Admiral of Morality: Canterbury reaches a new low

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Canterbury reaches a new low

In a column in the Daily Telegraph, the Archbishop of Canterbury submits the following statement:

One of the hardest things in all this has been to keep insisting on the absolute moral imperative of combating bigotry and violence against gay people, and the need to secure appropriate civic and legal protection for couples who have chosen to share their lives. These are different matters from whether the Church has the freedom to bless same-sex unions.

One of the hardest things in all this is that Canterbury continues to pursue this line of reasoning with a supposedly straight face. At minimum this line of reasoning presupposes that God works only through the Church and that this work is somehow sanitized from the rest of the world. The corollary of course is that God does not do anything moral or just apart from what he does through the Church as interpreted by those arrogating to themselves the authority to state conclusively the nature of God's work inside and outside the Church. In essence, the Church is far above morally where any society apart from the Church, may be.

As archbishop Rowan Williams may or may not hold such beliefs; he may consider himself compelled to stake out such positions.

This distinction is irrelevant. Either intent still bears false witness against reason and common sense. He also rejects not only the morality of society outside his Church but appears to claim that such morality is always independent of and inferior to, the morality of his Church, and even perhaps of God. This belies not only the Scriptural record of God's work prior to the existence of the Church but the reality of God's work before us that we can discern conclusively with our very own eyes.

In the end what people see is not a clergyman defending the right of the Church to be independent from the state, which in the United Kingdom at any rate, is not the case. The very issue of whether and how much longer the Church of England may continue to discriminate against its own clergy when the civil law protects them, is an open question.

What we see is a clergyman not only arguing that his Church is free to ignore the human rights of its people when they come within its purview, but a clergyman actively defending this freedom to discriminate.

That it is the Archbishop of Canterbury may not be enough to convince the House of Commons or the Prime Minister, if recent history is any guide.

But it is enough to signal that Canterbury has hit a new low.


Blogger Wayne said...

Has he lost all sense of integrity?!?

We are appalled... and sadly, sadly disappointed.

2/22/2007 11:18:00 PM  
Blogger Marshall said...

What troubles me most about this (or, what also troubles me; I'm also troubled by the attempt to divorce civil rights from ecclesial recognition, and by opinions that seem much more focused on unity that on consent) is the apparent vision of "a Church" - a vision that much more closely parallels the Roman model than the classical Anglican Communion, or even Orthodox or Lutheran models. His concern that we "decide as a Church" so as to be able to speak intelligibly to "other Christian bodies" presupposes "*a* Church," and not a communion of provinces, however faithfully interdependent. Cantuar comes awfully close to Benedict XVI when as Ratzinger he wrote Dominus Iesus, and spoke of "true Churches" (those whose episcopate Rome would recognize - and that does not yet include ours, whatever gestures may have been made) and "other Christian bodies" with "defects."

2/23/2007 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger The AoM said...

Marshall--Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

I do think it clear that implicit in Canterbury's statements is the notion that there is in fact an "Anglican Church" worldwide and that the Episcopal Church is an outpost of the Anglican Church headquartered and run by England on which the Episcopal Church depends for its life. We have never operated this way, were not established in this way (quite the contrary), and have never as I can recall viewed ourselves in this manner.

What Canterbury and the other primates are working towards is the central type of ecclesial structure you mention.

To build on your comment-- If the Episcopal Church agrees in every way with the primates' ultimatums one unintended consequence of it might be the acceleration of this project. Apart from other considerations it would certainly lay the groundwork for quite more foreign influence into our Church deliberations and activities than has ever been the case. That this system of intervention is in the wings is quite evident in the clear words of the draft Covenant. Alongside this runs the serious weakening of the roles of clergy and laity in our deliberations and policies.

There are obviously many who look favorably on this development.

I think it quite disingenuous for anyone to state that Canterbury is being held hostage by a lone primate or simply a group of African primates, that they do not "understand" our polity, and that he and the other primates are being forced into their positions. They are not. They know our system full well. They simply reject it. They wish to alter it. They are willingly and as a group advocating intrusion and force into a Church that predates all but a few of their own--a church that since its inception has rejected this sort of intrusion.

2/23/2007 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger PseudoPiskie said...

It will be interesting to see what comes out of the CoE's "convention". Isn't it next week?

2/24/2007 10:43:00 AM  

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