Here in NZ it is only 23 January 2022, but already we have enough Anglican "ishues" to keep a blog going for the rest of the year. Let's introduce them (in no particular order of significance for the present and future of the Communion).
Ian Paul takes up the question whether the CofE is going about the making of senior appointments the right way, having announced the appointment of the Archbishops' Secretary for Appointments is a man married to another man. The wider Communion question here (aside from the role I imagine this appointee has in the selection of the next ABC) is facing the reality of a changing world.
Are English Anglicans overly sensitive? Another recent announcement has been the increase in numbers (1 to 5) of persons representing the Anglican Communion in the choosing of the next ABC. Cue curfuffle, ruffled feathers, and vigorous expressions of concerns: here, here, and elsewhere.
Apparently we are in danger of choosing an Anglican pope (I fail to see where the Communion supplies the majority of votes in the process);
or of not getting the theology/ecclesiology of the matter correct (I do not share the concern which seems to not appreciate NT moves re leadership which were pragmatically appropriate to the needs of the hour);
or there is some kind of continuance of colonialism going on (sure, colonialism drove forward the expansion of Anglicanism globally, but the point now is whether the ABC inhabits a role of historical and geographical importance, measured not against the expansion of the British empire in the 19th and 20the centuries, but against the great historic episcopates and patriarchates of Christianity);
or of letting some conservative evangelical in (per influence of the majority Communion which, of course, is not completely aligned with the hopes and dreams of liberal English Catholicism) who will hold back developments and progressions easerly sought by ... well, it is not necessarily a majority of the CofE itself, is it?
Isn't the general point that whomever is appointed ABC and by whatever collective of minds and hearts, the ABC of tomorrow and of the day after tomorrow, will need to be a person who can hold the centre ground, controverted though that centre is, between the centre of English Anglicanism and the centre of Global Anglicanism?
Speaking of evangelical Anglicans, the Winchester College report on Smyth is out - Thinking Anglicans has a note here, with links. This story is painful and few associated with it emerge with credit - essentially it is the whistleblowers whose courage is in credit; most others are in deficit. In this story and in the story of Jonathan Fletcher, Anglican evangelicals have searching questions to ask, not least about the role of authority figures in the movement. (Speaking of Anglican papalism ... any authority figure anywhere in Christianity can become an unchecked power for no good.)
Finally, at lest for this week, Richard Burridge once stayed with us here in Christchurch and one abiding and pleasant memory of that week was his deep commitment to ... golf! But he is now in Anglican news because of his new book on Zoom eucharists, Holy Communion in Contagious Times, with an intro here, by the author himself, published in the latest Church Times. His thesis is straightforward and will be agreeable to many (as reported in another CT article), a Zoom eucharist (i.e. involving a priest and viewers in their own homes with bread and wine before them) is effective and valid. We should all read his book before determining whether he is right or wrong.
Dear Bishop Peter. Yes, there is a lot going on in the worldwide Anglican Communion - as well as in the alternative GAFCON Communion, a part of which exists not too far from the shores of Aotearoa/N.Z. It appears that the Sydney Diocese (of the Anglican Church in Australia), could be looking towards its very own severance from the A.C.C. Much of the agitation is taking place in the Sydney Diocese, from an organisation which calls itself "the Anglican Church League". Here is a mast-head note about its provenance:
"What is the Anglican Church League?
Based in Sydney, Australia, the ACL is an association of evangelical Australian Anglican Christians who desire to maintain the reformed, protestant and evangelical character of the Anglican Church.
This character is based on Scripture and is expressed in the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.
The League has been active in the Anglican Church of Australia since 1909, mainly in the Diocese of Sydney, but also by encouraging evangelical Christians elsewhere."
Bearing in mind the FACT that a former Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, was one of the early Founders of the GAFCON Movement and its first Chairman (the Chair is now an ex-TEC clergyman in North America who presided recently at the inauguration of GAFCON's newest diocese in Aotearoa/NZ) - it should not be too surprising that the Sydney Diocese may soon become the first GAFCON Diocese in Australia; because of the Australia Anglican Province's contemplation of allowing a process of Same-Sex Blessings to take place, on the same basis as we in ACANZP have already embarked upon.
The Sydney situation may well impinge on the discussions in the C. of E. about whether, or not, to allow Anglican Provincial Churches outside of the U.K. to assist in the election of the next Archbishop of Canterbury. In this regard, it now seems that the GAFCON sodality is no longer interested in what the A.B.C. says or does, declaring itself to be, by default, to be the sole representative of 'Global Anglican Orthodoxy' (whatever that might be). Of course, one suspects it all to be tied up with the broader Anglican Communion's view on Gender and Sexuality - which is obviously proving a problem for GAFCON and the Sydney Diocese. Granted; the majority of GAFCON membership is in the Global South, however the working out of the Gospel is not a 'numbers game'; so that we who are content to be associated with the Founding Province of Canterbury should not be ashamed of our provenance.
