Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Archbishop Responds

On November 9, the Rev. Bill Coats, on behalf of the Steering Committee of The Episcopal Majority, sent two letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first urged him to reject the requests of a few bishops of The Episcopal Church for "alternative primatial oversight" (or a "commissary").

The second recommended that the Archbishop ask the Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, Archbishop of the West Indies, to step down as Chairman of the Covenant Design Group.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has responded, in a letter dated November 20, and we are grateful for the clarification of his thinking on these issues.

We, too, continue to pray for this "troubled but very precious fellowship."

The Rev. David K. Fly
President, The Episcopal Majority

Dear Mr. Coats,

Thank you for your letters about various questions affecting the Episcopal Church and its future. Without going into detail, there are one or two things I ought to say for clarity's sake. I fully accept that I have no jurisdiction in the USA and I have not sought and am not seeking to impose any new structure. I share your own concern that we avoid so far as humanly possible both rhetoric and action that further fracture the Episcopal Church and other Anglican provinces. I have had informal discussions with a number of parties in TEC, of very diverse opinions, as to what future possibilities there are, but I do not appproach this with a pre-cooked agenda of my own. The principle of a 'covenant' has been brought forward chiefly because of a widespread recognition that existing historic links and bonds are not proving effective as expressions of mutual accountability. This conclusion is sufficiently widespread to give some ground for thinking that the Quadrilateral may need some glossing or expansion. What the shape of that will be is far from clear, but the support of the Windsor commission and the Primates has to be taken seriously. The group that will be working on this will certainly include people who hold differing perspectives on the question, whatever the views of the chair. Since nearly every primate in the Communion has some sort of 'record' on the divisive questions of the day, I simply note that it is practically impossible to find a chair unequivocally acceptable to all.

Thank you for your continuing prayers for this troubled but very precious fellowship that is the Communion at present.

Yours sincerely,
+Rowan Cantaur


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're not asking for somebody whose theological positions are acceptable to all. Simply somebody who hasn't come out so clearly saying that the US should be kicked out. For instance, the Archbishop of the Sudan has said he disagrees with us, but he hasn't asked for us to be kicked out. He is somebody who has taken a stand on the current issue and I disagree with him on that stand, but he would be acceptable to lead the covenant committee. Or how about co-chairs? Somebody from each side of the issue.

12/04/2006 3:34 PM  
Anonymous obadiahslope said...

There are a number of committees and bodies set up to deal with various aspects of the divisions within the communion. The ABc has shown a determination to appoint a range of viewpoints to those bodies and people with a range of opinions as chair. For example Peter Carnley was appointed to chair the panel of reference.
Appointing people of many viewpoints in this manner seems to be a very sensible way to proceed. At least to me.

12/04/2006 6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In part my reaction, both to his letter and to the flurry of opinions flying around, it to think, "Goodness, it's hard to wait!" Archbishop Williams has consistently encouraged patience.

Sadly, I think many are getting impatient (including me, at least on alternate Thursdays). He continues to endorse a measured process toward a covenant, a process of broad participation that includes Americans and Canadians, at least in some ways. I fear others, even more uncomfortable with transition than I, are going to precipitate events and try to force the process.

Perhaps, though, this offers for us TEC faithful folks a way forward. If we embrace participation in the more measured process, even if we do not see it as ideal, we express our intent to remain in communion with Canterbury at least. General Convention's response specifically to covenant development was not full-hearted. Perhaps we can show our willingness, and not allow others to keep us from the table. Show up, smiling and willing to participate in the exploration, and it may be hard to simply shortchange us.

12/04/2006 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who else is on the group who 'hold differing perspectives'?

12/05/2006 4:54 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I agree with you, "Anonymous." I never expected the Archbishop to appoint an Episcopal Church supporter as chair of the Covenant Design group. But for him to appoint someone who is intent on destroying the Episcopal Church in this province? That is truly grating. I would have been grateful if he had appointed someone whose views were not so polemical. This appointment continues to puzzle me. And, by the way, I would have been equally frustrated if he had appointed a partisan from the "left" side of the discussion. Isn't the Anglican Communion supposed to be all about moderation? Where's the moderation, if ++Gomez is in charge?

12/05/2006 7:30 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Continued thanks for your thoughtful comments, Marshall. I'm with you: I wish GC had more fully embraced the covenant design process!

And I agree that ++ABC is wise in seeking to slow things down so that cooler, more temperate heads may carry the day.

12/05/2006 7:33 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Paul, I'm not sure of the context of your question.

But I'll say this: Within the folks I work with in The Episcopal Majority, we have some serious differences. Really serious! But we are unified in our commitment to the creedal statements. And we are united in believing that the Episcopal Church is the legitimate expression of Anglicanism in the U.S. and in resisting poachers. We're not monolithic, but we are unified. I'm proud of that.

12/05/2006 7:39 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Seems as though Rowan has learned from the systems theory people to maintain "non-anxious presence."

12/06/2006 9:34 AM  
Anonymous JCF said...

[What I just posted over at TA]

"This conclusion is sufficiently widespread to give some ground for thinking that the Quadrilateral may need some glossing or expansion."

This is *extremely* disturbing. As far as I'm concerned, The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral IS Anglicanism (or else the whole project ain't worth a d*mn).

"Glossing or expansion"?

Here, I think St. John had something pithy to say about it: "if anyone adds to them, God will add to him ... plagues"

12/06/2006 7:38 PM  

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