

How has higher education changed in the past five to 10 years?
The public rhetoric around it has become much more oriented towards the idea of the student as a consumer, and a great deal of publicity has been predicated on that.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Education, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Rowan Williams–It remains Britain’s moral duty to help refugee children

Last week’s announcement from government that it will close the route opened for some of the most vulnerable refugee children to Britain by Lord Dubs falls far short of our better selves and the example set by those before us.

The route was opened by Lord Dubs to enable a safe passage to Britain for the most vulnerable refugee children. His amendment last year drew exceptionally wide cross-party and public support. Lord Dubs was himself a survivor of the Kindertransport efforts to save Jewish children fleeing the Nazis on the eve of the Second World War.

Those efforts typified something of the best in us. A steadfast and quiet determination to protect children and the most vulnerable and to do so in time when the threat is urgent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

(New Statesman) Rowan Williams–Mass democracy has failed ”“ it's time to seek a humane alternative

The problem is deeper. Trump’s campaign succeeded in spite of the cast-iron demonstrations of his total indifference to truth (not to mention decency). It has offered not a connected strategy for national reconstruction, but an incoherent series of crowd-pleasing postures; as if Trump’s real aim was not to do anything as president but simply to be president, to be the most important man in the Western world. This election represents a divorce between the electoral process and the business of political decision-making. It is the ersatz politics of mass theatre, in which what matters most is the declaration of victory.

As such, it is the most cynical betrayal of those who are disenfranchised. It confirms that they have no part in real political processes; they can only choose their monarch. They have become detached from the work of politics by the erosion of liberties and economic opportunities ”“ one reason why there is such pressure to displace this on to a feverish defence of archaic “freedoms” such as gun ownership, and on to whatever scapegoated minority can be held responsible for unemployment or general insecurity.

The politics of mass democracy has failed. It has been narrowed down to a mechanism for managing large-scale interests in response to explicit and implicit lobbying by fabulously well-resourced commercial and financial concerns (ironically, one of the things that Trump has undertaken to change). The 2008 financial crisis sent a tremor through that world but failed to change its workings. The effect has been a growing assumption that what goes on in public political debate does not represent any voices other than the privileged and self-interested. And so, for significant parts of a population, “theatrical” politics comes to look like the only option: a dramatic articulation of the problems of powerlessness, for which the exact details of economic or social reality are irrelevant. This delivers people into the hands of another kind of dishonest politics: the fact-free manipulation of emotion by populist adventurers.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, America/U.S.A., Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Office of the President, Politics in General, Theology

(Telegraph) Rowan Williams: celebrity culture as damaging to future generations as pollution

Britain’s shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture could leave as toxic a legacy for future generations as the pollution of the planet, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams of Oystermouth has warned.
Today’s children are growing up in a culture with few if any real “heroes”, he said, while ideas of “nobility” and even “honour” are quietly disappearing.
The result could be as damaging to the nation’s “moral and imaginative ecology” as the destruction of the environment, he argued.
Britain is in danger of become a more “boring” and “mean-minded” place as a result, he added.

Read it all (another from the long line of should have already been posted material).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Church Times) Religious leaders plead for ”˜humane’ policy for refugees

Pretending that the refugee crisis is going to disappear is “futile, foolish”, and turning vulnerable people away from the UK “simply shifts the burden to those less able to bear it”, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has warned.

He was speaking at a multifaith gathering at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, on Monday, to mark the release of an open letter to the Prime Minister, signed by more than 200 religious leaders, some of whom were also in attendance (above). It calls on the Government to accommodate more refugees in the UK more quickly, and, in particular, to reunite families that have been separated by conflict.

