Fort Worth welcomes Archbishop’s view on dioceses

We welcome the comments from the Archbishop of Canterbury, contained in a recent letter to the Bishop of Central Florida, where he reminds us that “the organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such,” calling this a “basic conviction of Catholic theology.” He goes on to say:

“I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who are most eloquent for a traditionalist view in the United States showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the ‘national church’.”

Given the current atmosphere and controversies in the life of the Anglican Communion, it is helpful to be reminded that dioceses, not provincial structures, are the basic unit of the catholic church. As is stated in the clarifying note issued by Lambeth Palace on Oct. 23, “The diocese is more than a ”˜local branch’ of a national organization.” Clearly, provincial alignments are intended for the benefit of the dioceses, and not the reverse.

It is indeed painful when a number of faithful congregations, striving to discern God’s will in these days of controversy and seeking to remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ, arrive at a moment of conviction that compels them to separate from their bishop and diocese. It is also difficult for a faithful diocese to reach the collective decision to separate from its national province. Such congregations and dioceses, however, now feel compelled to take definitive actions to secure their future and to guard the orthodoxy of their faith communities in the decades to come. Affiliation with a heterodox province hampers their mission and witness, just as affiliation with an orthodox province enhances and strengthens it.

As the realignment of the Anglican Communion continues to unfold and take shape in the months ahead, we pray for the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit for all those who seek truth and unity in Jesus Christ, and we urge that such separations as must take place may be accomplished without rancor and litigation.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker The Very Rev. Ryan Reed
Bishop of Fort Worth President, Standing Committee

Posted in Uncategorized

7 comments on “Fort Worth welcomes Archbishop’s view on dioceses

  1. Br_er Rabbit says:

    It has been said elsewhere, but David Booth Beers is determined to convince you that his organ of the church is more than an “abstract reality.”

  2. AnglicanFirst says:

    If we accept +++Rowan’s statement regarding the primacy of the bishop and his see as the basic building (LEGO) block of an episcopally governed world-wide synod of Anglican ‘church order’ and a national church to be a geo-political demographic ‘abstraction’ within that synod, then we may really be talking about an eccelesiacal governance of the Anglican portion of the Body of Christ that transcends ECUSA.

    In fact, one that statistically implies, in synodic governance, that ECUSA is canonically an abstraction, set apart from the synodic governance of all of the diocesan bishops of the Anglican Communion.

    Also implied is that a ‘national church’ cannot, on its own, make radical changes in Scriptural ‘reading,’ cannot radically change doctrine in a revolutionary and unilateral manner and cannot, then, seek to impose its own ‘national’ will on the rest of the Anglican Communion.

  3. Faithful and Committed says:

    At the same time, if national churches are an abstraction so described, so too are primates who represent national churches. As one described on this board as a “reappraiser”, I rather like this notion. I would much prefer to think of how my local bishop is in communion with Canterbury.

  4. Henry Greville says:

    Given a diocesan bishop convinced that ECUSA’s “progressive” movement is rightly prophetic as well as rightly pastoral for ECUSA’s “cultural context,” what are parish clergy and congregations to do if they believe, in opposition to their bishop, that re-asserting the tradition of historic revelation is what is rightly prophetic and rightly pastoral for their cultural context?

  5. AnglicanFirst says:

    Henry Greville (#4) said
    “…what are parish clergy and congregations to do if they believe, in opposition to their bishop,….”

    Well, didn’t the early church develop statements of canon to deal with heretical bishops? And weren’t they dealt with?

  6. Stuart Smith says:

    Though the ABC dances the dance of applying and interpreting his own words, at the very least his reminder on the organic reality of a diocese versus the more esoteric claims of a national church (“province”) are helpful. Until the later part of the 20th century, an American notion of a “national” church was non-existent, except as the confederation of all dioceses gathering periodically to consider missionary work and rejoice in one another’s fellowship, with the longest-serving bishop acting as “the Presiding Bishop”.
    New pretensions of a national church, with a “primate”…not just a PB…with jurisdiction (brokered in via the now-notorious Dennis Canon) over every soul and stick & stone now bedevil the AC.

  7. Harvey says:

    #5 Oh have you got that right!!