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GAFCON to be ‘an Anglican province’ in all but name: Church Times, October 31, 2013 November 11, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church Times, GAFCON.
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THE Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) will effectively provide for Anglican traditionalists the fellowship and support that provinces give to dioceses, Dr Peter Jensen, a former Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, told the Church Times at the close of the GAFCON conference in Nairobi last week (News, 25 October).

The conference adopted by acclamation the Nairobi Commitment, pledging primatial support for an umbrella group for British traditionalists: the Anglican Mission in England. GAFCON would not legally be a province, Dr Jensen said, but “effectively, yes”.

In light of the impending release of the Pilling report, and of the expected endorsement by the Church of England’s General Synod of a Measure allowing women bishops, but offering no safeguards to those opposed to this, GAFCON decided to shift its energies from the US to the UK.

The Pilling report will not be released until later this year, but the view of many of those present at GAFCON was that, based on statements released so far, and the theological views of the Pilling panel, it would opt for rites for the pastoral blessings of gay civil partnerships.

The internal strength of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), and its acceptance by most provinces of the Anglican Communion, gave GAFCON the opportunity to redeploy its energies to the UK.

The Vicar of St Martin de Gouray, Jersey, Canon Gavin Ashenden, said steps had to be taken now to prevent conservative Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics from fragmenting into half a dozen groups, should the crisis occur. A “non-geographic” province would be an ecclesial Velcro, gathering the diaspora, he said.

Adopted on the closing day of the conference with little public dissent, the conference statement received strong support from participants. The Bishop of the Gulf Atlantic diocese of ACNA, the Rt Revd Neil Lebhar, welcomed the statement, calling it a “unity” document that would gather other Anglicans into the GAFCON fold.

The Vicar of St Matthew’s, Elburton, and chairman of Reform, Prebendary Rod Thomas, said: “It sets a clear gospel priority for GAFCON. It is designed to carry forward the work of encouragement and faithfulness. . . I’m delighted.”

A multi-national committee composed of delegates from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, the Southern Cone, the US/Canada, and England produced the document from reports submitted by the nine “mini-conferences” that convened during the meeting. The committee chairman, the Bishop of the Mid-Atlantic diocese of ACNA, the Rt Revd John Guernsey, told delegates that the statement had not been pre-written, but was a product of the conference.

The conference received a draft copy of the statement last Friday, and was directed to break into national groups to offer substantive criticisms for review by the writing team. Over the course of the evening, eight revisions were produced, and the final document was presented for approval the next day.

Not all the delegates were pleased with it. The Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt Revd Jack Iker, said that it showed the strength of the “Sydney contingent” at the meeting. He was “concerned” about the deletion of points that were important to Anglo-Catholics, and noted that GAFCON treated Anglo-Catholics as poor relations to the conservative Evangelical majority.

Within the English section, a debate over the degree of thanks to be given to the Archbishop of Canterbury arose. While some praised the Archbishop for his seeming endorsement of GAFCON, others were concerned about what they perceived as his indecisiveness.

The director of Christian Concern, Andrea Minichiello Williams, read to the group a part of Archbishop Welby’s address in the Lords on the Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, arguing that his words had all but conceded the argument to those who supported gay marriage.

In the final document, words of commendation for the Archbishop became: “We appreciated that the Archbishop of Canterbury sent personal greetings via video, and gave us the assurance of his prayers, and we likewise pray for him.”

A behind-the-scenes fight over language describing the ministry of women also shaped the final document. It said: “We affirm the ministries of women and their vital contribution to the life of the Church: their call to the task of evangelism, discipling, and building strong marriages, families, churches, and communities. GAFCON 2013 upholds the Bible’s teaching that men and women are equally made in the image of God . . . excercising different gifts. We recognise that we have differing views over the roles of men and women in church leadership.”

Delegates from provinces that support women in episcopal leadership, however, fought for the inclusion of language in support of women bishops. The move was blocked by the dominant Nigerian bloc (almost 500 of the 1300 delegates), in alliance with conservative Evangelicals. When the final document was offered to the conference, a Ugandan woman clergy delegate voiced a lone “No” vote.

But the Nairobi Commitment was not a “Mosaic tablet”, Dr Ashenden said. It was “a fluid document,” produced by committee in a very short time, which addressed different audiences on different levels, while seeking also to express a vision for the future.

The confusion expressed in other areas was absent when addressing the situation in England. In the “Our Priorities” section, the document said GAFCON would continue to engage in cross-border support for Anglicans whom it believed were disowned by their ecclesial structures.

It stated: “In line with the Jerusalem Statement’s expectation that the Primates’ Council would intervene to provide ‘orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership’, the Primates’ Council will carefully consider working beyond existing structures as an obedient response to Jesus’s commission to take the gospel to all nations.”

The document spelled out where these cross-border actions might take place. “We commit ourselves to the support and defence of those who in standing for apostolic truth are marginalised or excluded from formal communion with other Anglicans in their dioceses. We have therefore recognised the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as an expression of authentic Anglicanism both for those within and outside the Church of England, and welcomed their intention to appoint a General Secretary of AMiE.”

Nevertheless, none of those questioned by the Church Times would say on the record who they thought would provide episcopal oversight for the AMiE, nor how it would be structured. But many, though not all, of the English conference participants agreed that GAFCON should focus on recognising that the problem existed, and that a solution needed to be reached before the crisis fragmented traditionalist Anglicans.

First printed in The Church Times.

Anglicans must be bridge-builders, Archbishop Welby tells Toronto conference: The Church of England Newspaper, October 11, 2013 p 1 October 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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Toronto: The Anglican Communion must not lose its vocation as a bridge-building church, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last week in an address delivered at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Toronto pan-Anglican Congress.

In an address via Skype to the “Back to the Anglican Future: The Toronto Congress 1963 and the Future of Global Communion” Conference organized by Wycliffe College of the University of Toronto on 18 September 2013 Archbishop Welby stated his vision for the future of the church drew inspiration from  Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ideal of the Church as “Christ existing as community”.

Archbishop Welby observed that “there never was a generation in the Church that does not see a truck coming at great speed to run it over.”

The 1963 Congress sought to reshape the church to address a rapidly changing world. Then, as now, “do we need to rethink” the ways we are approaching “the problems,” he asked.

The way forward, the archbishop said, is “to start not with what is around us” but examine the issues through the lens of “theology, anthropology and ecclesiology. Who is the God we serve? Who are we? What is the Church for?”

Approaching the divisions within the church today in this way “changes the way we see the Communion,” he said.

He stated he had recently read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s doctoral thesis “Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church” and his views of the problems facing Anglicanism as well as the wider Christian world were informed by Bonhoeffer’s understanding of Luther’s dictum “simul iustus et peccator” – “simultaneously justified and sinful.”

“We focus over and over on the massive damage in our culture over changes in sexuality”, yet in “other parts of the world it is corruption, persecution, complacency or poverty. In many places it is all of these. What is the context the church is facing,” he asked.

“Financial corruption: the church is full of people who are financially corrupt” while in “places sexually corrupt,” he said. “We need to look at our context. We need to look at the Communion in light of our vocation” to change the world.

Greeting the Bishop of Egypt, the Most Rev. Mouneer Anis who sat in the front row of the audience gathered at St Paul’s Bloor Street in Toronto,  Archbishop Welby spoke of his visit to Egypt and Jerusalem in the company of Dr. Anis. There he “saw a small church. A minority of a minority, but one that has extraordinary influence, partly due to its bishop” he said with a nod to Dr. Annis, “but also because it is a bridge-builder.”

Anglicans are “being attacked where we are strongest,” he said. “We have a vocation to bring people together” and that is why we are being attacked by Satan.

“I am optimistic about the Anglican Communion,” he concluded, calling upon Anglicans to “seek the purpose of the church … [to ensure a] future of growth” through “reconciliation” and in this way harness the “energy” given to Anglicans by God to bring humanity into relationship with the living God.

The suffragan Bishop of Toronto, the Rt. Rev. Patrick Yu said he was he was encouraged by the archbishop’s words, and noted that when he had dined with the archbishop earlier this year, the archbishop said his priorities were “reconciliation and evangelism”.

Bishop Yu urged conference participants to “deeply embrace” these words, and by doing so, bring about the reform and renewal of the Anglican world.

Archbishop Welby sets the agenda for the Anglican future: Anglican Ink, September 24, 2013 September 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Communion, Anglican Ink, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England.
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Archbishop Welby speaking to the Toronto conference via Skype on 18 Sept 2013

Toronto: The Archbishop of Canterbury has laid out his vision for a reformed and renewed Anglican Communion during an address delivered last week at Wycliffe College of the University of Toronto.

The Anglican way forwards was through a church whose mission and message had a concrete impact on the real world of modern men and women. But this church was not merely a vehicle for good works, but one that took a wholly Christ-centered approach to theology and was grounded entirely in the New Testament.

In an unscripted address via Skype to the “Back to the Anglican Future: The Toronto Congress 1963 and the Future of Global Communion” Conference held on 18 September 2013 Archbishop Welby acknowledged the impact of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ideal of the Church as “Christ existing as community” as his guide.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 78, August 9, 2013 August 10, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Tanzania, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

STORY INDEX:

Silly Story Month 00:00
News from Sydney 08:06
Egypt and Zanzibar 12:06
AS Haley 18:03
Peter Ould 32:42
Closing and Outtakes 40:51

Anglican Unscripted Episode 77: July 31, 2013 July 31, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Property Litigation, Roman Catholic Church, South Carolina.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

STORY INDEX:

THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST 00:00
THE POPE IN AMERICA 04:13
JUSTICE FOR JUSTIN 10:34
RECIFE 15:59
SOUTH CAROLINA 21:59
FORWARD IN FAITH 25:38

Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with Pope Francis in Rome: The Church of England Newspaper, June 16, 2013 p 6. June 20, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Roman Catholic Church.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will hold his first meeting with Pope Francis on 14 June 2013 at the Vatican.

The Archbishop’s official diary states he “will be travelling to Rome, accompanied by Mrs Welby, for a personal and fraternal visit to Pope Francis on 14 June. … A more extended visit, for Archbishop Justin to engage with various other Vatican officials, will happen later in the year.”

On 4 June 2013 Msgr. Mark Langham told Vatican Radio this would be “important” but “informal, brief courtesy visit” to Pope Francis. The meeting has been scheduled so that the heads of the two churches can “get to know each other better and more deeply,” he said.

A press release from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said the Friday meeting will be an “opportunity for the Archbishop and Pope Francis to review the present state of relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion.”

The statement said: “In particular, the interest shown by Archbishop Welby in global justice and the ethical regulation of financial markets so that they do not oppress men and women, is echoed in the constant teaching of the Holy Father. Ever since his experience as an executive in an oil company, Archbishop Welby has placed great emphasis on reconciliation, and has continued to press for the resolution of conflicts within the Church and society. This also evokes Pope Francis’ own call to build bridges between people of every nation, so that they may be seen not as rivals and threats, but as brothers and sisters.”

The statement added that the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, “will accompany the Archbishop of Canterbury on this visit” and that his presence is “a sign of their close relations”.

In addition to meeting the pope Archbishop Welby is scheduled to visit the Excavations beneath St Peter’s Basilica to pray at the tomb of St Peter, visit the tomb of John Paul II and lunch with Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity at Saint Martha’s, the lodging house for Vatican visitors where Francis lives.

Put not your trust in Huffington Post headlines: Get Religion, June 18, 2013 June 18, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Archbishop of Canterbury, ARCIC, Church of England, Get Religion, Press criticism, Roman Catholic Church.
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I know a maiden fair to see,
Take care!
She can both false and friendly be,
Beware! Beware!
Trust her not,
She is fooling thee!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s advice about women — especially blondes …

And she has hair of a golden hue,
Take care!
And what she says, it is not true,
Beware! Beware!
Trust her not,
She is fooling thee!

… is also good advice in reading headlines. As your GetReligionistas have stressed many times, seldom does a reporter get to write his own title. Yet when a sub-editor makes a mess of a headline the blame is laid at the reporter’s feet when the claim made in the title is not substantiated in the text. There have been times when stories I have written appear under a title that implies the opposite of what I reported.

Sometime back I was commissioned to write an article on a lecture given by the literary critic and philosopher René Girard at Oxford. I gave the story my all and … when I opened the paper after it came off the truck from the printer I found my article nicely displayed on page 5 with a beautiful photo of Girard scoring a goal in a World Cup match.

Too bad René Girard the philosopher and René Girard the soccer player are two different people. Perhaps my readers thought I was being droll, commenting on the élan vital of Girard’s latest book on mimesis by reference to the 1982 France v Poland match. Or they thought I was an idiot.

These meditations on my less than glorious moments in journalism are prompted by a Reuters article on the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s visit to Rome to meet with Pope Francis. The Huffington Post headlined the story: “Pope And Archbishop Of Canterbury Meet, Note Differences On Women Ordination, Gay Rights”.