“The pace in responding to the refugee crisis seems very slow,” Lord Williams said. “We have had months of discussion on the subject of reuniting children with parents, and as yet have remarkably little to show for it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Immigration, Inter-Faith Relations, Middle East, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Rowan Williams–A Sermon for Ascension Day in 2011

Jesus hasn’t just gone away. He has gone deeper into the heart of reality–our reality and God’s. He has become far more than a visible friend and companion; he has shown himself to be the very centre of our life, the source of our loving energy in the world and the source of our prayerful, trustful waiting on God. He has made us able to be a new kind of human being, silently and patiently trusting God as a loving parent, actively and hopefully at work to make a difference in the world, to make the kind of difference love makes.

So if the world looks and feels like a world without God, the Christian doesn’t try to say, ‘It’s not as bad as all that’, or seek to point to clear signs of God’s presence that make everything all right. The Christian will acknowledge that the situation is harsh, even apparently unhopeful–but will dare to say that they are willing to bring hope by what they offer in terms of compassion and service. And their own willingness and capacity for this is nourished by the prayer that the Spirit of Jesus has made possible for them.

The friends of Jesus are called, in other words, to offer themselves as signs of God in the world–to live in such a way that the underlying all-pervading energy of God begins to come through them and make a difference.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ascension, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

(New Statesman) Shakespeare, our contemporary: the Bard 400 years later

Dodgy dossiers, smiling tyrants and just wars: Rowan Williams on Henry V

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Books, Capital Punishment, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) Rowan Williams, theologian, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge

A bishop has to be a teacher of the faith. That is, he or she has to be someone who is animated by theology and eager to share it ”” animated by theology in the sense of longing to inhabit the language and world of faith with greater and greater intelligence, insight, and joy. So, yes, bishops need that animation and desire to help others make sense of their commitment….

This means that I would plead with the Church to take seriously the need for investing in theological education at all levels ”” to recognise that there is a huge appetite for theology among so many laypeople, and thus a need for clergy who can respond and engage intelligently. The middle-term future may need to be one where there are more independent centres of theological study outside universities, given the erosion of resources in higher education, and I think it’s time more people started thinking about what that might entail in terms of funding.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Sunday [London] Times) Ex-archbishop Rowan Williams attacks university anti-semites

Rowan Wlliams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has urged the government to intervene to halt the rise of “poisonous” anti-semitism on British campuses.

In a letter to a student victim of anti-semitic comments, Lord Williams, now master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, disclosed that he had written to Jo Johnson, the universities minister, because of the “muted” official response so far to rising anti-semitic behaviour.

It follows complaints by Jewish students that they feel isolated or silenced after incidents at a growing number of universities that include Oxford, Cambridge, the London School of Economics and York.

In a letter to Zachary Confino, a Jewish law student at York University who received anonymous anti-semitic comments on social media ”” including the remark “Hitler was onto something” ”” Williams said he had been “very shocked” by what he had seen. “It is truly appalling stuff but sadly seems not to be that unusual at the moment,” he writes.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Independent) Oxbridge academics demand end to fossil fuel investment

More than 300 eminent academics at Oxford and Cambridge have signed a joint statement calling on the institutions to pursue more “morally sound” investment policies that have no basis in fossil fuels.

The signatories, who include the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams and the Astronomer Royal Lord Rees, say that Oxford and Cambridge should put their multibillion-pound endowment funds to better use in the light of “looming social, environmental, and financial pressures”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Stock Market, Theology

Robert Munday on the 2016 Primates Gathering–Anglican Communion Acts–18 Years Late

The most significant outcome of that first GAFCON meeting was the invitation extended to conservative Anglicans in North America to form an alternative province: the Anglican Church in North America. The rending of the Communion through the disobedience of Communion liberals had occurred, and the final steps envisioned in To Mend the Net–the suspension of communion and the establishment of a new, alternative province–had become a reality.

In retrospect, the tragedy of this history can more clearly be seen: the painful departure of thousands of North American Anglicans from their church homes, countless millions of dollars spent in litigation. All of this might have been avoided if the three Archbishops of Canterbury under whose watches all this has occurred had provided faithful, godly, unequivocal leadership.

