Friday, September 21, 2012

Talking to ourselves?

An irony of being a Communion in the throes of rejecting a Covenant is that we continue to act as a coherent Communion which can engage with other global churches. Thus the IASCUFO's* recent Dublin meeting's communique informs us of progress in dialogue with "Lutherans, Methodists, the Orthodox, Reformed, and Roman Catholics." Part of this irony is that we have a need to conduct our internal 'ecumenical dialogue' with those Anglicans who differ from us. Admirers of Rome may proffer strong criticism of (say) the Reformist Archbishop of Sydney. Some supporters of the ordination of woman as bishops in England show little or no sympathy with Anglo-Catholic and Reform Anglicans who oppose such ordination.

At worst the irony here is somewhat savage: on one front (external relations with other churches) we give an impression of being one united body keen to converse with another but differentiated united body, while on another front (relations across our Communion) we can seem bitterly divided, indeed perception here can be reality.

At best the irony is sweet: we can engage in external dialogue about Christian unity with the advantage of our internal experience of Christian unity. Despite many divisions within our Communion, we remain a Communion in which many Anglicans talk to each other, share communion together, and work in harmony in a shared mission.

1 comment:

Father Ron Smith said...

I can agree with you on this one, Peter. I believe that the Anglican Communion has always sought to position itself somewhat in advance of the thoughts of the rest of us in the matter of ecumenical relationships. At least, though, the Roman Catholic and Anglican Bishops do meet together occasionally here.

And then there is always the joint education process - I believe you even have a teaching role at an 'ecumenical' institute in Christchurch - in addition to your educational role in the diocese. So there is some convergence in the outer circle of Anglicanism.