While I was not in Rome for the press conference at the Venerable English College where Archbishop Welby and Vincent Nichols the Archbishop of Westminster spoke at the end of their day at the Vatican, this headline indicated I missed a major event. Until now Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby held near identical views on gay rights, same-sex marriage, and civil liberties of persons with same-sex attractions. Oh to have been a fly on the wall at that meeting! What had they said to each other?

I dove into the Reuters story looking for details. But there was nothing there. I could quibble here and there with some of the language and editorial asides made by the author:

It was the boldest step by the Vatican to welcome back Anglicans since King Henry VIII broke with Rome and set himself up at the head of the new Church of England in 1534.

An Anglican would say Henry made himself Supreme Governor not head — the head of the church is Christ (there is a difference) and there was nothing “new” in a Church of England in 1534 — “new” implying a discontinuity between the pre and post 1534 church. A frightful papistical canard. Or:

In January this year, the Church of England lifted a ban on gay male clergy who live with their partners from becoming bishops on condition they pledge to stay celibate, deepening a rift in the Anglican community over homosexuality.

A celibate person is an unmarried person. A chaste person is someone who refrains from illicit sexual behavior. I assume Reuters meant to say chaste, meaning conforming to the church’s teaching that “in view of the teaching of scripture, [the Anglican Communion] upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage”. The working assumption is that clergy in civil partnerships are celibate, because they are unmarried, and chaste as they are to abstain from sexual relations outside of (traditional) marriage.

And it is the Anglican Communion, not community. Community implies an ashram in the woods somewhere, or a collection of sensibly dressed nuns in their cloister. (True there are such Anglican communities — religious with pearls and twin sets) but this is not what Reuters is likely to have in mind — but perhaps this is the “women” link to the headline?

Or:

The Church, struggling to remain relevant in modern Britain despite falling numbers of believers, published a plan in May to approve the ordination of women bishops by 2015, after the reform narrowly failed to pass last November.

It was the bishops — not the church — who published the plan. It still must be approved by the General Synod, which if the plan goes forward as currently written will likely be turned aside once more.

Anything about gays in the Reuters story? Nothing at all.

I looked about the web and found The Chicago Tribune had run the same item, but with a different title: “Pope Francis and new Anglican leader meet, note differences.” Rather a where’s Waldo headline — written for a bored seven year old. One is in purple, one in white. One has his wife with him (in the background) one has cardinals, etc.

I looked on the Reuters web page to see if the Huffington Post had shortened the article for space reasons, but found they had lengthened the title instead. The suggested title read: Pope Francis and new Anglican leader meet, note differences.” The gays and women bits came from the Huffington Post’s scribes — not Reuters.

Checking further I found I had not missed a major ecumenical story by staying home as La Stampa and the Guardian reported these comments by Archbishop Welby at the press briefing. La Stampa wrote:

Questioned whether he and Pope Francis had discussed the question of marriage and the debate over gay marriage, Archbishop Welby said “we are absolutely at one on the issues” by which he meant on the question of marriage (understood in the traditional Christian sense as between a man and a woman). He revealed that the Pope told him that he had read the speech he given recently to the House of Lords in which he opposed the British Government’s bill to introduce marriage between persons of the same sex.

Archbishop Welby added that he and Pope Francis are “equally at one in the condemnation of homophobic behavior” and “our sense that the essential dignity of the human being is where you start, and that is one of the absolute root foundations of all behavior, and the moment you start treating people as a category rather than as human beings with this essential dignity you have begun to lose the plot”.

What is the moral of the story?

Read the article, not just the headline. Though I will admit the Huffington Post editor who wrote this headline succeeded in his job, which is getting me to read the article. That is a different task than the reporter’s job of fairly presenting the news. Beware! You’ve been warned.

First printed in Get Religion.

RNS blames Catholics for Anglican ecumenical ills: Get Religion, June 14, 2013 June 14, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Archbishop of Canterbury, ARCIC, Church of England, Get Religion, Roman Catholic Church.
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Opinion presented as fact dominates several stories in the run up to today’s meeting of Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Some of the stories are crafted as news analysis pieces. This BBC story begins with fact and then transitions into the analysis, using the phrase “our correspondent said” to demarcate the line between the two. The reader may choose to accept the reporter’s interpretation, or not.

Some stories like this report from the Religion News Service as printed by the Washington Post combine fact and opinion but do not disclose to the reader what they are reading is not news.

This is a problem of the contents of the package not matching the label. In this case the problem is compounded by false information and faulty analysis.

The lede in the RNS story reports this will be the first meeting between the new pope and the new archbishop before turning to a statement from the Vatican official overseeing that churches relations with Anglicans.

Welby’s visit to Rome will be “short but very significant,” said the Rev. Mark Langham, the Vatican’s point man on dialogue with Anglicans. While its primary purpose is to allow the two leaders to get to know each other, he noted that they share the same concerns about poverty and the global economic crisis.

I’m not familiar with all different stylebooks out there: Associated Press, Times of London, New York Times, etc., but I’m quite sure all would agree that on first reference a full title is provided. Mark Langham holds the rank or office of Monsignor. This difficulty with labeling extends to a description of the second person quoted in the story.

On the issue of an “economy for the people,” they have “many ideas in common,” said Archbishop David Moxon, the Anglican representative in Rome.

Archbishop Moxon, the former primate of the Anglican Church in Aoteroa, New Zealand and Polynesia, is not the Anglican representative in Rome. There is no such office. Archbishop Moxonn is the director of the Anglican Center in Rome and may have a quasi official/unofficial commission from the Archbishop of Canterbury to facilitate communication between the two churches, but he has no authority to speak on behalf of the Anglican Communion or does he hold a commission akin to a papal nuncio or ambassador.

The article then moves into opinion and gets into trouble. The question of labeling is merely a quibble and is excusable given the shorthand reporters must use to convey as much information into as small a space as they can. But the account of the troubles between Anglicans and Catholics offered by RNS places the blame on the Catholics.

With new leadership on both sides, the relationship between Anglicans and Catholics could be primed for a reset after several years of tension following Pope Benedict XVI’s controversial initiative to woo back disgruntled Anglicans. For years, the Catholic Church has been critical of the Anglicans’ decision to ordain women priests in the Church of England, and is unhappy over steps to allow women bishops. Relations between the two churches were strained in 2009 when the Vatican announced a special structure, called an “ordinariate,” to allow conservative Anglicans to convert to Catholicism while retaining bits of their Anglican tradition. When he was still in Argentina, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s Anglican counterpart recalled him saying that he thought the special structure for Anglicans was “unnecessary,” and that the Catholic Church “needs us as Anglicans.”

But both Moxon and Langham stress that the tensions are now past, pointing out that an official dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics that had been suspended in 2007 over the ordination of an openly gay bishop by U.S. Episcopalians had been recently restarted.

In principle, I would prefer the Anglican or Episcopalian side to be presented in the best light. But the argument that the Catholic response to Anglican innovations in doctrine and discipline is the problem, not the changes themselves, is extraordinary. And the facts presented in support of this contention are incorrect.

Since the project began in 1969 there have been three sessions of the Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC): 1970-1981, 1983-2005, 2009 to present.  In the early days of ARCIC there was hope that a series of agreed statements would emerge which would uncover a common faith, on the basis of which corporate reunion might be possible. Statements on Ministry, Sacraments and other topics were produced but they were never officially accepted by the Vatican as being an adequate representation of Catholic belief.

Nor were other statements accepted by Anglicans. The second ARCIC commission studied the doctrine of salvation, communion, and the churches’ teaching authority and produced a paper on the role of Mary. I attended the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham in 2005  and recall the vociferous objections to the paper from evangelicals, who rejected the report out of hand.

The Anglican decision to ordain women further divided the churches, while the Anglican civil war over homosexuality has ended hopes for corporate reunion. A review of my notes and reporting from the 2008 Lambeth Conference — the every 10 year gathering of Anglican bishops —  recorded Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect for the Congregation of the Evangelisation of Peoples, speculating the Anglican Communion was suffering from “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and was in danger of forgetting its apostolic roots as it followed the spirit of the age in determining doctrine and discipline.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster said there was little point in pursuing theological dialogue when Anglicans failed to live up to their side of the agreements.  “If we are to make progress through dialogue we must be able to reach a solemn and binding agreement with our dialogue partners. And we want to see a deepening not a lessening of communion in their own ecclesial life.”

Anglicans must decide who they are and what they believe before any meaningful dialogue can take place, he argued as “these discussions are about the degree of unity in faith necessary for Christians to be in communion, not least so that they may be able to offer the Gospel confidently to the world. Our future dialogue will not be easy until such fundamental matters are resolved, with greater clarity,” I reported him as saying.

And Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity chastised the Anglican Communion for its disorder and lack of theological seriousness. He urged Anglicans to embark on a new “Oxford Movement” to revitalize the church, but he also warned that moves by the Church of England to introduce women bishops and its laxity over gay clergy had effectively ended the quest for Roman recognition of the validity of Anglican orders.

Contrary to the assertions made in the RNS piece, Pope Benedict’s formation of an Anglican Ordinariate did nothing to harm Anglican-Catholic relations, apart from embarrassing the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. And this embarrassment was due to his not having been in the know, not because a group of Anglicans were convinced of the truth claims of the Catholic Church. This embarrassment was not enough to derail the third round of ARCIC talks that began under their watch in 2009.

Anglican clergy who have entered the Catholic Church and have sought to be re-ordained as Catholic priests may have been horrified by Anglican events of recent years, but they became Catholics because they believed the truth claims of the Catholic Church. Gay bishops and blessings, women clergy and inclusive language liturgies may well have sharpened the mind, but the Catholic Church is not a girl picked up on the rebound from a bad break up.

I do not know what talks were suspended in 2007 as reported in the RNS piece — perhaps a local dialogue? — but there were no ARCIC talks to be suspended in 2007.

When RNS advances an argument that the Catholic recalcitrance to accept changes made by some Anglicans to the faith and order of their church is the cause of friction between Canterbury and Rome, that is called an editorial.

First printed at Get Religion.

Archbishop of Canterbury to make a flying visit to Rome: Anglican Ink, June 6, 2013 June 6, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Roman Catholic Church.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will hold his first meeting with Pope Francis on 14 June 2013 at the Vatican. The Archbishop’s official diary states he “will be travelling to Rome, accompanied by Mrs Welby, for a personal and fraternal visit to Pope Francis on 14 June. … A more extended visit, for Archbishop Justin to engage with various other Vatican officials, will happen later in the year.”

On Tuesday Msgr. Mark Langham told Vatican Radio this would be “important” but “informal, brief courtesy visit” to Pope Francis.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Canterbury calls for peace in Korea: The Church of England Newspaper, May 12, 2013 p 7. May 14, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Korea, Archbishop of Canterbury, Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Nippon Sei Ko Kai.
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The Bishop of Brixworth with Korean and Japanese colleagues holding the communique of the 2nd Worldwide Anglican Peace Conference

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has added its voice to the call for peace in Korea. In a message read to the Second Worldwide Anglican Peace Conference held in Okinawa from 16 – 22 April 2013 Archbishop Welby lauded the work of the Korean and Japanese churches to foster peace in Northeast Asia.

“Your gathering has come at the most needful time,” Archbishop Welby wrote, in a statement read by his representative to the conference Bishop John Holbrook of Brixworth in the diocese of Peterborough.

“We stand with you in solidarity with the people of Korea at this time of heightened tension.  I applaud the commitment of the Anglican Communion to work with the Anglican Church of Korea in its dedicated mission towards peace in Korea.  May the initiatives you pursue contribute to the breaking down of enmities and to the establishment of a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.  Recent developments have shown how urgent this remains.  I pray that the Lord may grant you the courage to keep faithful to this calling.”

Approximately 80 delegates attended the conference convened jointly by the Nippon Sei Ko Kai and the Anglican church committee. In his opening address Archbishop Nathaniel Uematsu of Japan said peace will come to the region by a call for relinquishing “our own rights … And trying to protect the rights of others, or those who lack even basic rights.”

In the closing communiqué the delegates said East Asia was “hounded by the alarming threat of military escalation, the proliferation of destructive nuclear weapons, and the deadly effects of nuclear power generation.”

“We noted the danger signs are governments moving toward a war footing, they said, adding they feared the “possible revision of Japan’s skis Constitution would undermine stability in the region.”

The conference declared its “unequivocal opposition to war as a means of resolving disputes” and pledged “never again to war!”

Anglican Unscripted Episode 65: February 20, 2013 February 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Roman Catholic Church.
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This week Kevin and George tackle the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI — bantering about the fallout from the press and his decade of achievements. Justin Welby the Archbishop of Canterbury had his first week at Lambeth Palace and your Hosts bring you insider perspectives and remark on his first three achievements. In response to your questions and prompting we tackle Gafcon II and the lack of intel available and AU65 finishes with a frank discussion about Ashes-2-Go. Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com #AU65 http://www.anglican.tv

Director of Reconciliation appointed for Lambeth Palace: Anglican Ink, February 18, 2013 February 18, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England.
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Reweaving the torn fabric of the Anglican Communion has become the new Archbishop of Canterbury’s first order of business as he has appointed an Irish priest as Director for Reconciliation at Lambeth Palace.  The appointment of Canon David Porter is Justin Welby’s first significant staff appointment, and the appointment of a professional conflict resolution specialist to his inner circle of advisers may foreshadow the priorities of the new archbishop.

