received during the week of 21 October 2003
week it was for our letters page. We're delighted
by the range of opinion, the thoughtfulness of expression, and
to share deeply-held views with readers of Anglicans Online. Thanks
to each of you.
communication, and information, not rules, creeds, and doctrines'
FROM AOTEAROA-NEW ZEALAND in response to your (as usual) thought-provoking
comment on the recent declaration from the
Primates' meeting. You wonder whether 'in this complex and connected
world, it may be that the genius of Anglicanism no longer has
a place'. I think the opposite is the case: it is because the
world is now so complex and connected that the Communion can
survive only if it is built in a spirit of openness and tolerance
of practice and belief.
economics, globalisation and competition are breaking down the
barriers of centralised regulation and monopoly. The future world
is about networking, communication, and information, not rules,
creeds, and doctrines. This applies equally to the church. In
an inter-connected world we must find ways of learning to live
together and that means adopting a much less rigid and far more
flexible approach to the nature of our communion with one another.
The actions of ECUSA do not constitute a rethinking of the Anglican
Communion: they represent the working out of difficult issues
in a faith-filled way in the American context.
my job I am blessed to be able to travel around the world and
I have visited many Anglican communities over the last four years.
Thanks be to God, our communion is alive and well and will endure
these current challenges!
St Luke's, Wadestown, Wellington
Wellington, NEW ZEALAND
25 October 2003
China: 'I offer this letter as a small contribution towards breaking
down some of the stereotypes'
LETTER YOU PUBLISHED ASKED FOR A RESPONSE from someone
that supported the line taken by the North American Church on sexuality.
this letter as a small contribution towards breaking down some
of the stereotypes created by the media regarding sexuality and
the Anglican Church throughout the world.
am a long way from North America, but I understand that the Anglican
Church in New Westminster now blesses committed relationships
between adult persons of the same sex and that some secular Canadian
law also now re-defines secular marriage as 'a committed relationship
between two people to the exclusion of all others'. I cannot
see how these changes will lead to any moral decay but quite
the opposite: a more honest, less hypocritical moral teaching
on the part of society and the church. Part
of the reason that unfavourable stereotypes of gay men and lesbians
persist is that there is no public affirmation of committed,
exclusive relationships between gay men or lesbians, as is the
case for heterosexuals through the public rite of marriage.
us all prayerfully remember that our Lord had nothing to say
about homosexuality at all, while he was a tireless supporter
of those that religion of the time and society rejected. Wasn't
it also those whom the ancient world considered the weakest and
most vulnerable that remained at the foot of the cross?
St. John's [Anglican] Cathedral Hong Kong
Shenyang, Liaoning, PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC of CHINA
20 October 2003
Archbishop of Canterbury's 'missing interview'
JUST DISCOVERED WHAT APPEARS TO EXPLAIN the Archbishop of
Canterbury's 'missing interview' concerning the war on Iraq—I
was mystified when it failed to materialise on the radio and
have only just found out what happened.
have tried since the war was started to find a meaningful statement
from the Church of England (to which I belong) on where it now
stands, and was very relieved and encouraged to hear that the
Archbishop was going to make a clear explanation to us all. It
now appears that he did explain, but that the interview was suppressed
and never broadcast.
am an admirer of Rowan Williams, someone who followed and fully
supported his pre-war moral position, joined all the anti-war
demonstrations throughout (including September) with my whole
family, and, with others in our village church, fulfilled his
request to pray deeply and regularly for peace since the war
am deeply saddened by the silence and lack of leadership which
seems to have engulfed the Church since the war was launched.
I believe and feel strongly that we committed a great sin in
attacking another country and killing thousands of innocents
and are in desperate need of repentance and forgiveness. Why
are our spiritual leaders not calling for an act of contrition?
Why does our diocesan magazine (Southwell) feature and celebrate
a British soldier on its front cover?
hoped John Humphrys would provide the Archbishop with the opportunity
to answer these questions. From what we now know of the 'lost
interview' the explanation seems clear: he knows in his heart
the war was wrong before it was started, was wrong after it was
started, and is still wrong, but is not willing or able to say
so clearly and in public.
miserable story of the 'missing interview' speaks for itself.