MY own hope is that the ACC will cease trying to accommodate the sins of homophobia and patriarchal heterosexism around which the GAFCON people have set their party-line; and get on with the job of propagating of the Gospel tenets of Faith, Hope and Love, to ALL people, through the ministries of those of us who want to free the world from institutional injustice and prejudice - realising that we are 'All Sinners', but redeemed by the mercy and love of God-in-Christ.
You cannot have your cake and eat it too!
If you don't weant Sydney and co to leave the Anglican Communion, then they have a say in the overall polity and policy of the Communion.
If you don't like what they say, perhaps they should be farewelled by those Anglicans who do not like what they say.
But that leave the matter of what is the Communion that remains: it is not (in my understanding) as liberal as you would like!
Absent a rare star candidate, and assuming the usual competences, the next ABC should be a decent athlete who engages easily with global sports.
The return of muscular Christianity is long overdue, Bowman!!
The 'Muscular Christianity' as practised at Iwerne in the U.K. is very much in the news at present, chaps; and it does nothing of credit for the Christian Gospel. Elitism was never on the books for Jesus!
There *is* an awful lot of self-help, pos psy, and stoicism in the air these days. Along with sheer boredom with sin-management.
A new figure of unity is usually an opposite of his immediate predecessor yet not a return to the figure before that one. Joe Biden, for example, was elected as an opposite of Donald Trump, but cannot succeed as a return to Barack Obama. So the next ABC must be an opposite of Justin Welby, just as he himself was an opposite of Rowan Williams, who was... Perhaps we prefer not to be unified indefinitely by any single sort of personality.
In troubled times, any figure of unity also needs a relationship to the mass of those unified that does not depend on the leadership that he tries to keep together. For example, the papacy as we know it was built as popes in the C19-20 skillfully led a rising tide of Marian devotion around the world, so that Rome had a base of popular support independent of other senior sees. If Paris is worth a mass, Rome is worth two dogmas.
Similarly, an ABC cannot get the influence to lead successful Lambeth Conferences from those who attend them. Hosting with that weakness leads some to try to negotiate their acceptance of an invitation.
An ABC who needs to deal with a difficult archbishop in say Cockaigne should have an own following in that country. S/he cannot get that by leading the popular global Anglican *devotio moderna*-- there is none-- but s/he could get it by being a pretty good rugby player.
So then what among Anglicans might correspond to the Marian dogmas? Some have trouble with even the Christological dogmas.
Happily, wise Father Ron has shown us the way. From him we have learned that there are several pubs in Kent well worth visiting, so why not have the ABC preside over the Canterbury Games near them?
These rugby tournaments could be held on a different continent every year, but every tenth year in Canterbury where visiting bishops would get front row seats. Only this could compensate the good people of Canterbury for their loss of two seats on the Crown Nominations Commission. And it would make any who skip Lambeth look daft to millions of sports fans.
Postscript: One Comparison and Two Hypotheses
Comparison: Whilst the Lutherans and the Reformed officially cultivated international Protestant traditions grounded in their contrasting interpretations of Western theology, Anglicans have not so carefully distinguished Protestantism from English nationalism.
For example, popes are bad because they wouldn't give Henry a divorce, excommunicated Elizabeth, and sent the Spanish Armada, and synods are unimpeachably good because they are just like parliaments, which are very English, so it is quintessentially Anglican to form pressure groups, polarise opinion, institutionalise ideologies, etc as parties in parliaments do.
Hypothesis 1: Anglican petrine ministries are more authentic and effective as they help their churches to disentangle their Reformation landmarks from that nationalism and reintegrate them into the long tradition of the West, and less authentic and less engaged with the people in their pews as they just talk around this tangle near the heart of Anglican identity.
Hypothesis 2: When critics of colonialism refer precisely to the Entanglement mentioned above, they may be making a missionally useful point. Conversely, when they object to something that makes about as much sense everywhere just because it happens to be English, they are unintelligible.
So, to my mind, worry that an ABC will turn into a pope is confused. A sensible question is what shape of that petrine ministry for the Communion will be most authentic and missional.
THIS COMMENT FROM BOSCO PETERS
I have some sympathy for those who warn against the papalisation of Anglicanism.
The CofE fiction of “electing” diocesan bishops (including the ABC) has parallel honesty to the Roman fiction that cardinals all have a Roman diocese church of which they are the actual parish priest (whilst really living in Bangkok, Wellington, or São Paulo,…)
Some research is needed: when and why did the Diocese of Rome lose control of electing their bishop?
Many are waking up to the realisation that the papalisation of those in communion with the Bishop of Rome (accelerated since the 19th Century) may not serve the church as best it could - not least the present occupier of that See who has been working steady for years to change that structure; the fruit of that rewrite is now in view.