But there is an even greater tragedy: “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? (1 Corinthians 14:8). Of the three great streams of apostolic Christianity–Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism–two stand unequivocally for historic Christian faith and morals. Only Anglicanism has equivocated at the highest level.
The churches of formerly mainline Protestantism have embraced the zeitgeist. Too many Anglican leaders have chosen the path of mainline Protestantism rather than biblical, apostolic, and catholic faithfulness. And damage has been done to countless souls through the ambiguous or downright immoral witness of these Anglican leaders and church bodies.

Many count it a sign of God’s grace that, in this week’s meeting of the primates in Canterbury, the GAFCON and Global South primates have finally taken an effective stand to restore godly order and discipline to the Anglican Communion. This is a first step–a baby step–that, though it goes in the right direction, does not go nearly far enough. Will this first step ultimately lead to the restoration of the Anglican Communion to historic Christian faith and morals? For that to happen a lot of hearts will have to be changed.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, --Justin Welby, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

ACNA Leader Bill Atwood on the 2016 Primates Gathering

Last week in Canterbury, though many people were amazed that there were finally some consequences for the Episcopal Church, others were disappointed that the consequences were not more stringent. Certainly, after all the years of flouting Scripture, there is ample reason to be disgusted. Certainly, as more than a dozen Provinces recognized, there was ample reason to eject TEC from the Communion. Unable to win the day on the resolution for ejection, they moved to other expressions of discipline, focusing narrowly on last summer’s TEC General Convention decision to change the marriage canon and prayer book to embrace same-sex marriage. The focus turned to what was essentially described as a failure to consult and a decision to move outside institutional norms. There should not be, however, concern about institutional norms and practice. The greatest offense is that the Episcopal Church is engaging in activities that lead people away from Christ eternally. In other words, the Episcopal Church, rather than being the Ark of Salvation, is the instrument bringing spiritual destruction to people it is literally leading away from Christ and into Hell. Although they are more strident than some other Provinces, there are others doing the same thing. Soon, the focus of discipline needs to be on them as well. Canada is a great place to start the next round!

This Primates’ “Gathering” in Canterbury was the first one to gather a majority of the Primates in years. The reason is that since the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam in 2007, a deadline was put to the Episcopal Church to return to Anglican faith and practice or “walk apart.” Sadly, following the meeting, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, unilaterally decided to overturn the hard-fought decision of the meeting and let the Episcopal Church completely off the hook. There is no way to describe gracefully what ABp Williams did. He simply unilaterally decided to declare that the deadline for conforming that had been given to TEC was “not a deadline.” Even worse, he invited errant TEC bishops to the 2008 Lambeth Bishops’ Conference, completely taking the teeth out of what the Primates had decided. From that point, it has not been possible to gather the majority of Primates because the Dar es Salaam decision had not been honored. Many Primates said that they would not attend until the Dar es Salaam decisions were implemented.
The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was able to get Primates to come by insuring them that they would have control of the agenda. That is an assurance that several of the Primates I spoke with believe was honored at this gathering. The Archbishops wanted to discuss TEC, and they got to. Sadly, the resolution to completely eject TEC from the Anglican Communion failed, but almost half the Provinces were willing to give them the boot. Though the ejection resolution failed to pass, it was obvious though that the vast majority of Provinces wanted to see TEC disciplined. After lively discussions, the sanctions that were put in place were overwhelmingly approved. I understand that the numbers were 27 voting for sanctions, 3 against, and 6 abstaining. ABp Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America refused a ballot on the TEC vote, saying that although he had been completely included in the meeting and all the other votes that took place while he was present, he did not think it was appropriate to vote on TEC, because the ACNA’s status has not yet been formalized.

Now the question is: Were the sanctions enough? The answer is another question: Enough for what? From a spiritual standpoint, both the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church (as well as several others) having pursued unbiblical activity without repentance deserve to be ejected from the Communion””at least until they repent and demonstrate suitable fruits of repentance. Is it enough that they have been denied voice and vote in some areas? I believe that it is extremely significant and sets the stage for more to happen with TEC and other Provinces.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Uganda Archbp Stanley Ntagili's Pastoral Message on Primates Gathering+Call to Election Prayer

The Primates Meeting in 2007 in Dar es Salaam laid out a plan to bring discipline and restore order, and was unanimously supported by all 38 Primates of the Anglican Communion. Sadly, the Archbishop of Canterbury later unilaterally overruled it and did not implement it. This further breach of trust deepened the tear in the fabric of the Anglican Communion.

