Archbishop Rowan Williams' Advent letter to Anglican Primates

In spite of many assurances, some Anglicans evidently still think that the Covenant changes the structure of our Communion or that it gives some sort of absolute power of ”˜excommunication’ to some undemocratic or unrepresentative body. With all respect to those who have raised these concerns, I must repeat that I do not see the Covenant in this light at all. It sets out an understanding of our common life and common faith and in the light of that proposes making a mutual promise to consult and attend to each other, freely undertaken. It recognizes that not doing this damages our relations profoundly. It outlines a procedure, such as we urgently need, for attempting reconciliation and for indicating the sorts of consequences that might result from a failure to be fully reconciled. It alters no Province’s constitution, as it has no canonical force independent of the life of the Provinces. It does not create some unaccountable and remote new authority but seeks to identify a representative group that might exercise a crucial advisory function. I continue to ask what alternatives there are if we want to agree on ways of limiting damage, managing conflict and facing with honesty the actual effects of greater disunity. In the absence of such alternatives, I must continue to commend the Covenant as strongly as I can to all who are considering its future.

These questions are made all the more sharp by the fact that the repeated requests for moratoria on problematic actions issued by various representative Anglican bodies are increasingly ignored. Strong conscientious convictions are involved here. No-one, I believe, acts out of a desire to deepen disunity; some believe that certain matters are more important than what they think of as a superficial unity. But the effects are often to deepen mutual mistrust, and this must surely be bad for our mission together as Anglicans, and alongside other Christians as well. The question remains: if the moratoria are ignored and the Covenant suspected, what are the means by which we maintain some theological coherence as a Communion and some personal respect and understanding as a fellowship of people seeking to serve Christ? And we should bear in mind that our coherence as a Communion is also a significant concern in relation to other Christian bodies ”“ especially at a moment when the renewed dialogues with Roman Catholics and Orthodox have begun with great enthusiasm and a very constructive spirit.

Read it all (my emphasis).

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

12 comments on “Archbishop Rowan Williams' Advent letter to Anglican Primates

  1. Br. Michael says:

    Words fail. The ABC has done more than anyone to create this situation. The man simply has no shame.

  2. tjmcmahon says:

    “In spite of many assurances….”

    He assured us in the press conference after Dar, that a Primates Council to oversee traditional parishes and dioceses in North America in a matter of weeks. (Dar press conference)

    He assured us that TEC and ACoC representatives would be removed from committees that dealt with faith and order and ecumenical relations. (Pentacost message last year)

    He assured us that those who were in open violation of moratoria would not get invitations to Lambeth. (a few months before sending out invitations to consecrators of VGR, Ingham, the bishops openly practicing communion of the unbaptized, bishops allowing gay marriage, etc.)

    So why on earth would anyone take seriously any assurance from Rowan Williams on the purposes of the Covenant? Particularly when the committee responsible for its implementation and compliance is STILL dominated by KJS and Ian Douglas? (Who he assured us he would remove, since, lets face it, the Standing Committee is all about the faith and order of the Communion).

  3. David Wilson says:

    All that is missing is a strongly worded response commending sections 7 and 8 from the ACI

  4. francis says:

    Kind of invalidates the entire letter. The rest are sound bites.

  5. nwlayman says:

    He is more than delusional if he really thinks talks with Catholics and Orthodox are bearing fruit! When the Orthodox Church in America recently had their All American Council in Seattle, there was one ecumenical guest invited — the local ACNA bishop. Not the PECUSA one.

  6. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    In a word, lame. He’s just a bystander as the world happens to him?

    And, in essence, “enforcing moratoria” would “deepen mistrust”? What, just like thieves are offended by laws that either prevent them from stealing or punish them if they do? What a shame…

    I guess it also does not occur to him that, as chief theologian, the AB of C has the most power to reduce “theological incoherence”. But, it’s real hard to do that when you say one thing and then do another, and/or scuttle all or most of ACI’s hard work on the Covenant. “Oops, what a mess in Jamaica”…this man is not that stupid, and he has no shame. And frankly, I also find him insulting to my own mild intelligence. Give it up–we see this for what it is; my spouse likes to call it “intentional bungling”.

