John Richardson writes about Muriel Porter's critique of the Sydney Diocese (cf. my post below). His emphasis is interesting as he offers a counter-critique of Porter's liberal catholicism:
"From an English perspective, however, the threat of Sydney Anglicanism lies not in any political 'machinations', as Dr Porter alleges (I may be wrong, but her account of the 1998 Lambeth Conference seems decidedly far-fetched). Rather, it lies in the challenge Sydney presents to the prevailing liberal-catholic ethos.
In the words of the late Donald McKinnon, a man who had a great impact on Rowan Williams, theological liberals often combine "a nearly complete scepticism" with "an ecclesiological fundamentalism". In other words, they will cheerfully abandon traditional beliefs, but are fiercely defensive of the outward paraphernalia of church life.
Go into a theologically liberal church and you will typically find not radical contemporary worship (as you might expect) but candles, robes, sacraments, rites and rituals - that, and an almost fanatical devotion to the 'special' nature of the ordained 'priesthood'.
Muriel Porter accuses Sydney Anglicans of being 'fearful' when it comes to women's ordination. But in truth, the opposition to Sydney - at least on these shores in organs like the Church Times - is driven by a desperate fear that it undermines the one thing liberal Anglicanism has left to hold on to.
I recall one famously liberal English bishop (now retired) once saying he often doubted, but "never at the altar". Is it surprising that the fiercest reaction comes from liberals regarding Sydney's 'break with catholic order'?
It is Sydney's own 'principled radicalism' in this regard that is the real 'threat'. And sadly this colours Porter's own views, such that she (like others) takes an unfortunate delight in Sydney's financial difficulties or the limited progress of the diocesan mission - as if a wealthy and effective church would be a bad thing. Surely, though, it is the outward forms of nineteenth century Anglicanism which are "scarcely relevant to modern ... life"?"
John Richardson puts his finger on an aspect of modern Anglicanism that I do not profess to understand, namely that form of liberal catholicism in which abandonment of traditional belief is cherished and the outward paraphernalia of ritual is fiercely upheld to the letter of law, lore and custom.
Just before you, dear reader, get all defensive about your version of 'liberla catholicism' please understand that I recognise there is more than one form of liberal catholicism, that is, there are liberal catholic Anglicans willing to abandon tradition both in respect of ritual form and theological content, as well as catholic Anglicans who are mostly traditional in all ways, but tinged with a bit of liberalism (like some evangelical Anglicans :) ).
Or am I misunderstanding liberal catholicism and its varied hues?