As GAFCON Primates, we have since met with the current Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, and explained our position ”“ we are not in communion with the Episcopal Church USA or the Anglican Church of Canada (for similar reasons). We, therefore, cannot participate in meetings to which they are invited because that would mean there were no problems in the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion has, in fact, experienced a serious rupture and the wound is still deep.

Godly order has not yet been restored in the Anglican Communion and, therefore, as Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, I am constrained by the resolutions of our Provincial Assembly to not participate in a Primates Meeting.


At the same time, the Archbishop of Canterbury contacted me personally, along with every Primate of the Anglican Communion, and invited us to come together for a “gathering” to consider if there was a way forward for the Anglican Communion.

Together with the other GAFCON Primates, we have agreed to be part of a “gathering” of Primates in Canterbury to discuss the future of the Anglican Communion, keeping in mind Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

As GAFCON, we have a clear vision of the future of global Anglicanism and have been moving forward with that vision since Jerusalem in 2008. The Archbishop of Canterbury understands that the first topic of conversation in the “gathering” of Primates is the restoration of godly order in the Anglican Communion. This is the unfinished business from the non-implemented, but unanimously agreed, Communique from the 2007 Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Uganda, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(E Standard) Rowan Williams–Too many of us forget that religion is about peace and goodwill

…Fanaticism is real and nightmarish, and if we can’t tell the difference between sane and mad religion, we have lost a significant skill. Equally, if we treat one another as infants who can’t cope with actual disagreement about cultural and moral matters, we do no one any favours.

The happy result of the ban on the Lord’s Prayer advert has been, predictably, that an impressively large number of people have watched it online. It’s an ill wind. But the fact of the ban brings into focus one of the least sensible and helpful aspects of the way a lot of people today think about religion.

Such people forget what religion ”” specifically Christian religion ”” has made possible, despite its historical failures and scandals. And they nurse the dangerous illusion that the values of a majority (or rather the values of the feverish and prosperous minority who dictate what we have to watch before Spectre or Carol begins) are the right ones, never to be challenged.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(Telegraph) Rowan Williams: celebrity culture as damaging to future generations as pollution

Britain’s shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture could leave as toxic a legacy for future generations as the pollution of the planet, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams of Oystermouth has warned.

Today’s children are growing up in a culture with few if any real “heroes”, he said, while ideas of “nobility” and even “honour” are quietly disappearing.

The result could be as damaging to the nation’s “moral and imaginative ecology” as the destruction of the environment, he argued.

Britain is in danger of become a more “boring” and “mean-minded” place as a result, he added.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Theology

(New Statesman) Rowan Williams–Pope of the masses: is Francis really the people’s champion?

…this close contact both with poverty and with political terror has undoubtedly given Pope Francis a perspective on the Church and its government that is a good deal more impatient with bureaucratic proprieties than many Vatican insiders would like. Vallely describes this particularly well, making excellent use of many contacts at high levels, explaining the dysfunctional conduct of many of the central bodies in Rome and the mediocrity and incompetence of various very senior figures (he also rightly notes some of those who stood out against this depressing background, not least the Vatican’s head of interfaith relations, the shrewd, patient and generous Cardinal Tauran). It is difficult to know how fast one can expect reform to move in this context; and yet, despite the frustration expressed in some quarters, an outsider can only marvel at the speed with which Francis has moved to purge the most intractable.

