Friday, September 28, 2012

After Rowan: Priorities for the Anglican Communion (by John Milbank)

Today the ABC published on its Religion and Ethics website an essay by John Milbank on the "post-Rowan" Anglican Communion. It is a long piece, but well worth reading to the end. I agree with most of Milbank's observations, especially the following: 

"The increasing failure of many priests to perform their true priestly roles of pastoral care and mission outreach, in a predominantly "liberal" and managerialist ecclesial culture that encourages bureaucratisation and over-specialisation. This has often led to a staggering failure even to try to do the most obvious things." 

Milbank concludes his essay with these words: 

"What is essential is that the Crown Nominations Commission does not sacrifice vision to efficiency - lack of the former, at this juncture, could prove disastrous. I remain optimistic though, for . . . there are several able potential candidates, and more crucially, among the younger generation, real signs of Anglican revival, on both the Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical wings. All the while, whiggish liberalism in the Church of England continues its rapid and inexorable decline."

John Milbank is Research Professor of Politics, Religion and Ethics at the University of Nottingham, Director of the Centre of Theology and Philosophy, and Chairman of the ResPublica Trust. I have previously directed readers of this blog to his work HERE and HERE

After Rowan: Priorities for the Anglican Communion 

A general dismay in England greeted the news that Rowan Williams was to take the more or less unprecedented step of stepping down from the office of Archbishop of Canterbury eight years before he is officially bound to retire.

This dismay was compounded for some Anglicans when, just a few days later, the proposed "covenant" between the various provinces of the Communion collapsed, thanks to rejection by sufficient diocesan governing bodies of the mother church in England herself, against the advice of the bishops.

The covenant would have bound the participants to agree that no major shift in doctrine or practice be undertaken by any of them without a full-scale "consultation" with all the other provincial churches. Failure then to comply with the global consensus could conceivably lead to various degrees of exclusion from full inter-communion.

It is important for Catholic readers to realise that Rowan Williams had sought this covenant, in part, for ecumenical reasons. The Vatican signalled to him at the start of his primacy that conversations leading to further unity could only be re-commenced if the Catholic Church could be sure that the Anglican Communion was truly capable of acting as one body. Many Anglicans agreed . . .  CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ESSAY


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