Sunday, October 21, 2007

More Confusion From Canterbury

From a recent letter written by the Abp. of Canterbury to Bp. Howe of Central Florida:

...However, without forestalling what the Primates might say, I would repeat what I've said several times before - that any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church. The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such. Those who are rushing into separatist solutions are, I think, weakening that basic conviction of Catholic theology and in a sense treating the provincial structure of The Episcopal Church as if it were the most important thing - which is why I continue to hope and pray for the strengthening of the bonds of mutual support among those Episcopal Church Bishops who want to be clearly loyal to Windsor. Action that fragments their Dioceses will not help the consolidation of that all-important critical mass of ordinary faithful Anglicans in The Episcopal Church for whose nurture I am so much concerned. Breaking this up in favour of taking refuge in foreign jurisdictions complicates and embitters the future for this vision...
Read the entire letter here.

First of all, there is no such thing as a "Windsor Bishop", as far as I've been able to discern. Those claiming to be "Windsor-compliant" are vocal about moratoriums, witholding consents, etc., but not a word about stopping foreign interventions or honoring the listening process, which are both included in the Windsor Report. What the Archbishop of Canterbury and the self styled "Windsor Bishops" seem to be doing is cherry picking pieces from the Report, and claiming they are the important bits, while ignoring the rest. That is not what I call being "compliant."

Beyond that, when did the Windsor Report move from being a set of recommendations to being law? This is exactly what Marilyn McCord Adams warned us about in Gays and the Future of Anglicanism:

...The polity outlined in the Report was already circulated and discussed in a variety of proposals. But even the original document has a tendency to speak as if the polity were already accepted and in force. It talks as if ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada had failed to meet their obligations - which would exist if there were an Anglican covenant to abide by the instruments of union to which ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada had subscribed, sealing the deal with provisions in their own canon law. As with "Issues in Human Sexuality" in the Church of England, the slide from the status of discussion to official norm, seems all too easy...
Yet now it appears that the Archbishop of Canterbury is claiming that "Windsor compliance" will be the test as to if one is or is not part of the Anglican Communion.

And then, to muddy the waters even more, such "compliance" will be judged on a diocese by diocese basis.

What is the point of having Provinces, Primates, Synods, or General Conventions, then? If each diocese is a free agent, the result will be complete chaos, with the Communion moving further from unity than ever before.

No doubt the Archbishop hoped that by making this statement that he would convince some congregations in Central Florida to not jump to an allegiance with some foreign Primate. But, in the process, he has given certain dioceses the words they needed to refute the claim by the leadership of TEC that "individuals can leave, but dioceses cannot." If a diocese can be in Communion with Canterbury, even if the Province is not, it appears that a diocese can indeed make a unilateral move that will change their status in the Communion, at least according to Canterbury.

If this is an accurate expression of Canterbury's thoughts, one wonders what has happened to cause him to make such an unusual statement. Is he preparing for a future without TEC, and trying to limit his losses?


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