Friday, August 29, 2008

Cantuar: sic et non? Reflections on the "Canterbury-centeredness" of the Anglican Communion

What I find troubling about the whole "Cantuar sic et non?" debate is that the focus has been improperly placed on the man who currently resides in the office, with the result that disatisfaction and frustration with +++Rowan Williams (much of it justified) unfortunately morphs into questioning the wisdom of recognizing Canterbury as primas inter pares in the Communion at all.

From my perspective, any debate on whether or not the Communion should remain "Canterbury-centered" is really a secondary matter. So for instance, if, in its common life, the Anglican Communion were one day to decide upon instituting a "rotating primacy" or an "elected head" for itself, then so be it. I'd have no theological objection to this at all. (However, I suspect that if this were to happen Canterbury would still be afforded a symbolic figurehead role, such as that enjoyed by the Ecumenical Patriarch in the Eastern Church, but I digress.)

Maintaining our "Canterbury-centeredness" is not about maintaining ancient prerogatives of an historic see, per se, but about keeping the Communion -- in the present -- from fracturing. Right now, for better or for worse, the Communion has four Instruments of Unity, one of which is the Archbishop of Canterbury. This will not change in the near future short of a schism in the Communion (and then only for those folks that actually go into schism).

Thus any "common-life solution" to the present crisis in the Communion must work within the structures of the Communion itself and with the Instruments of Unity that we presently have. Those who choose to work outside these structures, or through parallel structures that effectively veto the decisions and actions of the Instruments, are not working within the common life of the Communion. Period. In fact, I suspect the only reason we are hearing so much anti-Cantuar rhetoric these days is because such rhetoric serves to rationalize or justify actions from outside the common life of our Communion.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fr. Will Brown Comments on "A Word in Time"

I don't typically link to the comments from other blogs, but I thought this entry by Fr. Will Brown (a Covenant contributor ) over at Titus OneNine was brilliant.


I think, to shuck it down to the cob, we should not start a new group. Part of what it means to be an Anglican (perhaps the biggest part) is our commitment to discern these kinds of things (blessing same sex relationships, etc.) with our brother Anglicans. That’s what, in part, 1998.1.10 is all about. But the disciplinary stuff (e.g. what happens when a diocese doesn’t want to be part of its provincial structure but does want to be part of the Communion?) is no less a task for common discernment. In short: to be Anglican means to look for Anglican answers to these questions. Who enunciates Anglican answers? Well, over the past century and a half, the common life we lead as Anglicans has kind of indicated that we look to the ABC, Lambeth, the Primates Meeting, and the ACC to answer these kinds of questions. The problem is that the answers aren’t binding, because hitherto they haven’t really needed to be binding. Now the task is to mutually (as a Communion) discern a way to agree to be bound by Anglican answers (the answers of the Instruments). In other words, the task in front of us isn’t just for the Communion to tell TEC that TEC is wrong. The Communion has done that already… repeatedly (cf. 1998.1.10 and the various statements ever sense, most recently at Lambeth). We have to go back a step further and figure out a way to agree to be bound to one another more tightly. THAT’S what takes time. And rightly so. Its a sea change in the common life of Anglicans. And many of us think its a change for the better, because it will be the foundation not only for the solution to the current problems, but for future problems too. There will be not merely a resolution, but a MECHANISM for coming to a resolution. The lack of the mechanism is Anglicanism’s Achilles’ heal—i.e. the fact that there really is no legitimate way for the Communion to speak to TEC with authority. TEC is correct in pointing out that provinces are largely autonomous. But we now see that this kind of autonomy is disastrous. (That should be no surprise to anyone—autonomy literally means being a law unto oneself, and that just SOUNDS, prima facie, terrible unGospel—and it is.)

To recap: being an Anglican, at this point in time, means being willing to invest the time and psychic (aka “soulish") energy necessary to lay a foundation for a renewed Communion with stronger and deeper trans-provincial (aka global) relationships—deepening our koinonia, our fellowship, our communion with one another. And concomitantly relinquishing some of our (unChristian) autonomy. In short: finding a way to live into the truth that “what effects all should be decided by all”. Above all else now this means patience and a willingness to endure the birth-pangs. But the result, if we can just endure to the end, could well be a deepened, renewed, and sanctified Anglican Communion, able to carry the Gospel to the unbelieving world all the more effectively precisely in virtue of our visibly deepened and renewed love for one another. The world will see that we are committed to one another, that we patiently bear one another’s burdens, that we willingly forego advantage and individual “success” for the sake of one another. And the world will find that compelling, because people want to LIVE, and because the world only knows self-seeking, isolation, violence and exploitation: which all lead to death.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Word In Time: An Open Letter to the Anglican Communion

August 25, 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We the undersigned contributors to believe that “a word in time” is now needed in order to assist the Communion to move forward in a constructive manner following the Lambeth Conference. We would like to speak such a word by specifically addressing the points Bishop Bob Duncan raises in his email to Bishop Gary Lillibridge, which has now been made public with Bp. Duncan’s permission. Our reflections are offered with all due respect for Bishop Duncan as a dear friend to some of us, and one whom those of us who know him personally admire as a stalwart in the faith. Bishop Duncan’s words are quoted in italics with our reflections following.

