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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