By Andrew Carey, CEN
The Church of England’s apparent pride in its comprehensiveness in contrast to the ecclesiological narrowness of Roman Catholicism is now emerging as fantasy.
The Ordinariate is showing the Roman Catholic Church offering compromises, fudges and political fixes to Anglican traditionalists. Whereas the Church which has always taken pride in the image of itself as a via media and a place where everyone could fit in had nothing to offer the same traditionalists. As a result a number of bishops, clergy and laity have joined the Ordinariate or are still considering Pope Benedict’s offer.
And while the Roman Catholic Church’s secrecy, which bordered on contempt for Anglicanism, is to be criticised, it is the Church of England time and again which is showing itself to have no vision for the possibility of ecclesiological change. Bishops have even harshly ruled out the use of Church of England buildings for Ordinariate congregations, even under sharing arrangements. This looks more like a political strategy to dissuade laypeople from joining the Ordinariate than a decision about ecumenical principles.
Where is the harm in allowing congregations which are now at odds with the Anglican settlement to maintain access with the buildings which they themselves have maintained and cherished? The Church of England has too many buildings for its now weakened ambitions and in many areas we can barely maintain a presence. In other areas we have a preponderance of failing churches.
The tragedy is that the Ordinariate is awake-up call to do things differently to look at ourselves again. Do we really want to be ungenerous, churlish and flint-faced to ecclesiastical dissenters? Or do we want to be comprehensive and embracing of the many networks which the Church of England has always comprised?
We are a broad church because we all have fixed, differing, mutually-excluding identities. We are broad precisely because we are different in our convictions. We are not broad because we can’t make our minds up about who we are.
The Church of England is essentially an umbrella ecclesial body for a range of incompatible theological concerns. We have forgotten that element of necessary compromise that might have allowed us to respond more positively for traditionalist pleas for third province. Yet that generous, broad church impulse might nevertheless assist us in responding more positively to the Ordinariate in order tobuild unity even as traditionalists Anglicans formally leave.
Read Damian Thompson's comment here
Christians under attack
Let us be under no illusion that there is a concerted campaign by pro-gay groups against traditional Christian values in the attempts to present marriage as a non-gender union, and not least of all in specific legal actions.
The set-up of a Christian therapist and the court case against the Cornish hotel owners are all of a piece with this campaign to set gay rights against those of Christians.
The courts have colluded in this by establishing a hierarchy of competing rights in which those of religious believers inevitably come out at the bottom of the heap.
Time for action
Up to 10 Primates are not attending this week’s Primates’ Meeting in their frustration that they have been ignored and sidelined at the many Anglican Communion meetings since the Episcopal Church first rent the bonds of Communion in 2003.
They represent many of the most populous provinces of the Anglican Communion. Furthermore, a number of them also boycotted the 2008 Lambeth Conference.
When will we admit that the Anglican Communion no longer exists? We are broken and badly in need of fixing. This will not be done by pretending there is no problem and continuing to hold such meetings.
Only the Archbishop of Canterbury has the power and influence (by invitation and presidency) to address theproblems. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that he will not do so.Time for action
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