On 18 Feb 2013 the Lambeth Palace press office announced that Canon Porter had been  seconded by Coventry Cathedral where he remains Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry’ to Archbishop Welby’s personal staff.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

The New York Times’ Conservative love affair: Get Religion, February 4, 2013 February 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Get Religion, Press criticism.
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The New York Times may not love American conservatives, but they are certainly enamored with a British one, David Cameron. His push to introduce gay marriage in England, over the objections of the rank and file members of his party, has the paper swooning.

There does not seem to be a way to keep gay issues or advocacy out of the New York Times. The Gray Lady finds this angle in just about any story. Today’s example comes in an article that combines the news of the confirmation of election of the new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby with the first vote in Parliament on the government’s gay marriage bill.

Unfortunately the article tries a little too hard to link these stories. Combining the two events may have seemed a good idea to an editor not familiar with the issues, but it does not work as a single piece. “New Archbishop of Canterbury Takes Office” has some factual errors, faulty assumptions, insufficient context and a lack of balance.

The article begins:

On the eve of a divisive vote in Parliament on the legalization of same-sex marriage, Justin Welby, the former bishop of Durham, on Monday took over formally as the 105th archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the world’s 77 million Anglicans, saying he shares the Church of England’s opposition to marriage among people of the same gender.

The lede is fairly straight forward, but I wondered why the author tortured the opening with such strained language — “marriage of people of the same gender”. Have I missed a new style directive to mimic “people of color” when describing gay issues?

And, how many Anglicans are there? The New York Times says 77 million. In the interview cited later in the story, the archbishop says 80 million — which includes 20 odd million Englishmen and women (when only a tenth of that number attend services). What is the source for this number? But I digress.

The article notes the new archbishop took office today replacing Dr. Rowan Williams, and then moves to a post-ceremony interview.

In an interview broadcast on the BBC after his inauguration, the new archbishop said he was not on a “collision course” with the government. But he endorsed the traditional view that while the church has no objection to civil partnerships between people of the same gender, it is, as a recent church statement put it, “committed to the traditional understanding of the institution of marriage as being between one man and one woman.”

This paragraph also struck me as odd. Not for what it reports about the new archbishop’s sentiments, but in its report of who reported what. The BBC story did not have the “collision course” phrase. That appears in an ITV story. The story broadcast by the BBC I saw cut the “collision course” phrase, while ITV ran the segment uncut. Perhaps there was a second BBC story that used the quote? I do not know. The Religion News Service printed at the Huffington Post account of the ceremony made this mistake as well, but it embedded both videos — BBC and ITV — with their story.

The article then moves to commentary.

His stance did not come as a surprise since he had made it clear at the time of his appointment in November, but the timing of his remarks was certain play into both the political and the ecclesiastical debate about the issue. The church has long been locked in debate over gender issues, including the consecration of female and gay bishops and same-sex marriage.

Now I understand the language of the lede — gender is the plat du jour for the Times allowing it to link the women bishops vote to the same-sex marriage vote in Parliament. (Wait, it is now same-sex marriage by paragraph six.) The article notes:

In December, the church voted narrowly to reject the notion of female bishops, despite support from senior clerics including Archbishop Welby. In January, the church followed up with a ruling admitting openly gay priests in civil partnerships to its ranks, provided that, unlike heterosexual bishops, they remained celibate.

Some more mistakes here. The women bishop’s vote took place in November, not December 2012. Clergy were permitted to register gay civil partnerships in 2005 not in January 2013. A condition of their being allowed to register these domestic partnerships was that they be celibate. Clergy may be “openly gay”, whatever that means, but may not engage in sexual relations outside of marriage (marriage being defined as being between a man and a woman). The question of how rigorously this is enforced is a separate matter.

In December 2012 the House of Bishops ended a ban imposed in 2011 that forbade clergy who had entered into a civil partnership from becoming a bishop. Heterosexuals may not contract civil partnerships in Britain, so the analogy offered by the Times is inexact. However all bishops — heterosexual and homosexual — who are unmarried must be celibate also. There have been homosexual bishops for quite some time — by homosexual I mean men whose dominant sexual attractions are to other men. However, these bishops do hold to the church’s teaching that to act upon these inclinations would be sinful, and are celibate.

Using the pivot of homosexuality, the article then moves to the House of Commons.

Parliament is set to vote on Tuesday on a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage that has been championed by Prime Minster David Cameron. The issue, however, has inspired one of the most toxic and potentially embarrassing rebellions among Mr. Cameron’s Conservative Party colleagues since he took office as the head of a coalition government in 2010.

British news reports have suggested that as many as 180 of the 303 Conservative Party members of Parliament might oppose Mr. Cameron or abstain from voting.

Here we have a “yes, but” situation. Yes, the Second Reading of the government’s bill that would legalize same-sex marriage and allow those in civil partnerships to convert them to marriages is set for tomorrow. However, the issue will not be decided tomorrow. Here is a link to Parliament’s web page describing what happens at a Second Reading. MPs will be given a chance to discuss the bill and vote on whether it should be sent to a committee or be kept before the House of Commons as a whole.

The leaders of the three main parties — Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Labour — support the bill. A vote to send it to committee where they appoint the members is a way to prevent the issue from being debated before Parliament as a whole. Voting to keep it before the House allows greater involvement from backbench MPs. There is an element of political gamesmanship here. While Labour is in favor of the bill, they are also in favor of allowing the Tories to do as much damage to themselves as possible. Keeping the bill before the whole House allows the Conservative rebels to give full voice to their displeasure with their party leader, weakening the prime minister.

The Times however quotes the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Ed Miliband, but displays an acute lack of awareness of what really is going on.

Ed Miliband, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, said Monday that he would be “voting for equal marriage in the House of Commons, and I’ll be doing so proudly.” He also said he would urge his 255 legislators in the 649-member body to vote with him. “I’ll be voting for equal marriage for a very simple reason: I don’t think that the person you love should determine the rights you have,” Mr. Miliband said.

The Times neglects to mention the political calculus involved in the passage of the bill, which when it goes to committee is then subject to amendment before it goes to the House of Lords. If the Times wanted to tie the Church of England into this story more tightly it could have mentioned that all of the bishops who sit in the House of Lords will vote “no” and may offer wrecking amendments. And, Miliband’s urging his party’s MPs to vote for the bill is a recent change — Labour was going to make this a party line vote, requiring all its MPs to vote the same way, but senior leaders of that party refused to go along — changing Miliband’s song from must vote to should vote for gay marriage.

The article then closes out with two quotes from a government spokesman who dismisses the church’s objections to the bill — but offers no rejoinder from the Church of England, the Catholic Church (which by the way is also strongly opposed) or MPs who are opposed to the legislation.

So what do we have in this story. Minor points such as the BBC v. ITN. Larger mistakes such as dates of actions and the misstatement of actions. Omission of context and explanation — as written a casual reader would assume that gay marriage was about to be passed, when it has only just started its legislative journey. And a lack of balance coupled with the framing of the story in such a way as to make clear the Times‘ support for gay marriage.

Should we expect better of the Times? Is this story an example of carelessness or bias? What say you Get Religion readers?

First printed at GetReligion.

Peerage for Rowan Williams: Anglican Ink, December 26, 2012 December 27, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England.
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The Prime Minister’s Office has announced today the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has been given a life peerage by the Queen. Upon his retirement from office, Dr. Williams will become Baron Williams of Oystermouth.

The 26 December 2012 announcement from No. 10 Downing Street stated Dr,. Williams “will be created a Baron for Life by the style and title of Baron Williams of Oystermouth in the City and County of Swansea.”

Under the Life Peerage Act of 1958 the Sovereign may appoint life peers who have the right to sit in the House of Lords. Life baronies under the Act are created by the Sovereign but, in practice, none are granted except upon the proposition of the prime minister, who may create up to 10 life baronies during each parliament in recognition for service to the country.

Court etiquette dictates Dr. Williams be addressed as the Rt. Hon. Baron Williams of Oystermouth, and in less formal circumstances as Baron or Lord Williams of Oystermouth. When the first name of a life peer is mentioned, it does not follow the honorific. Lord Rowan Williams connotes the archbishop is the son of a member of the higher peerage — an earl or duke. If the first name is used, he would be called Rowan, Lord Williams.

First printed in Anglican Ink.

Hiltz calls on Canterbury to say “no” to the ACNA: Anglican Ink, December 19, 2012 December 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Communion, Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury-designate Justin Welby and Archbishop Fred Hiltz of Canada

The leader of the Anglican Church of Canada has lobbied the Archbishop of Canterbury-designate not to extend formal recognition to the Anglican Church in North America. However, the decision who is an Anglican does not rest with the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The communion’s formal statement as to who is an Anglican looks to fellowship with the Archbishop of Canterbury and fidelity to the doctrines and disciplines set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.

The 6 Dec 2012 meeting at Auckland Castle, Durham with Bishop Justin Welby was one of four stops for Archbishop Fred Hiltz, who also met with the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace and with the general secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council, Canon Kenneth Kearon, in London, and preached at Southwark Cathedral.

According to the Anglican Journal, Archbishop Hiltz said he mentioned his ongoing concern about efforts by the ACNA to be recognized by the Church of England. Archbishop Hiltz said he requested that if bodies of the Church of England are to meet with representatives of ACNA, “in fairness, they should also meet with us to get a better picture.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

A somber farewell to the primates from Rowan Williams: The Church of England Newspaper, December 9, 2012 p 5. December 12, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Anglican Communion can no longer be considered a communion of churches but a “community of communities,” the Archbishop of Canterbury has told the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

In a pessimistic farewell letter to the leaders of the Anglican Communion, Dr. Rowan Williams’ final letter to the primates as Archbishop of Canterbury conceded that nothing now bound the communion together.

“Despite many questions about how our decisions about doctrine and mutual responsibility are made in the Communion, and some challenges to the various ‘Instruments of Communion’, the truth is that our Communion has never been the sort of Church that looks for one central authority.”

He added “this doesn’t mean that we are not concerned with truth or holiness or consistency,” rather the leaders of the church have not been able to find this truth. “All forms of human power and discipline can become corrupted, and that in the Church we have to have several points of reference for the organising of our common life so that none of them can go without challenge or critique from the others.”

It was not the destination, but the journey that was important, Dr. Williams wrote, saying in this dialogue amongst Anglicans some light of the truth may be glimpsed. “Our hope is that in this exchange we discover a more credible and lasting convergence than we should have if someone or some group alone imposed decisions – and that the fellowship that emerges is more clearly marked by Christlikeness, by that reverence for one another that the Spirit creates in believers.

“Another way of saying this,” he said, citing the words of theologian was that “we are a ‘community of communities’. And perhaps in our own time we could translate this afresh and say we are a ‘network of networks’.”

Dr. Williams recommended for the primates consideration the “the official networks of the Communion”.

“In the work done around evangelism, healthcare, the environment, the rights and dignities of women and children and of indigenous peoples and many more areas, what drew people together was this halfway formal model of a global community of prayer and concern maintained by deep friendship and common work. This is where you are probably most likely to see the beauty of the face of Christ in the meetings of the Communion; this is where the joyful hope of Christian believers is most strongly kindled,” he argued.

The archbishop’s words will likely have little resonance amongst the leaders of the growing churches of the Global South, however.  The networks that have bound African and Asian Anglicans to Anglicans in the developed world have not focused on works or issues, but upon doctrine. The focus of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, the Anglican Communion’s largest network, upon Anglican beliefs lies outside the outgoing archbishop’s model of action networks.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Canterbury concedes Anglican Communion has become “corrupted”: Anglican Ink, December 5, 2012 December 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Communion, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Ink, Archbishop of Canterbury.
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Archbishop Rowan Williams

The Archbishop of Canterbury has conceded defeat in the battle over the Anglican Covenant. In a 2 Dec 2012 Advent letter to the primates, Dr. Rowan Williams said the Anglican Communion had become “corrupted” and could no longer be considered a communion of churches but a “community of communities.”

Dr. Williams’ somber appreciation of the state of the communion today, contrasts with his past letters to the leaders of the Communions 38 provinces.  Nothing now bound the church together apart from good will.

In 2009 Dr. Williams rejected calls from the Episcopal Church to reorder the Anglican Communion as a federation of churches.As Anglicans, our membership of the communion is an important part of our identity. However, some see this as best expressed in a more federalist and pluralist way. They would see this as the only appropriate language for a modern or indeed postmodern global fellowship of believers in which levels of diversity are bound to be high and the risks of centralisation and authoritarianism are the most worrying.”

