CEN: Archbishop’s Letter Angers Liberals

The Diocese, not the national church or province, is the primary ecclesial entity within the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury has stated in a letter written to an American bishop.

Dr. Williams’ elucidation of his views on the ecclesiology of the Communion has sparked outrage from liberals in the US, who have condemned the letter as undermining the special “polity” of the Episcopal Church. The letter has also prompted conservatives to rethink plans for secession, as the letter shifts the political dynamic within the American church by undermining the importance of left’s long march through the Church’s central administrative apparatus.

However a spokesman for Dr. Williams told The Church of England Newspaper the letter was not an ex cathedra statement but a pastoral response to a particular local situation that broke no new ground.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Theology

17 comments on “CEN: Archbishop’s Letter Angers Liberals

  1. Abu Daoud says:

    I agree with the ABC actually. Ultimately, the Bible does speak of the office of the bishop, though even that with little detail. Our custom of organizing episcopal sees along national boundaries is simply polity and nothing more, it is for the sake of convenience and exists for the sake of the church. Whereas the office of bishop is part of God’s explicit command for the ordering of our life together. Williams has this right.

  2. robroy says:

    No, Williams has it wrong.

    Teacher – “Class, let’s close our eyes and pretend. Johnny, what are you pretending?”
    Johnny – “I’m pretending I am a dragon!”
    Teacher – “Rowan, what are you pretending?”
    Rowan – “I am pretending that that the bishop and diocese are the locus of ecclesiastical authority in the Anglican church.”

  3. evan miller says:

    Why do you say the ABDC is incorrect in this instance? I agree completely with what he wrote about the role of the diocese and the bishop. As Abu Daoud wrote, “Williams is right.”

  4. ReinertJ says:

    robroy, and how has he got it wrong? have you ever tried to tell a diocesan bishop what he can or cannot do? The locus within the Anglican church has always been on the diocese, true, dioceses are organised into provinces and in most cases a national church. However, the diocese is paramount and can give and withdraw consent to any canon or statute passed by the province.
    Jon R

  5. ReinertJ says:

    Further to the above, it is from my bishop I receive my license, not from the province. If I move into another diocese I cannot act as a priest without permission from the diocesan bishop. The provincial does not have authority to license me, and the only diocese Rowan can license me in is Canterbury.
    Jon R

  6. Br. Michael says:

    [blockquote] However a spokesman for Dr. Williams told The Church of England Newspaper the letter was not an ex cathedra statement but a pastoral response to a particular local situation that broke no new ground.[/blockquote]
    The orthodox are fools to rely on this as providing any relief from a revisionist diocese or bishop or an institutionalist like Howe. This offers no real aid in Howe’s diocese.

  7. Neal in Dallas says:

    Consider this: When a foreign Anglican bishop wants to perform an episcopal function in TEC to whom does he go for permission? To the Presiding Bishop? No. To the local diocesan bishop? Yes (the ‘local incursions’ notwithstanding).

    Also, the Preamble to the EC’s Constitution–there’s that darn Preamble again) seems to make ‘in communion with the See of Canterbury’ the ynchpin of what it means for those of us in TEC to be able to claim the right to be considered ‘Anglican.’ Who makes that determination? Certainly no we Americans. I think that privilege resides with the Archbishop of Canterbury (That is, with the one doing the designating, not with the one being designated).

    Is that a good thing? People of good will can disagree. But, ‘it is what it is.’ We are a Communion of relationships (does ‘autonomy in community’ sound familiar to anyone?). It is not a hierarchical set of relationships, it is more like a bicycle wheel of relationships, all emanating from Canterbury.

    Has +Rowan made some strategic missteps? I would say ‘yes.’ Might he have done a better job clarifying things along the way and holding the Communion to greater accountability? Indeed. He has done several things I wish he had not done and done several things
    I wish he had left undone, but to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury does not understand Anglicanism simply won’t wash.

  8. William P. Sulik says:

    [blockquote] outrage from liberals in the US, who have condemned the letter as undermining the special “polity” of the Episcopal Church. [/blockquote]

    I still find the “liberals in the US” especially amusing when they claim that TEC is a congregationalist church when it comes to Same Sex Blessings, but is a national hierarchical church when it comes to 815 having dominion over the kneelers in a local congregation.

  9. Sue Martinez says:

    No wonder the liberals are outraged! This means that 815 and David Booth Beers has no business joining in suits against departed congregations. I doubt that the ABC’s pronouncement on where authority resides will make them hit their foreheads and say, “Oh, we didn’t understand that. So sorry! We’re dropping the lawsuits.” In reality, where would the dioceses get the money to pursue the suits? (And has anybody at 815 opened the books yet to show where [i] it’s[/i] getting the money?)

  10. Cennydd says:

    For once, I have to agree with the Archbishop. TEC doesn’t like this and they raise hell about it? Fine! They get a burr under their saddle and get upset with him because for once he goes against them? Good! Let ’em…..for all the good it’ll do ’em!

  11. Will B says:

    We now know from the ABC’s statement and the reactions to it (left and right, reasserter and reappraiser, catholic and protestant, those on meds and those who’ve switched to decaff!) that TEC really stands for “The Episcopal Chameleon”. You can have ti your way: the local Bp and diocese are the locus of the church, or if it suits your fancy, the province is. If you happen to “like” the PB ( let the reader understand, “agree with”) then the PB is our “Primate”: if you think the PB only wears a miter to cover the point, the “PB” is a useless figurehead whose only job is to preside over the General Convention. Yes, Anglicanism is the duck-billed platypus of Christiantiy and Episcopalians have long held “Alice in Wonderland” (“words mean whatever I want them to mean”) to be canonical!

  12. Id rather not say says:

    It is worth pondering, in the connection, that unlike (I think) any other Anglican province, the Presiding Bishop of TEC has no diocese.

  13. robroy says:

    How about David Booth Beers threatening to sue those dioceses that change their constitutions and those changes will be ruled null and void?

  14. Irenaeus says:

    Oh, how different autonomy looks when the shoe is on the other foot!

    Just as derelict ships fly “flags of convenience,” ECUSA’s revisionist rulers embrace their very own Polity of Convenience.

    They acknowledge no accountability to the rest of the Anglican Communion. Yet they claim essentially unconstrained power over dioceses now in ECUSA (i.e., power constrained only by their own interpretations of ECUSA’s own rules). How convenient—and how devoid of scriptural and apostolic principle.

  15. robroy says:

    Don’t worry liberals. The ABC’s letter (with the clarification by the ACO) won’t interfere one bit with your vile lawsuits.

  16. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Well, now, what’s the matter with a little “ex cathedra” pronunciations every now and then. We get all the time from bishops of Dioceses in the ECUSA/TEC – subject to approval of ????? This is the bishop of Canterbury, right? According to ECUSA/TEC polity and the express statement of the HOB we cast off his yoke, o, way back in 1776. Didn’t we? Or was that in 2003?

  17. Juandeveras says:

    The diocese of Maine has voted to denounce the Crown’s originating
    charter to colonize America 496 years ago. If the rest of the dioceses concur, then maybe Beers would be forced to give 815, the 30 blocks of Manhatten TEC owns and all it was meant to give the colonists back to the Queen, with interest, and we could start over without them.