Perhaps the 'national church' can never do otherwise than follow
the government of the day, and 'speaking truth to power' is just
a forlorn hope. I had believed otherwise but my faith in our
leaders is running out.
St. Katherine's (C of E), Teversal.
Teversal, Nottinghamshire, ENGLAND
24 October 2003
missing portion of the Humphrys interview is here on the website
of The Guardian.
a Roman Catholic: 'Patience with difficult decision-making'
I WROTE A MESSAGE to the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire
and I can't discover whether they received it or not. My point
is that the Anglican Communion here in England refer to themselves
as believing, in the Creed, that they are part of the one, holy,
catholic and apostolic church. If the American Church believes
this too then we must all work together to be united in Christ. This
means patience with difficult decision-making and not trying
to bring about change through manipulation. These issues are
of importance to all who claim to follow Christ and must be discussed
fairly and squarely under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
would plead with the American Episcopalian Church to persuade
their local authorities not to ordain a candidate whose attitude
towards aspects of his own behaviour is causing so much dissent
throughout Christendom. The other main denominations of Christendom
need to be prayed with for a solution to such problems of sexuality.
St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Rustington, Sussex, ENGLAND
20 October 2003
yes, we agree.
YOU WRITE: 'We
want the communion to survive, make no mistake about it. But permanent
support is no way to live.' God is permanent
life support. We have no other source. To imagine that we do,
is not to live.
20 October 2003
statements, letters, and wizards
THE PRIMATES' JOINT STATEMENT, you wrote, "many readers have found
this sentence peculiar and oddly ominous: 'As Primates of our Communion
seeking to exercise the "enhanced responsibility" entrusted to
us by successive Lambeth Conferences...' Your
letter makes it sound as though the phrase 'enhanced responsibility'
has no provenance or history. Yet, with very little effort, you
have found the following resolution from the 1988 Lambeth Conference:
Conference... Urges that encouragement be given to a developing
collegial role for the Primates Meeting under the presidency
of the Archbishop of Canterbury, so that the Primates Meeting
is able to exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering
guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters.
the foregoing, the Conference wrote:
see an enhanced role for the Primates as a key to growth of inter-dependence
within the Communion. We do not see any inter-Anglican jurisdiction
as possible or desirable; an inter-Anglican synodical structure
would be virtually unworkable and highly expensive. A collegial
role for the Primates by contrast could easily be developed,
and their collective judgement and advice would carry considerable
of attempting to explain the source of the phrase in question,
and instead of pointing out that the Primates explicitly disclaimed
attempts to impose 'inter-Anglican jurisdiction' or an 'inter-Anglican
synodical structure,' you use a fallacious interpretation of
the phrase to conclude that the Primates may be moving toward
'a central legislative and executive authority.' The fallacy
arises when you equate the phrase 'enhanced responsibility' with
'enhanced authority.' Of
course, the two are not at all synonymous.
real meaning of the phrase 'enhanced responsibility' relates
to responsibility for providing collective and collegial guidance,
for envisioning a structure in which shared listening and learning
among Anglicans throughout the world is the goal. It has nothing
to do with establishing 'central legislative and executive
authority.' Quite the opposite—it envisions collective guidance
and greater interdependence throughout the Communion.
guys are real wizards with words. Under your magic wands 'responsibility'
becomes 'authority,' and 'interdependent' becomes 'centralized.'
Of course, your 'analysis,' is really just a set-up to conclude
that the Anglican Communion isn't very attractive anymore, so
nobody should be too upset if the unilateral actions of ECUSA
this summer 'tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest
level,' as the Primates' Joint Statement put it. 'Not that big
a deal,' you say, since the Anglican Communion no longer fits
your definition of 'Anglican.' More magic: 'Anglican Communion'
weekly letters on AO are editorials, which is fine. But the purpose
of an editorial is to tell the truth, as the writer sees it.
