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Posts Tagged ‘Anglican Communion

Rowan Williams: Pope’s offer to Anglicans is ‘no solution’

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The Archbishop of Canterbury gives a provocative interview to George Pitcher of the Daily Telegraph.

Dr Williams declines to be drawn on whether, when he saw him in Rome recently, the Pope was regretful or sorry for effectively jumping him – “private conversation, I think” – but he does concede that the hastily convened press conference, at which he sat uncomfortably alongside the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, was a big mistake.

“I think everyone on the platform was a bit uncomfortable … I know the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the whole doesn’t go in for much consultation – we were just on the receiving end of that.”

Really? Isn’t there something rather acquisitive and invasive about this Pope, who wants us to know that there is one universal voice of authority and it speaks from Rome? Dr Williams suddenly opens up: “Nothing entirely new about that of course. At the end of John Paul II’s pontificate you have that discussion of how papal authority is meant to be understood, how it might be received by others. I think that’s treading water at the moment. I’d like to see that revived and that’s part of what I was nudging at in Rome.

“Second thing is that in British Catholicism there’s a kind of resurgent – no – recurrent cycle of the ‘second spring’, in Cardinal Newman’s imagery, and in the wave of distinguished converts in the interwar years, Evelyn Waugh and so on. There was just a hint of it when Cardinal Hume uncharacteristically talked about the reconversion of England – and I think he regretted that actually. And a few people in the last round. It’s a pattern, the sense that the Reformation wounds are going to be healed in favour of Rome. And it just keeps coming back – I think this has been the occasion for another little bit of that. It’s bits of the repertoire.”

The languid manner in which he delivers this leaves no doubt that he’s not holding his breath for a Roman second spring either. I wonder whether the Pope has, unwittingly and ironically, provided the kind of “third province” that Anglo-Catholics were demanding because they can’t accept women bishops, lesbian or otherwise. The Revision Committee for women bishops, after all, dropped proposals for legal protection for them in the wake of the Pope’s initiative.

“I would guess that the papal announcement had some impact on the way some people thought and voted on the committee,” concedes Dr Williams. “But actually I don’t think it is a solution. A great many Anglo-Catholics have good reason for not being Roman Catholics. They don’t believe the Pope is infallible. And that’s why they’re still pressing for a solution in Anglican terms, rather than what many of them see as a theologically rather eccentric option on the Roman side.”

Written by Luke Coppen

December 12, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury in ‘cordial’ meeting

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The Archbishop of Canterbury had an approximately 20-minute meeting with the Pope today. The Vatican issued this statement afterwards:

This morning His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received in private audience His Grace Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the course of the cordial discussions attention turned to the challenges facing all Christian communities at the beginning of this millennium, and to the need to promote forms of collaboration and shared witness in facing these challenges.

The discussions also focused on recent events affecting relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, reiterating the shared will to continue and to consolidate the ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Anglicans, and recalling how, over coming days, the commission entrusted with preparing the third phase of international theological dialogue between the parties (ARCIC) is due to meet.

After the meeting, Dr Williams spoke to Vatican Radio.

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Written by Luke Coppen

November 21, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Mixed reactions to Dr Williams’s Rome speech

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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, delivered an impassioned, far-reaching and controversial speech in Rome yesterday on the future of Anglican-Catholic relations. Not surprisingly, it’s generated a great deal of equally impassioned comment. Here’s a selection:

Carl Olson of Ignatius Insight:

Dr Williams seems to be concerned more about arranging deck chairs than dealing with the massive holes in the hull of the Anglican ship. And that, of course, is his business. It’s understandable he might be feeling a bit concerned about the shaking and splintering of the ship beneath him. But why does he think the Catholic Church would ever consider climbing aboard to accept his sad offer of weak tea and stale cookies?

“Spirit of Vatican II”, an anonymous writer who left a comment on the Thinking Anglicans blog:

Rowan Williams’ speech is a glorious statement – majestically mature theology that shows up the pettiness of curial obsessions, without using a single ungracious word. At long last Anglicanism has given its reply to years of petty carping from the Vatican. The reply is just common sense at one level: ‘Cannot we agree to disagree fraternally about minor matters?’ On another level it reflects the full tide of ecumenical dialogue over the last century and the mind of one steeped in New Testament ideals and praxis of koinonia.

Is anyone in the Vatican, even Cardinal Kasper, capable of responding to this with equal breadth and wholeness of vision?

Fr Dwight Longenecker, author of the Standing on My Head blog:

What is really revealed is the depth of his blindness about the real situation between the churches. Can it be that even now he is defending women’s ordination and therefore women’s elevation to the episcopate? He may defend it in his own backyard, but is it possible that he really thinks the Catholic church has not decided on this? Does he honestly think the Pope is going to say, ‘Errm. I guess we flubbed on that one. For you guys it is obviously working really well. I mean your church is going from glory to glory. Is it too late to jump on the bandwagon?’

