Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

a bishop who knows how to bishop

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Mar 04, 2005

It's refreshing and even inspiring to watch Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria handle himself among his conventionally gay-friendly northern brethren, not only rejecting their patronizing pats on the head, but bringing unwelcome doctrinal clarity to a discussion they want to conduct as fuzzily as possible. This from the Church of England News concerning the Anglican primates' meeting in Newry, Northern Ireland:

With both sides equally determined, and certain of the rightness of their position, the first casualty of the meeting became the celebration of corporate Eucharist. Archbishop Akinola wrote to Dr Williams on behalf of the global south coalition stating they would not share altar fellowship with Bishop Griswold. Dr Williams suggested a "pastoral Eucharist", and then proposed a priest be brought in to celebrate Communion.

See the move? So as to avoid unpleasantness at the altar, Rowan Williams invents a new shtick (a "pastoral Eucharist"), whereby a priest is brought in from the bullpen to do liturgy while the archbishop primates shuffle into the pews. Akinola's not buying.

Akinola responded it was not the worthiness of the minister that prompted their objections, but their belief that unity of doctrine preceded unity of worship. It was not a question of receiving "from" Bishop Griswold, but "with" Bishop Griswold.

Spot on target. It's Griswold's beliefs, not his blood test, that's at issue. Akinola is stating the obvious: that communion with Griswold is a logical impossibility -- not a kindness he might grant or withhold -- for the simple reason that they don't share the same faith. Unstated by Akinola, but hanging in the air, is the embarrassing fact that the doctrine Griswold would claim to be the universal faith of the Anglican Communion is one that first made its appearance in the "personal" columns of the New York Native around 1967 and that no bishop, Griswold included, even thought to embrace until the mid-1980s.

Dr Williams relented and it was agreed on the Monday that the Rev T Shane Forster, chaplain to Archbishop Robin Eames of Ireland, would celebrate the daily noonday Eucharist for those whose "personal discipline" required it; formally recognising the state of broken Eucharistic communion between the global south primates and Bishop Griswold.

Broken communion, true. But look who eats in the kitchen. If you've got this hang-up -- I mean, if your "personal discipline" requires -- that you worship with those of your own religion, special accommodation can be made to indulge your whim. Akinola, however, was unfazed by the slight, and went on to show he wasn't fooled by the apparatchiks' plan to sideline the Africans at the meeting by packing the agenda with intentionally meaningless committee work.

Disagreements over the agenda and use of the Primates' time were raised on Sunday night and Monday morning. The ACC staff-designed agenda, which scheduled 22 discrete activities for the Primates: including Bible studies, small group sessions, discussion of social issues such as HIV/Aids, Theological Education, Development, and the Tsunami elicited objections from those concerned that the Windsor Report discussions would be sidetracked by these issues.

Anyone who ever watched Joseph Bernardin and shills in action at the NCCB will recognize this maneuver: you rig the schedule so your allies can burn up the time with peripheral matters -- bureaucratic styrofoam -- thus crowding the hot button issues off prime-time into the very few minutes remaining at the end of the meeting.

Archbishop Akinola asked Dr Williams to recast the agenda round the Windsor Report debate. When Dr Williams demurred, citing the work the staff had put into the design of the programme, Archbishop Akinola responded that it was the first duty of Christians to resolve their differences with one another. Dr Williams conceded the point and put the Windsor Report at the top of the agenda.

Poor Rowan Williams. How very inconvenient when your Third Worlders fail to play their assigned role and roll over in awe of their polysyllabically perverse benefactors. How vexing when they point out the emperor has no clothes. How easy the church game would be if it weren't for this religion business.

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