Monday, February 19, 2007

So Much Depends on Tanzania

This may be pure nonsense:

Radical proposals to reunite Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the Pope are to be published this year, The Times has learnt.

The proposals have been agreed by senior bishops of both churches.

In a 42-page statement prepared by an international commission of both churches, Anglicans and Roman Catholics are urged to explore how they might reunite under the Pope.

The statement, leaked to The Times, is being considered by the Vatican, where Catholic bishops are preparing a formal response.
I would guess that "radical" here, as in "completely insane and will never happen," (as opposed to coming from the radix, or root) is the right adjective to use. Given the polity of the Anglican Communion, this will go down like the attempts of American congregations and dioceses seeking "Alternative Primatial Oversight" (what the insiders to this tussle call "AlPO"; the reference to dog food not being accidental, I'm sure). It is, in other words, beyond silly, but it will sell a few more newspapers. What struck me, though, in the article, was how easily the truth slips out. There is, of course, all the hot and bothered speculation about "schism". In the NYT interview with PB Schori, it was noted that only 45 American churches, out of 7400, have tried to affiliate with overseas dioceses. I roughly calculate that as something less than 1%. (via Father Jake). So "schism" seems wildly overstated here. What's really going on, of course, is the seeking after power:

The 36 primates at the gathering will be aware that the Pope, while still a cardinal, sent a message of support to the orthodox wing of the Episcopal Church of the US as it struggled to cope with the fallout after the ordination of the gay bishop Gene Robinson.

Were this week’s discussions to lead to a split between liberals and conservatives, many of the former objections in Rome to a reunion with Anglican conservatives would disappear. Many of those Anglicans who object most strongly to gay ordination also oppose the ordination of women priests.
This article, too, misunderstands the Anglican Communion as badly as some African Archbishops and American churches do.

On Friday, Archbishop Akinola and six other archbishops refused to celebrate the Holy Eucharist with Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of 2.3 million members of the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Anglican Communion. To celebrate communion with Bishop Jefferts Schori, who supports gay clergy and church blessings of same-sex unions, “would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding,” said a statement on the Nigerian church Web site.
This, frankly, is simply childish behavior (I will let others speak to "the traditional Anglican understanding"). If I refused to take communion with, or offer communion to, everyone I thought was a sinner or continuing in their sin, or was "in violation of Scriptural teaching," I'd be dining alone and serving no one. I have served communion to people who were actively undermining my ministry, and offered healing to people who openly despised me. It's the nature of ministry. The article goes on to note that Arcbhishop Akinola wasn't present for Archbishop Williams' sermon, either, which included this wisdom:

“There was a great saint who said God was evident when bishops are silent,” the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, told hundreds who packed a 173-year-old stone cathedral. “There is one thing a bishop should say to another bishop; that I am a great sinner and Christ is a great savior.”
What is the real nature of the communion?

Reuters reported that at least one archbishop, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, refused to share Holy Communion at the Sunday service. Asked who participated, Mr. [James]Rosenthal [spokesman for the Anglican Communion] said, “We didn’t check.”
All the rest of us in the Anglican Communion can do is pray for Archbishop Akinola, and Presiding Bishop Schori, and the Church in Nigeria, the Church in America, and the Church catholic and universal. And not check up on anybody.

It's the only way to be sure.

Update: the Times article is nonsense. And better things are coming out of the Primates meeting (ironically, if the Times is to be believed).

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