A Hard Truth

Jul 26, 2007 by

Matt Kennedy
A Hard Truth

The worst case scenario for Archbishop Rowan Williams, supposing he refuses to act in accordance with the Tanzania Communique’s Pastoral Scheme and/or refuses to discipline the Episcopal Church, would be the loss of some populous but politically isolated provinces in the Global South and the loss of several primates–primates who, frankly, threaten the power and position of the see of Canterbury and that of the Church of England.

If we were to take a straw poll of the primates of the Anglican Communion on the question of human sexuality, we would, no doubt, find that somewhat more than 20 agree with Lambeth Resolution 1.10. Were we, however, to ask which primates would be prepared to stand against or, if need be, apart from Canterbury if push came to shove, the number would be reduced to somewhere near 6 or, if we want to be optimistic, 8.

The fact is that while the vast majority of the Anglican primates hold fast to the orthodox position on human sexuality, only a small minority are willing to do much about it apart from issuing statements or voting “yes” on various orthodox resolutions. It seems, unfortunately for us, that Canterbury knows this too.

He tested the strength of the Global South coalition in Tanzania and found, in the end, that only a small number of primates were prepared to walk if need be. The bold intransigence of these few courageous primates saved the day in Dar. But the damage was done.

The strength of the orthodox primates and the orthodox position within the primates meeting once lay in the potential loss of up to 20 provinces.

At Dar, the Archbishop of Canterbury put this potential to the test. He lost his gambit to push through the Sub-Group Report, but he gained a much greater strategic victory: knowledge.

Now he knows the real rather than the supposed strength of the orthodox primates. And this knowledge has added a certain measure of steel to his spine.

Why carry forward with the process articulated at Dar? Why heed calls from communion conservatives to appoint a provincial council? Why call a primates meeting after September 30th?

Politically speaking, there is no reason to do any of these things and every reason not to do them.

Knowledge of the real political weakness of the orthodox coalition is why we’ve seen, since Tanzania, such a noticeable and aggressive shift in Canterbury’s public position and posture beginning with his issuance of Lambeth Conference invitations.

The worst case scenario for Archbishop Rowan Williams, supposing he refuses to act in accordance with the Tanzania Communique’s Pastoral Scheme and/or refuses to discipline the Episcopal Church, would be the loss of some populous but politically isolated provinces in the Global South and the loss of several primates–primates who, frankly, threaten the power and position of the see of Canterbury and that of the Church of England.

Canterbury has nothing to lose.

This is a hard truth. I’ve written about it before. I do so again because I think it is something with which we must come to terms if we are to think clearly about the Network, Common Cause, the upcoming House of Bishops meeting, Lambeth, and the Communion as a whole.

And the most profound question is this: Is Canterbury essential to Anglicanism?

My own answer, as you might have guessed, is “no”. What is yours?

The way various parties, far more powerful and influential, answer that fundamental question will determine the ultimate shape of the Communion.

[Read here->http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/4631/]

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