correspondents

AUSTRALIA

Princess bishop

Paul Burrell, one time Butler to Diana, Princess of Wales, would appear to be scraping the base of the media barrel as he makes his regular appearance on Australian Princess, the latest televisual drivel which has recently been sold to the United Kingdom.

The reality show in question is one where fourteen Australian women, from a vineyard worker through to an exotic dancer, battle it out to win the crown – or more realistically the tiara – which goes with the title. The prize is only attainable after enduring such exhausting trials as pouring a cup of tea and making a seemly exit from a car. Mr. Burrell instils in the girls the importance of ‘keeping dignity’ whilst, some would say, having left every shred of his own in the gutter of the press to which he has in the past sold his own story.

Aspiring queens

The vacuous nature of the series would be irrelevant to readers of New Directions, if it were not for the fact that it propitiously foreshadows the election of a new Archbishop of Melbourne – with the Election Synod due to take place in February. Being an aspiring queen is chicken fodder in relation to the impending episcopal fisticuffs. In a diocese such as this, where factional agreements are the only way to achieve a result, carnage along the way is guaranteed.

So much so that one unnamed senior Anglican source was quoted in the Melbourne Age Newspaper as saying that ‘there’s a lot of investment in keeping the Holy Spirit out of it.’

Bishop Andrew Curnow, Bishop of Bendigo and one time Regional Bishop in the Diocese of Melbourne, was quoted in the same article as comparing the diocese to the Labor (sic) Party and saying that it is ‘riddled with factions: that’s what works against it… Everyone is aware of it, but in Melbourne it’s done under cover.’

There are a number of oft-quoted names for the post. Included in this list is the very reasonable Bishop Tom Frame – Bishop to the Forces and according to some Forces Chaplains not so stupid as to leave a thriving post for the snake pit of Melbourne. Bishop David Farrer of Wangaratta, who previously spent time as an Archdeacon in the Diocese of Melbourne, has also been named by some as a possible candidate. However, his departure from Wangaratta would ensure the total liberalization of that See – he having presided over legislation which permits women priests to operate within the diocese, whilst at the same time inducting many liberal clergy to posts. The result has been the wholesale change in the colour of significant boards such as that of the Episcopal Nominators.

Whilst Catholics would no doubt welcome his unlikely election, it would be the final nail in the coffin of Wangaratta, which, as so many school reports would put it, ‘could have done better.’ It would also be fairly unlikely when both proponents and opponents of the ordination of women to the priesthood so often feel he is ‘on their side.’ It makes one think of the man who follows you into a revolving door and comes out first.

Vote liberal

For the orthodox Catholic laity, what is more worrying is the attitude of so many of their priests who are the electors in this bun fight. Often their statements on possible candidates have nothing to do with the man’s beliefs, but rather more to do with his actions. Great excitement ensues when a potential candidate ‘says what is put in front of him’ or ‘wears what is laid out for him’ without complaining; all of this oblivious to the fact that the very same man may be more than happy to strip such parishes of their incumbencies, or their orthodoxy.

In February, Catholics in the Diocese of Melbourne should not be backing a Catholic candidate. Basically because it would be impossible to elect an orthodox bishop with the numbers as they are. What they should do is to ignore who will say what or wear what, who will feign devotion to the Blessed Sacrament or Our Lady. Instead they should be targeting a truly liberal candidate. That is, one whose liberality is wide enough to embrace the provision of alternative episcopal oversight; one who is liberal enough to seize the opportunity of allowing Melbourne to be an example to the Australian Church, by accepting that all need to be catered for; one who will cater in such a way even to the orthodox.

The sad fact is that the reality will be more like television’s Australian Princess. The glitter will be more important than the substance. I for one, would rather have an exotic dancer who pole dances but believes the Church has room for me, than a ballroom dancer who sees no room on the floor for anyone other than himself and his dance.

