And his text is here. (There’s a summary at the top, the full text is below. Finally–a readable, comprehensible, intellegent statement about the Anglican Communion from the person who is supposed to be at its head.
It’s not a spanking; it’s clear reflection. I appreciate the way that he frames the issues. Speaking as a straight white guy I think that he presents clearly the difference between civil rights and the Church’s support of those civil rights and the theological and biblical status of homosexual partnerships. He also makes specific mention of my own objection to to Bishop Robinson’s consecration–that the US church consecrated a bishop in a sexual relationship outside the bounds of the canons and the liturgy. (And for the record, I’m still annoyed that GC06 didn’t address this.) Some of my brother and sisters who aren’t straight white guys may feel differently about the archbishop’s words here–and if so I’m sure you’ll tell me…
I will say that this paragraph was an opportunity for the archbishop to say something about church support of harshly discriminatory civil laws in Africa–especially Nigeria–and that opportunity was not taken.
The discussion of truth and unity is helpful as well, pointing out the inevitable tension between unity and the *search* for truth. This line in particular caught my eye: “The nature of prophetic action is that you do not have a cast-iron guarantee that you’re right.” I imagine that some people are going to object to this discussion of truth because they are of the mind that the Church doesn’t need to search for truth–it already has it. It has Jesus, it has the Bible and the Sacraments, what further need to search? I would agree with the archbishop: we are still searching. Each sunrise dawns upon a new world and while God’s truth abideth still, we must figure out how to be the incarnate body of Christ each new day in spite of and through our sins and limitations.
The focus throughout the document on local communities was helpful for me. I liked that he kept returning there. Particularly helpful was the comment that local churches have some of the same issues that international bodies do. National church bodies do not and cannot decide everything on behalf and in place of local communities. That’s true across the board whether you’re talking NYC, Plano or Lagos.
The covenant as described here sounds like a good idea. And they whole “opting in” and the whole “constituent” and “associate” thing makes sense . . . except that we have the whole local problem that he just pointed out. Here’s the thing. We are an episcopal church; we do bishops. His talk of local communities would be one thing if we were congregationalists, but we’re not. It would be nice if any given local congregation could decide to either opt in or out, be a constituent or be an associate but I simply don’t see how that could work with our polity. It’s pretty clear that the covenant will be constructed in such a way that TEC will probably fall as an “associate” body. So–on a par with the British Methodist Church. I can’t imagine that the British Methodist Church contributes a whole lot to the Anglican Communion’s operating budget. I’m not saying nor do I want to be understood as saying that TEC’s money should buy its position or that other churches should compromise so we will foot their bill. I’m more noting this as an oddity.
Well, there will be much discussion about this in coming days. My own hope and prayer is that this may be a first signal that the archbishop is coming out of his shell. He has considerable theological and spiritual gifts; that’s why he was appointed to the position. Unfortunately, he has not been using them in a public fashion in dealing with our current crises. We need more statements like this! We need to know what he’s thinking. Thoughtful contributions will help our situation, and are a hell of a lot better than the rhetoric spewing that has characterized the discussion thus far.
Update: A quick survey of what other people are thinking about this is annoyingly predicatble–they’re trying to assess from this who wins and who loses. In doing so, I fear they’re missing the point… But I like Joe’s response.