Skip to comments.Pending Doom?
Posted on 03/24/2006 5:27:55 PM PST by sionnsar
There will be a meeting of some sort on April 24th between the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) and the following people/organizations:
Bishop Langrish and fellow bishops N.T. Wright of Durham, Michael Nazi-Ali of Rochester, Michael Scott-Joynt of Winchester, Graham James of Norwich, Nigel McCullough of Manchester and Michael Hill of Bristol in which the Archbishop invited them to review options and scenarios for the post-General Convention period in the Anglican Communion the Very Rev. John Moses, Dean of St. Pauls Cathedral and the Church of Englands clergy representative to the Anglican Consultative Council to the meeting along with representatives of the Church of Englands mission societies and the group Anglican Mainstream. (The Living Church)
There are some interesting (to say the least) names on this list--very orthodox names: the Anglican Mainstream, the various CofE mission societies (which are almost uniformly orthodox and many have close ties to the global south), and well known orthodox bishops NT Wright and Michael Nazi-Ai.
I dont know much about bishop Langrish but according to the Living Church (linked above), as the ABCs representative to the recent HOB meeting he said this:
Whatever the future holds, the many friendships made this week will, I am sure, go on. If we find ways of continuing and deepening our journey together the joy will be all the sweeter. And if, God forbid, that is not to be, then the tears will be more bitter and the sorrow so much deeper, too.
Sounds a lot like what more than a few girlfriends told me just before I got canned. The bishops words are friendly, but clear. If the bishops do not comply with Windsor in June then we can still be friends.
There are likely also some revisionist names on the invitation list but I dont recognize them. The Church of England representatives to the ACC almost certainly qualify as revisionist.
On the other hand, their presence might be explained by this tidbit from Ruth Gledhill (linked above):
...work is going on to examine the ACC constitution for a way forward. The constitution is framed to allow new members to be elected into the Anglican Communion but there is no mechanism for expelling anyone or inviting them to leave
If accurate, the ACC representatives have likely been called by the ABC help rectify this constitutional dilemma.
This meeting is not just a juicy rumor, Ruth Gledhill has the actual invitation. Here is her brief summary of its contents:
In his letter of invitation, leaked to me, Dr Williams' head of staff Chris Smith says the roundtable discussion concerns the 'next critical months' in the life of the Anglican Communion. 'This is too important a set of issues to allow events to overtake us,' he says.
The stated purpose of the meeting then, as aptly summarized by the Living Church is, to discuss the future of the Anglican Communion in light of the potential actions of the 75th General Convention.
Adding further validation to these reports, Lambeth has, characteristically, "declined to comment on the...report" (The Living Church).
But there is more. Ms. Gledhills source adds this:
My source, who is not one of those invited, interprets it this way: 'The wording of the invitation makes it fairly clear that Lambeth is expecting no backtrack from Ecusa and is therefore working out how to manage the oncoming schism.'
Gledhills source may or may not be correct with regard to the purpose of the meeting, but several factors/circumstances lend credence to his/her interpretation:
1. the timing of the meeting, two months before General Convention, gives Lambeth enough time to make the necessary constitutional changes.
2. the largely orthodox makeup of the meeting guest-list (as noted above). At least two of the orthodox participants have publicly called on the ABC to discipline a noncompliant ECUSA.
3. the ABCs recent letter to the primates in which he indicates the Lambeth guest-list is still incomplete pending the outworking of some practical questions still to be settled the coming months [read June] that will bring some of them into clear focus
4. the words of the bishop of Exeter, the ABCs representative, to the HOB (quoted above);
5. the personal commitment of the ABC himself, articulated consistently since 2003, to uphold the mind of the communion. Here are some recent examples: at Dromantine (both by his words and by his support of the majority report); in the English Synod before the ACC meeting in Nottingham (where he reiterated his words); at theSouth to South meeting where he disagreed publicly with Eames assessment of ECUSAs compliance; his articulated intentions with regard to lambeth 2008 contained in the aforementioned letter to the primates; and most recently, this morning in fact, we read this important excerpt (that I missed) from his Guardian interview earlier this week highlighted in the Church Times:
Dr Williams also defended his approach to homosexuality in the Church, saying he had been given a responsibility to care for the Church as a whole. It really is wrong for an archbishop to be the leader of a party; in a polarised and deeply divided Church its particularly important, I think, not to be someone pursuing an agenda that isnt the agenda of the whole. Mr Rusbridger asked him about his being criticised for not being true to his beliefs. Yes, I understand that and hear it repeatedly. He said that moral leadership did not always equate with pronouncing strongly on one issue or another.
