Bishop Scarfe on the new Vatican plan

UPDATED: See below – Bishop Gregory Cameron criticizes the pope’s bad manners.

Bishop Alan Scarfe points out something not many others have seen in the latest initiative to include Anglican communities into a full communion relationship with the Holy See:

Whether Pope Benedict is seeking to bolster Christian solidarity before the growing strength of Islam as a New York Times writer suggests, or is deploying a rather ingenious marketing device as lampooned on The Daily Show, or is simply extending pastoral concern to disaffected brothers in Christ ( and any sisters who don’t believe in their own gender’s call to ordination), I prefer the shift of understanding in ecumenical circles which has been expressed in the relatively recent round of ecumenical agreements. I refer to the fundamental understanding behind actions like the Call to Common Mission between the ELCA and The Episcopal Church, the Recent Moravian agreement and our ongoing efforts towards the United Methodists and others. Embedded in this exercise of mutual respect is a “mind the gap” generosity. We cannot dot every “I” and cross every “T” but we can recognize that Christ died for one and all, and that in each other’s people there is a faithful desire to serve God, bring God’s compassion through the Holy Spirit and be about God’s reign among us. We bring the train as close as we can to the platform and we jump. And we have the kindness to call it “full communion”. No re-ordinations, but interchangeable orders, and, if we dare, common mission. The competitive marketing temptation tends to get in the way of the latter.

I am an athletic kind of guy, and so I don’t mind leaping over larger gaps. I am also a poor golfer and appreciate generous “gimmies”, just to change the metaphor to that most otherwise merciless of sports. I presume therefore that I am also a poor ecumenist. I know however that you can’t build a community solely on what you are not. Eventually you run out of adversaries. The Ebionites learned that lesson early. Yet we have to be very confident of what we are, or rather whose we are.

Read the full essay here.


In related news this morning, Ruth Gledhill is reporting that:

A friend and former chaplain of the Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised the Pope’s ‘ecumenical bad manners’ and accused him of fomenting division. In a debate on BBC Radio Wales to be broadcast tomorrow morning [podcast: Download 13MB (right click & “save target as”)], on the All Things Considered programme, the Bishop of St Asaph Gregory Cameron challenges the Pope’s move to welcome disaffected Anglican Catholics. It’s ‘not the way we do things,’ he says, focusing in particular on the failure to consult with the leadership of the Anglican Communion.

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