Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

His Grace, the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, is unable to placate anyone these days. He was faulted on both sides for his "deer-caught-in-the-headlights" reaction to Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Constitution. And now he is being faulted again for not doing enough, or for doing altogether the wrong thing, in reaction to the election of the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool to be Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The wrong thing? In the eyes of Colin Coward, Director of the aptly named organization Changing Attitude, ++Rowan has betrayed him both personally, as his former teacher, as well as generically, on behalf of gays and lesbians everywhere:
“I am sure he is still the man I knew as being inclusive. I think he must be torn about inside.”

He added: “The part of me that knows Rowan as a friend still values him as a friend. But another part of me is incredibly disappointed. I feel betrayed and let down.”
And in the eyes of traditional Anglicans, and even other denominations, ++Rowan has once again failed to take decisive disciplinary action against the wayward Episcopal Church (USA), which is constantly testing the limits of his resolve. In the words of Dr. Albert Mohler, President of one of the largest seminaries in Christendom:
In a statement released after the election of Rev. Glasspool as bishop, Archbishop Williams stated that her election "raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole." He concluded by stating: "The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold."

That is the language of a man who -- judging by his words -- is far more committed to affection than to truth. His continuing calls for "gracious restraint" have only earned him the anger of both liberals and conservatives. The liberals are frustrated, to say the least, that Williams appears to lack the courage of his own convictions. Conservatives see his continual refusal to act against the rebellious Episcopal Church as evidence that he does hold those convictions, but is simply biding his time.
"Far more committed to affection than to truth." And yet, the Rev. Colin Coward seems to accuse His Grace of a betrayal of affection, of mutual personal regard once shared in a teacher-student relationship. How can this be?

We see in this sad contrast of opposing viewpoints a profound misunderstanding -- a failure on the one hand to distinguish between the man and the position, and a failure on the other to distinguish between the position and the man. Please allow me to explain.

For the Rev. Coward and his gay and lesbian colleagues, there is a sense of betrayal only because they believe that the Archbishop of Canterbury is no different, in capabilities or beliefs, from the brilliant liberal Welsh theologian whom they encountered as Dr. Rowan Williams. Upon his elevation to the see of St. Augustine, in their view, he should have encountered no difficulty in maintaining exactly the same liberal worldview which he enjoyed displaying in the academic world from which he came. The author of so profound -- and simultaneously graceful and polished -- an essay as The Body's Grace could not possibly have it in him to uphold the offensively manipulated Anglican "consensus" embodied in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

At the same time, however, those from the traditional Anglican mold see in Dr. Rowan Williams precisely that waffling liberal, that ivory-tower academic who is unable to take a firm stand against anything, let alone against a flagrant flouting of Scripture -- like that presented when a supposed branch of the one, universal, holy, catholic and apostolic Church sees fit to consecrate an openly practicing homosexual to episcopal rank. The author of so liberal -- and experimentally discursive -- an academic diversion as The Body's Grace could not possibly have it in him to lay down the law to the very Episcopalians who dared to take him up on what he wrote. Can you not see how these words must have resonated with Anglicans in same-sex relationships everywhere?
The whole story of creation, incarnation and our incorporation into the fellowship of Christ's body tells us that God desires us, as if we were God, as if we were that unconditional response to God's giving that God's self makes in the life of the trinity. We are created so that we may be caught up in this; so that we may grow into the wholehearted love of God by learning that God loves us as God loves God.

The life of the Christian community has as its rationale - if not invariably its practical reality - the task of teaching us this: so ordering our relations that human beings may see themselves as desired, as the occasion of joy. . .
How can anyone who wrote those words -- that the "life of the Christian community . . . [consists in] so ordering our relations that human beings may see themselves as desired, as the occasion for joy" -- possibly be antithetical to the idea of a partnered lesbian bishop? And how could anyone who wrote those words at the same time be expected to crack down on those who would tear the fabric of the Communion by presuming to elect a partnered lesbian as a bishop?

This is not really a paradox; there is no contradiction here. What Dr. Williams may have written and held intellectually as an academic has precious little to bear on what the Archbishop of Canterbury can and may do as the titular head of the Anglican Communion. It is as unreasonable to expect that, once appointed, the Archbishop would continue to play the academic as it is to expect that, once appointed, the academic would suddenly assume the mantle of a metropolitan -- and become the Pope, as it were, of the Anglican Communion.

As the Archbishop of Canterbury, ++Rowan Williams is the "first among equals" -- speaking with respect to the bishops of the various Churches in the Anglican Communion, who assemble every ten years or so for the Lambeth Conference. Those paradoxical words express perfectly both the roles of leadership and of subservience embodied in the post. The Archbishop invites other bishops to Lambeth; he does not command their presence there (as was evident when nearly 300 bishops of the Global South spurned their invitations to the most recent Conference). His power, as it were, lies in failing to act, by not sending an invitation (as in the case of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson), and thus is completely contrary to the traditional manner in which a power is exercised.

At the same time, as Archbishop of Canterbury, ++Rowan Williams is responsible for upholding the consensus of the bishops gathered from time to time at Lambeth -- the ephemeral "mind of the Communion", to which he alluded in his statement quoted above. But this responsibility is just as much circumscribed by his inability to command -- to act like a traditional metropolitan -- in respect to the Communion as a whole. All he can do is remain faithful to that consensus as most recently expressed. To betray it by failing to remind his fellow bishops of what they decided -- or, what would be worse, by acting as though they had never decided it at all -- would be to leave the Communion rudderless, or expressed in my earlier language, as a group of equals without a first.