All of these factors add significant weight to the interpretation of the meeting articulated by Ms. Gledhills source.
All of them further bolster the case I've been making here for the last three months: that the ABC ought to be taken at his word.
All of them spell impending disaster for the Episcopal Church if indeed the Windsor Report is rejected in June.
UPDATE: Ruth Gledhill has managed to get ahold of bishop Langrish's speech to the HOB. It is quite significant. Here is a key quote:
So it does seem to me, as I listen to those other parts of the communion that I know best, that any further consecration of those in a same sex relationship, any authorisation of any person to undertake same sex blessings, any stated intention not to seriously engage with the Windsor Report, will be read very widely as a declaration not to stay with the communion.
While I'm sure some equate orthodoxy and nazism, but I believe it is "Nazir-Ali" on the see of Rochester.
Someone please explain to me the method and limits of excommunication within the Anglican/Episcopalian Churches.
As I have read this Anglican thread over the past year, it's clear that in America, there is a powerful organization (the ECUSA?) which is dominant within America in that most of the bishops are apparently aligned with it, and "liberal", in the sense of supporting a pro-homosexual agenda.
It's clear that these bishops have the power to remove "orthodox priests" and, critically, to sieze church properties and accounts, thereby amassing their warchest and their power.
Who, then, is above these bishops? This is the part of Anglicanism/Episcopalianism I am not clear about. If a cabal of bishops chooses to walk disorderly, who can excommunicate them, remove them from office, and take the church properties and accounts out of THEIR hands just as they did the "orthodox" priests.
I get the unsettling feeling that the answer to that question is "nobody".
But I've got to have that wrong.
It can't be that a cabal of bishops can walk disorderly and steal the Church's property, and that a bishop CAN'T be removed, no matter what atrocious thing he does.
So, could someone give me the picture of the higher structure of the Anglican/Episcopalian Church?
Who can remove a bishop, or excommunicate radicals who defy Church authority? Who can take the Church property and accounts from evil bishops? Can the Archbishop of Canterbury do that himself (I think not, given my reading of these articles). It sounds like even the worldwide Anglican Communion getting together can expel the evil bishops, but can't remove them from office and seize their assets for the Church. So who can? And how? And is it being done?
You are correct. Good catch!
Yes, thanks, I'll correct it on the site.
To begin with, within the general history of Anglicanism, Anglican churches have been essentially national churches. (How this related to the Scottish Episcopal Church prior to the establishment of the American church is not known to me-- I'm not a student of history-- but I am told it was the post-Revolution American church, known today as "Episcopal" or "ECUSA" that set the pattern.)
The structures of authority quite resemble the Orthodox church; each church is autonomous but in communion with the others. The Archbishop of the Church of England ("Canterbury") is considered foremost among equals, but the only power he holds is whom he invites to the periodic conferences at Lambeth -- and the constitutions of the other churches when they define themselves in part by being in communion with Canterbury.
Each national church has its own structure of power. ECUSA was in effect gradually taken over by a liberal "elite" (an excellent analogy is provided by Kipling in The Mother Hive), and it is the liberal bishops who have been driving the orthodox out. Not all the bishops are liberal, mind you -- I will point to +John-David Schofield of the Diocese of San Joaquin as a contrary example.
Above the bishops there is no real power, not even in ECUSA's presiding bishop. (Well, there is, but ECUSA declined to exercise it when really needed, such as with Bishop Pike in the 60s and more recently Spong.)
With regards to the Anglican churches, the top level of control is similar to the Orthodox -- if we declare you to be out of communion, you are out of communion! The Orthodox are much quicker on the trigger than Anglicans, and perhaps this is why this has worked better for them. (Anglicanism has also had its unfortunate "Elizabethan Compromise" which unites rather disparate wings of the church, which has led to a preference for talking at length over precipitate action, and this has been used to advantage by the liberals.)
There's much more that could be said here... but it's late, and I am tired...
Ok, I get it.
So really each Bishop is effectively a Pope!
He can be nagged at, and he can fire priests and remove parishoners, and sieze property below him, but there's nobody above him.
In theory, the diocese below him could organize, priests and laity, to oust him, but in theory (and practice) the bishop can remove all of the priests out to get him, and otherwise exclude from authority within the diocese anybody who is really agitating against him.
That's a LOT of power for somebody not really very high up!
Also, is it not true that in the Orthodox Church, the Patriarchs CAN remove offending bishops? (I have included my favorite thoughful Orthodox brother here to get his take on that issue). I don't think that the Archbishop of Canterbury stands in exactly the same place as the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church or the Ecumenical Patriarch at Constantinople. I get the impression that Orthodox Patriarchs have disciplinary power over offending bishops that is similar to (though not identical with) the Pope's in Rome. Canterbury seems weaker. But that may just be an impression having to do with the way the offices are run.
