Archive for August, 2008

Globalization and Catholicity

August 16, 2008

Another long trip this week. I will be participating in the third and final year of a project initiated by the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht called “Globalization and Catholicity: Being Catholic Churches in a Globalized World.” The three full communion partners participating in this conversation are the Old Catholics, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church), and The Episcopal Church.

Americans often see globalization as basically a good thing, linking the world by telecommunications, easy travel, economic interdependence, etc. The Europeans are somewhat more suspect of the effects of globalization. And developing countries, like the Philippines, are almost unversally negative about it, seeing globalization as a tool of neo-colonialism and resulting in the oppression of, especially, workers and their families.

Our goal in this “trialogue” has been to learn from one another’s perspective and, even more importantly, to see what the Church and especially “catholic” (universal, global) churches might have to contribute to such a world. And how our full communion relationships, lived out in Europe, the Philippines and the US can influence, and are influenced by, globalization.

The first meeting in 2006 was held in Europe, the second in New York, and our final one will be held in Manila. We hope to publish the papers from these discussions as well as summary statements, the first two of which are called “The St. Andrew’s Statement” and “The Good Shepherd Statement.”

More on what I learn in due course…

What Would Bring Joy to our Lord’s Heart?

August 4, 2008

The Lambeth Conference ended, from my perspective, in a somewhat mixed way. The overall spirit was good and a vast improvement over 1998. The non-legislative format helped, as did perhaps the absence of some 200 “GAFCON bishops” who would certainly have been less satisfied with the format than the over 600 of us who were there.


Deep listening did indeed take place on all “sides” and a greater appreciation for one another’s ministry contexts and faithfulness was evident. Again, the Bible study and “indaba” conversation groups contributed hugely to this spirit.


Yet, in the closing plenary the Archbishop of Canterbury not only gave the floor to Metropolitan Kallistos, an English Orthodox ecumenical observer, who seemed to want us to reaffirm the 1998 Lambeth resolution I.10 on homosexuality, which Rowan Williams had already publicly stated we did not need to, nor would we, do. It remains what it is – a resolution of the last Lambeth Conference which undoubtedly reflects the position of the vast majority of Anglicans (or at least Anglican bishops) around the world.


And Dr. Williams himself once again singled us out – at least indirectly – as the source of the Anglican Communion’s difficulties with scarce reference to Provinces invading US dioceses, a process which began well before the election of the present Bishop of New Hampshire. The closing Eucharist and sermon at Canterbury Cathedral left a good deal to be desired, save a wonderful moment when the names of seven martyrs of the Melanesian Brotherhood were enshrined in the Cathedral’s “chapel of saints and martyrs of our own day” complete with a solemn procession and chanting of the Litany of the Saints by Melanesian monastics of several traditions. Deeply moving.


So, in some ways, we end as we began. The Episcopal Church is still in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and a full member of the Anglican Communion. We will continue to work with the “Windsor Continuation Process,” the development of some kind of Anglican Covenant,  and live for a time with moratoria on authorized rites for the blessing of same sex unions and consents to the election of non-celibate homosexual persons to the episcopate. We shall see if rogue bishops will live up to their part of the bargain by honoring the third moratorium on the crossing of diocesan borders illegally.


My prayer is that the bigger issues of evangelism and mission, poverty and the environment, ecumenical and inter-religious relations are given half as much attention by this Communion as our endless squabbling over homosexuality and the development of an “Anglican Covenant.” These things, at least, would bring joy to our Lord’s heart!         

An Anglican Covenant?

August 2, 2008

Coming down to the wire now! It’s very hard to predict what will “come out of” this Lambeth Conference.  But, of course, the design was not oriented toward specific outcomes, but on continuing the conversation and building relationships. That has surely happened. As Desmond Tutu famously said, “Anglicans meet.” I would add, the Lambeth Conference is “Anglican bishops meeting at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.” 

It looks like we’ll spend the last two days giving more detailed input into the Anglican Covenant Design Team and the “Reflections” group which will produce a final paper, mainly a summary of our conversations here to report to the wider Church. The Covenant Design team will take the input, come up with another draft, and presumably send it along to the Anglican Consultative Council meeting (in May?).

They can amend it, send it back for more work, or out to the Provinces for eventual ratification which could take several years at least. An unanswered question at this point is “what happens to Provinces to choose not to sign on to the Covenant?” There is some question as to whether Parliament would even allow the established Church of England to sign on to such a document which might regulate their internal affairs.

If the Church of England is not part of an Anglican Covenant, it’s hard to see how that strengthens the Anglican Communion!