Blogger and Anglican Bishop Alan Wilson:

Rowan Williams’ lecture in Rome marks an interesting reframing of ecumenical futures. There is, of course, the conventional RC model. The Church achieves the Unity for which Jesus prayed when every Christian in the world submits to it as a Divinely sanctioned Imperium. Or try the Protestant version. Structural and organisational convergence will somehow produce a complex multiplanar hybrid. Everyone trades in their old but coherent structural and accountability models to the shining new one. Unity remains a future goal, and we all have to make it happen.

Blogger and ex-Anglican Fr Jeffrey Steel:

What stands out to me as most frustrating is that this speech seems to want to dismiss with the wave of the hand something that Rowan and Anglican ecclesiology (if there is such a definable thing!) often forgets, which is that what he/Anglicans sees as ‘secondary’ issues cannot within Catholic theology as a whole be disregarded as secondary.

The blogger Anglican Samizdat:

Where has Rowan been for the last three years? The Anglican communion is proof that the church can’t stay together once internal differences become as stark as they are now. I understand that once Rowan has convinced the Pope of the benefits of women bishops he will be travelling to Saudi Arabia to plead the case for women imams.

Andrew Brown of the Guardian:

The nearest I could get to his message to the pope is ‘Forgive us our women, as we forgive those who trespass against us’ but that can’t be right. For one thing the church of Rome is not about to forgive women priests.

Orthodox Christian blogger Ad Orientum:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has effectively told Pope Benedict XVI where to put his proposed Anglican Ordinariate… I am going to take an educated guess that this is not going to go over well in the Vatican. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when he meets the Pope in private.

Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid:

In related news, a junior-high science teacher in Dismal Seepage, Illinois, is urging the dean of the MIT science department to change his mind about the law of gravity.

Tom Heneghan of Reuters:

His argument seemed unlikely to convince the Vatican, which sees the disarray among Anglicans as proof that churches need clear doctrines and firm leadership.

You can watch part of Dr Williams’s speech here and read the full text here.
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Written by Luke Coppen

November 20, 2009 at 10:45 am

Rowan Williams: ‘The ecumenical glass is half-full’

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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has just delivered a major speech on Anglican-Catholic relations in Rome. The full text is up on the archbishop’s website.

Here’s the conclusion:

All I have been attempting to say here is that the ecumenical glass is genuinely half-full – and then to ask about the character of the unfinished business between us. For many of us who are not Roman Catholics, the question we want to put, in a grateful and fraternal spirit, is whether this unfinished business is as fundamentally church-dividing as our Roman Catholic friends generally assume and maintain. And if it isn’t, can we all allow ourselves to be challenged to address the outstanding issues with the same methodological assumptions and the same overall spiritual and sacramental vision that has brought us thus far?

Dr Williams’s website provides the context: “The Archbishop of Canterbury is today giving an address in Rome, as the guest of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The address is part of a symposium being held at the Gregorian University, to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Cardinal Willebrands, the first president of the Council.”

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Written by Luke Coppen

November 19, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Shadowmancer author to become Catholic

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Children’s author G P Taylor has decided to become a Catholic. In an article in the Yorkshire Post, he explains why:

What attracts me about the Roman Catholic Church is their sense of identity and purpose. My children have all gone at some point in their lives to a Catholic school.

There, I have seen a rounded education that teaches good citizenship and responsibility as well as faith. Interestingly, these schools are favoured by other faith groups and one local school boasts that 17 languages are spoken by children there. Now that is truly multi-cultural and yet amazingly beneficial to everyone.

I am also keenly drawn to the reverence in Catholic worship and their desire to pray. They have not lost their sense of awe and majesty and faith is something that is encouraged to be part of everyday life.

The leadership of the Catholic Church doesn’t seem to be afraid to stand up for important moral issues. A secular Press often ridicules these beliefs, but the Catholics have the courage not to back down.

Earlier this year the author of the Shadowmancer Quartet decided to give up writing to care for his 11-year-old daughter, Lydia, who suffers from Crohn’s disease.

Photo: A copy of G P Taylor’s bestseller (Kaptain Kobold’s photostream)

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Written by Luke Coppen

November 7, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Methodists see hope for unity with Rome in Pope’s Anglican offer

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Pope Benedict’s effort to reconcile traditionalist Anglicans to Rome has drawn praise from an unexpected quarter: the Methodist Church.

