Skip to comments.Friendly Fire [liberal Episcopal knives continue to come out]
Posted on 01/16/2007 4:09:55 PM PST by sionnsar
The liberal Episcopal knives continue to come out as Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Episcopal Bishop Paul Marshall lays into Rowan Williams. Some selections:
That said, my subject, with both regret and trembling, is the Arcbishop of Canterbury, but only in the very limited sense of his functioning toward our house and to some extent our Church. That is a tiny and limited subject and I do not intend it for a discussion of the content of the myriad ministries in which he is engaged. As one too old to have anything to gain or lose, I will try to say what may be obvious to others but risky for them to voice. I hasten to add that this is not a matter of condemnation: he needs no witness from me to his reputation as a pious and good man, great in so many ways, and someone whom I overall admire as writer, teacher, and moral voice in the UK. I believe with all my heart that his intentions are at least a good as any of ours. I write of a perceived chain mistakes in policy and deed, mistakes, not evil. I have made perhaps more than my share of system mistakes, so I know one when I see one.
I am sadly impressed that my friend and neighbor Bob Duncan, peace be to him, and a few of his supporters, have had more time with Rowan Williams than has our entire House, or even our Church gathered in Convention. The long-distance intervention in our process during the last moments of the Columbus convention has made us a laughing-stock. (Katharine wonderfully rolled with that without losing her integrity, a marvelous first inning.) The public words of welcome he gave to our new primate would have made a Laodicean proud for their restrained enthusiasm. The widely-publicized Lambeth Palace photograph of Rowan, Frank, and Katharine all standing as far away from each other as the camera lens would allow has not been without its effect on many among us. A dismal icon of formal communion without a hint of affection or connection has been sent to the entire inhabited world.
This situation of alienation was regrettably worsened by his remarkable distancing of himself from a church that has followed his own carefully thought-through teachings on sexuality, teaching that he only last year suddenly dismissed as a sin of his academic youth. The appointment to the Windsor drafters of North American representatives wonderfully devout but historically disinclined to advocate vigorously for the position of their church was not his sole responsibility, but the buck sure stops there. Like many of you, I have submitted all, not some, of the demands of the Windsor report as a reluctant gesture of good will to the Communion and sacrifice of principle for the sake of those who may be weaker brethren. Cannot that be reciprocated? And so on and so on. By Rowans subsequent actions and inactions the situation has for me now reached a proportion manageable only by the combination of prayer and surrender to the belief that God will work this out through the usual means--crucifixion and resurrection. But before we get ready for life alone, we deserve to hear from him, in the room with us, an explanation of his distance and intentions. We are all busy, and we show up where we believe it is important to go. Lets hope we become important.
The situation of the shunning of North American bishops would be painful under any circumstances. The pain is more intense here because it comes from the withdrawal of a human who was friend, teacher, and colleague to many in this churchwith no notice that either his opinions or commitments were in flux. The archbishop has appeared to my knowledge only once in the US since 2003, and that was the briefest of visits to raise money for a function of the Communion. He cancelled a date for a joint meeting with Canadian and US bishops with no real excuse, and has made no effort to reschedule what could have been a fellowship-redeeming encounter.
Our relationship to the one who is expected to be first in a world-wide college of bishops is distant, confused, and multiply-triangulated. We are ceaselessly told by those who would destroy our church that the ABC endorses this or that crudely divisive action or position. Questions to Lambeth on these occasions are sometimes met with silence and sometimes with stunning equivocation. This distance, confusion, and triangulation ought not to be. One of the basics of episcopalor parish--pastoral care is that one gets with and stays as close as possible to those who may be seen to be problematic. The Pope went to Turkey. Can the Archbishop of Canterbury not come to meet us just once at a regular or special meeting in any city he would care to name?
All of this said, it seems necessary to report my perception that the nadir in Rowans overall relationship to the US, Canada and perhaps South Africa has been the appointment of a virtual lynch mob to draft the Covenant that will by all reports attempt turn a fellowship into a curial bureaucracy in which the worst elements of the great and oppressive Colonizer and of the Resentful Colonized will as meet as a scissors to the denigration of significant number of Gods people who were almost equal in Christ for one brief shining moment. Are North America, South Africa and many other parts of the Communion (not to mention "much cattle") of such little value in the grand scheme? Does anyone think that the COE itself will not split if a continent and a half are among those permitted to be set adrift?
So we must always talk about him, not to or with him. Like so many of you, I have been disheartened by the succession of "second gentlemen" from the COE who have addressed our House in Rowans stead while over-insisting that that they were not at all doing so. No bishop of the left, right, or center, was taken in, and our colleague from Missouri pointed this out on one occasion with deft words that the Sage of Hannibal, MO, himself would envy. Even our steadfastly bucolic local papers here in rustic Pennsylvania would not be deceived by such over-wrought protestations of mere coincidence or fortuitous invitation. By these speakers, one of whom just happened to have a specific list of a dozen or so things we had to do, all but the most anxious of us have been inevitably alienated. How can it help bonds of affection for Communion leadership to so overtly and maladroitly play us for chumps? There is a kind of contempt for our intellect there whose sting almost matches the pain of the overall strategy of isolation.
Having now had three successive messages delivered to us by what some UK friends describe as "fully accredited members of the British Olympic Patronizing Team," I take this (perhaps not entirely welcome to her) opportunity to thank Katharine for her outstanding integrity and clarity of focus since her election, and accordingly to urge her that no foreign bishop whatsoever be given the privilege of addressing the House of Bishops of this Church until the ABC can personally enter this country and speak to the House himself and deign to entertain the level of frank questioning that his counterpart the Prime Minister might have to endure among those he leads and serves. We all do get cable news and know what the wonderful British tradition of questioning in the house can helpfully add to common life.
Two things. Although New Westminster preceded it by a few months, the major responsibility for the Anglican crisis lies with the Episcopal Church. After all, it was told directly that if it approved and consecrated Gene Robinson, the Anglican world would be torn apart. It blithely ignored what it heard, gave Robbie a pointy hat anyway and essentially told the rest of the Communion to kiss off.
So for Marshall to suggest that TEC is owed anything at all by Rowan Williams or anyone else is the height of Episcopal arrogance. Given that TEC has not seriously addressed the issues raised by the Windsor Report and has, over the past three years, been as uncollegial an Anglican church as it is possible to conceive, Marshall ought to thank God that Lambeth is still talking to his church at all.
As for Dr. Williams, I don't think there is "a kind of contempt for [TEC's] intellect." There's certainly a good deal less contempt toward the intellect of the Episcopal Church than TEC displays toward the intellects of the Africans. I think Rowan Williams is simply being realistic.
My gracious lord of Canterbury can see. He knows where Anglicanism is thriving and where it is dying. And he knows, or should, that Dar es Salaam will not be Dromantine, the Global South will not let itself get rolled again and that severe sanctions are going to have to be levelled against the Episcopal Church if there is to be any chance of keeping the Anglican Communion in one piece. Right now, appearing too close to the Americans would not be in the Communion's best interest.
"By Rowans subsequent actions and inactions the situation has for me now reached a proportion manageable only by the combination of prayer and surrender to the belief that God will work this out through the usual means--crucifixion and resurrection."
What a silly old heretic!
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