26 July 2008

The "Third Document" or Rowan's Folly

There has been talk of a third document to be released to the bishops. This document is supposed to be the atom bomb. It is supposed to have the full weight of +Williams behind it. According to an article in The Sunday Telegraph, it may well be a “Shot heard ‘round the world.”

Apparently, “liberals” will be expelled from the inner circle of the AC if they do not line up like blind mince behind this document.

The proposal, commissioned by Williams, to be distributed Monday, will ban any future consecrations or ordinations of persons with same-gender orientation, unless such persons are celibate. According to Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs,

It is set to start the first real clash of the conference, with liberal bishops expected to fight any attempt to restrict their autonomy.

However, Dr Williams is determined to impose tighter governance of the Anglican Communion to try to hold it together.

The paper, "How do we get from here to there?", stresses that it is vital that an Anglican Covenant be agreed so that churches around the world are mutually accountable and united by a common set of beliefs. This must happen as soon as possible, it says, to prevent further haemorrhaging of the Anglican Communion over the issue of homosexual clergy.

If they do not, they will face being pushed to the margins of the communion and find themselves excluded from the councils that are central to the governance of the Church.

Excuse me, but I thought we were all united in a common set of beliefs – the Chicago Quadrilateral. It’s worked for a long time—one hundred twenty-two years, to be exact. What the above statement means is, of course, that Rowan is willing to deny full membership to GLBT Anglicans to keep the GAFCON crowd in the Communion. Sorry, Rowan, but that's not going to happen. Nothing short of a total take-over of the Communion will make the Donatists stay.

I also distinctly remember Williams stating Lambeth ’08 would not be a legislative assembly, but one of reconciliation. Once again, if this is true, Williams has eradicated his credibility.

Wynn-Jones also states

There have been reports that [The Episcopal Church] is prepared to consecrate more gay bishops while the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, told this newspaper that he would be willing to do the same.

Until a consensus is reached, the American and Canadian churches must refrain from consecrating more bishops that are homosexual and carrying out blessing services for same-sex couples, the paper says.

Perhaps it is time to compile a list of all known gay bishops in the Anglican Communion. With 800 (+/-) bishops, I think it's safe to say 80-150 are gay although not officially out.

But Rowan has bad news for the GAFCONites too,

The African churches, which oppose having practising homosexuals in the clergy, will be told that they must stop intervening in the affairs of other churches as their actions are deepening the rift.

Poor Rowan, he really is delusional about all of this. The African bishops are going to do whatever they want to do, and the Communion be dammed. He just does not want to realize the prognosis. They have called the roll of the ABC "irrelevant." what does Rowan not understand about these folk?

Wynn-Jones continued

The paper from the Windsor Continuation Group is central to the stance that Dr Williams would like the conference to take. If the conference agrees to the recommendations, it will give him a mandate to exclude rebel churches.

As well as the covenant, Dr Williams has argued for new canon laws, which would govern how bishops and clergy acted. "We need ways of knowing who is supposed to do this or that and who is entitled to do this or that, so that we can act economically and purposefully, instead of being frustrated by a chaotic variety of expectations and recriminations," says the archbishop:

The introduction of a covenant and canon law would be further steps on the path to a more concrete notion of Anglican identity and limits on what is acceptable behaviour, following the more centralised model of the Catholic Church.

Liberals in the Church of England who have stood by the American church will be dismayed by this return to a conservative position as will the Church of Wales whose primate has already said he is not opposed to the ordination/consecration of GLB members of his church. Then there is the Scottish church that will be opposed to any such covenant. The Irish Church, too, will not be sanguine about it. That leaves Rowan and a few CoE dioceses accepting the covenant.

Even those who are opposed to GLB ordination/consecration are not happy:

The Rt. Rev'd. John Saxbee, the Bishop of Lincoln, said that he supported dialogue, but was opposed to the idea of a covenant. "We need to be a broad Church offering hospitality to everyone," he said.

According to the Rt. Rev’d. Kirk Smith, bishop of Arizona,

After worship tonight, Rowan Williams commented that the planning committee had decided not to change the schedule for next week, an idea that was floating around a lot. He also indicated that there we could expect to have some kind of document at the end of our time which would be more than simply--"We met, we had a good time, we have many differences yet to be resolved." We should expect something much more substantial and "prophetic" based on the feedback we were giving to the planners.

Now, since this blog is named the Three Legged Stool, we need to use that third leg and ask, “Is all of this reasonable?”

Certainly the press has and will put the worst possible spin on this document (if it actually is forthcoming), and given the fact that they have been virtually banned from the Lambeth events, they are looking for something to sell papers.

Regardless of the press' spin, given Rowan’s track record of obfuscation, appeasement and blunders, I believe the reports are reasonable. Perhaps things are not as dire as we are being told, but the report is reasonable to believe, nonetheless.

It will be interesting to see the reaction to this third document if the rumours are correct. We may end up with three Communions: TEC Communion with 17-22 provinces, GS with 7-8 provinces, and a third with 8-12 provinces.

One must wonder how Rowan will react when most of the dioceses in the CoE head west for the US/Canadian Communion with 90 percent of his flock under the age of forty.

UPDATE: Mark Harris has just weighed in on this subject. You'll find his thoughts here.