Read the rest of this important and timely letter and/or download a pdf version of it over at Covenant.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Interesting Quote

"It is often attempted to palliate slavery by comparing the state of slaves with our poorer countrymen: if the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin; but how this bears on slavery, I cannot see; as well might the use of the thumb-screw be defended in one land, by showing that men in another land suffered from some dreadful disease. Those who look tenderly at the slave owner, and with a cold heart at the slave, never seem to put themselves into the position of the latter; what a cheerless prospect, with not even a hope of change! picture to yourself the chance, ever hanging over you, of your wife and your little children -- those objects which nature urges even the slave to call his own -- being torn from you and sold like beasts to the first bidder! And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth! It makes one's blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty."

--Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle (1839)

Going Incognito

My readers may have noticed that I've removed most of the personal information from my profile -- not that any mediocre sleuth couldn't figure out who I was if they wanted to. While I don't want to go into details, let's just say that a more subtle profile is needed at this time. I don't want to shut down this blog to protect my privacy. Hopefully, this will be enough.

Friday, August 08, 2008

What is REALLY needed is a new Lux Mundi Movement

I realize that this won't resonate with many Anglican Catholics or "Anglo-Catholics" (if you like), out of fear of liberalism or suspicion of compromise, or what have you. I suspect that this is particularly true of those calling for a new "Oxford Movement" of late, like my friend over at De Cura Animarum (more power to them!). However, what is really needed is a new Lux Mundi Movement. Some have wondered why I call this blog "Catholic in the Third Millennium." Well, what follows is in part the inspiration behind the name.

The following was taken from Charles Gore and the Lux Mundi School.

We have here . . . to consider another aspect of the work of the third generation of the Revival, that associated with what might well be called the second Oxford Movement, the famous Lux Mundi group. It was this group which succeeded in doing that which the Tractarians has failed to do, viz. the relating of the Church's claim for the primacy of the spiritual to the new circumstances of a democratic age. Lux Mundi was in fact the foundation of a new apologetic in which Catholic thought no longer stood on the defensive against the thought of the age, but incorporated it and made it a vehicle for its own doctrine. The guiding principle was found in the Johannine doctrine of he Incarnate Logos, the Word entering to redeem the world of which He was already the Creator -- a world which included the historically-developing social order . . . Newman and Manning [had] sought to revive and give practical effect to some such idea of the world and of man. But on the whole the theology of the Movement had remained within the old Evangelical circle of thought -- the soul, sin, and redemption. To this it had added the thought of the Church as the sphere, the sacraments as the means, of Redemption, but still only the redemption of the soul, not the redemption in the full sense of man, nor the redemption of the world. Lux Mundi looked back behind redemption to creation. Evolution was accepted as the work of the Logos through whom all things were made. It followed, among other things, that man's historical development, including that of the present age, is part of the creative movement of the Word, and therefore manifests His Light. Democracy, which characterises the present era, can thus be seen as interpreting the worth of personality and the brotherhood of men. Socialism, again viewed as an existing tendency, illuminates the idea of authority in so far as this involves a rightful claim of the whole upon the part. But only the Incarnation, the fact, that is, of the Word personally become flesh to fulfill and redeem the world order which He had originally created, but which had fallen away from Him, is adequate, together with its extension in the Church and the sacraments, to interpret and validate the life of the individual and of society . . .

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Naming New Archbishops of Canterbury

From The Times

August 5, 2008
Arch appointment
Naming new archbishops of Canterbury

Sir, As Archbishops’ appointments secretary at the time of the selection of Archbishop Rowan Williams to Canterbury, I was disappointed to note Archbishop Orombi’s misleading description of the selection process as “appointed by a secular government” (August 1).

The fact is that the Prime Minister was presented with two names elected by the Crown Appointments Commission (CAC), of whom he was obliged to choose one for recommendation to the Queen. The CAC (now the Crown Nominations Commission, CNC) is an electoral college, with clerical and lay representation from the General Synod and the Diocese of Canterbury.

The commission was informed by a substantial process of widespread consultation. The Archbishop may not recall that I personally attended a meeting of all the Anglican primates, at which support for Rowan Williams was manifest. While not at liberty to disclose details of the CAC meeting itself, I can say that I have never attended a meeting where the presence of the Holy Spirit was so clearly and movingly in evidence.