The Methodist Recorder quotes a senior official as saying that Personal Ordinariates could offer a way of clarifying Methodism’s relationship to the Universal Church:

Assistant Secretary of the [Methodist] Conference, the Rev Kenneth Howcroft, said: ‘We are interested in the suggestion of what are termed “ordinariates”. These seem to create the possibility of oversight in the Church being exercised over a group of churches and ministers that have a particular common history, tradition and purpose but which transcend geographical jurisdictions and boundaries.

‘There are similarities there to some of the proposals for enabling people of different outlooks within the Anglican communion to co-exist and cohere. These suggestions may open up ways in which Methodism, whose origins were as a movement in the Church rather than a separate denomination, may find its place in future, as a Church, alongside others within the universal Church.’

The establishment of full communion between Catholics and the approximately 70 million Methodists worldwide would be a quite remarkable achievement.

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Written by Luke Coppen

November 4, 2009 at 12:12 pm

The Anglican provision: the comment continues to flow

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The avalanche of comment on the Anglican provision shows no sign of stopping. Here’s a quick round-up:

The Global South Primates Steering Committee, representing many Anglicans in the developing world, has rejected the Pope’s overture.

The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham, has described Dr George Carey, as a “moaner” following the former Archbishop of Canterbury’s criticisms of the Apostolic Constitution.

Shadow education secretary Michael Gove says he admires “the chutzpah of Pope Benedict’s dawn raid on the faithful”.

Rod Liddle suggests that Lambeth Palace officials “were muttering darkly that you can take the boy out of the Hitler Youth … etc”.

Anglican Tim Collard says he doesn’t believe the Apostolic Constitution is “a devious Papist attempt to split and undermine our national Church”.

Austen Ivereigh argues that the move will advance Catholic-Anglican relations, rather than undermine them.

Cathleen Kaveny of Commonweal wonders if contraception will prove a stumbling block for some would-be Anglican converts. George Pitcher also wonders if the Church’s teaching on sexuality will create difficulties.

Philip Pullella of Reuters suggests the decision “may bring the Church closer to married priesthood”.

Ross Douthat of the New York Times thinks the Pope’s decision is connected to the resurgence of Islam. Maureen Dowd fears the Pope is welcoming “extreme-Right Anglicans” into the Catholic Church.

The Guardian’s Riazat Butt reports from an Anglo-Catholic parish in north London.

Joanna Bogle says she hopes large numbers of Anglicans “will take the oars of the boat heading across the Tiber, negotiate the rubbbish in the river, ignore the cross-currents, disregard the blathering … and come on home”.

Fr Ray Blake admires “the way the Pope sets his face to a theological idea and then expects canonists to follow it with the relevant legislation”.

Fr Philip Powell OP attempts to answer some tricky questions about the new provision.

Photo: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, meets Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria in 2003. Archbishop Akinola is chairman of the Global South Primates Steering Committee (PA/PA Archive)

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 26, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Anglican Ordinariates: A round-up of the weekend’s comments

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The outpouring of comment on the Anglican provision has continued throughout the weekend. Here’s a guide to some of the best of it:

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, says the lack of warning about the new provision was “inexcusable”.

The Rt Rev John Hind, Bishop of Chichester, hints that he may take up the provision.

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali says he won’t rule out taking up Pope Benedict’s offer.

Archbishop John Hepworth, head of the Traditional Anglican Communion, gives a long exclusive interview to the Australian.

Diarmaid MacCulloch claims that the Pope’s offer to Church of England members to switch to the Vatican was ill thought-out and could signal a struggle for the soul of both churches.

Writing in the New York Times, A N Wilson says that “although it will be a sad day for those Anglicans who have reached a parting of the ways, for Britain itself, the Pope’s manoeuvre is actually good news”.

The New York Times also reports on what it claims could be one of the first Anglican parishes to convert en masse to Catholicism.

The FT says the Pope has given alienated Anglicans hope.

John Wilkins says “a new era of ecumenism between Anglicans and Catholics dawned this week”.

William Oddie insists that the new arrangement will “give spiritual peace to many”. The Times reports on suggestions that Dr Oddie foresaw the new provisions in his 1997 book The Roman Option.

Peter Stanford asks whether the Pope has “outfoxed” the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Stephen Bates warns disgruntled members of the Church of England that the road to Rome is rocky.

Rorate Caeli describes this weekend’s Forward in Faith UK meeting as “disastrous”. The BBC also reports on the gathering.

Damian Thompson says the Pope has brought Anglo-Catholics to a “moment of truth”.

Robert Mickens of the Tablet says Cardinal Levada was frustratingly vague at the press conference announcing the move.

The blogger Cranmer wonders if “the arrival of the Catholic-Anglicans might not be a Trojan horse of unintended reformation within the Roman Catholic Church”.