There can be no doubt in my mind that ++Rowan Williams understands his role perfectly -- indeed, perhaps, all too well. In the homilies he gave to the bishops gathered at Lambeth, he said everything that needed saying about the role of a bishop in the Church (see my posts on those talks here and here for the details). It is not his fault that not one bishop since has appeared to absorb his lessons at Lambeth. (At least, I have yet to hear any bishop in the Communion come to his defense; they all seem to prefer either to attack, to carp and criticize, or to remain silent. Perhaps the indaba groups, by giving lip service to a form of superficial -- but ultimately unachievable -- "equality", worked at odds with Dr. Williams' emphasis on the role of a bishop as diakonos to all, and undid all the good of the homilies.)

Now the very limitations upon the Archbishop's abilities -- embodied in the phrase that he is the "first among equals" -- may at the same time be his undoing, if certain factions are willing and cynical enough to exploit those limitations. One who respects equality by allowing others of equal rank to occupy their own spheres runs always the risk that those others may not reciprocate with equal restraint. Thus when Presiding Bishop Griswold signed the October 2003 communique from Lambeth, as a Primate of the Communion, he was acting as an equal in a meeting of equals. But when, just weeks later, he chose to officiate at the consecration of V. Gene Robinson as bishop, Frank Griswold was arrogating to himself the function of a metropolitan -- and to hell with his "equals". If he could decide that the polity of the Episcopal Church (USA) required that he proceed with Bishop Robinson's consecration -- and only he could make that decision under its polity, for if he had declined out of deference to the October 2003 communique, no one could have countermanded him -- then he could do so only in disregard of his status as an equal at Lambeth, who in the very act of voting on Resolution 1.10 implicitly agreed to subject his status as Primate to their assembled consensus, as determined by the ballot on its adoption.

Thus ++Rowan played true to his role as Archbishop of Canterbury, while Bishop Griswold, enthusiastically supported by the same-sex activists in ECUSA, arrogated to himself the right to act in derogation of the bishops of Lambeth. Both did so despite the scorn which each thereby called upon his decision -- although the collective scorn heaped upon ++Rowan has never ceased, while that allocated to Presiding Bishop Griswold ended with his retirement. By remaining on the stage, and what is more by remaining steadfastly true to the limitations of his position, Archbishop Rowan has remained the sole target on which both sides could vent their anger. Hence he is in the impossible part of a "first among equals" who is now seen as neither "first" nor "equal".

Meanwhile, back at ECUSA, the Most Reverend Frank Griswold has given place to the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori. If Bishop Griswold arrogated to himself the right to act in derogation of his colleagues at Lambeth, Bishop Jefferts Schori seized the opportunity to so to act even before she had ever gone to Lambeth and met her equals. What is more, she has from the outset of her term in office presumed to act in derogation of her own equals in her own Church. The result has been a double usurpation of authority: where ++Griswold claimed only the right to consecrate a duly elected bishop in defiance of the advice of Resolution 1.10, ++Jefferts Schori has not only announced that she will do the same if the requisite consents for Canon Glasspool are received, but she also has made herself the sole arbiter of whether a bishop who transfers to another Church in the Anglican Communion thereby renounces his orders.

In presuming to claim that the Right Reverend Henry Scriven so renounced his orders in transferring from the Diocese of Pittsburgh to the Diocese of Oxford, and in recently declaring that the Right Reverend Keith Ackerman had done the same in resigning the Diocese of Quincy and going to work under the Bishop of Bolivia, the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA has effectively declared that she alone will be the judge of who can become, and who can remain, a bishop in the Episcopal Church (USA) -- regardless of what her equals in the Communion may believe. They are, to that extent, no longer her equals, but only bishops to be tolerated if they stay out of her way, to be ignored if they presume to disagree, and to be denounced and punished by any means possible if they try to hinder or interfere.

When one bishop so distorts the polity of the Communion as to claim the power to decide status without regard to the opinion -- nay, the full consensus -- of the other bishops in the Anglican Communion, what we have is no longer a Communion, but an autarchy. The tragedy is that the Anglican Communion was never designed to cope with such a development. Henry VIII may have replaced the Pope as the head of the Church of England, but neither Henry nor any other English monarch ever claimed supreme authority over any other church. As the colonial branches of the Church of England evolved into the separate churches of the Communion, there of necessity arose the relationship of all Anglican bishops as equals, with the Archbishop of Canterbury being regarded, out of historical deference, as the first among equals.

Now we have the Archbishop of Canterbury still accorded deference as a first, but only when the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA decides that she may defer to him in her own interest. For all the rest of the time, she regards herself as a first whose sphere is, in its international extent, superior to that even of Canterbury's, and as more than equal to anyone else's. What deference did she decide to show in the face of the Archbishop's cautionary advice to the General Convention at Anaheim? None whatsoever. And what deference will she show to his warning with regard to proceeding with taking order for the consecration of Bishop Glasspool, if the latter is confirmed? Again, none whatsoever.