Philip Murphy has finally been given the incumbency of St Mark’s, Fitzroy

 

AMERICA

Anglican identity

r Aidan Nichols op, has asked us to specify what it is about our distinctive patrimony that we wish to safeguard. (ND October). In other words, can we say what we want to put in the container? Can we sum up what makes us unique as Anglicans and what we want to offer the rest of the Body, without loss-by-absorption?

For the first six centuries of her life the Celtic and British Church had close ties with the eastern or emerging Byzantine Empire through the tin trade. The British Church would have ready access to the works of the eastern fathers. Although we have eminent Thomists in our ranks like Eric Mascall, it is typical for our theologians to be completely grounded in the eastern Fathers, so much so that Michael Ramsey once called Anglicanism an outbreak of Orthodoxy in the West. We tend to see dogmas not so much as things to define, as holy mysteries into which we enter. Cranmer’s post communion prayer is an example of this. That Orthodoxy is deep within the marrow of our bones has given us a unique ability to relate to the churches of the East.

A deep affinity

There is something else that reveals a deep affinity between Anglicanism and Orthodoxy. Sometimes in Anglican chant there is almost a sense that the canticle or anthem could have been composed in Russia. There are more than one or two settings of the Nunc dimittis, for example, whose resonance with Russian chant is amazing. Some of John Tavenor’s work in our time makes this resonance explicit.

In his book English Spirituality Martin Thornton focuses on the role of the Benedictines in the formation of the Anglican ethos. The family is the model for life in Christ. The continental churches would tend toward the. Ignatian model of the militia Christi, the Church as the army of God. In English spirituality, and with our smaller parishes, there is a tendency toward family relationships between priest and layman, monk and secular. Authority and spiritual direction are by and large sacramental, familial and empirical rather than juridical. From the Reformation onward, the bishops and clergy will usually be married. The bishop is father-in-God, and the confessor is paterfamilias. The parish family is rooted in one place, for stability, and for the conversion and transfiguration of everyone and everything in it.

The foundation of the Christian life is the Liturgy, seen as both the Mass and the Office, from which flows personal devotion based on the Bible. When Anglicans assemble they usually say the Office together, whereas our Roman brethren will tend toward para-liturgical devotions like the Rosary.

The Book of Common Prayer is not so much a series of services as it is a system, a Regula, with the same pastoral spirit and domestic emphasis as Benedict’s Rule. The Anglican is less interested in formal meditation and more prone to habitual recollection, constant meditation on Christ’s presence, as what links up the Offices with the Eucharist. As with the Orthodox, there tends to be an ‘affective-speculative synthesis,’ a wedding of head and heart, theological and emotional, doctrinal and devotional, fact and feeling. The Prayer Book makes possible a total Christian life in the world, supported by the Liturgy.

Roads and language

Having lived in England for over three years I discovered a metaphor that showed the difference between the Anglican and the Continental. The Roman roads go from A to B in straight lines. The Roman (and the Christians who inherit his ethos) loves efficiency, order, organization, administration and precise code law. The English roads go from A to B, coming to the same conclusion, but following the contours of the land, or some old cow path. The longer it takes to go from A to B the better, because, in this instance, efficiency is not the priority. The experience of the journey is what is important: the mystery of discovery of, let us say, some fabulous little pubs in the villages. So too, with gardens. Continentals prefer precise, mathematical gardens. The English go for more spontaneity, perhaps the casual look of a garden tended by an ordinary family. Obviously the different emphases are two sides of the same coin, and in our crisis today we see how much we need one another.

God has allowed the English people and the English Church to be unique in the world. Because England sustained so many migrations and invasions, the language has the largest vocabulary in the world. As the Anglo-Saxon peoples settled, they took on vocabulary from their Celtic and Latin predecessors. But with the subsequent invasions from the Scandinavians and the Norman French, the natives absorbed massive amounts of new vocabulary to be worked into and absorbed into English. The English language developed an amazing capacity to absorb and be enriched by new influences without overthrowing the original order. English remains a Germanic language. This ability to understand and absorb gives the Anglican churches the gift of understanding deeply and working closely with the Roman, the Protestant and the Orthodox. This gift may help explain why the devil has attacked our community with such ferocity.

