Saturday, May 29, 2010


Mark Harris at Preludium posted the entire text of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' Pentecost letter.

What to make of the Pentecost letter? The missive is not Good News for one member of the Episcopal Church, namely moi.

The ABC recently hosted an annual seminar The Building Bridges Seminar, at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The seminar "is a unique annual series which brings together a range of internationally recognized Christian and Muslim scholars for intensive study."

The Archbishop seems to put forth a good deal more effort to build bridges with Christians of other denominations and with Muslims than he does with the Episcopal Church in the US, a member church of the Anglican Communion of which he is primus inter pares. Did he speak one word to or even lay eyes on an Episcopalian while he was in the US?

Back to the letter.

When the Church is living by the Spirit, what the world will see is a community of people who joyfully and gratefully hear the prayer of Jesus being offered in each other’s words and lives, and are able to recognise the one Christ working through human diversity.

The Archbishop wants diversity, but not too much diversity, at least with respect to to Holy Orders and our GLTB brothers and sisters having access to all orders of ministry, should they be in faithful, partnered relationships and out of the closet.

And if the Church is a community where we serve each other in the name of Christ, it is a community where we can and should call each other to repentance in the name of Christ and his Spirit – not to make the other feel inferior (because we all need to be called to repentance) but to remind them of the glory of Christ’s gift and the promise that we lose sight of when we fail in our common life as a Church.

I'll say it plainly. I call the ABC to repentance for straining the bonds of affection by what I can only call his contemptuous attitude towards the Episcopal Church. Any of you who have read the entire letter, feel free to call me to account for my use of the word "contemptuous". I emphasize that I don't mean to make the archbishop feel inferior.

In several places, not only in North America, Anglicans have not hesitated to involve the law courts in settling disputes, often at great expense and at the cost of the Church’s good name.

The English tell me that the property laws are clearer for Church of England property than for the property of the Episcopal Church in the US, but I believe the laws are pretty clear here, despite the fact that certain people choose to test them. However, what if a breakaway group from the Church of England occupied a church and would not leave? Would the authorities in the Church of England simply turn the property over to the group if negotiations failed to get them to leave, or would they call the police to evict the group? I suppose the expense would be all on the part of the police, but nevertheless, there's the good name of the church to consider.

It is significant that there are still very many in The Episcopal Church, bishops, clergy and faithful, who want to be aligned with the Communion’s general commitments and directions, such as those who identify as ‘Communion Partners’, who disagree strongly with recent decisions, yet want to remain in visible fellowship within TEC so far as they can.

It is significant that ABC gives the Communion Partner bishops a nice pat on the back - the very bishops whom I see standing with one foot in and one foot out of TEC, the very bishops who would not surprise me if they decided to bolt from TEC.

A time of transition, by definition, does not allow quick solutions to such questions, and it is a time when, ideally, we need more than ever to stay in conversation. As I have said many times before, whatever happens to our structures, we still need to preserve both working relationships and places for exchange and discussion. New vehicles for conversations across these boundaries are being developed with much energy.

So. We must remain in conversation, despite our differences.

And when a province through its formal decision-making bodies or its House of Bishops as a body declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard (as noted in my letter to the Communion last year after the General Convention of TEC) to see how members of that province can be placed in positions where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole.

Does the Archbishop of Canterbury see himself as representing the Communion as a whole? He has no basis for making such a claim. His views on certain matters do not represent my views. The thought that one province or one person can represent or misrepresent the Communion as a whole is absurd.

I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members. This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice

Wait! The ABC said previously that we should stay in conversation, despite our disagreements. But then he says not this ecumenical conversation, because we don't represent the mind of the Communion. Which he does?

At this point, I'm ready to bang my head against the keyboard. I didn't finish parsing all the parts of the letter that I'd have wished to, because I became tired and stopped.

For more brilliant and learned commentary see Mark Harris, Fr. Jake, Andrew Gerns at The Lead, and last, but not least, Caminante.


Wade said...

Grandmère Mimi, Rowan who?

Grandmère Mimi said...

Wade, it's quite understandable that you forget. I only said the name once at the beginning of the post. :-)

Wade said...

Oh HIM! You know, I think there's a lot less there than meets the eye. (Not that much there meets the eye.)

I do think it's as well to get out BEFORE he introduces Sharia to the Anglican Communion.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Yes, out BEFORE "Who he?" introduces Sharia.

Caminante said...

For less learned commentary you can go chez moi :)

Grandmère Mimi said...

Thanks, Caminante. I added a link to your post, because I think it is worth reading.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

This letter is really very bad! And un-Anglican. It will be Dr Rowan's undoing.

themethatisme said...

"what if a breakaway group from the Church of England occupied a church and would not leave?" - I can't wait.

Lapinbizarre said...

"....what if a breakaway group from the Church of England occupied a church and would not leave?" Could be some of that coming if any FiFUKers jump the pedophile Tiber on the women bishops issue.