The overall impression I get is that the liberal bishops in America are going to have a lot of property and power and be unremovable from it. It seems like a terrible shame.
"Also, is it not true that in the Orthodox Church, the Patriarchs CAN remove offending bishops?"
Its the Patriarchal Synod which would do this, not the Patriarch on his own. We of course have an excellent example of this in the fairly recent removal of Spyridon as the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. In the Patriarchate of Jerusalem we have the recent example of the Synod there removing the Patriarch himself.
I don't think it's quite accurate to say "a" bishop can act as a pope...but a cabal of them, in control of a national church, like the ECUSA can indeed throw their weight around like a prelate. There are, I am sure, methods as to how bishops can be disciplined, but since this is seen by the majority of American bishops (even orthodox ones) as a theological difference, NOT an issue of character and conduct, then nothing will happen to bishops, who seize property or abuse priests.
The only hope I see, is if a good sized number of churches, accross various dioces, agreed to bolt, joining or forming another denomination, the cost to the increasingly small (but still very rich) ECUSA denomination will be too much, and likely they would let the churches go.
Much the same thing seems to be getting ready to happen to the mainline Presbyterian denomination (PCUSA) too--as the so called "local option" allowing each church to "interpret" (read: "ignore") the denominational constitution as they want (hence ordain homosexuals, or "bless" their "unions") , will render the unity there null and void, and that's on the menu for their June meeting too.
6 of '06 looks like to be a bad one for the Church.
Due to simple demographics, church attendence in the USA is already in decline (especially in the mainline churches) and these thing will just make these denominations collapse all the faster.
Thanks, Kolo. That clarifies things.
But what could possibly be more important than a theological difference? Character and conduct are individual issues that do not affect the community of faithful beyond the immediate harm, but theological errors can do damage lasting centuries and afflicting millions!
There just doesn't seem to be a will to really fight, other than on the part of the pro-sin faction, and they have a demonic energy to them which is not surprising.
It's all very sad.
I agree with you on all points.
Especially when one thinks of the particular nature of the current era.
For a comparison, let's go way back to the Protestant Reformation. What was Luther's primary beef really all about? Yes, it bloomed into a full-fledged theological review, but what put the bee in Luther's bonnet wasn't so much theology as corruption. There was immense power in the Church of the time (as now), concentrated in Rome (as now), but that power was being used to milk all of Europe for cash through the collection plate and other contributions to build St. Peter's and embellish a lot of Italian Churches, not to mention lining some corrupt cardinals' pockets. Whatever the Reformation ended up being about, what started it was anger at monetary corruption. And nobody on any side anymore disputes that the monetary corruption was real. Rome didn't listen to the initial complaints, and responded with abuse, which then pressed Luther into a more radical position. Schism followed, and with it, theological differences began to multiply which magnified the deleterious effects of simple crappy behavior by Italian prelates. Once Luther broke free, on theological grounds that were, however, provoked not by theology but by disgust at monetary corruption, Protestants began to fight with Protestants of theological differences, and Christianity is now splintered into 6000 pieces...and all of this because, at the bottom line, the Papacy got too greedy and luxurious. There was no theology to back Roman greed, and with the Northern Church's separation a fait accompli, Rome came to its senses pretty quickly. Within a few decades of Luther was the Council of Trent, at which Catholicism stopped from within the most corrupt practices that propelled Luther out the door.
So, consider just how bad divisions can become over repairable crappy pecuniary corruption: from one Church to thousands of churches.
Now consider how much worse the current Anglican problem here. This is not a case of correctable greed. It started as a theological push to turn homosexual sodomy into marriage, and now it's naming openly gay, openly adulterous bishops. Compared to this, the impetus for the Reformation was small beer. Catholicism could right itself, because at the bottom everybody knew, really, that greedy grasping at the collection plate is not a good thing. Arrogant men can die or be moved aside. The damage was still tremendous, but the remaining pieces after the Reformation were all still identifiably Christian. But the homosexual agenda Episcopalians...are they even theologically Christian anymore, when they're directly flouting Christ, the Apostles and the Prophets on fundamental sexual and social and family morality? This is a theological split much more alarming than the small beer between Luther and Pope Leo way back when. What you've got is a non-Christian licentious Church seizing riches and buildings with a cross on top from a Christian church. It's just so extraordinarily bad that it's sickening.
Not really. There are constraints, and mechanisms to remove bishops. Such appears to be going forward with Bishop Bennison. You can read a bit about that here.
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