Monday, August 11, 2008
An "orderly separation" for Anglicanism?
The Rt. Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt, bishop of Winchester, offers some interesting thoughts about the 2008 Lambeth conference and about the future of Anglicanism. On the former, while he lauds Rowan Williams' third plenary address (which I have to say is quite encouraging including an olive branch to GAFCON), he laments that: "By the second full week of the Conference I and many other bishops had come to the view that the programme as a whole was designed to ensure that the Conference should not seek to offer any clear guidance or teaching on any issue, because of the potentially divisive effects of our starting upon the plenary debates, and the voting, which alone would enable the Conference to articulate a particular view comparable to that of 'Lambeth '". This confirms what has been my suspicion for some time, namely, that Williams' strategy to hold the communion together is, in desperation I suspect, to filibuster the communion by stifling any democratic process leading to a definitive resolution precisely because it would lead to a dissolution of the communion as it stands. This might not be as bad as it sounds if Williams is trying to buy time in order to (1) let all sides cool down, re-think their actions, meet face to face, and get an alternative perspective on what is going and where, and also (2) create some space for an Anglican covenant that can hopefully provide a way forward where all parties can agree on a new rule book for the communion and force TEC to swap "unilateral" for "mutally accountable". Sadly, the problem I have with such a strategy, noble as it sounds, is that in order to do that Williiams must brazenly defy the will of the majority of the communion who, as far as I can tell, would very much have liked a democratic resolution to the current crisis at Lambeth: vote to reaffirm LR 1.10 and then vote that those who do not agree to live-by LR 1.10 (note:  "live-by" and "agree with" are different things, no one's asking for the latter;  "live-by" means moratoria on same-sex blessing and ordination of active homosexuals to the episcopate) are invited to remain in the communion, but only in a second tier position. I'm sure someone can show me a problem with that scenario somewhere, but I understand the annoyance of the global south who claim that the voice of the majority is being quashed by an elite few. On the future of Anglicanism, Scott-Joynt states: "I described this apparently likely outcomes 'living down' to the concerns about “Lambeth 2008” that motivated the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in July, and that led more than 200 bishops to refuse the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to the Conference. I expressed my concern that if this were to be the outcome of the Conference, more Provinces might well be drawn away from the See of Canterbury to the new structures that GAFCON had committed itself to bringing into being; and I suggested that the wisest future for the Communion could be some kind of negotiated 'orderly separation' that would free both 'sides' from more years of necessarily inconclusive debate and from the damage that each perceived itself receiving from the other." This call for separation is not that of some ultra conservative licking his fingers waiting for the fabric of the communion to finally tear apart so he can say, "Ha, see, I told you so!". Rather, I think that Scott-Joynt's words are the recommendations of a realist who wants all sides to embrace the inevitable on terms that are, hopefully, acceptable to all parites.