Archbishop Welby writes to the Pope and Orthodox leaders offering “ecumenism light” now that unity is not possible

The Daily Telegraph reports the wording of a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury to church leaders including the Pope after the decision to ordain women bishops:

justin Welby“We are aware that our other ecumenical partners may find this a further difficulty on the journey towards full communion. There is, however, much that unites us, and I pray that the bonds of friendship will continue to be strengthened and that our understanding of each other’s traditions will grow.

It is clear to me that whilst our theological dialogue will face new challenges, there is nonetheless so much troubling our world today that our common witness to the Gospel is of more importance than ever.

There is conflict in many regions of our world, acute poverty, unemployment and an influx of oppressed people driven away from their own countries and seeking refuge elsewhere.

We need each other, as we, as churches empowered by the Holy Spirit, rise to the challenge and proclaim the good news of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and strive for closer fellowship and greater unity.”

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7 Responses to Archbishop Welby writes to the Pope and Orthodox leaders offering “ecumenism light” now that unity is not possible

  1. The Archbishop is clutching at straws. He must know that advocating the ordination of women bishops is the opposite of striving for greater unity.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Paul,

      You wrote: The Archbishop is clutching at straws. He must know that that advocating the ordination of women bishops is the opposite of striving for greater unity.

      I suspect that Archbishop Welby understands quite well that ordination of women is a major obstacle to unity, and that expansion of the ordination of women will make it more difficult. I also have little doubt that Pope Francis was quite frank about the matter during their recent meetings. Alas, this matter is beyond the control of the Archbishop of Canterbury since the decision rests exclusively with the general convention — and I’m sure that both Pope Francis and the officials at the Pontifical Commission for Christian Unity, which is the Vatican dicastery responsible for ecumenical dialog, also fully understand this aspect of the situation.

      But that said, the most recent decision amounts to a drop of water in a lake for two reasons: (1) it won’t result in an increase in the number of ordained women and (2) it does not do anything that other provinces of the Anglican Communion are not already doing. Thus, I would not expect much impact on ecumenical relations.

      Norm.

  2. Aidan says:

    The Mother church has closed it doors to wider ecumenism. Welby was hird (hired? – Ed) to do this damage.
    He shows how incompetent he is himself to handle this issue. Please, see what will happen when they bring the samesex issue, it will be the end of the Anglican church.

  3. Rev22:17 says:

    Aidan,

    You said: The Mother church has closed it doors to wider ecumenism. Welby was hird (hired? – Ed) to do this damage.
    He shows how incompetent he is himself to handle this issue.

    I rather think that the damage was already done. At the time of his election, this truck was careening down a steep hill at very high speed and its brakes had already failed, so there was no way to stop it.

    The other reality is that the job of the Archbishop of Canterbury is to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion — and right now, there are differences within it that are completely irreconcilable, especially with regard to blessing of same sex unions and ordination of practicing homosexual individuals. In order to have any chance of keeping things together, he has to gain the confidence of both sides — not an easy task by any means! — and to reassert the gospel in the hope that scriptural values will prevail at the end of the day. The man needs all of our prayers. I do not envy his position.

    At the end of the day, I suspect that there will be a realignment of the Anglican Communion that will see the Anglican Church in Canada (ACC) and The Episcopal Church (TEC) here in the States separated from the orthodox provinces of the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) and its Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA). The Church of England (CoE) is in the breech, and which entity continues to constitute the official “Anglican Communion” will depend upon which way the CoE goes on these more radical issues.

    >> If the CoE holds the line of orthodoxy, perhaps 75% to 80% of the Anglican Communion will remain intact and will collect a remnant presently represented by the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). In this scenario, it is most likely that there will be a split in both the ACC and TEC between those wishing to continue on the radical bent and those wishing to remain within the Anglican Communion, with the latter likely folding into ACNA, and the remnant of the ACC and TEC continuing to wither.

    >> If the CoE adopts the radical polity, the Anglican Communion will lose about 75% of its membership as GAFCON and its FCA become a new denomination of the Anglican tradition. In this scenario, a few other provinces such as the Anglican Church in Australia (ACA) are likely to remain with Canterbury, but the stubborn fact remains that GAFCON and FCA will be by far the larger body. The question is whether GAFCON and FCA have adequate “instruments of communion” to sustain unity among the provinces thereof or whether they will need to seek unity with a body that does possess those “instruments of communion” — the Catholic Church, with the availability of the ordinariate structure, being the most plausible suitor.

    The additional wrench in this mess is the involvement of the British government and the current political situation that confuses morality with religion. The political pressure on the CoE to conform to society is immense in the present environment, and the Archbishop of Canterbury also must deal with that. Again, I don’t envy his position. He needs our prayers.

    Norm.

  4. Rev 22:17,

    I agree with pretty much all that you say, although I suspect that Archbishop Welby will be arguing in favour of agreeing to dis agree. So it may be that an increasingly divided communion will continue to be held together by sticking plaster, vinegar and brown paper.

    My point was that this does nothing for Christian unity, because there is increasing divergence on many issues, the main issue being authority. The Ordinariate, or joining the Catholic Church in a more conventional way seems the only realistic option for those who are interested in Christian unity. For those who cannot cope with such a move, the future looks grim.

    Few people yet understand what a prophetic move Anglicanorum Coetibus was.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Paul,

      You wrote: I suspect that Archbishop Welby will be arguing in favour of agreeing to dis agree. So it may be that an increasingly divided communion will continue to be held together by sticking plaster, vinegar and brown paper.

      I rather suspect that Archbishop Welby, as an Evangelical Anglican, will strive to present the whole gospel in a manner in which both sides will hear it. The challenge here is to gain the trust of the “progressive” faction without alienating the orthodox faction.

      You wrote: My point was that this does nothing for Christian unity, because there is increasing divergence on many issues, the main issue being authority. The Ordinariate, or joining the Catholic Church in a more conventional way seems the only realistic option for those who are interested in Christian unity. For those who cannot cope with such a move, the future looks grim.

      I substantially agree with this point, in the present situation. The only real question is whether, and how quickly, Archbishop Welby might be able to change the situation. My sense, however, is that the situation is not totally hopeless. It’s a narrow channel with reefs on both sides, but he seems to be uniquely gifted to navigate it. Again, he needs all of our prayers to do so successfully!

      Norm.

  5. William Tighe says:

    For a sharper (and perhaps more cynical) view of this matter (by a former Episcopalian layman), see:

    http://themcj.com/?p=49216

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