This curmudgeon finds it ironic, to say the least, that the one who takes all the heat for the Presiding Bishop's intransigency is the Archbishop of Canterbury. As a first among equals, his "power" consists only in what he can decide not to do. While others in his place might have (not) done more, and refused to extend invitations to Lambeth to all of the bishops in ECUSA, Dr. Williams chose to try to be the peacemaker, and withheld his invitation only from Bishop Robinson, and those whom his predecessor had chosen not to recognize. One may disagree with the extent of his inaction, but it remains true that he can wield power only by not acting -- and that is a very limited kind of power.

The Presiding Bishop of ECUSA, in contrast, wields her power by consecrating, deposing and declaring renunciations -- all affirmative actions. When it comes to comparing power, therefore, she has the ability to win hands down -- if she chooses to take things that far. A bishop with more experience behind her, when elevated to a position of representing her whole Church to the Communion at large, might well be envisioned as wanting to be more deferential to her Anglican colleagues before presuming to act as though their views made no difference. But that is not the way of Katharine Jefferts Schori.

We have thus the best of Archbishops, and the worst of Presiding Bishops. It is the best of times, and the worst of times. This blog is all about "the trials and tribulations of being in the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Communion at the same time." I shall continue to root for ++Rowan's power of not acting, as the best means of absorbing the blows and outlasting the wounds inflicted by the contumacy of ++Katharine. I am not an apologist for him; both ++Rowan and I know that "help is in the name of the Lord." The more that ++Katharine leads ECUSA down its path of isolation and irrelevancy, the less difficulty there is in seeing the path that is left for ++Rowan: the one that keeps as many together as long as possible, until those who are driving the Communion apart have finally achieved the fulfillment of their self-chosen destiny. For ++Rowan to attempt to impose that destiny on them before they themselves have irrevocably chosen it would be to undermine the very essence of his part in the drama, as the first among equals.


  1. By backing the "Uganda Option" in Christianity, it is Rowan who is leading the wrong way.

    If he keeps it up, the state should disestablish the Church of England.

  2. Dear Mr Haley,
    Thank you for this essay. I have met Archbishop Rowan only once and that, briefly. I found him to be exactly what he appears to be - a gentle and engaging pastor. We do not know and rightly so, how extensive has been his pastoring of the actors within the current Anglican distress, because this happens, as it must, in private.

    Could I seek your view re: ++Rowan and Uganda ?
    My own take is that were Archbishop Rowan openly to criticise the government and judiciary of the Ugandan state, he would by virtue of being *perceived* as the *executive* leader of the Anglican Church, be placing Ugandan Anglicans in real danger of aggression from the machinery of state and various militia.
    I believe that the strident calls (accompanied often by gratuitous, insulting denigration), for him immediately to condemn the Ugandan government, are simplistic - even immature.

    Thank you again for your piece on our Archbishop.

    Chris Baker - Durham UK

  3. "This is not really a paradox; there is no contradiction here. What Dr. Williams may have written and held intellectually as an academic has precious little to bear on what the Archbishop of Canterbury can and may do as the titular head of the Anglican Communion."

    AC - if you are correct, then it seems that the national and international role the ABC plays was and is completely misunderstood by the liberal establishment and government that appointed him, as implied by this recent comment by Ruth Gledhill in The Times:

    "It is well known in church circles that Dr Williams, once barred from becoming Bishop of Southwark because of his liberal views, was the favoured choice of Tony Blair’s Government and the mostly liberal Church of England bishops to lead them because of what they believed to be his fearless advocacy for gay rights." (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6946709.ece)

  4. Paul Halsall and Chris Baker, thank you for your comments above. How intriguing that you should both have the same concern about the Archbishop's leadership!

    On the subject of the Ugandan litigation, and of the hypocrisy of those on the left who issue unilateral condemnations of Anglicans but not Muslims in those countries of Africa -- the great majority -- which already have in place legislation against same-sex relationships, including death penalties (in Muslim parts of Nigeria), I have said all that I could say in this earlier post. By issuing a public statement on the matter, the Archbishop of Canterbury has about as much chance of affecting the passage of the legislation as the fluttering of a butterfly's wing in Provence could affect the weather in London. The members of the Ugandan Parliament will no more take direction from a foreign Anglican primate than they would from Uganda's own Abp. Orombi, and it is supercilious to pretend otherwise.

  5. Fair enough, but (I do realise that I be may risking Godwin's Law on "ad hitlerum" arguments here), it is precisely for not speaking out in WWII that Pius XII is criticised.

    Fair or not, that is the accusation made.

    Christian saints on the other hand are known for "parrhesia" - i.e. free in the face of oppression.

  6. to Paul H. - you say a very interesting thought 2d line - one has to wonder if Rowan is indeed doing all things possible to cause the disestablishment of CoE.

  7. I can't help but get a vision of Neville Chamberlain in my mind when I think of Rowan Williams. There was Chamberlain, holding up the little piece of paper with a promise from Herr Hitler. Seems Rowan is doing the same thing, sorta, with many promises from TEC in the past and he keeps on hoping for the best without causing a war. Too little too late, Neville Williams.

  8. I am a great admirer of the Curmudgeon’s fine-honed legal analysis, but I have some difficulty with his portrayal of Rowan Williams as the Benign Wizard of the North over against Katherine Schori’s Wicked Witch of the West.