“There is nothing foolish or incoherent about this approach,” Dr. Williams wrote in a letter published on 27 July 2009, “but it is not the approach that has generally shaped the self-understanding of our communion.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Overseas Anglican plaudits for the next Archbishop of Canterbury: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2012 p 5. November 21, 2012

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Anglican leaders have welcomed the news of the appointment of Justin Welby as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.  The plaudits for the Bishop of Durham, however, have been mixed with advice and pleas for leadership from Canterbury for the factious Anglican Communion.

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop David Chillingworth welcomed the appointment writing that Justin Welby  and added that he hoped the new archbishop would support the Indaba process – a conversation project between liberals and conservatives in the communion backed by the Anglican Consultative Council.  Bishop Chillingworth said he “enjoyed and valued my contacts with [Bishop Welby].  In the early stages of what has become Continuing Indaba – a movement of honest conversation across difference – his wide knowledge of the Anglican Communion, particularly in Africa, was of great importance.”

The leader of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala also praised the appointment, but noted that for Anglicans in the developing world, a common faith was more important than a common ecclesiastical structure.

The Kenyan archbishop said he hoped the new archbishop would rethink the current structures of the common and accept the African church’s view that “the chair of the Primates Meeting should be elected by the Primates themselves” and not go to the Archbishop of Canterbury by right.

“Our proposal, while not intended to deny the honour due to Canterbury as an historic see, is an expression of the truth we hold as vital, that our identity as Anglicans stems first and foremost from adherence to the faith we confess. It is this which gives substance and integrity to our bonds of affection and our efforts to relieve poverty and promote development.”

The new archbishop may have won over the Church of Uganda, which has withdrawn from inter-Anglican affairs since the 2008 Lambeth Conference..

“We are pleased to hear that he is an evangelical and will pray for him to lift up Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life,” and to set the Word of God written as the authority for our common faith and morality,” Ugandan provincial secretary Canon George Bagamuhunda wrote.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said she was “delighted” with the news, but added she expected Bishop Welby would have rough going as archbishop. “I give thanks for his appointment and his willingness to accept this work, in which I know his gifts of reconciliation and discernment will be abundantly tested.  May God bless his ministry, shelter his family, and bring comfort in the midst of difficult and lonely discernment and decisions.”

Conservative American pressure groups like the American Anglican Council have urged the new archbishop to hold the line on gay blessings and clergy, but liberal American groups have asked the new archbishop to listen to them instead.

The Chicago Consultation, a politically influential liberal pressure group, welcomed the news noting the new archbishop was “known for his pragmatic approach to conflict resolution and his personal courage as an agent of reconciliation.”

They added they were “heartened that Archbishop-elect Welby decried homophobia in his opening press conference, and we hope that he will listen with an open heart to the voices of the millions of faithful lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians across the Anglican Communion.”

The leader of the Anglican Church League in Sydney, Dr. Mark Thompson, wrote that “conservative Evangelicals could see a “great deal that is wonderfully hopeful in this appointment. Bishop Welby self-identifies as an evangelical. He is able to communicate clearly and winsomely.”

However, Dr. Thompson said the test would come in the new archbishop’s actions, not through is words.  As Bishop Welby “prepares to take up this challenging role at a very challenging time, one characteristic that has not been attributed to him is ‘courage’.”

Will Bishop Welby “stand up” to the Episcopal Church? Will he “call to account” Anglicans who have moved away from a Scriptural faith? Will he “stand” with the Global South “in the task of proclaiming Christ to a lost world?” Will he fire “Canon Kenneth Kearon and the others in the Anglican Communion Office who have manipulated the ACC agenda over the past decade in extraordinarily unhelpful ways?”

Will he “challenge” the British government over gay marriage? Will he support evangelicals in the Church of Scotland, in Canada and in the U.S. as well as Christians in the Muslim majority world who are being “persecuted” because of their faith.  And will he stand with members of the Church of England who in good conscience cannot accept the oversight of a woman bishop?”

“With such courage, and by God’s grace, respect for his office and health for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion might indeed return,” Dr. Thompson said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Ecumenical applause for the news of the appointment of Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2012 p 5. November 21, 2012

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Ecumenical leaders have warmly welcomed the news of the appointment of the Bishop of Durham to be the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.

In Britain, the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols said the Roman Catholic Church “warmly” welcomed the news, saying he believed the new archbishop “will provide an important Christian witness to this country over the coming years.”

“In fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ’s prayer that his followers may all be one, I hope that we will endeavour to strengthen the bonds of Christian friendship and mission already established between the Catholic Church and the Church of England,” he said.

The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales’ sentiments were shared by the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch.  In his letter the Swiss cardinal described relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion as being “hugely important,” and expressed his certainty that under the new archbishop’s “leadership those excellent relations will continue to bear fruit.”

“For almost fifty years, as you are well aware, there has been a formal theological dialogue which continues to seek a deeper understanding of the great heritage shared by Anglicans and Catholics, as well as the points of divergence which still impede fully restored ecclesial communion. During that same time, relations between succeeding Popes and Archbishops of Canterbury have been marked by numerous meetings which have expressed intense spiritual and human friendship, and a shared concern for our Gospel witness and service to the human family,” wrote Cardinal Koch.

Dr. Mark Wakelin, President of the Methodist Conference of Great Britain, said “Bishop Justin has demonstrated himself to be a man of spiritual depth and wisdom. He has shown great passion and enthusiasm for working together with other Churches and we look forward to working with him in the context of the partnership between our two Churches.”

The General Secretary at the World Council of Churches, Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit of Norway said he was “especially heartened to learn of your long-standing commitment both to the international mission and work of the Church and to the importance of the ministry and work of reconciliation between different communities.”

“I particularly appreciate your engaged commitment with the people of Nigeria, and your deep desire to help to improve the lives of all people in that country, seeking ways to help them move beyond conflict, especially of an inter-religious nature,” the WCC leader said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Missile from Moscow for Justin Welby: Anglican Ink, November 13, 2012 November 13, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Russian Orthodox, Women Priests.
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Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

Meaningful Orthodox-Anglican ecumenical dialogue has all but died, the Moscow Patriarchate has told the next Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby – and it is the Anglicans who have killed it.

On 13 Nov 2012,Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk – the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations for the Russian church – wrote to Bishop Welby extending Moscow’s greetings upon his appointment as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a carefully worded letter, Hilarion stated Moscow expected Bishop Welby to discipline the liberal wing of the Anglican Communion. Bishop Welby had been “entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 56, November 9, 2012 November 10, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Politics, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Crown Nomination Committee has found a new leader for the Anglican Church and his name is Bishop Justin Welby. Peter Ould and Kevin Kallsen talk about his uniqueness for this solemn role and the challenges every Archbishop of Canterbury meet. George Conger and Kevin talk about the challenges the Communion will offer it’s new leader and the excitement it has for someone who is willing to take accept the call. Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com #AU56

Canterbury announcement set for Friday: Anglican Ink, November 8, 2012 November 8, 2012

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The Rt. Rev. Justin Welby

A press conference announcing the name of the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury has been scheduled for Friday, 9 November 2012.

Bishop of Durham Justin Welby, (56) a one-time business executive who entered the ministry after 11 years in the oil industry, is expected to be named to the post. The Daily Telegraph reports Bishop Welby has agreed to accept the post, while the Times has reported the announcement will be made this week. On Tuesday British “bookies” Ladbrokes, William Hill and PaddyPower stopped taking bets on who would be named archbishop after large sums of money were placed on Bishop Welby, while Betfair currently has the Durham bishop listed at even money.

The process still follows the procedure described by Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1856.

“The Queen sends these gentlemen a congé d’élire, or leave to elect, but also sends them the name of the person whom they are to elect. They go into the Cathedral, chant and pray and beseech the Holy Spirit to assist them in their choice; and after these invocations invariably find that the dictates of the Holy Ghost agree with the recommendation of the Queen.” [English Traits, p 227]

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Betting suspended in Archbishop’s race: Anglican Ink, November 6, 2012 November 6, 2012

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Market for the Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby

Britain’s bookmakers have suspended betting, or are offering even money odds, on the race to succeed Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury.

On 6 Nov 2012 Paddy Power and Ladbrokes closed their books on bets for the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

Gamblers who wish to take an ecclesiastical flutter, however, may still place bets with Paddy Power on who the next pope might be.  The current favorites for the See of St Peter are Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria (15/8), Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana (9/4), and Archbishop Angelo Scola of Venice (7/1).

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Announcement from Downing Street on the next Archbishop of Canterbury expected shortly: Anglican Ink, November 6, 2012 November 6, 2012

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The Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby

Expectations that the name of the next Archbishop of Canterbury will be announced this week are circulating briskly among church watchers in the U.K., Anglican Ink can report.

On 6 November 2012, the British bookmaking firm Ladbrokes announced they would no longer be taking bets on the selection of the next Archbishop of Canterbury.  In a twitter comment released at 10:33 in the US and at 15:33 in the UK, @ladpolitics announced “Ladbrokes suspend betting on next Archbishop of Canterbury. Money suggests that @Bishopofdurham has got the job.”

Speaking on Anglican Unscripted’s Episode 55 on 3 November 2012 the Rev. Peter Ould reported that informed sources within the Church of England believe the 16 member Crown Nominations Committee may have met in secret last month to break the deadlock over the next archbishop.  A decision had been expected following a two day meeting of the Committee in September, but instead an announcement was made stating their “work continues”.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 55, November 3, 2012 November 3, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Ordinariate, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, GAFCON, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Marriage, Property Litigation, Virginia.
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Anglican Unscripted Hosts Kevin and George talk about Gafcon II and the need for a global Anglican Congress to protect the Communion. You will also learn about Rome’s desire to bring Protestants into the ever expanding Ordinariate. AU also asks you to pray for the victims of Hurricane Sandy and we bring you perspective from skyscraper based storm landfall.

Canon Ashey talks about the dummying down of Scripture and other news from ACC-15. Peter has the latest rumors about the Crown Nomination Committee and Allan Haley discusses the second state to refute the validity of the Dennis Canon. Comments to AnglicanUnscipted@gmail.com #AU54 Please Donate to http://www.anglican.tv/donate

Dr. Williams speaks of his “regrets”: The Church of England Newspaper, October 21, 2012 p 7 October 26, 2012

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The decision to ban Gene Robinson and the breakaway bishops of what is now the Anglican Church in North America from the 2008 Lambeth Conference and the Jeffrey John affair were among the toughest decisions he had to make as Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams told Vatican Radio.

In an interview broadcast on 11 Oct 2012 while on a visit to Rome to address the Synod on the New Evangelisation, Dr. Williams spoke of the tensions facing the General Synod over the consecration of women bishops and the wider disputes in the Anglican world.

Asked about the impact of women bishops on ecumenical relations with Rome and within the Church of England, the archbishop conceded there will not be a “solution acceptable to everybody in the Church of England. That would be a real miracle of the last days, I think. But what the bishops have been working at, with a good deal of blood, sweat and tears in the last few months, is trying to find that point of balance which is just generous enough to the minority, and just clear enough about the principle, not to alienate more than we’re bound to.”

He noted that at their last meeting the bishops were “almost unanimous” in their recommendation to the synod. A “great deal of work and prayer’s gone into this; I’m certainly hopeful still that all that work won’t be wasted, all that prayer won’t be wasted; that we’ll find something which allows us to go forward honouring everybody within our fellowship.”

“We’ll see,” he said.

In response to a question about the challenges he faced as archbishop, Dr. Williams said that “with almost every significant decision in the Church of England and in the Communion, you are going to alienate certain people; you are going to lose friends, literally lose friends.”

“There are things that have to be done which may be right or inevitable, but don’t feel particularly good at the time. It’s watching the cost to others of decisions that have to be made.”

He added that “we were discussing just this week the Lambeth Conference of 2008, and the decisions made not to issue invitations to certain bishops whose consecration had been against the direct counsel of the wider communion.  That felt like both an inevitable thing, to honour commitments we had declared together, and also a very, very hard and un-kingdom-like thing to be doing. It’s those things that are the tough memories.”

The future for the Communion was unclear, he said, and he doubted that “what lies ahead will be conflict free or straightforward,” but he had no regrets about stepping down as “I do look forward to the chance of doing a little bit more joined-up thinking and writing, and seeing what service to the Church I can give in this new environment.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Canterbury & Constantinople invited to Rome: The Church of England Newspaper, September 30, 2012 p 5. October 5, 2012

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The Bishops at Vatican II

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Ecumenical Patriarch have been invited to participate in the 50th anniversary celebrations of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

Pope Benedict XVI has invited Dr. Rowan Williams and Patriarch Bartholomew to attend the mass at the Vatican marking the anniversary of the start of the 11 Oct 1962 council. Anglican and Orthodox observers took part in the 1962-1965 council that saw 2500 bishops from around the world reform the church and which also marked the start of the modern era of ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox and Anglican world.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Crown Nominations Committee deadlocked over next Archbishop of Canterbury: Anglican Ink, September 28, 2012 September 28, 2012

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The Archbishops of York & Canterbury

The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) has been unable to agree upon a candidate for the post of Archbishop of Canterbury.

