June 30, 2008

Fine Words from Rowan

The Archbishop of Canterbury has responded to the GAFCON statement with one of his own, and a fine and sane one it is. He rightly notes that most of the bugaboo issues (such as the denial of Christ) raised by the GAFCONites are not in fact widespread among the Communion's members. He also singles out some of the very real practical problems with the intrusion of foreign bishops upon other provinces' territory, and the danger of self-styled and self-selected Primatial conventicles passing themselves off as legitimate voices for the Communion.

So a hearty "Hear, hear" for the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Tobias Haller BSG

11 comments:

Bryan Owen said...

I agree that these are fine words from Rowan Williams. But I also think they may be too little too late. The final GAFCON statement is a direct challenge to the authority and perhaps even the legitimacy of Canterbury. Will Rowan exercise the leadership necessary to counter that move, or will he let the opportunity pass? The more opportunities pass, the more he unwittingly gives the impression that Canterbury is, indeed, not all that important.

The Anglican Scotist said...

Overall an impressive performance from Rowan: firm, yet showing enough restraint that our errant comrades may yet find their way back into the fold without suffering due humiliation.

Tobias Haller said...

Bryan,
I don't think there is much Rowan can, or is inclined, to do to stop the GAFCON juggernaut. They will, in the long run, do as they please. But remember that he said earlier that absence from Lambeth would be telling. I think his posture at this point will be to let those walk apart who want to walk apart.

Tobias Haller said...

AS, I think this is pitched towards the more centrist of the GAFCONites, and will likely prove the wedge between them and the more extremist. I don't think the bulk of the GS are really interested in a non-Canterbury Anglican Communion.

Bryan Owen said...

Good points, Tobias. However, the GAFCON final statement says that they have no intention of "walking apart." Hence Rowan's concerns about the problems that would arise by "overlapping and competing jurisdictions." But could be right about a wedge between the centrists and those further to the right.

It's interesting to compare and contrast Rowan's initial statement with our Presiding Bishop's response. I think that the PB's response is far more muscular, especially when she cites the alleged "desire of a few leaders to narrow the influence of the gospel." Ouch!

Tobias Haller said...

Bryan,
Amen on the PB. To the point!

As to what GAFCON said about walking apart, I think part of the problem is that from the beginning they've actually used the language of walking apart ("Can two walk together unless they be agreed?") but are in denial about it, since they see themselves as the righteous who are staying put, while all else crumbles around them. So they may not use the language here, but on the ground the effect will be schism, eventually, as I don't think the rest of the Communion will put up with this overlapping jurisdiction approach. I think in fact we're simply seeing the creation of a new, but somewhat larger and more internationally based, splinter group. A parlous choice for the future, methinks.

Grandmère Mimi said...

What about the words that precede the clearing of the weeds? The "wait for one another" is worrisome to me.

I have in the past quoted to some in the Communion who would call themselves radical the words of the Apostle in I Cor.11.33: ‘wait for one another’. I would say the same to those in whose name this statement has been issued. An impatience at all costs to clear the Lord’s field of the weeds that may appear among the shoots of true life (Matt.13.29) will put at risk our clarity and effectiveness in communicating just those evangelical and catholic truths which the GAFCON statement presents.

Tobias Haller said...

Mimi, I think this is a call for patience and forbearance -- and it cuts both ways. We in the West do need to be more insistent that the Listening Process actually take place, and also that we are careful to listen to voices we may not pay full attention to. There is an old saying about honey and vinegar, and I think that is true. Patience need not mean inaction.

Of course, if this becomes a case of justice deferred is justice denied, then we're talking another whole bowl of sweet and sour...

Northern Soul said...

I think Rowan has shown a great deal of patience and forbearance.

I wonder how Carey would have reacted to a direct challenge to his authority?

JayV said...

Good post, haven't visited In a Godward direction. ABC is way too wishy-washy for me. The person with guts is our wonderful PB. I wish I were filled with her graciousness and patience! As my PB, she grows in stature each day!

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks JayV. I too applaud our own PB, who speaks clearly and without the kind of diplomatese that Rowan seems to be forced to adopt sometimes.

Still, For all of the comments about our PB's use of "emission" (have they nothing better to do than nitpick) people seem to have missed (or want to dowplay) the pointed language in Rowan's response:

"all who care as deeply as the authors of the statement say they do about the future of Anglicanism..."

If that, and the sidelong swipes at the "scandalous behavior" of some of the new Global South Export bishops, a self-appointed council that "will not pass the test of legitimacy" (i.e., illegitimate), and the whole thing being "fraught with difficulties" and an attempt at mere "reversal of power" -- well, if these are not an intentional put-down and heads-up I don't know my British Diplomatic English.

No mistake about it, the Cantuarial Gauntlets are off.