Thus, an editorial should fairly present the issue on which AO
is taking a stand. Setting up straw men, as AO has done recently,
is not only intellectually dishonest, it also misleads your readers,
which is unconscionable.
St Luke's Church, Dallas, Texas, UNITED STATES
20 October 2003
note: We are not intellectually dishonest and we do not purposefully
mislead our readers. We are sorry if you were misled; we doubt that
many others were.
is the best way to assert the truth at this moment: by confrontation
or by self-sacrifice?'
GENE ROBINSON'S ELECTION in New Hampshire, and I was
glad the General Convention of the Episcopal Church ratified
the choice of his diocese. But the Primates' meeting has given
me pause. At this point, would it not be a better example of
Christian discipleship for him to decline consecration for the
good of the church?
that he should concede anything to the arguments of his detractors.
On the contrary, I think he should stand by his convictions,
which I share. The question is, what is the best way to assert
the truth at this moment: by confrontation or by self-sacrifice?
Those who have vilified Gene Robinson and accused the US church
of heresy and immorality may not stop their campaigns, but can
we as Christians minimize the long-term spiritual effect of his
not claiming the mantle of episcopal authority, especially on
those who feel ambivalent or hesitant about the issue?
is significant that he was elected and approved. The election
stands as a milestone for the future, and so declining to move
forward now is not the same as declining to be nominated in the
first place. If he were to step back (I do not say 'down'), it
should be with the understanding that some means of expressing
public support for, and solidarity with, Bishop-elect Robinson,
would be devised. One idea that comes to mind is to have him
preside at a (televised?) Eucharist in a prominent church with
many concelebrants and many communicants. Let the liturgy speak,
louder than any press release.
St Andrew and St Charles Episcopal Church
Los Angeles, California, UNITED STATES
20 October 2003
world will continue'
IN THE 19 OCTOBER NEWS CENTRE: 'We duly note the report
that the sky is falling...' Speaking of the 'End of the World
As We Know It,' here is my theory as to why it won't. (If the
logic is convoluted, it is only because I am trying to fit in.)
Presiding Bishop is reported to have said that barring the Second
Coming, he will preside at the consecration of the Reverend Gene
Robinson as Bishop coadjutor of New Hampshire.
has been commented on in other places that the Cubs and the Red
Sox did not meet in the 2003 World Series because Jesus is not
ready to come back yet.
the consecration will go forward.
the world will continue.
can go forth into it or not, rejoicing or otherwise. Our choice.
Reverend Andrew T. Gerns
Trinity Episcopal Church
Easton, Pennsylvania, UNITED STATES
20 October 2003
after schism: Just who will do what?
I AM DEEPLY
GRIEVED OVER WHAT SEEMS TO BE an almost certain split
or schism in the Anglican Church. I am curious of a few things
if the schism does take place.
all those provinces of the Anglican Church who feel so opposed
to the actions of the Episcopal Church in the United States continue
to send their seminarians here to be educated? Will they continue
to send their priests here to 'learn from us'. Will they continue
to accept funds and contributions from the heretic Church? Will
the constant 'visits' of those Primates who object to the rightful
decisions and actions of the Episcopal Church continue? Will
they continue to lean on the Episcopal Church for financial stability
as they have for years or will they suddenly be able to stand
on their own two feet? If they wish to cut themselves off, will
it be in toto?
am very curious.
Robert James McLaughlin, BSG
The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany
Ventnor City, New Jersey, UNITED STATES
21 October 2003
for writing it
FOR PUBLISHING MY LETTER. I am a lifelong Episcopalian, but
I will take it as a compliment that you said I sound like a Baptist,
if that means that I know my scripture and apply it to my life.
More Episcopalians would do well to know the scriptures as well
as the Baptists do.
may print this if you wish, though I don't expect you to do so.