[Paul] Vallely devotes a full and candid chapter to the continuing and heartbreaking business of dealing with clerical abuse, concluding that Francis has been slow to make it a priority as Pope, and that his record in this area as a diocesan bishop was at best average. Like practically all bishops who were in post before about the mid-1990s (this writer was one), he had little training and little awareness of the scale and depth of the problem. But he has now set up an effective, even aggressive body, with representation from survivors of abuse. It remains to be seen how it will change things, yet it is typical of the man that once he has identified a priority, he will look for measurable movement in a short timescale.

There will be many more books written about the present papacy, but these two provide first-rate and provide first-rate and complementary pictures. Both are profoundly sympathetic but not hagiographic. That itself is a tribute to the stature of a pope who is not afraid of challenge, and not afraid to confess and confront his failures. It shows Jesuit training in detachment, yes, no doubt. But also something more centrally and simply Christian; something about faith, hope and love.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Books, Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Looking Back) The Archbishop of Canterbury's 2010 Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion

Renewal in the Spirit

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost letter to the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion

1.

”˜They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak’ (Acts 2.4). At Pentecost, we celebrate the gift God gives us of being able to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ in the various languages of the whole human world. The Gospel is not the property of any one group, any one culture or history, but is what God intends for the salvation of all who will listen and respond.

St Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit is also what God gives us so that we can call God ”˜Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8.15, Gal. 4.6). The Spirit is given not only so that we can speak to the world about God but so that we can speak to God in the words of his own beloved Son. The Good News we share is not just a story about Jesus but the possibility of living in and through the life of Jesus and praying his prayer to the Father.

And so the Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of ”˜communion’ or fellowship (II Cor. 13.13). The Spirit allows us to recognise each other as part of the Body of Christ because we can hear in each other the voice of Jesus praying to the Father. We know, in the Spirit, that we who are baptised into Jesus Christ share one life; so that all the diversity of gifting and service in the Church can be seen as the work of one Spirit (I Cor. 12.4). In the Holy Eucharist, this unity in and through the self-offering of Jesus is reaffirmed and renewed as we pray for the Spirit to transform both the bread and wine and ”˜ourselves, our souls and bodies’.

When the Church is living by the Spirit, what the world will see is a community of people who joyfully and gratefully hear the prayer of Jesus being offered in each other’s words and lives, and are able to recognise the one Christ working through human diversity. And if the world sees this, the Church is a true sign of hope in a world of bitter conflict and rivalry.
2.

From the very first, as the New Testament makes plain, the Church has experienced division and internal hostilities. From the very first, the Church has had to repent of its failure to live fully in the light and truth of the Spirit. Jesus tells us in St John’s gospel that the Spirit of truth will ”˜prove the world wrong’ in respect of sin and righteousness and judgement (Jn 16.8). But if the Spirit is leading us all further into the truth, the Spirit will convict the Church too of its wrongness and lead it into repentance. And if the Church is a community where we serve each other in the name of Christ, it is a community where we can and should call each other to repentance in the name of Christ and his Spirit ”“ not to make the other feel inferior (because we all need to be called to repentance) but to remind them of the glory of Christ’s gift and the promise that we lose sight of when we fail in our common life as a Church.

Our Anglican fellowship continues to experience painful division, and the events of recent months have not brought us nearer to full reconciliation. There are still things being done that the representative bodies of the Communion have repeatedly pleaded should not be done; and this leads to recrimination, confusion and bitterness all round. It is clear that the official bodies of The Episcopal Church have felt in conscience that they cannot go along with what has been asked of them by others, and the consecration of Canon Mary Glasspool on May 15 has been a clear sign of this. And despite attempts to clarify the situation, activity across provincial boundaries still continues ”“ equally dictated by what people have felt they must in conscience do. Some provinces have within them dioceses that are committed to policies that neither the province as a whole nor the Communion has sanctioned. In several places, not only in North America, Anglicans have not hesitated to involve the law courts in settling disputes, often at great expense and at the cost of the Church’s good name.

