Skip to comments.A Sort of Bold Lambeth Prediction
Posted on 03/08/2006 7:04:51 PM PST by sionnsar
There have been several interesting developments in the Anglican world over the last two weeks. First, the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) in an interview following his trip to Brazil sounded a pessimistic, almost despairing, note regarding the future of communion.
if there is rupture, its going to be a more visible rupture, its not just going to settle down quietly into being a federation. And, I suppose my anxiety about it is that if the Communion is broken we may be left with even less than a federation.
As Ive argued before, the ABC understands the core issues from both the revisionist and orthodox perspective. That makes him unique among those who share his personal desire to move the communion in a more leftward direction with regard to human sexuality and it gives him deep insight into the irreconcilable nature of the conflict. That insight matched with his institutional role as Communion head positions him to see/know a great deal more about the inner workings of both parties than almost anyone else.
His despair then is telling. Previously revisionists, especially in America, have pushed hard for a loose federal model rather than the more accountable Communion model advocated by the orthodox. But the ABC apparently believes that even the federal model is likely unworkable.
Add to the ABCs words, those of bishop Paterson, former chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, during his rather pathetic apology to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church. Bishop Paterson said the following:
"A lot depends on who is invited, Bishop John Paterson of Auckland, New Zealand, told the International Committee of the Episcopal Churchs Executive Council. If the bishop of New Hampshire is invited, weve been told many bishops will not come. If hes not invited, how many of you will come? How many of us will come?"
Some have wondered at +Patersons suggestion that the institutional crisis hinges on an invitation (or lack thereof) of VGR to Lambeth08. The issue is not just VGRs invitation after all but all of ECUSAs?
Yes, but I wouldn't read too much into +Patersons words. Hes simply pronouncing the way things stand at the moment and the way they will stand IF the Episcopal Church chooses to comply with the Windsor Report at General Convention in June. If ECUSA (as most expect) rejects Windsor, then invitations to all American bishops will be called into question.
But as things stand now, +Paterson (and, in fact, the ABC see his words last month with regard to Lambeth Conference planning) is bound by politically necessity to articulate an expectation that ECUSA will comply.
But neither the ABC (as evidenced by his words above) nor +Paterson seriously expect such an outcome.
That more pessimistic outlook, I believe, is also what underlies +Patersons remarks with regard to VGR. If he (or ECUSA bishops given non-compliance at GC2006) is invited then the majority of the Communion bishops will not show. If he is not invited, then the majority of North American bishops along with the more liberal western bishops including +Peterson himself will not show. Either way, the Communion suffers some sort of split in 2008.
Hence the pessimism/despair.
The good news, the wonderful news, is that the ABC is not laboring under the delusion that some form of federation will fix the problem.
This, in my opinion, means that he will make a real decision, knowing the consequences either way, when it comes to issuing invitations.
He knows that an invitation to recalcitrant N. American bishops will mean the loss of 50 million Anglicans. And, likewise, he knows that the absence of such an invitation will mean the loss of North America and some in the west.
My prayer is that the ABC, devoted as he is to Communion and conciliar process, will recognize which option would be most disastrous to both his loves. If several western provinces and all of North America were to cut themselves off from Canterbury, the Communion and the conciliar process envisioned in Windsor would survive intact and with integrity, though much poorer financially speaking.
If the entire global south and those allied to them were to set up a rival body, the conciliar process and the Communion he loves will have lost its identity and integrity, both having been destroyed by the selfish, unilateral decisions of two tiny and dying provinces.
If I were a betting man (and Im not) Id put my money on the Archbishop remaining true to his principles. I do not believe he will invite a noncompliant N. America to Lambeth for the sake of good order and Communion; the two things he loves.
A decision with such monumental consequences would not be announced without first being approved by Queen Elizabeth II and/or Prime Minister Tony Blair.
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