    He writes:

    What Dr. Williams may have written and held intellectually as an academic has precious little to bear on what the Archbishop of Canterbury can and may do as the titular head of the Anglican Communion. It is as unreasonable to expect that, once appointed, the Archbishop would continue to play the academic as it is to expect that, once appointed, the academic would suddenly assume the mantle of a metropolitan -- and become the Pope, as it were, of the Anglican Communion.

    First of all, the problem is not that “The Body’s Grace” is an academic flight of fantasy. It reflects a steady conviction throughout his career that the biblical and historic position of the church on marriage and sexuality is not “unchangeable,” as Lambeth 1920 put it. I think Mr. Haley is correct that Williams as ABC feels obliged to uphold what he considers the “mind of the Church.” But he also thinks the mind of the Church can change on this matter and would see himself as a change agent (if the pesky TEC zealots would just give him more time).

    I expressed my view of Abp. Williams in a piece titled “Look Not to Cantuar”:

    So what does it mean when the Church of England proceeds to appoint as chief Primate a man who has taken issue with the consensus of the Communion? A comparison with the election of the Bishop of Rome is telling. Would the cardinals have considered choosing a Pope who deviated from Catholic orthodoxy on any point, not to mention the overwhelming Christian consensus on homosexuality? Archbishop Williams has admitted on numerous occasions that his personal understanding of homosexuality is at odds with the historic tradition of the Church but has insisted that as Archbishop he will uphold that tradition until it is changed. Is this admission sufficient to empower him to be a servant to a Communion that is being torn apart by the conflict over sexuality and the issues of biblical authority that accompany it?

    If I could go myself one better, I would add to the first sentence above: “What does it mean when a bishop campaigns for and accepts the highest office in a church, one or more of whose fundamental tenets he disagrees with? Would a candidate for the papacy who had advocated (and not recanted) a position favoring women's ordination or ordination of “partnered” homosexuals allow himself to be considered for the See of Peter, or would he conscientiously bow out?

  9. "By his spots shall ye know the leopard" -- although this piece of folk wisdom may be true, it is an inadequate blanket to cover the complexities and breadth of the Anglican Communion. Dr. Noll is (and the people in Blair's government were) convinced that Rowan was a known quantity when he was appointed. Like President Eisenhower's appointment of Earl Warren to be Chief Justice, however, Rowan Williams has not quite been the ABC many expected him to be. I do not doubt Dr. Noll's assessment that Dr. Williams would like to see the Communion change its mind on the issue of same-sex practice and ordination, but I see little evidence to date that he is actively promoting that agenda. To the contrary, he took a lot of heat for pressuring Jeffrey John to decline his appointment to the episcopacy, as well as for refusing to allow Resolution 1.10 to be reconsidered at Lambeth 2008. Against these facts, all I see to date are some minor consequences of a gay agenda being upheld by the ACO, and some parliamentary fumbling of the first magnitude at both ACC and General Synod -- neither sufficient to allow one to conclude that there was an aim to advance the same-sex agenda within the Communion.

    His dilemma is this: as an Anglican Bishop, he was free to advocate any agenda he thought theologically sound, but as ABC he has given his pledge to back the consensus reached at Lambeth 1998 until the Church sees fit to change it. And as ABC, he cannot at the same time back the consensus while seeking to overthrow it.

    So I give Dr. Williams the clear benefit of the doubt. As the ABC, he has been fully consistent in upholding the consensus achieved with Resolution 1.10 in 1998. In contrast to his role as ABC, recall that as Bishop of Monmouth, he signed the Pastoral Statement pledging to "work for [the] full inclusion [of gays and lesbians] in the life of the Church" in reaction to the passage of Resolution 1.10.

    In short, I believe the man has integrity aplenty, and the contrast between his abundance of that quality, and PB jefferts Schori's utter lack of it, could not be stronger. The issue for the Communion is whether integrity alone, when undermined by administrative fumbling and poor strategic planning, can nevertheless carry the day against a determined campaign to abolish Resolution 1.10, or at least render it completely irrelevant, by obliterating it with a steamroller. And unfortunately I have to admit that Dr. Noll's observations may in the end prove more accurate than mine. Should they do so, no one will feel the loss of integrity more than this curmudgeon.

  10. I have a bit of a problem with the distinction between role and person -- particularly because I can't square it with christology. The scandal of particularity drives home the full humanity of Christ, and it forces us to embrace Jesus in historical context. It seems to me that one of Rowan's challenges is to be himself whilst being Archbishop, which means reflecting the mind of the communion (which is divided, even if the divisions aren't equal) while at the same time finding a way to remain true to his discernment that the Spirit might be calling the communion to shift. I think liberals find it difficult that Rowan has not found a way of saying that his previous views still have some currency: he seems to have distanced himself from them in order to play a non-partisan Archbishop's role, a role as a pivot of unity. I suspect that Rowan expects liberals to understand that he and they have to be painfully patient and to realise that change must take time, and profound change quite a bit of time. If change is truly what is needed in this case, then the challenge is how to hold the thing together for as long as change takes (or doesn't take, if ongoing discernment shifts). That seems to be one of the central challenges of being a church of redeemed sinners: change takes time, and during that time, people will get hurt, some badly. But what is the alternative? Split up and have local islands of purity -- one way or the other? But that's to give up on being Church.