    Sorry, gotta run off and discipline my kids. Do you think they’ll be offended, or I will deepen their mistrust of me?!! :-/ I’ll make a note, or assume the tongue-in-cheek military posture–“permission granted not to like it”…

  7. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    As other commenters make the point, he hasn’t dealt with the issues, and in particular the overarching Standing Committee he created stuffed full of TEC and their friends, and is just seen to be devoting all his energies and a large chunk of our and TEC’s money to undermining the Global South Primates and entrenching TEC wherever he can including scampering round Africa as he said he would after the Dublin fiasco which he spins so incredibly.

    He just isn’t trusted, by anyone, and until he deals with the issues, I can’t see that changing, notwithstanding a considerable propaganda effort, and some pretty unprincipled conduct at St Andrew’s House and Lambeth Palace. He has used up such goodwill as his office had, and his machinations like trying to undermine the GS Primates just get peoples’ backs up. He has let his supporters down and left the Communion Partners to hang. There is even a report which I hope is not true that he has been assisting Bishop Ingham in finding a rector for St John’s Shaughnessy – I hope even he would not be so feckless, unprincipled and treacherous, but well, he has an unerring ability to always do the wrong thing. On balance, his recent efforts and influence on the Communion are seen as more malign rather than benign.

    I suspect only his successor will have any prospect of rebuilding the former credibility of his office, and even that is doubtful given recent English diocesan appointments.

  8. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    His deafening silence over Bishop Lawrence was also notable, although he and the Archbishop of York invited one of KJS’s sidekicks to our last General Synod and was recently pictured grinning foolishly at Bishop Ingham at Lambeth Palace. These things are noted. You are judged by the company you keep and your actions. Why would anyone trust a word you say?

  9. New Reformation Advocate says:

    I agree with everyone above. Many things could be said about this letter, but hardly anything good.

    So you have to wonder, for whom is this blast of hot air intended? Who cares and pays attention to what ++RW says anymore?? Granted, it is far better than anything that the PB would say in an Advent letter, but that is damning with faint praise.

    In this holy season of Advent, we are reminded that when Christ comes again, in glory, it will be as Judge, and we will all have to render account for our deeds and our stewardship of the gifts and ministries we’ve been entrusted with. Well, when that long-awaited great and glorious day of the Lord’s return comes, I sure wouldn’t want to be in ++RW’s shoes.

    Ezekiel 34, among other scriptures, has some very scary things to say about false or irresponsible shepherds who scatter the sheep and who fail to feed and protect them. Now I certainly have enough pastoral sins of my own in that department, but I still shudder to think of standing in ++RW’s place and facing the Head of the Church at his second coming.

    The most charitable thing I can think of to say about this latest attempt by ++RW at spinning things as positively as possible is that he is clearly still stuck in denial and playing his old games. Less charitably, those games amount to dithering, delaying, obstructing conservative attempts to resolve the crisis, and then shamelessly denying all responsibility for doing those very things.

    I hope the ABoC does indeed retire next year from his lofty office that he has defiled and disgraced and that he does go back to academia, as widely rumored. He should’ve done it long ago. Alas, the severe damage he’s inflicted on that office and on the whole Communion will continue long after he departs, whenever that may be.

    David Handy+

  10. Ross says:

    Just out of curiosity, is anyone other than Rowan Williams and the ACI particularly interested in the Covenant at this point?

    TEC and the other reappraising provinces have made their course clear: they’re going to continue doing what they see as right regardless of what the rest of the Communion thinks. The reasserting Global South provinces, and those aligned with them, have made their course equally clear: they aren’t going to depart the Communion, but they’re going to ignore its instruments in favor of their own councils amongst themselves. Most everyone else is tired of the matter and would just as soon let it go.

    So whom, of all these people, does the Covenant serve? Nobody.

  11. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    I imagine it won’t get interesting again until the next Lambeth Conference, at which time a new AB of C will have to deal with the issues of provinces that have departed from the teachings of the Faith, and a fractured Communion.