This week’s third and final meeting of the CNC was to have provided two names to Prime Minister David Cameron – a first choice and an alternate.  However, on 28 Sept 2012 the Church of England press office released a statement at the close of the three day meeting of the Commission that indicated it had not been able to agree upon a candidate.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Final meeting to choose the next Archbishop of Canterbury begins today: Anglican Ink, September 26, 2012 September 26, 2012

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Lord Luce

The Crown Nominations Committee starts a three day meeting today to finalize its selection of two names to present to the Primate Minister for appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury.

The location of the 26-28 September 2012 meeting has been kept secret as has its deliberations. Rumors as to the names under consideration have circulated freely over the past few months, with some candidates rising and falling in popularity among punters.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

No changes in the works for Canterbury, ACC claims: The Church of England Newspaper, September 16, 2012 p 6. September 17, 2012

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Canon Kenneth Kearon

The secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council states he is unaware of any talks underway to restructure the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, altering its relationship to the wider Anglican Communion.

The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon said claims put forward by the Daily Telegraph in an interview with Dr. Rowan Williams published on 8 September 2012 were “mischievous” and the assertion that plans to great a “presidential” figurehead for the Communion were untrue.

In what was described as the final “major” interview of his archiepiscopate, the Telegraph quoted Dr. Williams as having conceded the job of archbishop could have been handled better by two men.

He also noted the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.’s arrogance and refusal to take counsel from the wider Communion had been an on-going headache for the past ten years.

“Thinking back over things I don’t think I’ve got right over the last 10 years, I think it might have helped a lot if I’d gone sooner to the United States when things began to get difficult about the ordination of gay bishops, and engaged more directly with the American House of Bishops,” he told the Telegraph, adding, “I think the problem though, is that the demands of the communion, the administrative demands of the communion have grown, and are growing.”

“I suspect it will be necessary, in the next 10 to 15 years, to think about how that load is spread; to think whether in addition to the Archbishop of Canterbury there needs to be some more presidential figure who can travel more readily.”

Dr. Williams believed his successors should still retain a “primacy of honour” and remain as “head” of the Anglican Communion but said there should be “less a sense that the Archbishop is expected to sort everything”.

Discussions were currently underway about reforming the structures of the worldwide Anglican Communion, he said, telling the Telegraph to “watch this space”.

Canon Kearon responded that he was unaware of the plans for change mentioned by Dr. Williams.

“There are no such plans,” Canon Kearon said.  “The Archbishop of Canterbury simply said in the interview that he could see that in the future there might be some reflection on how the administrative load associated with the Anglican Communion might be better shared.”

“The Anglican Communion has several decision-making bodies, one of which is meeting in a few months’ time. Nothing like what this newspaper has suggested is on the agenda,” for ACC-15 in New Zealand next month.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 49, September 13, 2012 September 14, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, South Carolina.
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Kevin and George are back from news blackout break with Anglican News from around the globe. They discuss Rowan’s exit interview, South Carolina, Archbishop Duncan’s interview and Much, Much More. #AU49 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com There might even be some bloopers.

No plans to neuter Canterbury: Anglican Ink, September 8, 2012 September 8, 2012

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There are no plans to divest the Archbishop of Canterbury of his pan-Anglican responsibilities and transfer them to a “presidential” leader of the Anglican Communion, the secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council, has claimed.

In a statement released on 8 September 2012, the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon said the claim put forward in an interview with Dr. Rowan Williams published earlier that day in the Daily Telegraph was untrue and “mischievous”.

In what was described as the final “major” interview of his archiepiscopate, the Telegraph quoted Dr. Williams as having conceded the job of archbishop could have been handled better by two men.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Canterbury condolences for Ethiopian Patriarch: The Church of England Newspaper, August 26, 2012 p 6. August 29, 2012

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church offering his condolences following the announcement of the death of the church’s patriarch, Abune Paulos.

On 16 August 2012 the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry released a statement that Abune Paulos had died but gave no cause of death.  However an opposition newspaper, the Ethiopian Review, reported the 76 year old leader of Ethiopia’s 40 million Orthodox Christians since 1992 suffered from hypertension and had died of a heart attack following a service he had conducted on Wednesday.

Born Gebre Medhin Wolde Yohannes in Ethiopia’s Tigray Province, the future patriarch was educated at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in New York and earned a doctorate at Princeton Theological Seminary. Imprisoned following the 1974 overthrow of the Emperor Haile Selassia by the communist government of Mengistu Haile Mariam, he went into went into political exile in the United States after being freed and later returned to Ethiopia following an amnesty granted by the government.

Abune Paulos was elected Fifth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Ichege of the See of St Tekle Haymanot, and Archbishop of Axum in 1992, a year after the communist regime collapsed and was instrumental in modernizing the institutions of the Orthodox Church in the country.

Dr. Williams stated Abune Paulos “played a unique role in reviving and strengthening his church after a period of prolonged crisis and much suffering. The Ethiopian Church is now seen as a major presence in international Christianity, rising to the new challenges of modern Africa.”

“His Holiness provided steady and dependable leadership for his people and won great love and veneration. He served the world Church as a President of the World Council of Churches showing particular leadership in support of refugees and in inter-faith dialogue.”

“Our prayers are with all the faithful of the Ethiopian Church as they mourn their Father in God; and we join them in giving thanks to God for the sacrificial ministry of Abune Paulos over the years, and in the hope that his legacy in consolidating the faith of his people will be a lasting one,” Dr. Williams said.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 48, August 18, 2012 August 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, AMiA, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York, Canon Law, Church of England, Church of the Province of Uganda, Church of the Province of West Africa, South Carolina.
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Not a week goes by (even in August) when the Unscripted team can’t dig up some interesting news. Kevin and George discuss the “new thang” with AMiA and the turmoil at Pawley’s Island. They also reveal some Crown Commission secrets, Anglican Job Postings and Affinity Dioceses. Peter Ould talks about an Englishman trying to sell more books and Allan gives some interesting history about leaving and staying in TEC at the same time.

Crown Nomination Committee meets to review Canterbury candidates: The Church of England Newspaper, August 5, 2012 p 5. August 14, 2012

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The Crown Nominations Committee met last week to consider the appointment of the next Archbishop of Canterbury.  Details of the 26-27 July meeting, including its location and whether potential candidates were invited to meet the committee have not been disclosed.

While the committee has maintained its internal discipline and not leaked details of deliberations to the press or favored insiders as in past years, lobbying by pressure groups for favoured candidates continues.  A letter seen by the Church of England Newspaper that was written by primates attending the Global South Conference last week in Bangkok has urged the committee to consider archbishop’s pan-Anglican duties when it reviews the candidates.

“At a time when the Christian faith faces challenges from other religions as well as secular worldviews, the new Archbishop of Canterbury must be committed to uphold the orthodoxy of the Christian ‘faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints’,” the primates said.

The next Archbishop of Canterbury will be a “guardian of the faith” charged with uniting the wider Anglican Communion, “especially on issues that have led to the present crisis in the Communion”, they said and must be able to “communicate effectively and gain the respect and confidence” of the wider church the 21 July 2012 letter said.

Chaired by the Lord Luce, the committee consists of six members elected by the Diocese of Canterbury Vacancy in See Committee:  The Rev Canon Clare Edwards, Mr. Raymond Harris, Mr. David Kemp, the Rev. Canon Mark Roberts, Mrs. Caroline Spencer and Bishop Trevor Wilmott,

Six further members of the committee were elected by the General Synod: Mr.  Aiden Hargreaves-Smith – Diocese of London,  Prof. Glynn Harrison – Diocese of Bristol,  Mrs Mary Johnston – Diocese of London, The Very Rev Andrew Nunn – Diocese of Southwark, The Rev Canon Peter Spiers – Diocese of Liverpool and the Rev Canon Glyn Webster – Diocese of York.

The Rt Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, and the Rt Rev Michael Perham, the Bishop of Gloucester were elected by the House of Bishops of the General Synod, and Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales was elected by the Anglican Consultative Council to serve on the committee as well.

Three non-voting members also serve on the committee: the Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments Ms Caroline Boddington, the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary Sir Paul Britton and the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council, Canon Kenneth Kearon.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

‘Don’t forget us’ overseas leaders tell Crown Nominations Committee: The Church of England Newspaper, July 29, 2012 p 6. August 4, 2012

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‘Think globally, not locally’ when selecting the next Archbishop of Canterbury, 17 overseas archbishops told the Crown Nominations Committee (CNC) last week.

From 18-20 July 2012 the leaders of the Global South movement of the Anglican Communion met in Bangkok during the group’s Conference on the Decade of Mission and Networking and issued a communiqué reminding the CNC that the Archbishop of Canterbury was not solely the property of the Church of England.

“We deeply respect and appreciate our historical and spiritual relationship with the See of Canterbury,” the 20 July communiqué said. “We have written to the Crown Nominations Commission with concerns from the Global South and important principles for consideration as it nominates candidates for the appointment of a new Archbishop of Canterbury.”

While the text of the letter to the CNC was not made public, leaders of the Global South movement have voiced concern over the parochial appointment process in the Church of England. Speaking to the Telegraph earlier this month, Dr. Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Egypt and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, said the “voice of the Anglicans from the global south is really very limited and not one of the 16 members of the Crown Nominations Commission represents the global south.”

“Not one single person comes from elsewhere in the Anglican Communion except the Archbishop of Wales which is part of the United Kingdom … the selection of the new Archbishop is an expression of not really caring for the Anglican family.”

Dr. Anis noted that while the Archbishop of Canterbury was the “spiritual father” of the Anglican Communion, the Anglican Communion “has no say whatsoever” in his appointment.”

Running the show “from England” would be “acceptable in the 19th Century but not now,” the Egyptian bishop said. “It is a colonial approach.”

The two day conference entitled “Be Transformed by the Renewing of the mind to Obedience of Faith for Holistic Mission in a Radically Changing Global Landscape” drew Anglicans from the developing world and the West, organizers reported and “explored the trends in mission in the 21st century amidst the post-1989 global landscape, and evaluated the effectiveness of Anglicans in missions.”

In their communiqué, the 17 archbishops voiced “great sadness” in the actions of the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in authorizing same-sex blessings. “This action confirms our disappointment that The Episcopal Church has no regard for the concerns and convictions of the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide.”

Present at the meeting were the Primates of Jerusalem & the Middle East, Nigeria, the Indian Ocean, South East Asia, Kenya, Myanmar, the Congo, the Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Melanesia, Papua New Guinea, and representatives of the primates of Southern Africa, West Africa, Central Africa and the Southern Cone.

Crown Nominations Committee meeting today: Anglican Ink, July 27, 2012 July 27, 2012

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Committee chairman, the Lord Luce

The Crown Nominations Committee met this week to consider the appointment of the next Archbishop of Canterbury.  Details of the 26-27 July meeting, including its location and whether potential candidates were invited to meet the committee have not been disclosed and the proceedings have so far not been plagued with the leaks and insider’s gossip past committees have suffered.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Who reads the Daily Mail?: Get Religion June 6, 2012 June 6, 2012

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Hacker: Don’t tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers: the Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country; The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country; The Times is read by people who actually do run the country; the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country; the Financial Times is read by people who own the country; The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country; and The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.

Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?

Bernard: Sun readers don’t care who runs the country, as long as she’s got big tits.

“A Conflict of Interest” from Yes, Prime Minister (31 Dec 1987).

The British television sitcom, Yes, Minister and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister, are amongst my favorite television shows. The humor and political insight of the series written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynch remains as fresh and sharp today as it did twenty five years ago.

The exchange above between Prime Minister Jim Hacker, Cabinet Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby, and his private secretary Bernard Woolley is a treat. The setting for this scene is the Cabinet Room at No. 10 Downing Street.  Hacker is vexed by his poor press and is worried that the situation will become worse as there are rumors of a scandal in the City (London’s financial hub). Sir Humphrey advises him not to act unless the rumors turn out to be true, while Bernard counsels the P.M. not to worry about what the newspapers say. This advice was foolish, Hacker responds, launching the set piece about the prejudices and readership of the British press.

Twenty five years later these stereotypes largely hold true. Perhaps a modern version would drop the Communist Party newspaper The Morning Star — the joke being they want another country, the Soviet Union, to run Britain — not being relevant today. A modern retelling, however, could insert The Independent in its place, with the joke being the Independent is very keen on the European Union.  Not as good a joke as the original, I concede.

The place of the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph might also be swapped — with the Mail being the more conservative — or cranky — of the two.

To understand the joke a viewer would have to understand that the British press is cheerfully biased. Each paper holds strong editorial positions and its news coverage is often driven by its editorial line.  Taken as a whole, this is not such a bad thing.  When one is able to read the coverage in the Guardian alongside that of the Times, Telegraph and others a thoughtful reader gets a well-rounded view of events.