All are agreed that the disputes arising around these matters threaten to distract us from our main calling as Christ’s Church. The recent Global South encounter in Singapore articulated a strong and welcome plea for the priority of mission in the Communion; and in my own message to that meeting I prayed for a ”˜new Pentecost’ for all of us. This is a good season of the year to pray earnestly for renewal in the Spirit, so that we may indeed do what God asks of us and let all people know that new and forgiven life in Christ is possible and that created men and women may by the Spirit’s power be given the amazing liberty to call God ”˜Abba, Father!’

It is my own passionate hope that our discussion of the Anglican Covenant in its entirety will help us focus on that priority; the Covenant is nothing if not a tool for mission. I want to stress yet again that the Covenant is not envisaged as an instrument of control. And this is perhaps a good place to clarify that the place given in the final text to the Standing Committee of the Communion introduces no novelty: the Committee is identical to the former Joint Standing Committee, fully answerable in all matters to the ACC and the Primates; nor is there any intention to prevent the Primates in the group from meeting separately. The reference to the Standing Committee reflected widespread unease about leaving certain processes only to the ACC or only to the Primates.

But we are constantly reminded that the priorities of mission are experienced differently in different places, and that trying to communicate the Gospel in the diverse tongues of human beings can itself lead to misunderstandings and failures of communication between Christians. The sobering truth is that often our attempts to share the Gospel effectively in our own setting can create problems for those in other settings.

3.

We are at a point in our common life where broken communications and fragile relationships have created a very mistrustful climate. This is not news. But many have a sense that the current risks are greater than ever. Although attitudes to human sexuality have been the presenting cause, I want to underline the fact that what has precipitated the current problem is not simply this issue but the widespread bewilderment and often hurt in different quarters that we have no way of making decisions together so that we are not compromised or undermined by what others are doing. We have not, in other words, found a way of shaping our consciences and convictions as a worldwide body. We have not fully received the Pentecostal gift of mutual understanding for common mission.

It may be said ”“ quite understandably, in one way ”“ that our societies and their assumptions are so diverse that we shall never be able to do this. Yet we are called to seek for mutual harmony and common purpose, and not to lose heart. If the truth of Christ is indeed ultimately one as we all believe, there should be a path of mutual respect and thankfulness that will hold us in union and help us grow in that truth.

Yet at the moment we face a dilemma. To maintain outward unity at a formal level while we are convinced that the divisions are not only deep but damaging to our local mission is not a good thing. Neither is it a good thing to break away from each other so dramatically that we no longer see Christ in each other and risk trying to create a church of the ”˜perfect’ ”“ people like us. It is significant that there are still very many in The Episcopal Church, bishops, clergy and faithful, who want to be aligned with the Communion’s general commitments and directions, such as those who identify as ”˜Communion Partners’, who disagree strongly with recent decisions, yet want to remain in visible fellowship within TEC so far as they can. And, as has often been pointed out, there are things that Anglicans across the world need and want to do together for the care of God’s poor and vulnerable that can and do go on even when division over doctrine or discipline is sharp.

4.

More and more, Anglicans are aware of living through a time of substantial transition, a time when the structures that have served us need reviewing and refreshing, perhaps radical changing, when the voice and witness in the Communion of Christians from the developing world is more articulate and creative than ever, and when the rapidity of social change in ”˜developed’ nations leaves even some of the most faithful and traditional Christian communities uncertain where to draw the boundaries in controversial matters ”“ not only sexuality but issues of bioethics, for example, or the complexities of morality in the financial world.

A time of transition, by definition, does not allow quick solutions to such questions, and it is a time when, ideally, we need more than ever to stay in conversation. As I have said many times before, whatever happens to our structures, we still need to preserve both working relationships and places for exchange and discussion. New vehicles for conversations across these boundaries are being developed with much energy.

But some decisions cannot be avoided. We began by thinking about Pentecost and the diverse peoples of the earth finding a common voice, recognising that each was speaking a truth recognised by all. However, when some part of that fellowship speaks in ways that others find hard to recognise, and that point in a significantly different direction from what others are saying, we cannot pretend there is no problem.

