Clarity vs. ambiguity

Since the release of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter to the Bishop of Central Florida, many have wondered if it is possible for the Anglican Communion to come out of this era of crisis well.

T.W. Bartel, over at Modern Churchpeople’s Union says the that letter is “scarcely innocuous.”

On 14 October 2007 the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to Bishop John Howe of Central Florida full text here. There was considerable discussion in the blogosphere. A clarification was issued by Lambeth Palace – which caused yet more debate.

At issue were the ecclesiological assumptions contained in the letter. The Archbishop appeared to remove the national church and province from any significant role in his understanding of Anglican polity. He also seemed to suggest that a ‘Windsor-compliant’ diocese would be in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, separate from the relationship of the diocese to its province.

In a letter to Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, by contrast, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori makes very clear that the national church and its constitutional structures are a very sharp reality.

He concludes:

In the midst of these circumstances, the trustworthiness of the ‘Instruments of Unity’ is scarcely enhanced when the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a personal letter to another bishop, takes it as read that the Instruments, in addition to having the power to deprive a member church of full status in the Communion, have the authority to recognise dissident dioceses of that church as retaining that status—so long as their bishop conforms to the strictures of documents and processes with no legitimate binding force on the Communion. And, pace Lambeth Palace, that is both a new policy statement—albeit a natural extension of current policy— and a road map for the future of the Communion—though in the event that TEC is expelled from the Communion, that Communion has no future worthy of the name.

Read it all here.

Hat tip to Thinking Anglicans.

Past Posts