Here lies one of the differences between the U.S. and U.K. media market.  The New York Times is as driven by a left-liberal political agenda like the Guardian — yet there is no Telegraph or Times to balance its coverage.  Speaking in very broad terms, the closest U.S. analogy might be the Washington Post v. Washington Times rivalry — yet the Washington papers have such unequal resources, circulation and influence they do not quite fit the bill.

However, when the British press are good, they are very very good — I would say the best in the world when the advocacy format seeks truth and moral virtue — and delivers a great story. But when they are bad, the British press is dreadful — with advocacy gone wild.

An example of a truly awful advocacy article can be found in the Daily Mail’s coverage of the service at St. Paul’s Cathedral for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Now I enjoy beating the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, about the head and shoulders with a stick as much as the next man — an Amelkite to be smote hip and thigh. But there is a difference between disagreement and vilification — and the Daily Mail story is cruel.

The headline of the story sets the tone. “Archbishop of Canterbury uses Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving sermon to preach about his pet issues of City greed and the environment”.

The subtitles drive home this point for the reader who still may have doubts.

Outgoing Archbishop has a reputation for being controversial and holding liberal views
He previously questioned the legitimacy of the Coalition in a left-wing political magazine

HORRORS — Dr. Williams hates sin, loves the environment and is a liberal who has written in a left wing magazine. They might as well have added that he is a sandal-wearing, pacifist, socialist, hairy weird beard who lacks a sense of rhythm. (The sight of Dr. Williams bopping in time to Stevie Wonder singing “Superstition” at the Queen’s Jubilee concert made me cringe.)

The lede is not shy in telling us what is wrong with Dr. Williams.

The Archbishop of Canterbury made a pointed remark about the traps of ‘ludicrous financial greed’ and ‘environmental recklessness’ as he praised the Queen’s selfless service to others and urged the nation to follow her example.

Dr Rowan Williams could not resist politicising his thanksgiving sermon yesterday at St Paul’s Cathedral celebrating the Diamond Jubilee.

He made reference to several cherished Left-wing causes as he stated that the ‘challenge’ this jubilee sets us is to make sacrifices in pursuit of ‘a shared joy far greater than narrow individual fulfilment’.

The Mail then justifies its claims of liberal lunacy by quoting from the sermon.

He said: ‘Moralists, archbishops included, can thunder away as much as they like; but they’ll make no difference unless and until people see that there is something transforming and exhilarating about the prospect of a whole community rejoicing together – being glad of each other’s happiness and safety.

‘This alone is what will save us from the traps of ludicrous financial greed, of environmental recklessness, of collective fear of strangers and collective contempt for the unsuccessful and marginal – and many more things that we see far too much of, around us and within us.’

Dr Williams’ views on bankers and the environment are well known.

What sermon did the Mail hear? True,  it did not call Dr. Williams a vacuous toffee-nosed malodorous pervert. But this article is so over the top in its abuse and exaggerated sense of horror that it is just silly — Pythonesque.

I wonder who the Mail is trying to cultivate with this article, which is little more than abuse — a sustained attack on Dr. Williams’ character, person and office. It does not appear to be conservatives for at the end of the article it takes Dr. Williams to task for not pushing gay clergy and women bishops. Perhaps there is a constituency that dislikes liberals, the Welsh and social conservatives?

Dr Williams, who was selected as Archbishop of Canterbury in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee year in 2002, has a reputation for being liberal and controversial.

Many voiced doubt before he took the role as he backed the separation of church and state in England. He has been critical of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq in political statements he has made over the years.

He was also in the reformer’s camp on both the issue of women bishops and openly gay clergy, but in the face of huge opposition from the conservative element of the church he has been forced to sit on the fence, pleasing no-one.

In 2009 he was forced to defend his controversial comments about the introduction of Islamic law to Britain.

Perhaps I am too close to the story, having written about Dr. Williams in hundreds of stories over the years, but to my eyes appears to be more about animus than reporting. As journalism it is junk. Tabloid trash without the girls on page 3.

What say you GetReligion readers? Trash or treasure from the Daily Mail?

First published in GetReligion.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 38, May 5, 2012 May 6, 2012

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of Ireland, Texas, The Episcopal Church.
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The Anglican Four have more news for you. Kevin and George bring you Today-in-History, More of The AMiA breakdown, Erastian Texans, picking Canterbury, and the weather for Ireland is spring. Peter breaks down behind-the-scenes GAFCON and AS Haley has breaking news from Christ Church, Savannah. Oh… and there is a surprise Guest this week.

Overseas reactions to Dr. Williams’ resignation: The Church of England Newspaper, March 22, 2012 p 7. March 28, 2012

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News of the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury has prompted reactions ranging from sadness to glee across wider the Anglican Communion.

The 16 March 2012 announcement that Dr. Rowan Williams will leave office by year’s end prompted the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop David Chillingworth to write: “Archbishop Rowan’s time as Archbishop of Canterbury has been marked by great difficulty.  To be the person who is called to foster and to embody unity will always be a costly ministry.  He has fulfilled that ministry with a wonderful grace and personal warmth.”

The Primate of All Ireland, Dr. Alan Harper concurred.  Dr Williams was “held in high affection across the Anglican Communion and, on behalf of the Church of Ireland, I offer him prayerful good wishes as he decides to step down from the hugely demanding role as Archbishop of Canterbury to take up his new responsibilities – and enter a new phase of his life.”

The Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba wrote the church had been “inordinately privileged to have such an able theologian and deeply spiritual thinker, as Archbishop of Canterbury over the last decade,” adding that “I …  will miss him very much.”

However, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria said he was not sorry to see the archbishop go.

When Dr. Williams assumed office, the Anglican Communion was a “happy family. Unfortunately, he is leaving behind a Communion in tatters: highly polarized, bitterly factionalized, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the Anglican world.

Since Dr. Rowan Williams “did not resign in 2008, over the split Lambeth Conference, one would have expected him to stay on in office, and work assiduously to ‘mend the net’ or repair the breach, before bowing out of office. The only attempt, the covenant proposal, was doomed to fail from the start,” Archbishop Okoh said.

For Nigeria, the “announcement does not present any opportunity for excitement. It is not good news here, until whoever comes as the next leader pulls back the Communion from the edge of total destruction.”

American Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wrote that she was “grateful for Rowan Williams’ service as Archbishop of Canterbury during an exceedingly challenging season. We can all give thanks for his erudition and persistence in seeking reconciliation across a rapidly changing Anglican Communion.”

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen observed that Dr. Williams was “universally admired for his intellectual stature and his personal warmth.  In his time as Archbishop, the Anglican Communion has been subjected to unprecedented stresses which have hastened an inevitable tendency to regional independence and decentralisation. With the majority of Anglicans now from theologically conservative churches of the Global South, the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the future will demand a deepening appreciation of their place in the Communion.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

News analysis — The Rowan Williams years: The Church of England Newspaper, March 23, 2012 p E4. March 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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The political obituaries of the Archbishop of Canterbury have portrayed Dr. Rowan Williams as a brilliant, decent, spiritual man who was let down by the Church of England, or who was tasked with an impossible job, or who was a unfairly savaged by a rapacious media culture.

The less than glowing statements from overseas church leaders, with a few exceptions such as that of the Archbishop of Cape Town, are treated as outliers, or dismissed with the sentiment that “well, they would say that wouldn’t they.”

There is thus an attitude in the U.K. that there must be something wrong, or at least odd, about those who were not enamored by Dr. Williams.  In covering Dr. Williams’ overseas work for the Church of England Newspaper since he entered office I have encountered overseas examples of this conventional wisdom.  However, what I have found more prevalent is that expressed in Archbishop Nicholas Okoh’s encomium for the archbishop which essentially said, “Good bye, good luck, and good riddance.”

Why this attitude?  From the perspective of the Global South primates it would be hubris. Being the smartest man in the room is wonderful, but when you couple this with an ignorance of the international scene, patronizing attitudes, avoidance of argument or debate, and a weak staff you should be prepared for trouble.

At its base level Dr. Williams did not have a staff equal to its master.  The archbishop appeared not to take advice, or surrounded himself with aides who were unable to give it – or who had not done the spade work that would have allowed their chief’s ideas and programme to take root.

The Welsh druid controversy and Sharia law are but two examples.  In August 2002 Dr Williams was initiated into the highest of the three orders of the Gorsedd of Bards – a 1,300-strong society of Wales’ cultural leaders – at the National Eisteddfod celebration.  Photos of the archbishop in his druidical wimple flashed around the globe – and Dr. Williams was compelled to tell reporters that “some people have reached the wrong conclusion about the ceremony” as it was a “very Christian service.”

Dr. Williams was correct, of course, and it was nonsense to suggest that this was some sort of pagan cult into which he was being initiated.  Yet no one at Lambeth Palace prepared the ground ahead of the ceremony for the wider church.  The result was ridicule and suspicion.

The Church of Nigeria, for example, was in the midst of a campaign to stamp out membership in secret societies among its communicants.  Combating at home the lure of cabalistic cults and secret fraternities the image of Dr. Williams that came across the wires appeared to repudiate what they had been preaching.  This was unfair and incorrect. Dr. Williams had a public record of criticism of Freemasonry in the U.K. – but the archbishop was put in a place where none of that mattered.

By itself the druid episode could be considered an example of the wicked fun of newspapers.  But it showed a pattern of a staff not doing its job in anticipating the consequences of the archbishop’s private desires.  The Sharia law fiasco came not from the content of a speech but from comments Dr. Williams gave to the World at One programme before his speech.  Britain had to “face up to the fact” that some did not relate to its legal system, and a sanctioned form of Sharia law might improve community relations, he told the BBC.  The furore these statements caused appeared to surprise Dr. Williams.

In and of itself, a ham-fisted media strategy at home does not make one a failure abroad.  It may irritate and exasperate, but why is there such a high degree of animus from some portions of the Communion?

After numerous meetings, reports, conferences and pronouncements, the Global South (GS) group representing a majority of the world’s Anglicans came not to trust Dr. Williams’ word.

Undertakings were made by the archbishop, but action did not appear to result.  A Panel of Reference was created to adjudicate, or advise (it never was quiet clear) on disputes between liberals and conservatives – and after time and treasure were spent on these works, nothing happened.

The authority of the Lambeth Conference and the primates were steadily sapped under Dr. Williams rule the GS movement believed.  A majority of African bishops boycotted the 2008 Lambeth Conference in response to what they saw as Dr. Williams’ machinations and biases.

Decisive statements were made by the Primates Meetings in London, Ireland and Tanzania – which Dr. Williams was claimed to have unilaterally repudiated.  The staff of the Anglican Consultative Council was never slapped down for its usurpation of authority.  Rules were created on the fly – or ignored when inconvenient (but always in the favor of the U.S.)

At the 1999 ACC meeting I asked the then Secretary General why a particular American delegate was permitted voice and vote when he had retired as a bishop (the rules required he be an active bishop).  The answer was that the ACC let the provinces interpret the rules – it would not over rule their decisions.

In 2009 this way of doing business changed.  Uganda could not choose who was a Ugandan delegate.  When asked to explain the difference between 1999 and 2008, the new ACC Secretary General responded that was then, this is now.

I’ve been told that key leaders of the ACC are “liars” and “dishonest”.  These words came not from excited internet bloggers but from primates of the Anglican Communion.  These sentiments are not based on single events. They came as the cumulative effect of a belief in the systematic betrayal of their concerns coupled with a feeling that Dr. Williams was patronizing them.

A leader of a church whose membership was hemorrhaging was going to tell them how to build up the church, how to be a bishop, how to read the Bible.  At the 2003 primates meeting held at Lambeth Palace following the confirmation of the election of Gene Robinson, Dr. Williams was able to persuade Archbishop Peter Akinola not to absent himself from the corporate Eucharist service.  (The Nigerian archbishop took seriously the call that he be in ‘love and charity’ with his American brother before they took communion together.)

By dint of his personality and the prestige of his office, Dr. Williams was able to persuade Peter Akinola to receive the sacraments with Frank Griswold.  By the 2011 meeting a third of the primates had boycotted the gathering – a third represented the liberal wing and a third were new comers to the ranks of the primates.

So what was it about Dr. Williams? “He had a mind so fine that no idea could violate it”: T.S. Eliot wrote of Henry James in the Little Review of August 1918. Writing in the London Review of Books in the April 1980 issue Mary McCarthy explained this epigram as expressing Eliot’s view of “the novel as a fine art and of the novelist as an intelligence superior to mere intellect.”

McCarthy wrote that in the Modernists’ view, “the intellect’s crude apparatus was capable only of formulating concepts, which then underwent the process of diffusion, so that by dint of repetition they fell within anybody’s reach. The final, cruel fate of an idea was to turn into an idée reçue. The power of the novelist, insofar as he was a supreme intelligence, was to free himself from the work-load of commentary and simply, awesomely, to show: his creation was beyond paraphrase or reduction. As pure work of art, it stood beautifully apart, impervious to the dry rot affecting the brain’s constructions and to the welter of factuality.”

