20 October 2009

Ok, deep breath everyone

First, let's look at what Rome is not doing. It is not saying that every disaffected person who has or might leave the various churches in the Anglican Communion will have a place in their hierarchy. It is not saying that new groups leaving will be automatically welcome in its hierarchy either. What Rome has done is to respond to specific petitions from bodies whose background is schism with parts of the Anglican community with an entrance process.

I am not a member of a schismatic former Anglican body but if I were I would be a bit unhappy with the plan. That is just me.

The plan says the deacons and priests still are but the bishops aren't real clerics -- at least not the married bishops. So the bishops revert to priests but they can still function administratively. Of course they have to explicitly agree that the Pope is when ex cathedra, infallible.

The parishes can keep their Anglican liturgy if it does not break any rules, and prayers for the Pope are added. They can even raise up potential clerics even if their former bishops can not ordain them.

All of this can be done outside the normal boundaries of the church. That is these parishes can remain in the diocesan structures that TAC had without merging with local diocese or accepting over sight from local bishops. Presumably Rome will make new bishops for the structure where the inferior (married) bishops leave vacancies.

So is this a big deal? It is for TAC. It left TEC, ACCanada and a couple other provinces about 20 years back. Reading their materials it seems they were delusional enough to think that all the good Anglicans that is misogynist high church folks, would follow. That did not happen and they are simply too small to function as they would like. So this sort of union with Rome is important to them, at least some of them.

It remains to be seen how the bulk of TAC's members will react. The married bishops in particular may not be happy. A good many members who have been raised thinking infallibility wrong may be hard to sell too.

But what matters is that this is a precedent. Rome is noting if not legalist. In doing this for TAC it sets a precedent for FiF, the misogynists in the Church of England to appeal to should they leave. This gives FiF leverage in their ongoing effort to bully Dr. Williams. Actually they don't need much leverage, Dr. Williams is very easy to bully, witness his silence on Uganda and Nigeria's efforts to murder gays in the name of God.

In the US, today seems to be a non-event, but looks can be deceiving. If one pays attention to the tension between various wings of the schismatic groups that formed ACNA the group that recently made former bishop Duncan its 'arch bishop' one can see another possible break up.

So Rome gathers splinters; Canterbury looses rounds in its game of chicken and very little of ministry advances. In all rather sad I think.



John Sandeman said...

Its worth noting that TAC has been asking for the Catholics to take them on board for some time. The Archbishop of the TAC, John Hepworth, is a married-more-than-once former Catholic priest, so on several counts he would have been aware he might have to pay a price.

drew said...

I wish the TAC well, just wish I could do so from across the pue rather then from across the Tiber. Where this leaves our fellowship with Rome which as it progressed I was proud and pleased, is troubling. Such ecumenical inroads like our embassy/library were no small step. Can Rome have the political amplitude to welcome our splinters with one hand and shake our with the other? They really could, but will they so we can be closer to one?

JimB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JimB said...

Drew, I doubt Rome would do this if they were planning to continue the efforts with TEC, CoE inter alia.


JimB said...


I know they have been asking. What we do not know is what they think of the answer. This story is not completely written yet.

Thanks for dropping by.


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