David Gibson wonders if Pope Benedict is a “closet liberal”.

Hugh O’Shaughnessy says married former Anglican clergy will make clerical celibacy even harder for the Catholic church in South America.

Former Christian Paula Kirby claims that “like any corporate business, the Vatican’s focus is all on the bottom line”.

Michael Sean Winters of America magazine discusses the Apostolic Constitution on NPR.

And letters to the New York Times make some interesting points about the new provision.

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 25, 2009 at 9:16 am

The week the Roman Option returned

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I thought I’d end the week’s blogging with another quotation from William Oddie’s The Roman Option. This is the book which, more than any other (except perhaps The Panther and the Hind by Fr Aidan Nichols), foreshadowed this week’s dramatic announcement.

This is how it ends:

When the next convulsion within Anglicanism supervenes, the Roman Catholic bishops will find that the pastoral challenge with which they are faced will be both more clearly defined and on a very much greater scale than that of the period 1992-3. But they will also find that events have removed many of the crippling fears and anxieties of the Roman Option’s initial phase, enabling them – given courage and vision – boldly to respond to the kairos, to God’s moment. Will they be prepared? There remains at the time of writing some time left; but the sands are running out.

The same question can be put to the Anglican bishops. Will they be prepared? Will they have the vision to accommodate the Anglican Catholics in an orderly manner, to understand that their separation (and in the end almost certainly their exodus) is necessary if the Church of England is to be empowered to fulfil its historic vocation in uniting the Churches of the Reformation?

The answer is probably there will have to be at least one more major emergency before they can be brought to this point. The process of Realignment would be so much simpler if Anglicans, Free Churchmen and Roman Catholics would simply sit round a table and make rational decisions. But that is not how great historical movements proceed, at least, not at first. The great peace treaties are only ratified after major convulsions.

There will be further, and deeper crises: that is how the great clarifications of Christian history unfold. Events will be infinitely more complicated than any of the scenarios I have outlined. There will be more pain and more healing, more petty stupidity and more inspired vision; ancestral insecurities and resentments will again manifest themselves on the Church’s unimpressive human face: but in the end all this will be cast aside by the glorious Grace of God, sweeping through his people and bringing them at last safe home.

Photo: Anglican Bishops from around the world proceed out of Canterbury Cathedral to mark the opening of the 2008 Lambeth Conference (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 23, 2009 at 3:30 pm

The Anglican Ordinariate: A round-up of today’s comments

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The outpouring of comment on the new Anglican provision continues. Here are today’s highlights:

In the Times, comedian Frank Skinner speaks of his mixed feelings about the Anglican Ordinariate. “I’ve dreamt of a reunion of the Catholic and Anglican churches in the past but I always imagined it would be a marrying of the best of both, not a rallying of the worst,” he writes.

Writing in the Evening Standard, Melanie McDonagh says “there is a downside to the Pope’s plan”.

The Guardian’s Andrew Brown explains why he believes “the Pope has parked his tanks on the lawn that was once [Robert] Runcie’s”.

The Tablet’s leading article suggests “there will be long-term consequences for the Catholic Church, such as a growing plurality of liturgy”.

Also in the Tablet, Elena Curti and Robert Mickens cite Fr Aidan Nichols’s seminal book The Panther and the Hind, which outlined a Uniate model for the reception of Anglicans. They conclude: “It is hard to see how this new development will do anything but further sow division in the Anglican Communion and confusion among Catholics who have long been committed to the work of ecumenism.”

In the Washington Post, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, says the decision is a “both a cause for sadness and celebration”.

In the New York Times Robert Mackey suggests that “Catholic beliefs might give Anglicans pause”.

Francis X Rocca at the Wall Street Journal looks at the profound liturgical implications of the move.

Blogger Andrew Sullivan describes the new provisions as “the Pope’s Anglican Blitzkrieg”.

John Allen talks to NPR about what the move means for celibate Catholic clergy.

Jack Smith at The Catholic Key blog reports that traditional Anglicans sought the intercession of St Thérèse of Lisieux as they awaited Rome’s decision.

Episcopal Bishop Jack Spong asserts that the Pope’s move shows how “out-of-date and irrelevant institutional Christianity has become”.

Orthodox Christian Rod Dreher applauds what he calls “Pope Benedict’s brilliant strategy”.

Mary E Hunt at Religion Dispatches describes the Anglican Ordinariate as a “theological scandal”.

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda tells The New Vision that African Anglicans do not need the Pope’s offer. The head of the Anglican Church in Kenya is also dismissive.

Photo: Frank Skinner performs during Amnesty International’s Secret Policeman’s Ball 2008 at the Royal Albert Hall (Ian West/PA Archive/Press Association Images)

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 23, 2009 at 9:15 am