Incidentally, throwing the law suits issue into the mix is pure cant on Rowan's part. Shows clearly exactly who he is working to appease. The Virginia Supremes' ruling on the Truro/Falls Church property suit (FYI, Rowan, initiated by the Secessionists, as was the Pawleys Island suit) is due in a couple of weeks' time. Let's see where that one goes.

Remind me, someone, who elected Rowan head of the AC.

Wade said...

Lapinbizarre, that would be Phony, I mean TONY Blair. You know, the recent convert to the Church of Rome. I think it was meant to be sabotage. Seems to be working.

Counterlight said...

Did the Archbishop of Canterbury write another letter? I wasn't paying attention.

I was too distracted by the plight of Steven and Tiwonge in Malawi, and by other anti-gay pogroms in central Africa.
I was too busy with everything from the BeePee disaster to grading papers.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Göran, un-Anglican is the word for the letter, but I doubt that it will be Rowan's undoing. He may be undone, but not yet.

I can't wait.

TheMe, you'll be in that number when the saints go marching in to take over?

Lapin, Rowan's only power is to decide who is invited to Lambeth every 10 years, but I think he forgets. He's taking on popish ways without any by your leave.

Counterlight, you have the proper attitude.

Erika Baker said...

Steven and Tiwonge in Malawi have at last been pardoned (say the Sunday Times).

Mimi, did you know that your post is linked to by Thinking Anglicans?

Grandmère Mimi said...

Erika, I posted on Tiwonge's and Steven's pardon.

I did not know I was linked at TA. Thanks for letting me know.

Pfalz prophet said...

Grandmere, do you not find it wonderfully ironic that entire denominations of Christians, Anglican Christians no less, are being cast out because they are inviting too many to table with Christ? The ABC's letter isn't merely un-Anglican, it's un-Christian.

I smell political pressure of another sort. Who is challenging our bearded archbishop for the rank of prima inter pares? My suspicions are aroused when ++Rowan, a documented liberal, moves to the right on the issue of gays in the church. Is it the IRD and its financial and organizational strength that's threatening the AC in a real way?

Grandmère Mimi said...

Pfalz prophet, Rowan is beyond irony. I suppose the IRD could be amongst the groups he fears. And who would the IRD's candidate be? Bp. N. T. Wrong? Abp. Sentamu?

What I see the ABC doing is kicking the ball down the field to run out the time until he retires and leaves behind some semblance of what he can call an Anglican Communion.

Lisa Fox said...

From your mouth to God's ear, Grandmère.

Lapinbizarre said...

You will have seen at other sites that Nicholas Okoh, the new primate of Nigeria, has called for Nigeria to quit the UN because it is "using human rights bodies and non-governmental organisations to ensure the entrenchment of homosexuality globally". Lunatic outbursts of this sort will hack away what little ground remains under Rowan's feet, where Communion-wide adoption of a Covenant with punitive powers and sanctioning TEC are concerned.

Dennis said...

"I'll say it plainly. I call the ABC to repentance..."

EXACTLY! Someone had to say it. Thank you!

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Hark, in Uganda at the Anglican Church of Uganda there are law suits being initiated to SAVE St. John parish by the seems the ex-bishop, a former offshore guardian/Episcopal oversight ¨artista¨ for TEC renegade parishes, sold St. Johns before he retired for the cash...alas, there had been much scandal regarding the misappropriation of funds too, oh what to do, what to do?...Dear Rowan, please keep your eye on the ball, Christians suing Christians is nasty business in Uganda or elsewhere at the Anglican Communion and outright thievery isn´t nice either and you keep turning your head to improve your very own point of view.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Lisa, thanks.

Lapin, Abp. Okoh's call is far too late. The global "entrenchment of homosexuality" happened long before our time.

Dennis, I take great satisfaction in using a person's very own words to express the opposing view.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Anglican Christians Suing Christians at the Anglican Church of Uganda (The Church of Uganda seems to specialize in ¨legal actions¨ both at home and abroad):

Bishop Samuel Balagadde Sekadde of Namirembe Diocese and Rev. Samuel Lwere to rescind their prior action of selling all the 6.5 acres of land belonging to St John’s COU Lubowa to private developers without our knowledge, consent, or authority,” they wrote.

“We wanted them to do so by refunding the money paid to them by the said private developers and declare the ‘land ownership’ of the said private developer null and void.”

When contacted by Sunday Vision, Ssekadde declined to comment on the matter. “I have no comment because I am no longer the Bishop of Namirembe Diocese,” he said.

There will be further legal action.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Leo, +++Rowan does say of the lawsuits, "...not only in North America....", but, once again, he does not call the other provinces by name, as he seems to take particular in doing with TEC and the ACofC.

Declanus said...

Are you people actually Christians? I ask simply because I see nothing here but meanness, spite and disrespect.



Grandmère Mimi said...

Are you people actually Christians?

Declanus, is the Archbishop of Canterbury a Christian? Of course, he is, and I would never suggest otherwise, despite the scoldings and seeming contempt that he demonstrates for fellow members of the Anglican Communion.