The grass may look greener to us - but watering ours may be better than sneaking into that one, or trying to move the fence. We are simply in communion with the ABC - it is not about the individual personality of the particular ABC (and increasing our say in that); if that becomes our significant concern, then the papalisation of Anglicanism has already more rapidly advanced.
Catholics broadly supportive of Francis having an exceptionally thoughtful and informed discussion on the topic--
Francis: Is Schism on the Horizon?
It's always good to hear Bosco's voice.
"When and why did the Diocese of Rome lose control of electing their bishop?"
Tricky. They may never have had it. Painted in one colour with the broadest of strokes...
Reliably or not, the ancient tradition held that St Peter appointed a few of his successors. Whatever the apostle's influence was, ancient Rome's succession was probably much more an informal search, discernment, and acclamation of God's choice (cf St Ambrose in Milan or search for a Dalai Lama) than the rule-bound, candidate-driven, competitive voting by interested electors that we often associate with the word "election."
By the third century, the pope was already more a metropolitan than a diocesan, so the bishops of central Italy also had a role in discerning the succession. In 251, a new pope was opposed by an anti-pope, and wider circles of bishops in Italy, Africa, and the Middle East upheld the successor with the broadest support of clergy and people in Rome.
Beginning with Constantine in the fourth century, civil powers-- Roman emperors, barbarian chieftains, emergent kings-- all got involved in the succession. Generally, secular rulers wanted to approve popes before they were enthroned, which led to long vacancies and bad concessions. But some of them just installed unelected popes who would do their bidding. From their own points of view, they were just treating popes as they did other holders of temporal and military power.
In this climate, where even cardinals might have little influence on the papal succession, the participation of the laity and lower clergy was limited. Indeed, lay participation, when it did happen, tended to be that of rival noble families competing for control of the throne. Sometimes to counter corruption, sometimes to perpetrate it, several popes appointed their successors directly. The period 904 to 1059 was particularly worldly.
In 1059, Pope Nicholas II instituted reforms that by then must have seemed obvious. The office is not for sale. Every pope must be elected. Elections must follow rules. Only cardinals can vote in these elections. The office is assumed by accepting election.
After further crises, later popes elaborated these basic rules into the conclaves we occasionally see today.
Well, Bishop Peter, whatever is going on in the worldwide Anglican Communion, we can be sure that former Kiwi Doctor David Virtue, now resident in the U.S., and host of the oddly-named blog 'Virtue-on-line' which promotes GAFCON as the sole possessor of "Anglican Orthodoxy", will have a view that condemns both the A.C.C. and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Here is a significant pericope of his latest calumny on lone:
" Justin Welby is quick to call the Archbishop of Nigeria and the Archbishop of Ghana and complain when they don't toe the line over perceived homophobia, just because they condemn a behavior proscribed by Scripture. And you wonder why GAFCON exists; you wonder why GAFCON bishops won't be going to Lambeth in July. They know that Welby will not uphold Lambeth Resolution 1:10. They know he will focus on climate change to dodge the issue. Welby may dodge a bullet, but he won't change the long-term outcome of the communion which does not reside with him or the West."
I looked at the article from Ian Paul with regard to the first of these issues. I see he is also questioning whether Conversion therapy practices are harmful to LGBTQ individuals. Given the rainbow community's own consistent testimony, and the fact that Conversion practices have now been made illegal in NZ, why are you quoting this man and recommending his website?
I agree with Ian Paul on a number of things and disagree with Ian on a number of things (perhaps, notably, some things he posts re LGBTQ things).
I am not going to "cancel" him from this blog because he is not completely agreeable to myself or other Anglicans.
I regret the sharpness of my previous question. I would have preferred to say: I appreciate your blog and the way that it makes me aware of wider Communion issues, and I felt disturbed when I followed the link to Ian Paul's website and saw him so publically questioning whether conversion therapy is actually harmful....this, in the present local context of our current inquiry into Abuse in Care and after Parliament have last night voted to make conversion practices illegal.
I agree that that particular question is unnecessarily provocative: conversion therapy is harmful (and now in NZ, illegal). There are other questions which are quite reasonable to ask, in UK and here, re (e.g.) whether or not a new law will have other effects (e.g. on responding to certain kinds of requests for prayer, or teaching traditional Christian sexual morality.)
Yes, I do agree. And these discussions are very tricky and challenging. I am a member of the NZ Association of Psychotherapists, and some of us felt concerned that the phrasing of legislation would result in restricting peoples' capacity to robustly and choicefully explore sexual and identity issues in therapy, although we all agreed that frank conversion therapy is abhorrent. And it is still so difficult to trace these nuances within our "gotcha culture" (which I felt I'd almost enacted in my initial response to you here). Tricky.
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