Archbishop of Canterbury rebukes warring factions - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
February 23, 2005

Find books now:

Archbishop of Canterbury rebukes warring factions

-23/02/05

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called on members of the Anglican Communion to find a constructive way forward in the midst of their often bitter disputes about same sex relations and church order.

Dr Williams said that a spirit of friendship in Christ needed to replace the ëdesperate activismí which seemed to have gripped both sides in their political attempts to out-manoeuvre each other in the wake of the Windsor Report, which sought reconciliation following the dispute over the appointment of an openly gay bishop, the Rt Rev Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, by the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA).

Dr Williams was preaching at a service associated with the current meeting of Anglican primates from around the world in Newry, near Belfast. His comments appear to have been deliberately offered in the context of worship and confessional theological reflection, in order to indicate what he sees as the proper way of handling disputes within the life of the church.

Dr Williams is known to be frustrated at the apparent inability of Anglicans to listen to one another with respect, and to acknowledge that each othersí deeply conflicting views on human sexuality arise from passionate convictions about the nature of the Gospel, not in attempts to avoid them ñ which is how they characterise each other.

There are voices both inside and outside the church who believe that the Archbishop needs to act more decisively on the argument. But Anglicanism has no overriding central authority as a matter of principle, basing its convictions on scripture, tradition and reason, the historic formularies of the Christian faith, and equal partnership between different world ëprovincesí, of which the primates are the leaders.

This is part of the dispute. ECUSA has been accused by other Anglicans in acting without due consideration in the appointment of Bishop Robinson. Opponents of ordaining gay people have declared themselves ëout of communioní with the American church.

But supporters of EUSAís actions say that in other key matters (such as the ordination of women priests) differences of practice have been accepted alongside ways of continuing the theological conversations about their significance, and that the attempt to impose a ësingle lineí the issue will break the 78 million worldwide Communion apart.

Dr Williams, a leading theologian, is known privately to believe that a legitimate and faithful reading of Christian tradition and the Bible can lead to an affirmative stance towards faith lesbian and gay partnerships.

But as Archbishop he has studiously avoided pushing forward his own views and is instead seeking a slow, patient (and at times painful) process of reflection, mutual accountability and consensus within the church.

Dr Williams is known to believe that the way church leaders seek to handle the argument is as important a testimony to who they worship as the decision they reach. But so far there are few signs that the warring factions are prepared to reconsider their tactics, language and antipathy towards each other.

Find books now:

Archbishop of Canterbury rebukes warring factions

-23/02/05

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called on members of the Anglican Communion to find a constructive way forward in the midst of their often bitter disputes about same sex relations and church order.

Dr Williams said that a spirit of friendship in Christ needed to replace the ëdesperate activismí which seemed to have gripped both sides in their political attempts to out-manoeuvre each other in the wake of the Windsor Report, which sought reconciliation following the dispute over the appointment of an openly gay bishop, the Rt Rev Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, by the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA).

Dr Williams was preaching at a service associated with the current meeting of Anglican primates from around the world in Newry, near Belfast. His comments appear to have been deliberately offered in the context of worship and confessional theological reflection, in order to indicate what he sees as the proper way of handling disputes within the life of the church.

Dr Williams is known to be frustrated at the apparent inability of Anglicans to listen to one another with respect, and to acknowledge that each othersí deeply conflicting views on human sexuality arise from passionate convictions about the nature of the Gospel, not in attempts to avoid them ñ which is how they characterise each other.

There are voices both inside and outside the church who believe that the Archbishop needs to act more decisively on the argument. But Anglicanism has no overriding central authority as a matter of principle, basing its convictions on scripture, tradition and reason, the historic formularies of the Christian faith, and equal partnership between different world ëprovincesí, of which the primates are the leaders.

This is part of the dispute. ECUSA has been accused by other Anglicans in acting without due consideration in the appointment of Bishop Robinson. Opponents of ordaining gay people have declared themselves ëout of communioní with the American church.

But supporters of EUSAís actions say that in other key matters (such as the ordination of women priests) differences of practice have been accepted alongside ways of continuing the theological conversations about their significance, and that the attempt to impose a ësingle lineí the issue will break the 78 million worldwide Communion apart.

Dr Williams, a leading theologian, is known privately to believe that a legitimate and faithful reading of Christian tradition and the Bible can lead to an affirmative stance towards faith lesbian and gay partnerships.

But as Archbishop he has studiously avoided pushing forward his own views and is instead seeking a slow, patient (and at times painful) process of reflection, mutual accountability and consensus within the church.

Dr Williams is known to believe that the way church leaders seek to handle the argument is as important a testimony to who they worship as the decision they reach. But so far there are few signs that the warring factions are prepared to reconsider their tactics, language and antipathy towards each other.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.