Here is part of Archbishop Rowan Williams' message to the Global South Encounter 4 in Singapore. A cursory glance at the blogosphere tells me it is being blowtorched by the 'left' and the 'right'. Once again, if we may be allowed to use a label, we must wonder if ++Rowan has positioned himself, unexpectedly, in the centre of the Communion!
"Greetings to you all, in the name of our risen Lord and Saviour.
Covenant, as many people have said, is an extraordinarily rich word. In your discussions during these days you’ll have had many opportunities to think about the richness of that word in Scripture and in the theological tradition. But as I reflected on it myself, one of the texts that I looked to was the association that St Paul makes in Romans 9.4 between adoption¸ glory, and covenant. He’s speaking there of the Jewish people: ‘from them’, he says (v.5), ‘comes the Messiah’, the Lord, the Incarnate God. In their life they have discovered adoption as children of God, the revelation of the glory of God, and the covenant reality which holds them to God and to one another. And I would like to think that as we Anglicans together reflect on covenant, we think also about adoption and about glory.
So when, as an Anglican Communion we seek to bind ourselves in covenant, we’re not simply making a contract, we’re not simply trying to solve problems. We’re trying to find a way of grounding our mission in a new way, in the recognition of that inter-weaving of adoption and glory that all Christians share.
But of course we are reflecting on the need for a covenant in the light of confusion, brokenness and tension within our Anglican family – a brokenness and a tension that has been made still more acute by recent decisions in some of our Provinces. In all your minds there will be questions around the election and consecration of Mary Glasspool in Los Angeles . All of us share the concern that in this decision and action the Episcopal Church has deepened the divide between itself and the rest of the Anglican family. And as I speak to you now, I am in discussion with a number of people around the world about what consequences might follow from that decision, and how we express the sense that most Anglicans will want to express, that this decision cannot speak for our common mind.
But I hope also in your thinking about this and in your reacting to it, you’ll bear in mind that there are no quick solutions for the wounds of the Body of Christ. It is the work of the Spirit that heals the Body of Christ, not the plans or the statements of any group, or any person, or any instrument of communion. Naturally we seek to minimize the damage, to heal the hurts, to strengthen our mission, to make sure that it goes forward with integrity and conviction. Naturally, there are decisions that have to be taken. But at the same time we mustall—as indeed your own covering notes suggest for your conference—we mustall share in a sense of repentance and willingness to be renewed by the Spirit.
May God the Father bless you all, through the risen Christ, showering upon you the power of his Holy Spirit.
+ Rowan Cantuar:
I am sorry that the Archbishop failed to acknowledge that the Episcopal Church is not alone on its side of the gulf that separates us from many others in the Communion on the issue of same-sex unions.
I agree, Daniel, that it would be helpful to speak about a Communion with a range of unfolding changes and developments across the member churches.
Nevertheless there is a gulf re formal understanding of marriage, and of marriage-and-the-episcopacy.
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