Saturday, 17 March 2012

Give the C of E its Archbishop Back

You could almost hear the sigh of relief from here, 200 miles away!

The reality is that the job of Archbishop of Canterbury has become just about impossible now, certainly in terms of what's known as the Anglican Communion. And it's simply because it's hardly a 'communion' at all now.

The Anglican Covenant, which, it seems to me, is meant to be a framework within which the different parts of the  Communion can live and relate to one another, is a non-starter because opinions are too widely divided. You can't be further apart than 180 degrees and that's what the liberals and the traditionalists are.

I have to say that I would put the blame fairly and squarely upon what, for the sake of it's own definition, now styles itself TEC - THE Episcopal Church (once the Episcopal Church of the United States of America ECUSA) It's called itself TEC to distinguish itself from those parishes and dioceses who, out of disgust and disdain have separated from it, some of whom, I believe are now joining together as ACNA (Anglican Church in North America). It's that part of the Episcopal Church in America that agrees to toe the line and then does the complete opposite of what everybody agrees to. They agreed not to consecrate gay men as bishops, so that the conversation and discussion could proceed on an equal basis, and then right away consecrated Gene Robinson, an openly gay man in the face of what had been agreed. How can you work with people like that? Consequently, the traditionalists are separating themselves from that part of the Church. For my money, when a church decides to do something unilaterally it steps beyond the boundaries of the Church (capital C) In other words it takes itself out of communion.

That, as far as I can see it, is the 'common sense' and the theology that holds the Orthodox Church together. Every part of the Orthodox Church realises that if they do things without reference to and the agreement of the rest of the Church, they take themselves outside the Church and out of communion. By their actions, they place themselves outside the Body of Christ. The people of the Orthodox Church argue mightily about who has jurisdiction over whom and all sorts of other things. They have the same debates and discussions about all the issues we do in the 'west'. But what is commonly held in theology and practice only changes for any part of the Church, when the whole Church agrees it should change. For any one part of the church to act unilaterally puts them outside the Church and so out of communion. Differences are held within that sense of the definition of catholicity which is 'what has been generally agreed always, everywhere and by all' (St. Vincent of Lerins)

It's part of the job of the Archbishop of Canterbury to shepherd the Anglican Communion and to keep it all together, in communion. The Anglican Covenant is a piece of paper for all parties to sign up to, agreeing to toe the line. But it really is trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted. TEC, by its action up to now, makes the Covenant immediately not viable, simply because they can't be trusted.

The Anglican Communion has had its day and you can thank the selfish liberals in the USA for that. It's time to close the door on the Anglican Communion and give back to the Church of England its Archbishop. It's the only way a future Archbishop of Canterbury will be able to stay sane!

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