Transfer this observation to a church setting and you have the essence of the critique of Dr. Williams.  His mind was so fine, his theology so recherché, his intellect so powerful – that it need not be put to the test of practical experience or subjected to the welter of factuality.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Not everyone loves Rowan: Anglican Ink, March 22, 2012 March 22, 2012

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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams

The archbishop’s hubris led to the breakdown of trust.

The political obituaries of the Archbishop of Canterbury have portrayed Dr. Rowan Williams as a brilliant, decent, spiritual man who was let down by the Church of England, or who was tasked with an impossible job, or who was a unfairly savaged by a rapacious media culture.

The less than glowing statements from overseas church leaders, with a few exceptions such as that of the Archbishop of Cape Town, are treated as outliers, or dismissed with the sentiment that “well, they would say that wouldn’t they.”

There is thus an attitude in the U.K. that there must be something wrong, or at least odd, about those who were not enamored by Dr. Williams.

Read it all in Anglican Ink and the Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 33: March 20, 2012 March 20, 2012

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This weeks episode is devoted to the man who served as the Archbishop of Canterbury for the last 10 years. Indeed Episode 33 is everything you wanted to know about Rowan Williams, but were afraid to ask. So fear no more brave viewer.

Rowan Williams exits Canterbury, Round 2: Get Religion, March 16, 2012 March 17, 2012

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There have been no surprises so far in the first day coverage of the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams’ decision to retire at year’s end. A little before noon London time the archbishop’s press office released his resignation statement. Within the hour a Press Association interview and a background item for editors were released.

Throughout the afternoon comments and appreciations from political and religious leaders came across the wires (really the internet) — and from these sources the first day stories were formed.

What makes the difference in the quality of stories is the quality of the reporters and the experience/biases/insight they bring to their jobs. The Times, Telegraph, Independent and Guardian news reports are of high standard and reflect the professionalism of their reporters. The Daily Mail takes a different approach.

Rowan Williams has today announced he is stepping down as Archbishop of Canterbury but not before having a swipe at the ‘dim-witted prejudice’ against Christianity in Britain.

After a turbulent decade in office the leader of the 77 million-strong Anglican Church will leave at the end of the year.

He is tipped to be replaced by Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, who would be the first black holder of the prestigious office.

But in a stark warning Dr Williams said ‘ignorance’ was damaging the church because too many people seem to oppose Christianity but ‘don’t know how religion works’.

Granted the Daily Mail has a different demographic than the broadsheets, but the article continues in this herky-jerky manner, jumping from assertion to assertion. It has no focus, no sense of itself — and no sense of the story.

The Sun article could have been written as a parody. It begins:

Dr Williams yesterday revealed that he would be standing down after ten years to take up a new post as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Bookies have given Dr Sentamu odds of 6/4, just ahead of the Bishop of London Richard Chartres at 7/4 and the Bishop of Bradford Nick Baines at 5/1.

William Hill [a bookmaker] spokesman Graham Sharpe said: “Since Rowan Williams became Archbishop of Canterbury, John Sentamu has very much come to the fore and has been the best-backed contender to succeed him for some while, although Richard Chartres, the beaten favourite when Williams was appointed, is also a strong contender.”

I must admit that I would not have had a bookie’s tout as my first quote. But the Sun is the Sun.

The stinker of the day, however, was the one surprise. The Italian newspaper La Stampa‘s usually excellent Vatican Insider offered opinion as news — and ill-informed opinion at that. Speaking of the controversy over women bishops in the Church of England, it wrote:

Since the Anglican Synod of York approved the ordination of women bishops in July 2010, the decision has gradually spread throughout the Anglican Communion, against the wishes of traditionalist communities. The Anglican Communion consists of 38 independent provinces and one of these is England. A number of provinces already have a bishop. The hemorrhage of faithful in the Anglican Church could be greater than expected as a result of the approval of the consecration of women bishops.

The Catholic Church opposes the process that will lead to the introduction of a law, next July that will authorise the ordination of women bishops. … Opening up the Episcopate to women will have negative consequences in terms of the Anglican Church’s dialogue with the Vatican. It seems pretty clear that the approval of women’s ordination will lead onto the ordination of openly gay bishops. This is the path the Anglican world has chosen to go down, inattentive to the ever growing communities that are choosing to return to Rome precisely as a result of this “liberal” change. …

Pretty nasty, and wrong. The assertion that “women’s ordination will lead onto the ordination of openly gay bishops” is questionable. The first woman bishop was the Rt. Rev. Penelope Jamieson who served as Bishop of Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island from 1990 to 2004. There are, or have been, women bishops in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Cuba and the United States — all predating the July 2010 vote by the Church of England’s General Synod.

The op-ed pieces are all over the place. For an American reader what might be amazing is the number of stories. There are so many out there that I have space only to focus on one newspaper for this article.

In addition to its news reports, the Guardian offers five analyses pieces as well as a cartoon. The best is by Stephen Bates, the newspaper’s former religion reporter. If you have time to read just one piece from all those I cite, read this one. While I do not share his politics, I have been a long time admirer of his work. His story is fair, thorough (irritating in places) but also heartfelt. He has sympathy for the subject of his article, but remains committed to telling the truth. In short, great writing.

The archbishop’s biographer, Rupert Shortt, has a weaker story. A fan of Dr. Williams, his article presents only one side of this complex man — and also makes mistakes of fact when it moves away from the man to the issues.

Soon after his move to Lambeth Palace, the [Dr. Williams] urged [the pope] to kick-start stalled talks on reunion between Rome and Canterbury. Benedict’s condition for allowing this was that the Anglican communion should streamline its structures and start talking with a more united voice. Williams agreed; the covenant has formed a major element in his strategy.

No, that is not how it happened. The Anglican Covenant arose from an internal Anglican document called the Windsor Report — not from without.

Opponents describe [the Anglican Covenant] as an authoritarian measure at odds with traditional church polity. So far it has been supported in more conservative parts of the communion, especially Africa and Asia, but rejected elsewhere. If the Church of England itself refuses to endorse the covenant, the plan will probably be doomed.

Yes, if the CoE fails to endorse it, it will be doomed — the rest is questionable. The opponents who see the covenant as being too strict and “at odds” with the church’s traditional polity are the liberals. It is also not supported in the more conservative parts of the communion — the archbishops of the traditionalist coalition of Asian and African provinces last year said they could not support the covenant because it was too lenient.

All of the pieces stress the archbishop’s intellectual attainments — his brilliance. Amelia Hill also saw it as part of the problem.

But his intelligence – or, rather, his sublime confidence in his intelligence – has led directly to some of the crises that have marked his tumultuous decade as leader of a global Anglican communion sharply divided on issues of sexuality and gender.

From my experience in covering Dr. Williams for The Church of England Newspaper — which is what it sounds like, though it is not the official newspaper of the church, there is no such animal — Ms. Hill is correct. A number of Dr. Williams’ blunders arose from his refusal to take advice. The Sharia law fiasco being the most notable among many self-inflicted media messes.

Commentator Giles Fraser and the Guardian’s editorial also damned him with faint praise. Fraser writes from the perspective of a liberal activist who has been let down by one of his own.

One does not choose morality as one chooses cornflakes. So whilst his instincts may have been gay friendly, his increasing appreciation that the African church was dead against any accommodation with homosexuality made him side with the conservatives. He wanted a global Anglican community built around core values. And so, in effect, he became a split personality – with Williams the man at odds with Williams the archbishop. After the bitter Lambeth Conference of 1998, Williams, and several other bishops, made gay Christians a promise: “We pledge we will continue to reflect, pray and work for your full inclusion in the life of the church.” Unfortunately, it was a promise he would fail to keep.

The editorial board argued the job had become too big for the man.

Rowan Williams failed as archbishop of Canterbury, because the job description makes success impossible. But the announcement of his resignation makes clear that he failed at one particular impossible task he set himself: to hold together the Anglican communion. That gathering – now more of a dispersal – of 38 churches worldwide continued the schism between liberals and conservatives which has been under way since the 1990s. Both here and abroad, Dr Williams made enough sacrifices for unity to alienate his liberal supporters without satisfying his conservative enemies. But this is what he felt was his duty as archbishop, and in the patient and humble way he followed this thankless path, jeered at from left and right, he offered an example that not only Christians found attractive.

This is a defensible argument, but one I would not advance. It is reminiscent of editorials about Jimmy Carter circa 1979, and it also makes assumptions about liberals and conservatives that is not entirely straight forward. However this is not the place to wax eloquent about the byzantine world of church politics.

I expect the second wave will focus on who is likely to succeed Dr. Williams, and in a few weeks we will begin to see the pendulum move from favorable to unfavorable stories. But I must say, so far so good. An all round good job (exceptions noted.) And, this will keep me gainfully employed for months to come.

My concern, however, is how those outside of Anglican or British circles will be able to follow what is going on. From simple issues (What exactly is the Archbishop of Canterbury?) to the complex, (Why is the archbishop disliked by the left when he is an admitted “hairy lefty”?), these stories assume a degree of knowledge that is most likely not there. Even the British tabloid speculation as to who might be the next archbishop is based on an ill-founded assumption of how the process works.

What do you think GetReligion readers? Will this story catch on outside of English and Anglican circles? What hook might there be to catch a wider audience?

First published in GetReligion.

Archbishop of Canterbury announces his resignation: Anglican Ink, March 16, 2012 March 16, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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Lambeth Palace has released a statement today saying the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams will step down from office by the end of December.

Dr. Williams has accepted the position of Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge University.

Read the full story in Anglican Ink.

Take no decision on ACNA, archbishops’ synod paper argues: The Church of England Newspaper, January 27, 2012 p 5. February 2, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has welcomed the release of a general synod paper under the signature of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York that addresses the province-in-formation’s relationship to the Church of England.

In a statement released on 21 January 2012, the primate of the ACNA, Archbishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh said the province-in-formation was “encouraged by the desire of the Church of England to continue to embrace the Anglican Church in North America and remain in solidarity with us as we proclaim the Gospel message and truth as revealed in Scripture in the way it has always been understood in Anglican formularies.”

The document released online on 20 January 2012 urges inaction upon the synod in defining its relationship to ACNA, but also serves as a backhanded recognition the new North American province is part of the Anglican world.

Synod paper MISC 1011 entitled “The Church of England and the Anglican Church in North America”, comes in response to a private members motion presented to the February 2010 session of synod which asked the archbishops to clarify the Church of England’s relationship with the ACNA.  The archbishops responded this question was more properly formulated into three distinct questions.

“What is the range of relationship with other Christian churches that is possible for the Church of England?; How does a particular local Church become accepted as part of the Anglican Communion?; and In what circumstances can the orders of another Church be recognised and accepted by the Church of England so that someone ordained in that church can be given archiepiscopal authorisation for ministry here?”

The archbishops responded that the first and third questions were governed by the canon law of the Church of England.  Relations with other churches was governed by the actions of General Synod, the archbishops said, offering examples of the Porvoo Agreements with the Nordic Lutheran Churches, the Methodist Covenant and the Church of England’s links with the provinces of the Anglican Communion.

The reception or licensing of overseas clergy within the Church of England was governed by canon law and the “authorisation by the Archbishop of the Province is considered on a case by case basis and will take a number of relevant considerations into account” before an overseas cleric is licensed to officiate in the Province of York or Canterbury.

In answering the second question, the Archbishops conceded “the concept of membership of the Anglican Communion is not entirely straightforward”, noting the Anglican Communion was not a legal entity governed by statute or bylaws.  The archbishops also acknowledged the political failure of the Anglican Consultative Council to create a mutually recognizable Anglican identity.

However, the archbishops did note the concept of an Anglican bishop might be defined by the standard set of who was invited to attend meetings of the Lambeth Conference.  In 2008 Dr. Williams declined to extend an invitation to Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA on the grounds that his ministry on behalf of the Church of Nigerian in the United States violated the provincial boundaries of the Episcopal Church.

However, Dr. Williams also declined to invite Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire due to his status as an openly gay bishop – and the archbishop also declined to invite Dr. Nolbert Kunonga of Harare in light of his ties to the Mugabe regime.  The Lambeth Conference standard was further weakened as the 2008 meeting differed substantially from its predecessors as it was transformed as a meeting of equals into an extended tutorial session led by the archbishop for the instruction and improvement of the wider communion.

The way forward, the archbishops noted was to maintain relations with the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. as well as maintain an “open-ended engagement with ACNA on the part of the Church of England and the Communion” – deciding not to decide the issue at this time.

Archbishop Duncan said he appreciated the “work of the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England, whose report and recommendations to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York form the basis of the document now released for General Synod, and whose content substantially advances the same ends with the Church of England.”

He added that the ACNA had “demonstrated successfully to the GAFCON primates” that it “remains committed to our growing relationships with Anglican provinces outside of North America. Our biblical orthodoxy and ministries are strengthening our bond to our Anglican brothers and sisters around the globe. We are gratified that we are already in a relationship of full communion with many Anglican Provinces and look forward to expanding that circle.”