  11. Anglican Curmudgeon: "So I give Dr. Williams the clear benefit of the doubt."

    What about the Dar Es Salaam Primates Communique in 2007 whereby there were consequences to be administered if TEc did not comply with what was stipulated in the DES Communique?

    ABC Williams blatant failure on that important occasion caused many important leaders to stop giving him "the clear benefit of the doubt."

  12. Excellent comment, Father Joe -- thank you. I have to keep coming back to what Rowan said in his homily at Lambeth (paraphrased by Bishop Alan Wilson):

    ". . . [T]he only way of being a successful apostle is to be incapable of distancing oneself from the weakness of others. Bearing apostolic witness we have to speak of a new humanity in which we bear others burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ. Represent Jesus Christ and your defences will be down, and you will share in the weakness and loss of all, and your assumed loss will be part of the pain God takes upon himself in his infinite love. Paul sees the Church as being called to living the death and resurrection of Christ in the world.

    "Therefore bishops can never, however much they’d like to be, become the spokesperson of a single nation, or cause, or group, however worthy they may be.

    "Some will call it dithering — we have to find ways to make it prophetic. It would be much easier to turn the church into an association of people who sign up to particular ideas, or reflect the nation in some vague way.

    "What we actually have to do is express in our living the whole new humanity that is being gathered up in Christ. Therefore we can never simply be servants to one subgroup. We have been taken hold of by Christ. We may of course want to affirm this person or that, but we cannot without also some note of challenge as well as affirmation. Therefore bishops have to prioritise living and proclaiming the life of a Christ who gathers lost humanity into one in himself."

    There is your christology, as embodied by Rowan.

  13. TU&D, point taken, but even at Dar es Salaam, Rowan was remaining true to his pattern of acting by not acting, and hence not pushing any agenda; he simply stopped short of going as far as some wanted him to. (I am not saying I admire that trait. I am not, I repeat, being an apologist for him; I am simply trying to describe what makes him tick.)

    Here is another apt quote from the homily referenced earlier:

    "Besides other things I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble and I am not indignant?"

    Stand back and give the man some room. What amazes me is that everyone accepts Bishop Jefferts Schori's destructive behavior as par for the course, but then takes out their anger on Rowan Williams!

  14. AC - with reference to your response to the comment of Fr Joe.

    I had not previously been aware of the content of RWs Lambeth homily, a quote from which makes up the greater part of your reply.

    Reading only what you have quoted, I note that RW uses the word "apostle," presumably, to refer to himself and to other bishops. He goes on to describe what he sees as the essential burden of the apostolic ministry, which is to wait patiently and impartially in the middle, meekly bearing insults and injuries from both sides, in a Christlike manner, until the field changes enough for an agreement to be made, and peace achieved.

    As an Anglican I believe, as the 20th Article says, that: "The Church hath ... authority in Controversies of Faith: And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God's Word written, neither may it expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another ... " In the present controversy about human sexuality, evangelical Anglicans are opposed to the innovations of TEC, and others, because what they are doing is clearly "contrary to God's Word written."

    In the 1662 Prayer Book the following question is asked at the consecration of a bishop:
    "Are you ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God's Word; and both privately and openly to call upon and encourage others to the same?"

    Later there is another question:
    "Will you maintain and set forward, as much as shall lie in you, quietness, love, and peace among all men; and such as be unquiet, disobedient, and criminous, within your Diocese, correct and punish, according to such authority as you have by God's Word ..."

    Note that the bishop is required to "drive away" all erroneous doctrine. He is also enjoined to "maintain ... quietness, love, and peace ... " without, again, renouncing his duty to "correct and punish" the "unquiet, disobedient, and criminous."

    This seems to me to envisage something entirely different from RW.

    The ministry of an apostle, for many, is modeled by St. Paul who, in Philippians 4:9 says: "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice." I am minded, from my reading of the NT, to ask myself how St Paul, if he were carrying out his apostolic ministry from the seat of Canterbury, would be handling the present crisis. I suspect he would be proceeding in an entirely different way than RW.

  15. Mr. Haley,

    I am concerned that this part of your essay is not altogether factual: "...when...he chose to officiate at the consecration of V. Gene Robinson as bishop, Frank Griswold was arrogating to himself the function of a metropolitan -- and to hell with his 'equals'. If he could decide that the polity of the Episcopal Church (USA) required that he proceed with Bishop Robinson's consecration -- and only he could make that decision under its polity, for if he had declined out of deference to the October 2003 communique, no one could have countermanded him..."

    This is a very strong argument, which I would like to agree with, except that I am not convinced that the choice he had was as you frame it.

    Canon III.11.6. (page 102) states:

    "Upon receipt of the consents and assurance of the acceptance of the election by the Bishop-elect, the Presiding Bishop shall take order for the ordination of the Bishop-elect either by the Presiding Bishop or the President of the House of Bishops of the Province of which the Diocese for which the Bishop was elected is part, and two other Bishops of this Church, or by any three Bishops to whom the Presiding Bishop may communicate the testimonials."

    In my reading of this canon, the Presiding Bishop only has three choices when presented with a canonically valid episcopal election: serve as chief consecrator, assign it to the President of the HoB of the (internal) Province in which the bishop-elect will serve, assign it to any three bishops willing to do so. There is no canonical provision for refusing to take order for a canonically valid episcopal election.

