Pittsburgh Update

Pittsburgh Update publishes weekly summaries of recent developments in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion that affect or could affect Pittsburgh Episcopalians. Emphasis is on reporting, not interpretation. This is a service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. This site is in no way affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh or the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

News for Week Ending 8/4/2008

Cardinal suggests Anglican orders may never be recognized; homosexuality “disordered”

Cardinal Walter Kasper, who heads the Roman Catholic Council for Christian Unity, told bishops at the Lambeth Conference July 30 that the approval of women bishops would cause great difficulty in achieving unity between his church and the Anglican Communion. (The Roman Catholic Church declared Anglican orders “absolutely null and utterly void” in 1896.) He also asserted that the Catholic Church continues to see homosexuality as “disordered.” Details can be read in a story from The Times and another story from the Guardian.

Lambeth ends without schism, but conflicts lie ahead

The Lambeth Conference, the gathering of Anglican bishops presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury every ten years, ended Sunday, August 3. By design, no resolutions were passed by the assembled group of more than 650 bishops, whose number, in other circumstances, might have been swelled by the more than 200 traditionalist bishops who boycotted the event.

The organizational business of the conference concluded with a final presidential address by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the issuance of a report of the work of the indaba groups (see next story), and a press conference (audio available here).

According to Archbishop Williams there was strong sentiment for unity among the bishops, as well as a consensus for absolute moratoria on the blessing of same-sex unions, the consecration of gay bishops, and incursions of one province into another. He also said he saw a consensus for a covenant and for greater co-ordination of relief and development work.

As a practical matter, Williams intends to call a meeting of the Joint Standing Committee of the primates and Anglican Consultative Council in November and a meeting of the primates sometime in 2009, before the Anglican Consultative Council meets to consider the next draft of a covenant in early summer. He plans to move forward with plans for the pastoral forum suggested by the Windsor Continuation Group, yet another plan to minister to (some would say appease) minorities within provinces such as The Episcopal Church.

Further details can be read in the Episcopal News Service story here. The Guardian offered a brief Q&A piece on Lambeth here. The New York Times has a story here.

Somewhat discouraging view of the conference can be found here, here, and here.

More news stories and commentary, both positive and negative, can be expected in the coming days.

Indaba group report represents only concrete product of Lambeth Conference

A 42-page report issued August 3 and summarizing the discussions of bishops in their “indaba” groups is the only concrete product of the 2008 Lambeth Conference. “Lambeth Indaba: Capturing Conversations and Reflections from the Lambeth Conference 2008/Equipping Bishops for Mission and Strengthening Anglican Identity” attempts to summarize the discussions of the bishops conducted in their small groups during the conference. Such a document stands in sharp contrast to the list of resolutions typically generated by the decennial gathering of Anglican leaders.

Because of the nature of the process that produced it, “Lambeth Indaba” can hardly be expected to be any kind of statistically significant snapshot of opinion of Anglican bishops. According to the introduction to the report: “This document is not the primary outcome of this Conference. Written words can never adequately describe the life-changing nature of our time together.”

Episcopal News Service offers highlights of the document here.

Global South shows 2-track reaction to Lambeth

Bishops in the Global South seem to be pursuing a 2-track strategy with regard to the Lambeth Conference and Anglican Communion. On one hand Orombi described the archbishop as “one man appointed by a secular government” who has betrayed the Anglican Communion by inviting American bishops to Lambeth. His position, according to Orombi, is “a remnant of British colonialism, and it is not serving us well.”

Despite any consensus the Archbishop of Canterbury may see for a moratorium on border crossings, Episcopal News Services reported July 30 that Kenya’s Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi has said that Global South churches have no intentions of eschewing cross-border incursions. “We won't stop going to America to preach the Gospel. We are going to preach the Gospel. We are going to tell the good news to the people,” Nzimbi said.

More affirming was the statement issued by Global South bishops who actually chose to attend Lambeth. As this is being written, the statement is endorsed by about ten bishop, mostly Global South primates. The bishops express appreciation of pronouncements by Rowan Williams—it should be noted that the statement was written before Lambeth concluded—and of the work of the Anglican Covenant Design Group and Windsor Continuation Group (WCG). The statement calls for the “swift implementation” of the WCG interim proposals, including that for a pastoral forum whose chair “should work alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury in the exercise of his ministry.”

Anglo-Catholics issue threat to Church of England

The decision of the Church of England’s General Synod to move forward with allowing women bishops in the church—see Pittsburgh Update story here—continues to inspire angry words. Some Anglo-Catholic parishes are considering a move from the CoE to the Roman Catholic Church over the issue of women bishops. The Telegraph reported August 1 that the Rt. Rev. John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham, has charged that, if Anglo-Catholic parishes realign with Rome, any attempt by the CoE to retain parish property would have to be considered theft.

Church property issues in England are clearly different from those in the U.S. Bishop Broadhurst supports his argument by asserting that much CoE property came from “the pre-Reformation Catholic Church” or was a product “of the Tractarian and Catholic revival.”