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Archbishop’s Letter Angers Liberals: CEN 10.26.07 p 1. October 24, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Central Florida, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology.

The Diocese, not the national church or province, is the primary ecclesial entity within the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury has stated in a letter written to an American bishop.

Dr. Williams’ elucidation of his views on the ecclesiology of the Communion has sparked outrage from liberals in the US, who have condemned the letter as undermining the special “polity” of the Episcopal Church. The letter has also prompted conservatives to rethink plans for secession, as the letter shifts the political dynamic within the American church by undermining the importance of left’s long march through the Church’s central administrative apparatus.

However a spokesman for Dr. Williams told The Church of England Newspaper the letter was not an ex cathedra statement but a pastoral response to a particular local situation that broke no new ground.

On Oct 14 Dr. Williams sent an email to the Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, in response to a note outlining the strife within his conservative evangelical diocese.

Dr. Williams told Bishop Howe traditionalist secessions from traditionalist dioceses were misguided. Central Florida’s place within the Communion was not at risk, he said.

“Any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church,” he said.

“The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such,” Dr. Williams said.

“Separatist solutions” would weaken “that basic conviction of Catholic theology and in a sense treating the provincial structure of The Episcopal Church as if it were the most important thing.”

“The Bishop and the Diocese” were the “primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the ‘national church’,” he said.

The Archbishop of Canterbury urged traditionalists to hold fast.

“Action that fragments their Dioceses will not help the consolidation of that all-important critical mass of ordinary faithful Anglicans in The Episcopal Church for whose nurture I am so much concerned. Breaking this up in favour of taking refuge in foreign jurisdictions complicates and embitters the future for this vision.”

While noting the stresses the current environment had placed on faithful priests, Dr. Williams called upon the Central Florida clergy to exercise discipline and obey their bishop.

“Priests in a diocese such as yours ought to maintain their loyalty to their sacramental communion with you as Bishop,” he said.

A statement issued by Lambeth Palace clarified Dr. Williams’ email, explaining it was “neither a new policy statement nor a roadmap for the future but a plain response to a very urgent and particular question about clergy in traditionalist dioceses in TEC who want to leave TEC for other jurisdictions.”

“A priest is related in the first place to his/her bishop directly, not through the structure of the national church; that structure serves the dioceses,” the statement said.


1. Michael Allsworth - October 26, 2007

Where’s the EVIDENCE given in this article for the “anger” of liberals? or is it merely opinion or wishful thinking?

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