    I suppose a PB (or provincial HoB president) could out of conscience refuse to take order (and I take it your argument is that he should have), but this would be in violation of the canons and would place that person in jeopardy of presentment and deposition. Certainly, had PB Griswold had moral qualms about the Robinson consecration, he could have been disobedient to the canons, but he didn't, and as such, he had no grounds for dereliction of duty--the communique notwithstanding. He couldn't very well say that the Primates' communique trumped the canons of his own church that dictate his role, could he? Even had he decided that the moral force of a Primates' communique, combined with the moral force of a Lambeth Conference Resolution made it impossible for him to proceed with the consecration as a matter of personal conscience, the canon would then automatically assign the consecration to the provincial HoB president, who would have to make the same determination. If both bishops were convinced that their moral duty was to engage in ecclesiastical disobedience, the worst case scenario would be that the consecration would be put on hold until three willing bishops stepped forward or a person filled the office of PB or provincial HoB president who was willing to do the deed. (And as we saw, there were many willing co-consecrators.)

    All this is to say that whether one regrets Robinson's consecration or not, the canons were quite clear that no one in TEC had the canonical authority to impede his consecration once the necessary consents had been obtained. This is not to let the former PB off the hook for making a moral determination that was arguably wrong from a number of different viewpoints, but I do think the PB had far less power to stop the consecration than you seem to think he had. At best, he could have delayed it by being disobedient to the canon. The dispute is whether the Instruments of Communion had any authority over whether the PB complied with his own canons, and in this case, it is not at all clear that they did, despite their obvious moral authority. In the end, moral authority does not amount to juridical authority, (which is what the proponents of an Anglican Covenant are hoping it will supply).

    Thank you for an engaging essay.

    NJA Humphrey+

  16. Brother Haley, these are interesting thoughts. However, it seems to me that in part of your argument your math doesn’t add up; that is, in what it means to be “first,” and in what it means to have “equals.”

    You note that “As the Archbishop of Canterbury, ++Rowan Williams is the "first among equals" -- speaking with respect to the bishops of the various Churches in the Anglican Communion, who assemble every ten years or so for the Lambeth Conference.” However, what it means to be “first” in the Anglican Communion and at Lambeth, and what it means to be “first among equals” in the Church of England are significantly different. After all, as you are aware there is no institution designated “the Anglican Communion.” To invite to and to preside at Lambeth is his prerogative; but being “first” in one context is not the same as being “first” in another. Consider in consequence that being “first among equals” among bishops of the Communion might call for pursuit of a Covenant in the service of Communion relations; while being “first among equals” in the Church of England Archbishop Williams experiences limitations of Establishment and of church structure such that he may not be able to sign such a Covenant once completed.

    So by the same token, the Presiding Bishop is “first among equals” in the Episcopal Church. So, while a Presiding Bishop may sit among “equals” at Lambeth or at a Primates’ Meeting, the responsibilities of the office are different, more defined, and more controlling than responsibilities one may attribute to Lambeth. The norm in Canons for ordination of a bishop are that the Presiding Bishop participates. Certainly, Bishop Griswold might have delegated that responsibility, but that would have been contrary to norms in Canon. Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori might agree to bring the Dar es Salaam statement back to the Episcopal Church for consideration, and still not have the authority to control its reception. To be “first among equals” in the Episcopal Church is categorically different than being “among equals” in other contexts.

    The same is true for Bishops Scriven and Ackerman: as bishops in attendance, they were “among equals” at Lambeth. However, that is not the same as being bishops “among equals” in the Episcopal Church, or in another national or provincial church within the Communion. Once those gentlemen has declared themselves to be “among equals” in other bodies, they could not logically or canonically be “among equals” in the Episcopal Church. Bishop Jefferts Schori is hardly arrogating power by taking seriously their statements that they found themselves “among equals” in new bodies. Her letters stating their depositions were the consequences of their statements. (As to whether they continued to be “her equals” is a separable question; although Archbishop Williams gave some indication in his choice not to invite the ACNA bishops to Lambeth.)

  17. To continue:

    The difficulty, I fear, is in the confusion expressed when you wrote, “When one bishop so distorts the polity of the Communion as to claim the power to decide status without regard to the opinion -- nay, the full consensus -- of the other bishops in the Anglican Communion,….” As we have discovered, beyond the fact that we have bishops, and that we believe them to be bishops, there is hardly enough consistency across the Communion to suggest that it has a single “polity,” much less to describe what might distort it. This is a difficulty that can be laid at the feet of Archbishop Williams. When he described the majority opinion of bishops at Lambeth in 1998 (and hardly a “full consensus”) as “the mind of the Communion” without qualification, he arrogated for the Lambeth Conference an authority that meeting had not had historically, indeed had explicitly foresworn; and asserted a new understanding of what it meant to be “among equals” in that context.

    Yet as a result of your assertion about polity and consensus you conclude, “what we have is no longer a Communion, but an autarchy.” However, as churches within the Communion are autocephalous (constantly seeking to understand “autonomy in interdependence”), an “autarchy” for the Communion would only describe an authority for Canterbury that Archbishop Williams has himself declined.

