Thursday, May 18, 2006

Rumor Has It ...

A report from

Archbishop backs two-track Church to heal divisions
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
(Filed: 19/05/2006)

An audacious plan to save the worldwide Anglican Church by allowing it to divide into two tracks, one fast and the other slow, is being backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

The proposals, which have parallels with the idea of a two-speed European Union, could permit liberals from North America to push ahead with divisive reforms such as homosexual bishops without destroying the Church.

But they could also allow conservatives from Africa and Asia to form an influential inner core that would edge out the liberals from positions of power and reduce them to a second-class status.

The blueprint, which has been seen by The Daily Telegraph, was drawn up by senior advisers and approved by Dr Williams and Church leaders at a private meeting in March.

It is expected to form the basis of a "covenant" aimed at averting future crises over issues such as homosexuality, which has brought the 77 million-strong worldwide Church to the brink of schism.

Dr Williams hopes that it may help to dilute some of the acrimony and distrust that has grown up between the rival factions in the Church.

The idea will, however, be greeted with huge suspicion by liberals who will fear that it could be used to marginalise them and hand control to the conservative majority.

Conservatives, meanwhile, may see the plans as an attempt to buy their compliance at a time when they are demanding the expulsion of the liberal American Church for consecrating Anglicanism's first openly homosexual bishop.

Tensions are rising in the run-up to a crucial meeting next month of the United States Church's general convention, its equivalent of the General Synod, at which it will come under huge pressure to "repent".

Under Dr Williams's plan, all Anglican provinces - the 38 autonomous Churches that make up the worldwide Communion - will be asked to sign the covenant, an agreement that will prevent them from acting unilaterally over contentious issues.

The covenant would effectively be the Anglican Communion's first constitution, a notion strongly resisted by liberals who dislike the idea of centralised power or of the Archbishop of Canterbury becoming an Anglican pope.

Those who refuse to sign up because they want to retain their freedom - possibly up to a third of the provinces -would not necessarily be seen as less Anglican, but they could find themselves pushed to the fringes.

The document develops the Windsor Report, which was commissioned by Dr Williams and published in 2004, a year after the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.
It was adopted by the joint standing committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, two of the Communion's ruling bodies, at a meeting in London. A 10-strong group will be appointed by Dr Williams to flesh out the proposals before they are debated at the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops.

(And check out "Against Anxiety" -- interesting commentary on this story by Jim Naughton on Blog of Daniel)


Jeff Martinhauk said...

What is the name of this document and does anyone know if it is public yet?

It is difficult to form a real opinion without the details...

Anonymous said...

I agree with jeff, there aren't really any details other than:

1. a group is meeting/will be meeting to flesh out and develop proposals
2. there will be a final version
3. the final version will be up for discussion at Lambeth 2008

Some questions are:

• How will the final proposal become operative? What is the mechanism for passage?

• What does the fast track and slow track wording refer to? Does it refer to acceptance of the proposal by each province? (Fast track=fast acceptance, slow track=slow acceptance)

• What are the fruits of fast and slow track?


ergo the headline "rumor has it ..." It's a familiar pattern: the pre-GC "leak" of a "major document" in a article that has more speculation than substance to offer. Best advice is "stay tuned" -- and keep your grain of salt close by.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Archbishop Akinola fancies himself the best candidate for the new job of Anglican Pope (there's an oxymoron if there ever was). Afterall, who else has that Ratzinger-like theological fortitude and self-confidence to pull it off?

I don't generally go in for conspiracy theories about power grabs, but me thinks perhaps something's afoot.

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell, from the article and from reading some postings on other blogs, the AbC is proposing what amounts to two levels of membership in the Anglican Communion, much as there are two levels of membership in the European Union.

The "fast track" level of membership will be those who believe that communion consists in sharing not only a common history and a common way of worship, but also an internally consistent set of beliefs, expressed in an Anglican Covenant.

The "slow track" will consist of those who hold that communion consists in having a common history and a common way of worship, but a wide diversity of beliefs (even contradictory ones).

Fast track membership will give the greatest degree of interaction and mutual responsibility. Slow track members will be recognized as part of the family, historically speaking, but will have a lesser participation in the joint life of the Anglican Communion.

At least, that is what things look like to me at the present.


and if the price we have to pay for the full inclusion of all the baptized into the Body of Christ is "lesser participation in the joint life of the Anglican Communion" I'm wondering if it isn't a price worth paying to get on with the mission and ministry ahead of us and leave the wrangling behind us.

The question is, will this (if truly the offer on the table) be good enough for those who want us OFF the Anglican Island altogether!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the ABC knows who Rosa Parks is and why she had to do what she did to earn her place in history.


or if he's read the Letter from the Birmingham Jail!

Anonymous said...

"We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment." --Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)

So much for the back of the bus for us!

Anonymous said...

In Parker J. Palmer's book, "Let Your Life Speak", he writes about Rosa Parks:

**Rosa Parks sat down [in the front of the bus] because she had reached a point where it was essential to embrace her true vocation--not as someone who would reshape our society but as someone who would live out her full self in the world. She decided, "I will no longer act on the outside in a way that contradicts the truth that I hold deeply on the inside. I will no longer act as if I were less than the whole person I know myself inwardly to be."**

p. 33.

I don't think Christ would want us to do anything differently as gay/lesbian Christians or any other kind of person. This is what Akinola and others like him don't get.

By the way, when asked why she sat down in front inside the bus, she was quoted to have said, "I was tired." I think the baptized gays and lesbians can relate to that.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if the ABC knows who Rosa Parks is and why she had to do what she did to earn her place in history."

" or if he's read the Letter from the Birmingham Jail!"

Or if you folks read Scripture.


tony ... yep -- not just read, but also mark, learn and inwardly digegst ... somtimes coming to a different conclusion than "you folks" ... kind of like Martin King coming to a different place on segregation than his Alabama clergy colleagues who were reading the same Bible he was and arguing for the status quo.

Anonymous said...

"Or if you folks read Scripture."

Sure do. We understand its meaning, too!

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Tony -

Come on now, that's just bad form.

You know that we do - just because we don't read it the same way as you doesn't invalidate our experience of it.

Why take to that kind of sarchasm? The other comments were leveled at the ABC not at you.

Anonymous said...

Because, Jeff, I find the comments I quoted to be condescending. I'm sure mine was taken the same way.

Anonymous said...

I have to crack up as I read the statements from gays equating their "struggle" with that of the civil rights struggles of the 60's. What a hoot. And what a disservice to our Black brothers and sisters.
To my knowledge, no one was telling Blacks to repent and that their behavior was against scripture.

Anonymous said...

"And if the price we have to pay for the full inclusion of all the baptized into the Body of Christ is "lesser participation in the joint life of the Anglican Communion" I'm wondering if it isn't a price worth paying...."
I must say it gives me great hope to see a lesbian priest making such a statement.