Can we cope with the flood of eccentricity about to swoop down on us?
Of course, there is another C of E which is perfectly sane, most at ease with itself in the common rooms of Oxbridge and in the drawing rooms of Tory grandees, capable of expressing the deepest theology with the greatest of charm. With a bit of luck ++Rowan will not be reading the Daily Express but confining his intellectual curiosity to the Telegraph or, at an extreme pinch, to the Guardian.
But what will he say to us?
We have had ten years or so of ++Rowan confining his true beliefs about this and that (well, ok, about homsoexuality) to his inner theologian while allowing his outer archepiscopal self to steer a line so fine that we can measure the success of his tight rope walking by the pillorying of him from both sides of the line. Now, with freedom upon him from that outer self imminent, might he in the relaxed atmosphere of Down Under let his inner self out on parade for all the world to see.
He is, after all, an Anglican bish and not a Roman cardinal. He shouldn't have to wait till he is dead to resume telling us what he really thinks.
Speaking of which, of baring one's inner theologian only after death, and of sane and sound talk by the episcopoi, the late Cardinal Martini's posthumously published interview is now available in English.
Here are his money paragraphs:
"The first is conversion: the church must recognize its errors and follow a radical path of change, beginning with the pope and the bishops. The pedophilia scandals compel us to take up a path of conversion. Questions about sexuality, and all the themes involving the body, are an example. These are important to everyone, sometimes perhaps too important. We have to ask ourselves if people still listen to the advice of the church on sexual matters. Is the church still an authoritative reference in this field, or simply a caricature in the media?
The second is the Word of God. Vatican II gave the Bible back to Catholics. Only those who perceive this Word in their heart can be part of those who will help achieve renewal of the church, and who will know how to respond to personal questions with the right choice. The Word of God is simple, and seeks out as its companion a heart that listens. ... Neither the clergy nor ecclesiastical law can substitute for the inner life of the human person. All the external rules, the laws, the dogmas, are there to clarify this internal voice and for the discernment of spirits.
Who are the sacraments for? These are the third tool of healing. The sacraments are not an instrument of discipline, but a help for people in their journey and in the weaknesses of their life. Are we carrying the sacraments to the people who need new strength? I think of all the divorced and remarried couples, to extended families. They need special protection. The church upholds the indissolubility of matrimony. It's a grace when a marriage and a family succeed ...
The attitude we hold towards extended families determines the ability of the church to be close to their children. A woman, for instance, is abandoned by her husband and finds a new companion, who takes care of her and her three children. This second love succeeds. If this family is discriminated against, not only is the mother cut out [from the church] but also her children. If the parents feel like they're outside the church, and don't feel its support, the church will lose the future generation.Before communion, we pray: "Lord, I am not worthy ...' We know we're not worthy ... Love is a grace. Love is a gift. The question of whether the divorced can receive communion ought to be turned around. How can the church reach people who have complicated family situations, bringing them help with the power of the sacraments?"
I have this funny feeling that he has more in common with ++Rowan than one might think looking at the width of the Tiber flowing between them.
For the record: ADU has not given the evangelical plot away with its admiration of Martini. I find the paragraph above about the Word of God to be confusing!