Catholic World News

Archbishop of Canterbury admits to 'chaos' in Anglican world

February 10, 2010

Describing the present state of the Anglican Communion is one of “chaos-- local schisms, outside interventions,” the Archbishop of Canterbury, issued a plea for unity amid doctrinal differences over homosexual activity, assisted suicide, and the ordination of women bishops.

“The debate over the status and vocational possibilities of LGBT people in the Church is not helped by ignoring the existing facts, which include many regular worshippers of gay or lesbian orientation and many sacrificial and exemplary priests who share this orientation,” said Dr. Rowan Williams. “There are ways of speaking about the question that seem to ignore these human realities or to undervalue them; I have been criticised for doing just this, and I am profoundly sorry for the carelessness that could give such an impression.”

“Equally, there are ways of speaking about the assisted suicide debate that treat its proponents as universally enthusiasts for eugenics and forced euthanasia, and its opponents as heartless sadists, sacrificing ordinary human pity to ideological purity,” he continued. “All the way through this, we need to recover that sense of a balance of liberties and thus a conflict of what may be seen as real goods-- something of the tragic recognition that not all goods are compatible in a fallen world And if this is true, our job is not to secure purity but to find ways of deciding such contested issues that do not simply write off the others in the debate as negligible, morally or spiritually unserious or without moral claims.”

“Most hold that the ordination of women as bishops is a good, something that will enhance our faithfulness to Christ and our integrity in mission,” he added. “But that good is at the moment jeopardised in two ways-- by the potential loss of those who in conscience cannot see it as a good, and by the equally conscience-driven concern that there are ways of securing the desired good that will corrupt it or compromise it fatally (and so would rather not see it at all than see it happening under such circumstances).”

Archbishop Williams concluded by issuing a call for “three-dimensionality”:

Seeing something in three dimensions is seeing that I can’t see everything at once: what’s in front of me is not just the surface I see in this particular moment. So seeing in three dimensions requires us to take time with what we see … It is only a three-dimensional vision that can save us from real betrayal of what God has given us,” he said. “It will oblige us to ask not how we can win this or that conflict but what we have to give to our neighbour for sanctification in Christ’s name and power. It will oblige us to think hard about freedom and mutuality and the genuine difficulty of balancing costs or restraints in order to keep life moving around the Body. It will deepen our desire to be fed and instructed by each other, so that we are all the more alarmed at the prospect of being separated in the zero-sum, self-congratulating mode that some seem to be content with.

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  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Feb. 11, 2010 12:51 AM ET USA

    I feel so sorry for Anglicans. They seem not to know that the answer to their problem is right under their noses. My prayer remains that the ABC will simply say, "Enough of this! I'm done! I'm coming home to Rome." My guess is that tens of thousands of other Anglicans would follow him. What a legacy that would be!

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2010 8:32 PM ET USA

    "A plea for unity"? Rather late, methinks- especially,as Sparch said, they try to find God in the values of the secular world which endeavours to shut Him out instead of using God's own Word in Sacred Scripture to be their moral code. It's sad for the many sincere Anglicans who have tried to take their faith seriously,but their church seems to be crumbling away. Maybe as the Anglican boat sinks, they might consider jumping overboard and swimming the Tiber, thereby heeding those calls for unity!

  • Posted by: sparch - Feb. 10, 2010 10:09 AM ET USA

    The chaos he speaks of comes from looking to the secular world for the answers. Get back to basics and follow the scriptures. Always a great guide for those gone astray.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2010 8:54 AM ET USA

    Except for the mention of God, this could easily have been given by President Obama. Strange, that.

  • Posted by: adamah - Feb. 10, 2010 8:54 AM ET USA

    This guy is a joke. I don't know how anyone can take him or the Anglican "church" seriously. If souls weren't at stake it might be funny.