Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Just a few thoughts on the Archbishops' proposals

Below are links to comments on the arrangements Drs Williams and Sentamu want the Church of England General Synod to adopt. I'm not going to say very much, partly because it's been said better elsewhere, and also that we have to remember this is a Church of England matter; in the current climate whatever is decided there will have no direct bearing on the situation of "catholic minded Anglicans" in Wales. Archbishop Rowan can be as persuasive as he needs to be in England, but I can't see the Welsh Bench changing it's mind on the shameful decision they made two years ago - yes, it's been that long.

 In effect, what is being offered in England is the situation which operated here until the retirement of Bishop David Thomas (with minor differences attempting to address the issues related to the imminent conseration of women to the episcopate.) That should be warning enough.
If it means a longer period of discernment for those in the C of E who need it, spiritually, financially, in terms of personal and pastoral relationships, then the Archbishops' plans can be welcomed as a kind of stay of execution. If it staves off long-term unemployment or financial disaster for those who have committed their lives to priestly ministry, or a continuation of sacramental and pastoral care to devoted Anglo-Catholic laity in no position to up sticks and move, then it can't be dismissed as entirely worthless; but in the end it's a kind of theological hospice care, undoubtedly compassionate but offering no hope of recovery.
But these proposals certainly can't be spun as a preservation of the existing status quo: it's less of the same, rather than more of the same. It doesn't even attempt to address the concerns and theological and ecclesiological  issues raised by Forward in Faith nearly six years ago in 'Consecrated Women.'
 What is being offered is a substantially smaller fig leaf with which to preserve the theological modesty of those Anglo-Catholics and others who may have to wear it. It may preserve a small enclave for a generation, but it isn't a long term answer or a lasting settlement. From an outsider's perspective, these proposals (if they get through - don't assume they will necessarily)  will simply prolong the war of attrition we have all been fighting for years. Why won't a code of practice do? Because we know we can't trust many of those who will operate it.

Any secure future for the Anglo-Catholic movement will inevitably lie elsewhere, which is why it's necessary not to fall out among ourselves, but to commit ourselves to keeping doors open and to not burning our bridges but keeping them open to traffic.

Fr Hunwicke says it all here along with Bishop Edwin Barnes & Damian Thompson

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