Orombi must surely be aware that a process of “election by his peers” is not always beyond criticism. And of course this was precisely the method by which Bishop Gene Robinson was selected.

Anthony Sadler
Former Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments
Ars-en-Ré, France

Comment: Touché!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Lambeth Post-Mortem by Fr. Dan Martins

Thank you, Fr. Dan, for this hopeful assessment!

In his 1999 book Plato, Not Prozac!, Lou Marinoff contends that a substantial proportion of human mental and emotional suffering stems not from the actual events of our lives, but from our expectations about the actual events of our lives. The ants at the picnic didn’t ruin our afternoon; our expectation that the picnic grounds would be free of ants ruined our afternoon.

The Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops has now concluded after three weeks, and if the blogsphere is any indication, there is a palpable degree of human mental and emotional suffering floating in its wake. It’s certainly not suffering on the order of that experienced by those who are punched by a tsunami or a hurricane, but it’s nonetheless important to those who are feeling it at the moment. Perhaps Marinoff’s book should have been required reading for anyone with a horse in this race.

A couple of weeks ago, I took inventory of my own expectations, hopes, and wishes for this Lambeth Conference. This seems an appropriate time to audit that list and reflect on its relationship to subsequent developments:

Read the rest of this article over at Covenant.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

My Thoughts on the Fr. Kimel Kerfuffle

To quote myself:

I came to the conclusion some years ago that "Anglicanism" was not primarily about doctrine or formularies, but about connection to and continuity with the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church as mediated through the Church of England. So it seemed foolish to me to identify with Anglicanism on this level while aligning myself with a church or movement that almost entirely identified Anglicanism with doctrine (39 Articles) and formularies (1662 BCP). ("Why I Migrated to The Episcopal Church," Entry: July 30, 2007)

At least one constructive thing has come out of the recent dialogue (charity compels me to call it such) between Fr. Al Kimel and myself. It has reminded me of my own words above. Indeed, it was Fr. Kimel himself who linked the article which contains the above quote to his most recent critque of my article "Personal Reflections on Why I Remain in TEC".

As I hinted in the "trailer" of a previous entry, Fr. Kimel has asked the wrong question, (or, perhaps better, an inadequate question) in the title of his article, "Is The Episcopal Church Truly a Catholic Church?" In so doing, he has unwittingly pigeon-holed himself into answering the question in terms of the relative orthodoxy of TEC's adherents, and thus comes across not as a Roman Catholic apologist debating the catholic claims of Anglicanism as much as he does a former Episcopalian displaying his disappointment and disenchantment with his former church's continuous flirtations with erroneous teaching (the pan-sexual agenda), or, in some cases, embracing of innovative positions (e.g., women's ordination). His arguments in this respect are not much different than those who have thrown their lot in with CANA or the AMiA, or the GAFCON movement for that matter.

Now, I'm not about to engage in a debate over or defend various recent actions of TEC. I should think that Fr. Kimel and I agree for the most part about these matters, and so these hardly need rehashing. My point, however, should not be missed: To argue against the catholicity of a particular church based on a point-in-time snapshot of the relative orthodoxy of its adherents, whether a majority or a significant tolerated minority, is to subject every church at every point in history (including one's own) to the same standard.

But does Fr. Kimel really want to go down that road? Does he really wish to uphold the relative orthodoxy of the adherents of Roman Catholicism throughout its long and less than exemplary history as the standard by which all others are judged catholic? Or is he claiming for Rome and its adherents an "abosulte orthodoxy and orthopraxy" by which all other catholic claimants are judged? (The recent comment from the Anglican Scotist about how Fr. Kimel wants "to make a clean, binary distinction in terms of esse sufficient to completely unchurch Episcopalians" is right on the money here.)

If that is the route Fr. Kimel would like to pursue, then perhaps we should begin our discussion with the sins of simony and nepotism, or the sale of grace through indulgences in the sixteenth century. Or perhaps we should bring the discussion into modern times, and talk about the "Ted Kennedys" and "Nancy Pelosis" of the world. Should we discuss the American Roman hierarchy's complicity in covering up the recent sex scandals and child molestations which some of her priests have perpetrated? I, for one, would rather not go down that road.

So, Fr. Kimel, let's not go there, because, unless one wishes to assume the foolish position of an absolute orthodoxy, there are no winners in such a contest. Instead, let's engage in a debate about the nature of catholicity itself. And I think a good place to begin would be with my quoted statement above. Show me how my "connection to" and "continuity with" the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church as mediated through the Church of England has been severed or interrupted by my remaining in The Episcopal Church.