Is Rowan Williams a prisoner of the evangelical right?

By Sergio Carranza-Gomez
16 Jul 2007

In the battle to capture the soul of Anglicanism, the great loser - after the Anglican Communion itself - would seem to be the Archbishop of Canterbury, who in a desperate attempt to preserve the unity of the Communion has submitted to the machinations of an anachronistic form of evangelicalism that pretends to "complete" the English Reformation by imposing a monolithic uniformity on the manner in which we interpret Scripture and carry on the contextual ministry that our culture requires.

When he was appointed by the Crown to the See of Canterbury, the gentle Rowan Williams tried to ingratiate himself with the hard-line type of evangelicals [there are many other kinds] in the Church of England, who did not find him congenial to their subversive plans to take over the soul of the Anglican Communion.

The Archbishop was acting in good faith and desirous to extend the hand of friendship to all factions, since he did not have to please anybody, much less those who had nothing to do with his appointment.

Once enthroned, Rowan Williams found himself caught in the web of a plot of international dimensions in which hard-line British evangelicals, ultraconservative American schismatics and an ambitious African Primate, with his band of assenting minions, had joined forces to capture the soul of Anglicanism, at the same time that they advanced their own particular agendas.

Up until the last meeting of the Primates in Dar es Salaam, the Archbishop of Canterbury tried to woo the leaders of the conspiracy by yielding to the majority of their wishes. As was to be expected, the ringleaders took Rowan Williams' acquiescence for weakness, and redoubled their efforts to make him sanction an American schism.

Although he has not fully submitted to their demands, I do not understand why is it that he does not put a stop to Peter Akinola's grandiloquent harangues, or to his incessant interventions in the Episcopal Church, or respond accordingly to his bullying threats, such as: "We will definitely not attend any Lambeth Conference to which the violators of the Lambeth Resolution are also invited as participants or observers." (2006 report of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa).

Neither do I understand Rowan's nervousness about meeting with the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.

If the Archbishop of Canterbury allows the conspirators to have their way, they will not only validate an American schism, but alienate the other 21st century Anglican Provinces, and, in effect, render asunder the Anglican Communion by erecting their own ecclesial body where his primacy and moral authority will become superfluous.

Let us pray for Rowan Williams as he faces the greatest challenge of his life.

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(c) Sergio Carranza-Gomez. Reproduced with grateful acknowledgements to the Diocese of Los Angeles, USA, in which the author is a bishop assistant in the heavily Latino area of southern California. He was formerly Episcopal Bishop of Mexico. This article originated as a personal pastoral letter. It was written before the recent Church of England General Synod.

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