Tuesday, 29 July 2008

It Is Finished

The situation is becoming absurd.

We have the Windsor Continuation Group - Preliminary Observations to the Lambeth Conference (Parts 1, 2 and 3). There is a .PDF version of same and a .PDF of First Reflections on the Indaba process. There was a press conference too.

We have heard about the biblical hermeneutic for the whole Anglican Communion and about a harmonising towards an International Canon Law. There is a back pedalling emphasis on that, as said by Bishop Clive Handford:

I hear on the part of some on the Internet strange things about the Faith and Order Commission. It has been referred to as the grand inquisition. That is not at all true. All we are doing is combining together two existing bodies the IASCA and the Anglican Inter-doctrinal commission to work together to achieve some coherence.

[Matt Kennedy]

I am not sure this actually is as passive as the claim. It may not be an Inquisition but what is it to have additional coherence at this higher Communion level? What does it imply on to the Churches in respect of authorised belief and Canon Law?

The absurdity is despite proposing the Covenant, and the Faith and Order Commission, we now have another proposal of:

  • the swift formation of a 'Pastoral Forum' at Communion level to engage theologically and practically with situations of controversy as they arise or divisive actions that may be taken around the Communion.

In the end the Anglican Communion is going to choke with busy-bodying bodies (!) all running around trying to stop cultural and faith differences that find objection among some others. As if this is going to make the slightest difference.

Calling for international border crossing to cease is a nonsense: GAFCON has now set itself up. There will be a North American Province of GAFCON, and there will no doubt be other interventions elsewhere. The kind of conditions that would be set to stop these are no longer possible, because it is becoming more to do with perceived matters of doctrine than simply homosexual bishops and same sex blessings. Such is rapidly becoming yesterday's news. What would various Churches have to do to satisfy GAFCON - become like GAFCON? It is hardly possible.

In the same way, the agenda to include, not to exclude, has an overwhelming nature to it. This is not going to stop, other than for a frustrating short period of time. It may pause, it may spread more slowly, but this is going to be part of Church life if nothing else because it is becoming part of civil life.

Plus, the Anglican Communion continues to play a very dangerous game. There is the fact that some people, nutcases we might say, take comfort in talk of exclusion, and their belief that it is ethical, who, like that man invading the Knoxville at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church, takes a weapon to vent anger and frustration at those who would be stopped. As we know, Davis Mac-Iyalla has had to be granted asylum in the UK because of the danger he faced, with the denigration of him pursued by the Nigerian Church. This should be condemned and yet little is heard from those bishops.

Who would be in this Forum? It would be chaired, again, by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It would include members from the Instruments of Communion. So it adds to this piling on of centralisation. The word "Stop" would be heard in at least triplicate. Echo seems to be a Communion method.

What the Windsor Continuation Group shows is just how many layers it thinks the sticking plaster has to be.

Meanwhile a BBC report seems to have got it wrong:

Bishop Handford acknowledged that would leave a number of congregations currently under the care of African archbishops without a home. A new "pastoral forum" would care for them, pending a more formal agreement.

The pastoral forum would have a far broader role than this, by what has been presented so far. It would be one means to do what the Covenant restricts.

In his blog the nearest bishop geographically to me reckons:

The key question is how do we structure the Communion without creating a centralising 'magisterium' of teaching and order, which would undermine the nature of the bonds which holds us together as a worldwide Communion.

There is need for a wholly different approach. As well as having a wholly different settlement, that based on Churches - I suggested something based on the Church of England and Old Catholics agreement - it may be more honest, braver, sensible, to say that the impasse now is set, and that in future Anglican tendencies are going to separate, and overlap via different providers. No one can claw back from what has already begun and becoming institutionalised.

It may be clearer for ecumenism too: knowing what Anglicanism another denomination may approach, more than likely reflecting its own tendencies. These changes are not exclusively Anglican. It needs a brave bishop to say, "Well we can be friends but we are going to have to be different."

Bishop David Chillingworth, of the Scottish Episcopal Church, would like the Communion to cohere, but states in his blog:

I don’t think the Indaba process will deliver what we need. We are giving too little time to it and trying to cover too much ground.

This Conference has been running for nearly two weeks. I simply cannot understand why it will be Thursday before we reach ‘The Bishop and Human Sexuality.’ To rush the big issues at the end of a Conference is never wise. I went today to the hearings of the Windsor Continuation Group. Bishops from all over the world were being allowed three minutes each to speak on very complex issues - yellow card after two minutes and red after three. Differences were being aired with grace and dignity. But it was not a graceful or dignified process.

I think this is rather telling and rather honest.

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