The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Limits of Anglo-Catholic Ecclesiology?

So, like everyone else in the Anglican blogosphere, I have been musing over the Archishop of Canterbury's Advent Letter, in which he addresses, at long last, the ongoing schism.

My first reaction to the letter was that it was a "plague o' both your houses" letter. Certainly it has David Anderson frothing at the mouth (TEC is "pharoah" and "going to hell"; the Archbishop speaks only "for the dead and dying Anglicanism"). On the other hand, TEC and TEC alone--and Bishop Gene Robinson--are singled out by name for strong censure, while the Windsor Report--and the "Windsor Bishops"--are valorized. Moreover, as Father Jake emphasized, the Anglican Covenant are very much front and center in this letter. A disturbing note in the letter is, as Father Jake also aptly notes, struck by Williams's reference to the "Anglican Church" in one place is very, very odd.

I can't help but wonder if this last isn't a reflection of Williams's Anglo-Catholicism, and if so, it would point to a problem for me in the direction he seeks to take Anglo-Catholicism. If Williams sees the Communion as one "catholic church", and not a family of separate churches, each held together by bonds of sympathy, this might explain why he seems so keen on the proposed Anglican Covenant. the Archbishop could, under this theory, actively desire to see the rise of a magisterial body out of the Primates, and view this as a natural and proper evolution of the Anglican Communion, into a single Church in name and fact, which would parallel the structure of the Roman Catholic Church, but hold a wider variety of views within it.

If so, then the Archbishop might be prepared to let gays and lesbians pay the cost of obtaining the accession of the "reasserters" (many of whom are more akin to congregationalists) to such a structure, which will gain them doctrinal conformity.

As for me, I have found a home in the Anglican variant of catholic thinking precisely because it divorced the benefits of Catholic sacramentalism, mysticism, and liturgy from the authoritarianism of Rome. Perhaps Williams is less fond of that separation than am I, and perhaps he hopes to take Anglo-Catholicism in a new--that is to say, very old--direction.


Terry Dyslexia said...

I thought we gave up the Roman Curia in the 16th Century. Rowan seems to have missed the memo.

Anglocat said...

Yes, as an ex-RC, I'm starting to feel like Michael Corleone--"Every time I think I'm out, they PULL me back in!"