    I agree that Archbishop Williams has seen his responsibilities in the Communion as Archbishop of Canterbury as different from those as Bishop of Monmouth. I agree that he is trying to “hold the ground” largely by simply standing in the middle and asking everyone to stay. It is precisely because there is not an “autarchy” in the Communion that he lives within the limitations you discern. However, there are other limitations he faces, and that other primates face within our various interpretations of “Anglican Polity,” that will ultimately cause his efforts to fail. That is not a moral failing on his part; but his own demonstrated goodness isn’t going to help.

  18. My thanks to Topper for his continuing comments, and to Father Humphrey for his thought-provoking response. I should cite the first of you in response to the second.

    Topper, you are perfectly correct about the role of a Bishop and the oaths he takes; I have posted on these topics a number of times, as you know. However, the current post was not about the ABC as a bishop in the Church of England, but in his role as "first among equals" in the Anglican Communion. In that role, he lacks the ability to march into ECUSA to "banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine"; that is for the bishops of ECUSA to do. Note also that in your later quote, the duty is to "correct and punish, according to such authority as you have by God's Word . . ."

    I am afraid that many who find fault with the ABC's dithering want him to act like the metropolitan that he is with respect to the bishops under him in the Province of Canterbury. (See the distinction which Marshall draws in his comments, to which I will turn in a subsequent reply.) He has no such authority over the Churches and bishops in other Provinces, and therein lies both his weakness and his strength, as I have tried to point out.

  19. Anglican Curmudgeon: "He has no such authority over the Churches and bishops in other Provinces, and therein lies both his weakness and his strength, as I have tried to point out."

    (1) The NRA wrote this recently:

    "Nor has he ever publicly repented for his notorious and inexcusable scuttling of the crucial Dar es Salaam accord reached by the Primates back in Februrary 2007 when he summarily declared that the universally assumed deadline of Sept. 30th, 2007 wasn’t actually a deadline after all. For a guy who repeatedly asserts that he has no authority, that was an astonishingly audacious and totally unjustified assumption of the prerogative to overrule the other primates."

    (2) If I'm not mistaken, I recall Matt Kennedy writing that +++Rowan Williams at least has authority over Lambeth invitations.

  20. Father Humphrey, you are correct when you read me as saying that if Bishop Griswold had done his duty as a bishop in the Communion, he would have respectfully declined to do his duty according to the canons of his own Church, and cited the October communique for his reason to do so. (He could also have cited this superb analysis by theologian Oliver O'Donovan and others -- except that it wasn't written until 2004. Nevertheless, the reasoning it expresses is traditional, and should have been known to all who participated in the consecration of Bishop Robinson in 2003.)

    I have to doubt whether the House of Bishops would have had the spine to bring a presentment against Bishop Griswold for failing to take orders to consecrate Bishop Robinson. What is far more likely is that three other sympathetic bishops would simply have convened a consecration ceremony on their own, and gone ahead to proclaim V. Gene Robinson a bishop. But at least in that case, the defiance shown to the other primates would have been by inferior bishops, and not by a co-equal primate; and the legitimacy of the proceedings could have been questioned (instead of being forced to accept them as an official fait accompli of ECUSA, as the Windsor Report recognized).

    There is no justification for saying that a single province's canon can be binding on the entire Communion. As the ABC convincingly demonstrated by excluding Bishop Robinson from meeting with his fellow ECUSA bishops at Lambeth, the fact that ECUSA consecrates a bishop does not make him one in the eyes of the Communion. The same will be the fate, I predict, if ECUSA consecrates Canon Glasspool (though she -- and the Communion! -- will have to survive until 2018 to find that out). In just the same way, Caligula could bestow upon his horse all the qualifications necessary to make him a Roman senator, but his doing so served only to point up his lack of good faith (actually, madness) in making the attempt.

  21. Anglican Curmudgeon: "In just the same way, Caligula could bestow upon his horse all the qualifications necessary to make him a Roman senator, but his doing so served only to point up his lack of good faith (actually, madness) in making the attempt."

    Funny you should use that example. I have Catholic friends who use the same example to argue against Women's Ordination. I.e., that ordaining a women to the clergy is no more valid than ordaining a horse.

    Out of curiousity, do you support or oppose Women's Ordination, A.S.?

  22. Marshall, thank you for those extended comments. I believe we can come to some agreement if we keep in mind the distinction I have drawn between the ABC as first among equals in respect to the primates and bishops of the Anglican Communion, and as a primate in the Church of England, where he is the metropolitan of the Province of Canterbury (and so is more than just a "first among equals"). (See also my response to Father Humphrey in this regard.)

    You state that "there is no institution designated as the Anglican Communion." You cannot mean in a legal sense, since the Communion is a registered charity under the laws of Great Britain. I suppose you mean in an ecclesial sense, to which I respond: well, yes and no. There may be no religious denomination which one can identify with the term "Anglican Communion"; but there would be no point in according the ABC the designation "first among equals" if there were not a Communion. (Also, try telling the Compass Rose Society there is no such thing as "the Anglican Communion.")

    I think your comparison between the ABC and the bishops in the Church of England and the Presiding Bishop and the bishops in ECUSA breaks down, because the ABC is a metropolitan with respect to the bishops under his jurisdiction, while the Presiding Bishop is not. The only relation of "equality" that counts as between the ABC and the PB is their respective status in the Communion as equals.

    (Part II of my response follows.)