West Jacocks IV
The Church of the Holy Comforter
Sumter, South Carolina, UNITED STATES
21 October 2003
FOLKS, BE A LITTLE LESS STRIDENT in the comments you add to your
links. There is no hint of a 'lynch mob' out to get Canon Robinson
in the story to which you link. The reference to 'Chicago during
the depression' is also grotesquely unfair. African prelates
are not issuing a threat in the style of Al Capone or Machine-Gun
Kelly, but are warning of a serious risk of attacks on Christians
as adherents of an 'immoral' religion.
a theologically conservative member of the C of E (Anglo-Catholic,
member of FiF, 'don't ask, don't tell', for what it's worth),
and also a socialist and trade unionist, I think that theologically
conservative Episcopalians are profoundly mistaken to ally themselves
with extreme right-wing secular politicians by, for example,
accepting backhanders from a right-wing millionaire.
behaviour of the ECUSA establishment, and its contempt for African
bishops ('bigots who can be bribed by chicken dinners'), appears
to me to reflect the line in 'The Socialist ABC' — 'I's
for Imperialism: the American kind is the worst'. Bishop Griswold
and his colleagues seem to have no understanding that the free
market paradigm of religious allegiance which prevails in the
United States, allowing a niche market for ECUSA's mix of liberal
theology and impressive ceremony, does not apply everywhere.
I feel desperately sorry for Rowan Williams, trying to keep the
Anglican Communion together, while the precipitate rush to recognise
the legitimacy of homosexuality — and the inept tactics
of some opponents of that rush — threaten to make him a
busted flush within months of starting his archiepiscopal ministry.
S. Mary's, Hayes
Uxbridge, Middlesex, UNITED KINGDOM
21 October 2003
Anglican communion is really just a romantic notion'
VERY MUCH YOUR MUSINGS on the state of the Anglican Communion.
You bring up too many good points to mention. I do think, however,
that your speculation that we may possibly be witnessing the
demise of the Anglican Communion as we know it, is not quite
accurate. I would offer that the Anglican communion is really
just a romantic notion anyway. And as such, it really can't 'go
away', because it was never really 'here'. What was and is here,
is what you rightly called the Anglican 'mood'. Now as anybody
with a basic understanding of psychology knows moods don't always
correspond with facts. The Spirit blows where it will.
point here is basically this: If the Anglican Communion 'breaks
up', that fact cannot touch the 'Anglican spirit'. This spirit
cannot be forfeited or taken away or lost. It's a lot bigger
than than the sad fears and grumblings of the tiny minds that
are causing so much current consternation.
Bethesda Episcopal Church
Saratoga Springs, New York, UNITED STATES
21 October 2003
South Africa: 'From one gay Anglican to another'
ANGLICANS ONLINE for the great work you are doing, keeping
us, ordinary Anglicans informed about the happenings in the church
we so dearly LOVE. Thank you for providing us with a platform
on which the laity can express their views.
have been following the election of Gene Robinson for the past
few months. And I feel it is time that we, ordinary Anglicans,
face the fact that schism is looming. I have prayed about this
matter, asking the Holy Spirit to guide the Anglican Communion.
But the more I prayed, the more it became clear to me, that we
are the people of God and we are his mouth piece in this world.
Robinson claims to be called by God and he has been praying about
this calling. Do we not think that the Primates were praying
about the same matter? And the outcome was for the concern of
the ordinary Anglicans (worldwide). I hope and pray, that both
parties were praying to the same Spirit whom we worship.
Robinson, from one gay man to another: Yes, God has called you
to the bishopric but only in God's time can all things be possible.
I do believe God has called me to the priesthood, but I know
that only in his time can I be accepted within this Province
and be ordained to the priesthood.
my fellow Anglicans, this is our church. If the clergy cannot
find the courage to avoid the schism, let us as laity stand firm
on the prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ, 'Peace I leave you, my
peace I give you' and 'that they may be ONE, as You and I are
beloved brothers and sisters, please do not think that all your
gay brothers and sisters are supporting the decision of the Diocese
of New Hampshire to the detriment of the Anglican Communion.