I like to teach our confirmands that in order to understand and be grateful for our Christian Western heritage one must know whence it came. It has a founder, St Benedict. And in order to understand our mother tongue one must know the three great masterpieces that most influenced its modern form: the Book of Common Prayer; the King James Bible and the works of William Shakespeare.

The English are the first people in the West to develop a parliamentary system of government, a strong sense of personal freedom, a growing middle class, literacy, and a people often taught to think things through for themselves. The Anglo-Saxon sense of freedom gave the army something to make it flexible, creative and effective: the sergeant.

A late, great empire

The way in which Church and state have interrelated in England has unique features which helped give rise to the British Empire. Church and state cooperate to reinforce values like personal initiative, responsibility, duty and hard work. For all its faults, the British Empire is arguably the best there ever was, tending to promote good local administration, justice, dignity and basic freedoms. There are people in Uganda and India who wish they were still part of it. There were Roman Catholics in the nineteenth century who regretted that the Church in England separated from them in the sixteenth. There are Roman Catholics today who would like to be able to enter into and experience the church that produced the theological and liturgical treasures of the Caroline divines and the many luminaries that followed.

J.R.H. Moorman chronicles some of these Anglican worthies in his Anglican Spiritual Tradition, describing the role of the English Bible and the Book of Common Prayer in their formation. With the reformed-Catholic tradition, and with the old interest in the eastern fathers, there is a flowering in Anglicanism from the seventeenth century onwards of a new awareness of the Holy Spirit, what John Zizioulas calls, in his book Being As Communion, ‘pneumatological conditioning.’ Everything in Christ’s life, everything in the Kingdom is pneumatologically conditioned, or, is in the Holy Spirit.

This perspective enables us to transcend much of the theological conflict of the sixteenth century regarding sacraments, authority and the nature of the Church, the Church as the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit. Vatican II began to open the Roman Catholic Church to more of this perspective. Someday we may see courses in pneumatology preceding the ones on Christology. But pneumatology has been deeply embedded in Anglican theology, so it is no coincidence that the epiclesis was first restored to the Western Liturgy with the Prayer Book of the seventeenth century non-jurors in Scotland, which passed to the United States through Samuel Seabury and the American Prayer Book of 1789.

The Roman Church tends towards the historical approach to succession, and sees the succession in linear terms, coming to us in an unbroken succession from Peter to the present. Zizioulas describes a synthesis of the historical and eschatological approaches, and the consequences of this synthesis for the life of the Church. Rome and Orthodoxy are called to rediscover one another at the deepest levels. In the West we need more of the East’s understanding of pneumatology and eschatology. The East needs more of the West’s historical approach, of the Church living and ministering in the present, and in the long progression of time.

If Rome is the shoe and Orthodoxy is the foot, we Anglicans can be the shoe-horn. All through the centuries Anglicans have had warm relationships with the Orthodox, never more so than in the United States, after World War II. Many Greeks were immigrating into the United States, and were welcomed into our Episcopal churches, as members, and as communities forming their own new congregations.

Anglican patrimony

Here is how we might sum up the patrimony we as Anglicans want to protect and continue, through full communion with the sees of Rome and Constantinople: (i) in matters of theology our model is the consensus of the undivided Church of the first millennium; (ii) we allow for the genius of simple canon law, self governance and personal freedom that grew out of the Celtic Anglo-Saxon experience in Church and state; (iii) there could be a Book of Common Prayer, revised locally for the provinces of the orthodox Anglican re-alignment, that is consistent with the historical Books of Common Prayer as a Benedictine regula, and reflects our union with the Holy See; (iv) the realigning orthodox Anglican provinces, including the new one in England, gather as an orthodox Anglican Communion: this kind of gathering is now occurring for the churches of the global south; (v) we continue our emphasis on the Church as the Family of God, expressed in the sacramental exercise of authority by our bishops as fathers-in-God; (vi) we continue a married clergy and, if possible, episcopate; (vii) our calendar includes our Anglican worthies; (viii) Anglican theological colleges throughout our provinces can be identified or established; (ix) we have the freedom to build bridges with the Orthodox.

