Thursday, 17 March 2011

How the Dioceses Can Act Decisively

Here is a question for people in dioceses in the Church of England. Are you fed up with the remote and high level centraliser that is Rowan Williams, the Archbishop? Whatever were and are his personal qualities and views, they have been largely subsumed to the international bureaucratic task that takes the people on the ground for granted. It all centres on the Anglican Covenant.

The evidence is the Study Guide produced for the Church of England parishes for Lent and beyond. It presumes agreement with the Covenant; it doesn't even acknowledge there is a different point of view. Yet the Covenant is accepted by fewer and fewer the more it is investigated: there is only, probably, the Open Evangelical camp that continues to give support, and even if has become frustrated with the Archbishop of Canterbury when actions didn't mean consequences (the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada hierarchs still went to the Primates Meeting). Other evangelicals don't support it, and the liberal camp doesn't either and has led the opposition. Traditionalist Catholicism is going its own way, into various corners and some of it out of the Church of England.

Instead of discussing this at the beginning, and at stages, it is being introduced as a finished product. Then the hierarchy has tried to fix the General Synod vote. As soon as the new Synod came in, the powers that be introduced the measure to hoodwink the newbies. They also set it up as a simple majority vote when back from the dioceses. A lot of the Synod vote was asked for in terms of deference to Rowan Williams - hierarchy speaks unto hierarchy.

So Wakefield Diocese has said no, and Oxford diocese wants deanery synods to discuss it first.

The Covenant is innovative because it forces the Church of England not to do anything that might upset other Anglican provinces, some of them with very different cultures and with very different outlooks. Although the Church could act alone, it would then face being put on an outer ring of Covenant breakers, which obviously cannot happen as it supplies the head of the Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury. So the Church of England really would be 'ruled from abroad' - and that it was set up precisely to be against.

If a majority of dioceses say no to this, then the Covenant goes no further, and cannot possibly work internationally. The Church of England would then be free to do what its synods decided.

Now Rowan Williams mixes with the people in purple, and he hasn't exactly asked the little people. In fact they have never been asked. It has been presumed - look at the Study Guide.

My bet is that if the dioceses say no, there will be a period of confusion when some of the hierarchs will look for ways to reintroduce the thing, even though they can't. But one of the better outcomes will be for Rowan Williams to go, and go he should.

He has been the symbol of duplicity at the head of the Church of England, having one set of private views and gay friendly, but willing to sacrifice that group of people on the altar of greater bureaucratic Church arrangements. He will pray for the Anglican Communion over those who make it up as people. A biblical critic, indeed a detailed postmodern narrative theologian, he has peddled with the fundamentalists, and a Catholic by teenage onwards intent, he has, via this Covenant, pushed the Anglican Communion more towards a Roman model as he meets ecumenically with Rome. He does this at the same time as giving knowledgeable and sympathetic lectures on Islam and Hinduism, but treats his own Church quite differently.

None of this should be the business of the little people? Now is the time to act.

If he resigns it clears the air. Someone else will be able to start again, and have a different approach. Take someone like James Jones, who is one who did not vote for the Covenant. He is also Evangelical, who has done some revising of his own beliefs position in the last few years. He is like a Kinnock, a person from the left to tackle things and yet broaden out. He would also be a better communicator. It could be him, as the next Archbishop, and it could be someone else. But the Church of England has now had two dreadful Archbishops of Canterbury in a row, and this present one remains obstinate in his pursuit of a Covenant, one that will have impact on every parish in the land. So now it the chance for the little people to stop him, and stop him for good.


Erika Baker said...

I agree with you on the Covenant. I'm not sure about Rowan Williams. I've said it somewhere else today - I increasingly believe we all project our disappointment on to him.

The previous ABC was divisive because he spoke his mind and tried to divide, the current one is divisive because he doesn't speak his mind and bends over backward to accommodate.

It's time we stopped looking for a super Daddy who can sort it all out for us and took responsibility for our own behaviour. If we cave in to bullies the destrution is the bullies' fault and ours.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

It's time we stopped looking for a super Daddy who can sort it all out for us and took responsibility for our own behaviour. If we cave in to bullies the destrution is the bullies' fault and ours.¨ Erika

Exactly--just when was it, which Primates Meeting, which ACC gathering where it was decided nobody needed to think/act responsibly except Rowan Williams thought we ought? Who gave permission for the ABC to decide what is best for the rest--like it or not, then comes the Drexel Gomez punitive covenant and proud/despotic ¨throw the bums out¨ Roman ways. Makes me sad, I thought better of the Archbishop of Canterbury but alas it seems he´s in way over the top of the triple tall mitre concealing his better judgement and level head.

Anonymous said...

James Jones ? Funny isn't it....some of those who dislike centralisation in theology seem to love it when it comes to the business of spending other peoples money and constraining their lives - i.e. governance.

I am not an advocate for anarchy or free-range capitalism, but socialism is not the answer either.
We've had enough of that recently in this country.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

You want it both ways, Erika - for someone to tell you a core, and to be so liberal an institution. If the Quakers have a practice to suit, then good, but the practice suits the absence of a core, and the Unitarians more or less bang on about God much of the time, though examine what that means. So they talk. Well that leaves groups like the LCCI and LCAC, but then you probably will find yourself in a room on your own.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Crumbs. That might have been a comment for another post.

Erika Baker said...

Currently in a room of 7, Adrian. That'll do for now.