  23. To continue with my response to your comments, Marshall:

    And that is the point of my essay: the whole basis of the Communion's polity (or if that is too loaded a word for you, substitute "interrelationships") is the historical deference of all the member denominations to the ABC. His see is the one with which they portray themselves as being "in communion." Thus the ABC is the "primus", while KJS is not. The current problems in the Communion have arisen, however, because first Bishop Griswold, and then Bishop Jefferts Schori, have presumed (nay, arrogated) the authority to act among the primates as though they, and not the ABC, were the "primus inter pares". The former consecrated Bishop Robinson over the unanimous objection of all the other Primates (and even over his own "objection", made as a primate). The latter demanded that Bishop Robinson be accepted as a full equal at Lambeth 2008, and did everything she could to try to have Bishop Schofield disinvited. She failed in both respects; and Bishop Griswold failed to consecrate a bishop whom the other bishops in the Anglican Communion would universally recognize. And now KJS is presuming to tell Anglicans whose allegiance is to other denominations in the Communion that their orders are not valid in the Episcopal Church.

    That goes beyond her powers as a primate in the Communion. If another primate or diocesan in the Communion allows one of his priests to serve temporarily in ECUSA, there is no proclamation that the priest has thereby "renounced his orders"; as the case of Bishop Scriven shows, he is welcomed back after his sojourn with full status as though he had never left. KJS alone arrogates to herself the meaningless right to declare that a transfer of jurisdictions is possible only with a renunciation of orders. ECUSA never did any such thing before the advent of KJS, and no other denomination in the Communion does anything so ridiculous, either.

    And that is what I meant by "autarchy"; nothing more. KJS acts as though she were the final authority as to whose orders can and cannot be recognized by ECUSA, regardless of the part of the Communion from which such ordained person hails. Clergy need a license from the diocesan to preach in any given diocese, to be sure; but they are ordained into the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church, and their orders are valid no matter where they are in the Communion.

    So my point remains: the current problems in the Communion are not so much the fault of the ABC as they are the fault of ++Griswold and ++Jefferts Schori -- each of whom failed to respect their limitations inherent in being only equals in a group in which there is only one first. (See again my response to Fr. Humphrey for my argument that an individual Church in the Communion can in no way bind others to respect any canons it may choose to adopt. If ECUSA in the future chooses to change the BCP to recognize same-sex "marriage", the only effect that will have in the Communion is to provide proof positive that it is no longer a member of the Communion -- covenant or no covenant.)

    With those clarifications, I do not see any remaining points of disagreement between us.

  24. TU&D, I do not mean to evade your question, but I cannot answer it with a simple "Yes" or "No." I would do so only after giving my full reasons, which I am still in the process of studying and formulating. It will have to be the topic of a later post.

    What I believe I can say is that the Church has never recovered from the tactics and manner in which women's ordination was initiated -- as a form of "civil disobedience". To frame the decision in those terms was to lead us down a path from which there is no good return -- as we are witnessing in the continuing turmoils which gave rise to this post.

  25. AC - Thank you for your response. In truth, I was not suggesting that RW should try to discipline TEC. I recognize he has no jurisdiction there.

    What provoked me was his claiming of the title "apostle," and his imputation of that title to all bishops. I was attempting to indicate the absurdity of his vision of what apostleship is, and his incorporation of that vision into his own ministry, when contrasted with the duties of bishops as clearly set out in the BCP.

    The ministerial authority of RW is limited to the CofE. But even there he is not fulfilling the office of an apostle.

  26. No problem, A.S.!

    I look forward to what I expect will be a reasoned, studied, theological analysis on the issue of WO from you.

    Any rough idea when such a post might be forthcoming?

  27. TU&D, it will have to be sometime after the New Year. There will be Section 4 of the Covenant to report on after next week, and I am researching what we know about the life of Herod from Josephus and other sources in preparing a series of posts on the Nativity and the Star of Bethlehem.

    Meanwhile, I see from my "Dashboard" that the post I put up earlier today is the 400th for this blog, and that the number of comments on this post has surpassed the previous record. Maybe we are making some headway (in a small way!).

  28. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jmGu9o4fDE

    Let's give Rick Warren credit here.

    He is an evangelical US preacher. He has spoke out against the Ugandan bill as strongly as he can.

    Unreservedly - Good on Rick Warren!!

    Why can't Rowan Williams and Benedict XVI speak out?

  29. Paul Halsall, it looks as though the member of Uganda's Parliament who said he would introduce the bill has now agreed to delete the death penalty provisions in it before he introduces it. This comes after wide publicity connecting him with an American political organization with fundamentalist/evangelical religious tenets called "The Family". See the video at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#34354893 for more information on the connection.

    Thus this was never about what difference public statements by religious leaders were going to make. (As I said, if such statements would make a difference, then why have they not been made with respect to Muslim Nigeria?) The Family did not like the media exposure it was starting to receive, and got the word to its Ugandan member/associate to back down.

  30. Mr Haley,

    I agree with you about the problem of intolerant Islam, in Nigeria and other places.

    I really hope external opinion has had an effect in Uganda. I also hope that some private opinion by western leaders has had an effect also.

    Perhaps that pressure has been applied without any of us knowing until kingdom come.

    I agree that this "The Family" seems an extreme group.

    OTOH I don't think a programme by Rachel Maddow would have made a difference. If so, she is one powerful lesbian.

    I still thin