As we sum up the unique heritage that needs to be preserved and offered as a gift to enrich the rest of the Body, we see that a large part of our vocation is ecumenical, to help reveal the essential unity of the Body, to help the two lungs, East and West, breathe together again. The hosts of hell have worked overtime to savage our community. The Holy See may want to ask us how we expect to keep our act together as an Anglican uniate body, after having lost so many provinces to the gnostics. Alexander Solzhenitsyn gives us the big picture in August 1914, the beginning of Europe’s thirty year long civil war, ultimately against the forces of gnostic barbarism. Basically it was Anglicans who won WWII: Churchill and Roosevelt, and the great generals, Patton, McArthur, Mountbatten, Montgomery.

After the victory, Solzhenitsyn says, a spiritual exhaustion settled over the next layers of leadership, who were not ready for an even more subtle demonic onslaught of the more insidious and damaging gnostic feminism. The Episcopal Church took the first wave of this deadly new onslaught and was shattered. Canada fell next, then New Zealand, Australia, various African provinces, and finally, England. We are about where England and the West were in 1943. The orthodox remnants who have risen up (with the massive orthodox provinces like Nigeria) are weighing in; battle-hardened, willing to share our experience with our sister churches.

Today’s great shakeout of the Anglican Communion, with orthodox Anglicans realigning globally, is gaining momentum. The Holy Spirit is at work to gather us and to equip us for our vocation, to the glory of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

The Rt Revd Paul Hewitt is a bishop in the Diocese of the Holy Cross, and was present at the recent FiF Assembly in London

SWEDEN

Marriage revolt

On 27 October, the General Synod of the Church of Sweden decided to make a change to the rubrics in the Church Order. Paragraph 23, which has hitherto had the title Marriage should from now on be entitled Marriage and Other Forms of Blessings. This is seen as a first step towards enabling same-sex couples, who have entered into a registered partnership, to have a public blessing in church and to affirm that such relationships are an alternative to Christian marriage and of equal standing in the eyes of the Church (and presumably therefore also in the eyes of God). The General Synod also commissioned the Church of Sweden Governing Body to produce an order of service for A Blessing of a Registered Partnership, which will be included in the Church of Sweden Service Book.

The Law about the Church of Sweden, the legislation, which replaced the former legal framework when Church and State were separated on 1 January 2000 (and is sometimes referred to as ‘the letter of divorce’), lays down only three requirements: the Church of Sweden should 1) adhere to the Lutheran confession, 2) provide national coverage, and 3) have a democratic structure. Within that framework, the Church is free to make decisions on its own affairs, and the Service Book, into which this new arrangement will be introduced, therefore represents the constitutional basis of the Church of Sweden. As such, it is a measuring rod as to whether or not the Church of Sweden lives up to its required standards.

So far, it has been stressed that each priest will be at liberty whether or not to conduct such a service, but there is no guarantee that this freedom of choice will continue, once the new service has found its place in the Service Book. The pressures for compliance will most certainly be exerted in fullest measure.

Following this decision, the Chairman of Kyrklig samling (The Church Coalition for the Bible and the Confession), Fr Yngve Kalin composed a Declaration upholding the traditional Christian teaching on marriage, and invited other priests to add their signatures. In the first two weeks (to 14.11.05) more than 800 priests of the Church of Sweden, including Bishop Bertil Gärtner, have signed this Declaration. This figure represents more than 15% of the total number of priests in the Church of Sweden (about 5400, including retired clergy).

A counter-declaration has so far received only half as many signatures. Nevertheless, please remember in your prayers those priests in the Church of Sweden who are standing up for the faith received. They do so at considerable costs to themselves and to their families. It is likely they will all be summoned to their respective bishops for a talking to about ‘their views of the Bible and of humanity.’ The fourteen diocesan bishops in the Church of Sweden will presumably have a busy time ahead.

Sr Gerd Swensson

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