And when a province through its formal decision-making bodies or its House of Bishops as a body declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard (as noted in my letter to the Communion last year after the General Convention of TEC) to see how members of that province can be placed in positions where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole. This affects both our ecumenical dialogues, where our partners (as they often say to us) need to know who it is they are talking to, and our internal faith-and-order related groups.

I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces ”“ provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) ”“ should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members. This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice. It does not alter what has been said earlier by the Primates’ Meeting about the nature of the moratoria: the request for restraint does not necessarily imply that the issues involved are of equal weight but recognises that they are ”˜central factors placing strains on our common life’, in the words of the Primates in 2007. Particular provinces will be contacted about the outworking of this in the near future.

I am aware that other bodies have responsibilities in questions concerned with faith and order, notably the Primates’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Standing Committee. The latter two are governed by constitutional provisions which cannot be overturned by any one person’s decision alone, and there will have to be further consultation as to how they are affected. I shall be inviting the views of all members of the Primates’ Meeting on the handling of these matters with a view to the agenda of the next scheduled meeting in January 2011.

5.

In our dealings with other Christian communions, we do not seek to deny our diversity; but there is an obvious problem in putting forward representatives of the Communion who are consciously at odds with what the Communion has formally requested or stipulated. This does not seem fair to them or to our partners. In our dealings with each other, we need to be clear that conscientious decisions may be taken in good faith, even for what are held to be good theological or missional reasons, and yet have a cost when they move away from what is recognisable and acceptable within the Communion. Thus ”“ to take a very different kind of example ”“ there have been and there are Anglicans who have a strong conscientious objection to infant baptism. Their views deserve attention, respect and careful study, they should be engaged in serious dialogue ”“ but it would be eccentric to place such people in a position where their view was implicitly acknowledged as one of a range of equally acceptable convictions, all of which could be taken as representatively Anglican.

Yet no-one should be celebrating such public recognition of divisions and everyone should be reflecting on how to rebuild relations and to move towards a more coherent Anglican identity (which does not mean an Anglican identity with no diversity, a point once again well made by the statement from the Singapore meeting). Some complain that we are condemned to endless meetings that achieve nothing. I believe that in fact we have too few meetings that allow proper mutual exploration. It may well be that such encounters need to take place in a completely different atmosphere from the official meetings of the Communion’s representative bodies, and this needs some imaginative thought and planning. Much work is already going into making this more possible.

But if we do conclude that some public marks of ”˜distance’, as the Windsor Continuation Group put it, are unavoidable if our Communion bodies are not to be stripped of credibility and effectiveness, the least Christian thing we can do is to think that this absolves us from prayer and care for each other, or continuing efforts to make sense of each other.

We are praying for a new Pentecost for our Communion. That means above all a vast deepening of our capacity to receive the gift of being adopted sons and daughters of the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It means a deepened capacity to speak of Jesus Christ in the language of our context so that we are heard and the Gospel is made compelling and credible. And it also means a deepened capacity to love and nourish each other within Christ’s Body ”“ especially to love and nourish, as well as to challenge, those whom Christ has given us as neighbours with whom we are in deep and painful dispute.

One remarkable symbol of promise for our Communion is the generous gift received by the Diocese of Jerusalem from His Majesty the King of Jordan, who has provided a site on the banks of the Jordan River, at the traditional site of Our Lord’s Baptism, for the construction of an Anglican church. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of blessing the foundation stone of this church and viewing the plans for its design. It will be a worthy witness at this historic site to the Anglican tradition, a sign of real hope for the long-suffering Christians of the region, and something around which the Communion should gather as a focus of common commitment in Christ and his Spirit. I hope that many in the Communion will give generous support to the project.

”˜We have the mind of Christ’ says St Paul (I Cor. 2.16); and, as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has recently written, this means that we must have a ”˜kenotic’, a self-emptying approach to each other in the Church. May the Spirit create this in us daily and lead us into that wholeness of truth which is only to be found in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.

I wish you all God’s richest blessing at this season.

+Rowan Cantuar:
Lambeth Palace
Pentecost 2010

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Theology