Anglican Unscripted Episode 25: January 24, 2012 January 27, 2012

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Communion, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury.
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Anglican Unscripted.

Not sure how to translate English to American? Kevin and George offer their years of experience in interpreting MISC 1011. They also take a gander at the news of AMiA, PEAR, and Moving Forward. And then there is that History thing.

Lambeth meeting for Mahmoud Abbas: The Church of England Newspaper, January 18, 2012 January 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Israel.
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Dr. Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace on 17 Jan 2012 : Photo - Marcin Mazur, CCN.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The President of the Palestinian Authority has met with leaders of the Christian Churches of Britain in London following his talks with the British government over the stalled Middle East peace process.

The meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and Dr. Rowan Williams comes at a nadir in Anglo-Israeli relations and on the same day the Israeli Foreign Ministry chided Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as being grossly “ill informed” about the conflict in the Middle East.

According to a statement released after the 17 Jan 2012, President Abbas told the church leaders that Israel and the Palestinians must resume peace talks.  The Arab Spring provided a “rare opportunity” to bring peace to the region, the Palestinian leader said.

President Abbas and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams were joined by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool Patrick Kelly and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland David Arnott in the private meeting at Lambeth Palace.

Dr. Williams said the British church leaders “continue to share the hopes of the Palestinian leadership for a lasting and just peace in the Holy Land, and we pray for the courage on all sides to break the current deadlock.”

He noted that “young people in Israel and in the Palestinian territories long for justice and stability and they must not be let down. We were deeply grateful to President Abbas for taking time to share with us his concerns and aspirations” Dr. Williams said.

Archbishop Kelly, who last week travelled with other Catholic bishops to Israel and Palestine to meet with Christian leaders, said “we witnessed the effects of occupation and insecurity on the people of this land. There is an urgent need for strong and creative leadership in order to address the core issues of this long conflict.”

On 17 Jan, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told the Israel Hayom newspaper that Mr. Clegg’s accusation that Israel was carrying out “deliberate vandalism” by building settlements in disputed territories was “gratuitous and ill informed.”

The Deputy Prime Minister’s comments served to harm the peace process as it would allow the Palestinians to continue to refuse to negotiate or compromise.

At a London press conference on 16 Jan, Mr. Clegg standing alongside Mr. Abbas said: “The continued existence of illegal settlements risks making facts on the ground such that a two-state solution becomes unviable.”

“That, in turn, will do nothing to safeguard the security of Israel itself or of Israeli citizens. That is why I condemn the continued illegal settlement activity in the strongest possible terms,” he added.

Speaking through a translator, President Abbas told reporters, “This is exactly what we wanted to hear officially from the government of the United Kingdom.”

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Palestinians had no interest in resuming peace talks. “For the last three years, the Palestinians have refused to enter negotiations, thinking they could impose preconditions upon us,” the Israeli press reported Mr. Netanyahu telling Israeli lawmakers at closed parliamentary committee meeting.

“The Palestinians have no interest in entering peace talks. I’m ready to travel now to Ramallah to start peace talks with Abu Mazen [Abbas], without preconditions. But the simple truth is that Abu Mazen is not ready.”

Rowan Williams is a liar, Dr. Kunonga charges: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2011 p 7. November 27, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Zimbabwe.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is responsible for the pain felt by the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga has declared.

In a statement released in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s tour of Zimbabwe last month, the former Bishop of Harare denied charges he was leading a campaign of violence and intimidation against loyal Anglicans.  The Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) had “deliberately lied to the President of Zimbabwe and the entire world at the instruction of their troubled Rowan Williams.”

Dr. Williams “has come and gone”, Dr. Kunonga said, and his passing has gone unnoticed as the problems dividing the church remain.  “This is chiefly because the Archbishop is responsible for problems rocking the church, not only in Zimbabwe, but the worldwide Anglican Communion,” he charged.

On 10 Oct 2011, Dr. Williams presented a dossier to President Robert Mugabe chronicling the oppression of Zimbabwe’s Anglicans at the hands of the security services and thugs in the pay of the breakaway bishop.  Accompanied by the Archbishops of Southern Africa, Central Africa and Tanzania Dr. Williams urged President Mugabe to halt the attacks.

In a statement released after their meeting, the archbishops said the dossier “gives a full account of the abuses to which our people and our church has been subject. We have asked, in the clearest possible terms, that the President use his powers as Head of State to put an end to all unacceptable and illegal behaviour.”

In his rebuttal, Dr. Kunonga questioned the veracity of the charges.  “It boggles the mind why Zimbabwean bishops would wait for so long to appraise their own President of the alleged ‘abuses’ and ‘persecution’,” he declared, arguing that the delay in informing the president constituted an admission the charges were false.

The breakaway bishop said he was the victim of a campaign of harassment.  The “CPCA is well known for their love of litigation,” he said, and had “dragged Bishop Kunonga to court on numerous occasions on fabricated and petty charges.”

Dr. Kunonga charged the dossier and Dr. Williams visit to Zimbabwe was part of a wider political scheme to destabilize the Mugabe regime.  They were “well calculated moves to provide a world stage to demonise Zimbabwe, targeting the judicial system and the security forces. The so called ‘litany of abuses’ is nothing but brilliant fiction. Interestingly, their unsubstantiated claims and allegations are very similar in word and fashion, to those made by some political players in Zimbabwe.”

He recounted his disputes with the CPCA noting that he had been proclaimed innocent during an ecclesiastical trial that investigated him for theft, heresy and attempted murder.  No verdict was returned in the 2005 trial, the Church of England Newspaper reported at the time, as the judge adjourned the proceedings after the witnesses declined to return to Zimbabwe for fear of their lives.  The other claims made by the breakaway bishop about the status of his legal cases and his role in the campaign of violence and intimidation waged against loyal Anglicans cannot be reconciled with reports received from the diocese by CEN over the past 12 years.

Dr. Kunonga also claimed the Zimbabwe courts had confirmed him in his position as Bishop of Harare and trustee of the church’s properties.  However, the courts have not ruled on this point and have only given him temporary custody of the church properties pending a final adjudication.

He also denied barring Anglicans from their churches.  “Churches are always open. Those who choose to worship under trees, in classrooms or in bushes do that in their own volition,” he declared.

He also denied having ordered the murder of an 80-year old woman “because she belonged to CPCA.”  What reason would he have to order that murder and “spare the likes of [Bishops] Bakare and Gandiya,” he asked.

Harare’s Anglicans had only themselves to blame for “clashing with the Police, because they always choose to ignore court orders. When the police intervene to enforce court orders, they cry foul. They claim harassment and persecution when in fact, they are persecuting themselves by refusing to accept any court ruling against them.”

Dr. Kunonga argued the CPCA were hypocrites.  “For them, the rule of law only applies where their interests are concerned. The courts are competent only when they win. The police are impartial when they do their wishes rather than enforce court orders.”

By bringing his crimes to the notice of the president, Dr. Williams and the CPCA were asking Robert Mugabe to “violate the rule of law which they preach so much when white interests are concerned.”

He called upon the CPCA and the Anglican Communion to “repent, be responsible and retract their shameful request. They took Bishop Kunonga to the courts and should therefore abide with court rulings and stop seeking political interference in matters that are before the courts.”

Mollie and the Spin Doctors: Get Religion Oct 25, 2011 October 25, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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No, the title of this post does not refer to a now forgotten second tier ’80s band. Mollie and the Spin Doctors will not join Souxsie and the Banshees, Hootie and the Blowfish, Adam and the Ants, and Echo and the Bunnymen in the remainder aisle at Wal-Mart. I chose this title to tell a cautionary tale about religious journalism concerning one of my colleagues at GetReligion, Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, and the Communications Office at the Episcopal Church.

The moral of the story if you want to skip to the end of the piece can be found in Numbers 32:23. “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.”

Now I am not equating journalism or journalists with the godhead (though the New York Times does tend towards an omniscient, holier than though attitude towards creation). What I am drawing from this passage from Scripture is the lesson not to exaggerate, lie or spin an unpalatable truth. For in the end you will be found out.

Our parable begins with an article written by Ms Hemingway for the Wall Street Journal entitled “Twenty-First Century Excommunication”. She reports:

In 2009, breakaway Episcopalians in the U.S. and Canada formed the Anglican Church in North America, which now reports 100,000 members in nearly 1,000 congregations. This group has been formally recognized by some Anglican primates outside of the United States.

[Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine] Jefferts Schori says this new Anglican group is encroaching on her church’s jurisdiction, and she has authorized dozens of lawsuits “to protect the assets of the Episcopal Church for the mission of the Episcopal Church.” The Episcopal Church has dedicated $22 million to legal actions against departing clergy, congregations and dioceses, according to Allan Haley, a canon lawyer who has represented a diocese in one such case.

Now the Episcopal Church has upped the ante: It has declared that if congregations break away and buy their sanctuaries, they must disaffiliate from any group that professes to be Anglican.

The article has turned out to be a great success. As of the date of my writing, it has generated 119 comments, 944 Facebook likes, and been tweeted 105 times. Not all of the comments have been favorable though. For an article that touches upon church property law to generate this sort of response, both positive and negative, is extraordinary. I’m rather envious of Mollie’s success.

The Episcopal Church has responded to the piece by publishing a Talking Points page on its website disputing the accuracy and tone of the story. The page entitled “Perspectives” has been picked up by the Anglican/Episcopal blogosphere with some defenders of the Episcopal Church denouncing the story. Kevin Kallsen of Anglican TV interviewed Mollie about the story and she discusses the responses she has received so far. Her segment begins at the 28 minute 15 second mark.

A disclosure. I am a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida. Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is talking about my church. I am also a religion reporter and have published a little over 3500 stories about the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion over the years.

The Episcopal Church laid out 12 talking points to refute the WSJ story. Ten offer contrary opinions, pointers to web sites, or summarize legal arguments. Two allege errors of fact.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori did not make any of the statements that the author claims she made in the article.

The author of the article stated that, “Of the 38 provinces in the global Anglican Communion, 22 have declared themselves in “broken” or “impaired” fellowship with the more liberal American church.”   As recently as Monday, October 10, Lambeth Palace confirmed that there is no basis for this claim by the author.

Talking point 2 states the Presiding Bishop did not make the statements cited in the story. In the WSJ story Bishop Jefferts Schori is quoted as saying:

“We can’t sell to an organization that wants to put us out of business,” said Bishop Jefferts Schori, who added that her job is to ensure that “no competing branch of the Anglican Communion impose on the mission strategy” of the Episcopal Church.

But she did say this according to those present on 19 April 2011 at a Q&A session at Trinity Cathedral in Pittsburgh. The sentiment that the Episcopal Church would not sell properties to rival Anglican bodies was also expressed forcefully in a deposition given by her in a Virginia lawsuit.

On its face point 3  was the strongest argument. If the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office said Mollie was wrong, she must be wrong.

Following the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, I reported on the phenomena of Anglican provinces breaking with the Episcopal Church over the appointment of a gay bishop. At the time I reported on each of these announcements for the church press in the US and the UK, and I have long used the “22 of 38” figure as cited in the WSJ. Was I wrong too? I went through my story archive, tallied the figures and came up with the 22 of 38 number. In 2004 the Deputy General Secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council, Canon Gregory Cameron, also cited these numbers in a speech to the Anglican Church of Canada. He stated:

Within our own Communion, the leaders of twenty-two of the thirty-eight provinces of the Anglican Communion, representing about forty-four million Anglicans, have pronounced that they reject the moves in New Hampshire and in New Westminster as incompatible with the Gospel and with the Christian fellowship of which they are part. They have said that developments tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level, and a state of broken Communion now exists between ECUSA and some twelve to eighteen provinces of the Communion.

If the Episcopal Church Talking Point was true, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office was repudiating the speech of a senior communion official. Or, had there been developments of which I was unaware. I sought to find out.

I emailed the Episcopal Church’s Communications office and asked who, when and how had Lambeth Palace told them there was no basis for the 22 of 38 claim. Episcopal Church spokesman Neva Rae Fox responded:

The conversation you reference was a private conversation, as was the mode of discussion, and both shall remain private.

I also telephoned and emailed the Lambeth Palace and was told by press secretary Marie Papworth:

Sorry for the delay, but I don’t know where this comes from and the reality is that there are Provinces which don’t agree on certain issues, but relationships continue between all Provinces at a host of levels – from the individual level through to the parish, diocesan and also provincial level.

Let’s sum things up. The claim the Presiding Bishop did not say what she was quoted as having said is challenged by third party reports of remarks she made in Pittsburgh. And the claim that Lambeth Palace supported the statement there was no basis for the claim that 22 of 38 provinces were on the outs with the Episcopal Church was false, or perhaps it is better to say cannot be verified as being true by Lambeth Palace.

What is the moral of this tale? Have your facts straight. Otherwise there is every chance you will look like a fool.

First published by GetReligion.

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