Monday, November 20, 2006

Rowan Cantaur meets Benedict PP. XVI

David Virtue wrote last year about the first meeting between the two men after the inauguration:

At Benedict XVI's inaugural mass Dr. Rowan Williams was invited but Frank Griswold was not. Archbishop Drexel Gomez (West Indies) was invited, but the Canadian archbishop was not. The US church was represented by Bishop Pierre Whalon of Europe, and Bishop Christopher Epting, the Griswold's deputy for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations.

Symbolism is everything. When the new pope met with the patriarchs from the Orthodox churches there were public embraces and kisses, but when Benedict XVI met Williams there was only a handshake. Dr. Williams edged forward perhaps hoping for a papal embrace but it was not forthcoming.

By the way, read through all of David's letter. It is a well-written personal encounter with the Southeast Asian Anglican community that illustrates 'orthodox' Christianity growing by leaps and bounds within the communion while ignoring the northern craziness.

The Independent has a profile of Dr. Williams:

Instead, [the Anglican Communion] needs at its head someone who will take a clear line over divisive issues such as the ordination of women and gay priests, so that the whole communion doesn't just tear itself apart. Yet the confused signals that Dr Williams repeatedly sends out on these and other subjects have caused a dramatic reversal of fortunes for the 56-year-old, Welsh-born archbishop.

Expectations were high. But some of Dr Williams's friends believe he was always too clever for the job. It is better suited to a dully plodder, like the previous incumbent, George Carey, or a high-profile man of certainties, like the cleric hotly tipped to be the next, Archbishop John Sentamu of York. Dr Sentamu's interventions on Islam and secularism have been in marked contrast to Dr Williams's invisibility on such subjects, though you could argue that it is easier to take risks in speaking out when you're second-in-line rather than the primate.

That could very well be true about Sr. Sentamu. Of course, if Dr. Williams didn't think he was up to the task of dealing with everything wrong with the Anglican Communion, he could have declined. After all, he was chosen through a political process (is there any Anglican theology out there declaring the Prime Minister and the Queen as acting as divine instruments?).

At her blog this Thursday last, Ruth Gledhill linked to an interview of the archbishop in which he declared, "And the thing that always held me back from becoming a Roman Catholic at the points when I thought about it is that I can’t quite swallow papal infallibility. I have visions of saying to Pope Benedict: “I don’t believe you’re infallible” — I hope it doesn’t come to that. [Laughs]" Perhaps he ought to ask for some helpful hints on how to be a leader since he'll be meeting with someone who in the last year and a half has proven himself to be quite able.

Times (of London) Online has a story about the Pope's recruitment efforts:

Pope Benedict XVI is keen to reach out to conservative Anglicans who have been antagonised by their church’s stance on women priests and homosexuality. Senior Vatican figures are understood to have drawn up a dossier on the most effective means of attracting disenchanted Anglicans.

The recruitment drive is a potential embarrassment for Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is travelling to Italy for his meeting with the Pope.

It is understood that Fr Joseph Augustine di Noia, undersecretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican’s departments, has led a team analysing the current schism in the Anglican world.

John Myers, the Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, who has been involved in supporting former Anglicans who have converted to Catholicism, has been helping di Noia with his recruitment dossier. He travelled to Rome last month to suggest ways of appealing to Anglicans.

The Pope’s enthusiasm for bringing traditional Anglicans into the fold was expressed powerfully three years ago when as Cardinal Ratzinger he sent greetings to a group of conservative churchmen meeting in Texas [and bypassing the national church] in protest at the election of Robinson.

While the Pope is keen to welcome any conservative Anglicans, he is also keen to forge good relations with Williams. “The Vatican will do nothing to undermine Williams at such a precarious moment in Anglican history,” one source said.

Despite the friendly overtures, the Pope believes the Anglican Church faces a difficult future. Graham Leonard, the former Bishop of London and now a Roman Catholic monsignor, said: “The Pope’s view is that theologically Anglicanism has no guts in it.”

The Times story makes no specific mention of the pastoral provision in the United States, the ongoing efforts to broaden it or the talks between the Traditional Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. I discussed the rumors regarding a proposal to facilitate the entry of Anglicans a few days ago.

Catholic News Service and The Tablet both have stories suggesting that the rifts in the Anglican Communion will be the primary points of discussion rather than the issues that separate the Catholic Church and the communion. In its story, The Tablet calls for a 'wait and see' approach on the part of the Holy See to see into what the communion evolves.

The question I have for the writers at The Tablet is for what are we waiting? It's been posited at different places at different times that whatever the Anglican Communion ends up as, the Anglo-Catholic faction will be a dead letter. There will be those who are pro-sexual liberation and there will be the evangelicals dominated by the Global South and the Anglo-Catholics will be gone to Rome.

Complete credit goes to titusonenine for pulling together these stories. That will be the blog to check out for all things Anglican this coming week.

My assessment (what you've all been waiting for)
One thing the Russian Patriarch can be admired for is the fact that he is serious when it comes to meeting the Pope. He isn't going to meet with Benedict XVI until real progress is made and the meeting can be more than just a photo op. The Archbishop of Canterbury will go to Rome. Gifts will be exchanged. He and the Holy Father will meet for one of Benedict's usual 25-30 minute private audiences (probably longer though). Then he'll make the rounds to the various dicasteries that concern him. All the while, the basic message will be, "It's great having you here. We're sorry about your troubles at home. We'll talk again soon. Good luck and ciao."

In the spirit of all these documents I've been reading, I'll sign off this this...

Given in IC on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time of the year 2006, the second of our blogificate.



Tregonsee said...

A minor nitpick, but it is Cantuar, not Cantaur. An abbreviation for Cantuarium, the Latin for Canterbury.

Jacob said...

Thanks for the heads up. I do know where the abbreviation comes from. ;)