Robinson, schism is looming in this Church that you are called
Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA
22 October 2003
a Presbyterian in Northern Ireland
YOU WILL ALLOW A PRESBYTERIAN TO OFFER HIS VIEWS on the
Robinson controversy. Living surrounded by devoted members of
the Church of Ireland, I feel I have some understanding of the
dilemmas facing Anglicanism in the modern world.
am sure that Christians worldwide, of whatever denomination,
are praying for the Anglican Church at the present time. It seems
such a pity to be contemplating yet another schism in the Christian
Church at the start of the third millennium. The Christian Church
has suffered too many schisms over the centuries.
dispute seems to be between liberals based in the developed world,
and conservatives based in the developing world. Yet there are
many conservatives in the developed world, and many liberals
in the developing world. It would therefore seem slightly absurd
to separate Anglican from Anglican on this small issue, which
is admittedly of great importance to some.
am sure that Christ looking down from above must have tears in
his eyes when he contemplates the schisms which divide his followers
on the tiny little speck of cosmic dust below, known to us as
Belfast, NORTHERN IRELAND
22 October 2003
patronizing, complacent intellectual wannabes in the Church long
overdue for their comeuppance'
WRITES THAT 'Left to itself, the Church in England
would probably get round to ordaining actively gay bishops over
the next 10 years or so.'
seems right. More precisely (since the Church has been ordaining
gay clergy for centuries) doctrines regarding homosexual practices
would have assumed a status comparable to obsolete municipal
statutes regulating the operation of livery stables and imposing
fines on scolds. Few cities bother to rescind these ordinances
because, like the Roman Catholic Church's policy on contraception
and like most Christian churches' official teachings on pre-marital
sex, they do not function.
is almost as if the Episcopal Church were rushing to liberalize
its policy in time to look as if it were assuming a position
of moral leadership—or to get on board with the politically
correct doctrine before it was adopted by the masses and ceased
to serve as a marker of social class.
current dispute is not fundamentally about sexuality or, as conservatives
suggest, about Biblical authority, but about prestige and the
perceived power of an unrepresentative elite to get its way.
In the US there is a cultural divide between a secular elite,
socially if not politically liberal, and the majority of Americans
who are religious, socially conservative and chronically irritated
by the contempt of the liberal media and leftist academics. Debates
about 'family values' and sexual conduct delineate the boundary
between these two cultures, reflected on a grand scale in the
divide between the global North and South. While many Episcopalians
welcome what they regard as the Church's move to adopt a more
intellectually tenable position regarding sexual conduct, others
see it as a betrayal by religious leaders siding with the cultured
despisers of Christianity (and of Christians).
the US, status symbols have a short shelf life: elite fashions
quickly become common property. Within the past 20 years, middle
Americans have become considerably more accepting of gay and
lesbian people and liberals clerics could have counted on increased
acceptance within the Church. Yet they chose to court backlash
by campaigning to 'educate' their constituency and by their complacent
assumption that their agenda would eventually be adopted as part
of the inexorable progress of the Zeitgeist. It is clear that,
until recently, they assumed that conservative bishops in developing
countries were incapable of organizing effective opposition and
that members of the Church in the US could be managed through
therapeutic programs scripted to promote 'reconciliation' and
'healing.' They just didn't get it.
believe that conservatives are wrong about the ethical dimensions
of sexuality and about the authority of Scripture. But I applaud
them for sticking it to the arrogant, patronizing, complacent
intellectual wannabes in the Church who are long overdue for
University of San Diego
Chula Vista, California, UNITED STATES
23 October 2003
HAVE A FEELING THAT THE PROPOSED NEW POWERS for the Archbishop
of Canterbury, revealed in today's London Times, will not be
approved by the Third World bishops and their conservative sympathisers,
because after the bullies get their way in the present crisis,
Rowan Williams will be their next target.
presently Roman Catholic wavering, but recently less likely to
24 October 2003
We launched our
'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are
in our archives.