News for Week Ending 10/26/2009
Rome courts Anglo-CatholicsMany Anglicans were stunned October 20, 2009, when the Vatican announced a plan whereby potentially large numbers of disaffected Anglo-Catholics might join the Roman Catholic Church while retaining their liturgies and clergy. The plan would allow married Anglican priests to become Roman Catholic priests; they could not become bishops in the Roman Church, however. The Vatican move came in response to various requests from Anglo-Catholics over the years for inclusion in the Roman Catholic Church. Among such groups is the Traditional Anglican Communion, which claims 400,000 adherents worldwide but which is not part of the Anglican Communion. Because of the ongoing dispute over women bishops within the Church of England, there is concern that there could be significant defections among Church of England Anglo-Catholics, possibly involving litigation over property. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was informed about the Vatican move only at the eleventh hour and publically tried to give the story a positive spin. (See his joint statement with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster here.)
It is difficult to choose stories to link to here. An enormous number of news stories have been written about the Vatican’s announcement, and even more commentaries, on blogs and op-ed pages, have appeared and continue to appear. The AP story published in the The Washington Post provides a good, early overview. Church Times published a story several days later on “traditionalist” reactions worldwide. Episcopal News Service published its story on reactions to the Vatican here. As usual, Thinking Anglicans is doing a fine job of documenting news and commentary. Interested readers should read the first Thinking Anglicans post and follow subsequent posts on that site, which continue to appear.
Swedish church approves gay marriageThe Local reported October 22, 2009, that the Synod of the Church of Sweden, a Lutheran church, has voted to perform marriages without regard to the sexes of the principals. The measure passed by a nearly 3-2 margin. The church has allowed the blessing of same-sex unions since 2007. The Church of Sweden decision follows the May 1, 2009, legal extension of marriage to gay couples.
Ireland commends Section Four of covenant draftAccording to The Church of Ireland Gazette, the Standing Committee of the Church of Ireland General Synod has commended the controversial (and still being edited) Section Four of the draft Anglican Covenant. The Standing Committee said that “we believe that the text of Section 4 as it stands commends itself in the current circumstances.” Section Four of the Ridley Cambridge Draft specifies procedures for resolving controversies within the Anglican Communion. It is currently under review and may be modified before being presented to Communion members for approval.
Centrist Episcopal bishops visit CanterburyEpiscopal News Service reported that six Episcopal bishops representing the “broad center” of The Episcopal Church spoke with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace October 23, 2009. The bishops discussed issues related to the American church and the Anglican Communion, including the proposed Anglican covenant. The six bishops are Clifton Daniel (East Carolina), Michael Curry (North Carolina), Stacy Sauls (Lexington), Neff Powell (Southwestern Virginia), and assisting bishops William Gregg and Chip Marble (both of North Carolina).
Seven conservative bishops had met with Archbishop Williams in September. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)