Tuesday 12 January 2010

Pastoral Visit Report in Full

Here is the full script of the report by Bishops M. Gandiya and G. Bennetts.

Report for the Archbishop of Anglicanism, Most Reverend Dr. Rowan Tree.

We present these findings from our Pastoral Visit held with Canadian bishops.

001 The Canadian Anglican Church is not of one mind with same-sex blessings. The previous General Synod was neither heterosexual nor homosexual on this matter. The next one may be no clearer. The practice of same-sex blessings is tiring and has left the Canadian Church somewhat exhausted. Some people have even run out of energy for the arguing that is characteristic of Anglicanism. It is complex not to say confusing when you come to write a report after so little time of study.

002 At best this situation could lead to internal anarchy. At best it could offer a whole, new, broad based solution to a Christian style of inclusiveness. So it could be a watershed either way. We suggest the use of a crystal ball, or tossing a coin, or using our method of 'sensing' as to the likely outcome. Indeed, as this is like suggesting we are facing a new global ice age or global warming, either of which could be a watershed, or an iceshed, and we suggest that our comments are meaningless and worthless on this matter.

003 One bishop said he wished it would all go away, though we sensed that he may have said he wished we would go away. This might actually might mean the same thing. Nevertheless, despite the weariness, we measured a real desire for mission, by each of us raising a wet finger into the air. The issue of the real decline in numbers of Anglicans in Canada was matched by a virtual sense of enthusiasm for imaginary church growth.

004 Such imaginings could well lead to a vibrant model of the kind of renewed Christian community that has much to teach the wider Church. This could involve more integrated forms of theological education both for ordinands and for laity than actually exist. By implication the vibrancy is not there yet; indeed we sensed a weariness that would have to be overcome.

005 In so many ways the Canadians are not like the people of the United States. Canadians have a mosaic approach to immigration, where Canadians maintain their cultural identities, often continue to operate in their ethnic groups, and develop a commitment to Canadian identity with a loyalty to the Canadian flag. In contrast, American assimilation involves people maintaining their cultural identities, often continuing to operate in their groups, while developing a commitment to an identity as Americans with a loyalty to the flag of the United States. This crucial difference underlies deep seated different attitudes towards Christian orthodoxy, though we as brief visitors (or indeed if here longer) are not sure how.

006 We sensed a strong commitment to ministry among indigenous people and a determination to deliver better. We are not quite sure who the indigenous people are any more. It could mean the natives, but then who are the natives? All we can say is that history is somewhat ambiguous regarding the natives and delivery can be improved, perhaps to an overnight service as standard.

007 Having established the connection between this and orthodoxy, at least one conclusion follows. Canadians really do know what orthodoxy implies, and this has to be contrasted against those south of the border before Mexico way. We noted around the tea and coffee cups the deep commitment to orthodoxy among those bishops who carry out same-sex blessings, and this must be different from trinitarians in the United States who compromise their apparent orthodoxy by carrying out same sex blessings and causing upset throughout the Communion.

008 The potential then, in contrast to the troublesome Episcopalians to the south, is that Canadian Anglicans can offer an encouraging sign that allows for a more obviously Christ-centred approach to issues that currently divide the Communion. This may even have widescale ecumenical benefits. We are really encouraged.

009 As regards the violence inside the Anglican Communion, there is no doubt that Canada punches way above its declining numerical weight. They are not like the Episcopalians from the south, who dodge and weave and use deceptive tactics to try to maintain their place in the competition. The Canadians really do want to play their full part in the ring, and play it well - to maintain their place in the competition. The commitment to the Communion battle springs from a genuine sense of affection for the rules of the game which we found deeply moving and must be contrasted with the cynicism elsewhere.

010 At the same time, the bishops for the boxing ring seemed overly relaxed and relational. This clearly has merits but this user-friendly approach showed a lack of theological depth. The strategy lacks theological first principles and tends to stress pragmatic outcomes, such as winning the argument in the Communion, for example regarding same-sex blessings. On the other hand, there are theological heavyweights, who can pack a punch, and who can argue against same-sex blessings. The issue is whether the right boxers are entered into the right contests.

011 We also wish to include some brown nosing to add ballast to this Report. Archbishop O. Feather Hill is a huge asset to the Church. He really is top diggy dog. We were simply amazed at the similarity between him and Archbishop Rowan Tree, the Archbishop of Anglicanism. However, we understand that this comparison might undermine Archbishop Hill, so we have left this to the end. Nevertheless O. Feather Hill presides with humility, sensitivity and passion, all of which is problematic objectively but here is suggested subjectively.

012 Consequently, we recommend from our sensings with such admittedly subjective praise and criticism throughout that we try to get the praise-worthy Canadian Anglicans to sign the Covenant, and try to limit our losses to the nuisance Episcopalians to the south and use them as scapegoats. We have attempted by our visit to reduce the sense of shared interests and alliance between these North Americans that unfortunately share the same continent, and we did not venture outside of Canada to the land of obvious excesses. We are grateful to the Archbishop of Anglicanism for asking us to put aside any actual conflict-resolution skills we may possess in the pursuit of this Report to further the institutional cause of a Sitting Committee run Anglican Communion, serving the Anglican Consultative Council and Primates Meeting and the many bishops like ourselves and those we talked to in Canada but not in the United States.

Pastoral Visitors Bishops Mahatma Gandiya and Gordon Bennetts


Kurt said...

Adrian, I laughed so hard my dentures fell out! Keep up the good work!

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn USA

Brother David said...

What a hoot!