I think Rowan Williams, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, likes the word "eccentric". It seems to be a word he understands inside and out.
A few alert readers sent me links to an article in the Daily Telegraph which has comments about Archbp. Williams about, inter alia, the Holy Fathers provisions for more traditionally Christian Anglicans to come into union with the Catholic Church.
I found the follow rather amusing. Here it is with a little run up.
Dr Rowan Williams: taking a break from Canterbury travails
By George Pitcher
We’re sitting in the bay window of the 11th-century drawing room of the Archbishop’s Palace in Canterbury. Watching the winter dusk envelop the cathedral, it feels a long way from the pressures of London. “It is different here,” reflects Dr Rowan Williams. “When people live in human-sized communities, they behave rather more, well, humanly.” He has just greeted the St Nicholas Day procession, and led the motley band into the cathedral, their pagan drumming filling the nave.
He is obviously happy here. In contrast to the critical Lambeth Conference held here last year, he’s clearly tired but not exhausted. “It’s a nourishing place to be,” he agrees. Then he catches himself, sensing this might sound too much as if it’s all about him: “There’s a lot of deprivation in Kent. Once flourishing communities are now finding it very hard. When I came here, it reminded me of Gwent with an English accent.”
The journey from his native Wales to the See of Canterbury propelled him on to an international stage. Almost exactly concurrent with that teatime in Canterbury, Canon Mary Glasspool was being elected a bishop in Los Angeles, making her the second openly homosexual bishop in the Episcopal Church in America. [Good luck with that.]
Fast-forward a couple of days to the Archbishop’s study at Lambeth Palace, another ancient room but a less tranquil atmosphere. Dr Williams has admonished the Episcopal Church (again) for another provocative act in deepening Anglican schism. “It confirms the feeling that they’re moving further from the Anglican consensus,” he tells me. [Contradiction in terms, perhaps?] Can there ever be a consensus in which biblical traditionalists can be in communion with homosexual bishops? The man who has committed his archbishopric to unity pauses: “I’m not holding my breath.”
With Anglican friends like those in America and Uganda, one wonders whether Dr Williams really needs Pope Benedict XVI, whose surprise new Anglican Ordinariate in October offered a home in Rome for disaffected Anglo-Catholic traditionalists. Dr Williams declines to be drawn on whether, when he saw him in Rome recently, the Pope was regretful or sorry for effectively jumping him – “private conversation, I think” – but he does concede that the hastily convened press conference, at which he sat uncomfortably alongside the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, was a big mistake. [Gee… I dunno… I thought it went rather well.]
“I think everyone on the platform was a bit uncomfortable … I know the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the whole doesn’t go in for much consultation – we were just on the receiving end of that.” [What were they going to consult about. Whether or not the CDF believed its own documents about, say, homosexuality, or about ecclesial communities, or the validity of Anglican orders, or whether women can be ordained?]
Really? Isn’t there something rather acquisitive and invasive about this Pope, [Yah… a real invader, Pope Benedict! On the other hand, I remember some old phrase about "being mugged by the truth"… something like that….] who wants us to know that there is one universal voice of authority and it speaks from Rome? Dr Williams suddenly opens up: “Nothing entirely new about that of course. [Right!] At the end of John Paul II’s pontificate you have that discussion of how papal authority is meant to be understood, how it might be received by others. I think that’s treading water at the moment. I’d like to see that revived and that’s part of what I was nudging at in Rome. [Imaging our surprise.]
“Second thing is that in British Catholicism there’s a kind of resurgent – no – recurrent cycle [So we can more easily say, "Don’t worry, this is nothing new.", and then have another cup of tea.] of the ‘second spring’, in Cardinal Newman’s imagery, and in the wave of distinguished converts in the interwar years, Evelyn Waugh and so on. There was just a hint of it when Cardinal Hume uncharacteristically talked about the reconversion of England [Shocking! Read Aidan Nichols book The Realm.] – and I think he regretted that actually. And a few people in the last round. It’s a pattern, the sense that the Reformation wounds are going to be healed in favour of Rome. And it just keeps coming back – I think this has been the occasion for another little bit of that. It’s bits of the repertoire.” [Dismissive enough? Soooo… Archbp. Williams…. what again are your plans about that spankin’ new Lesbian bishop?]
The languid manner in which he delivers this leaves no doubt that he’s not holding his breath for a Roman second spring either. I wonder whether the Pope has, unwittingly and ironically, provided the kind of “third province” that Anglo-Catholics were demanding because they can’t accept women bishops, lesbian or otherwise. The Revision Committee for women bishops, after all, dropped proposals for legal protection for them in the wake of the Pope’s initiative. [Whaddya know.]
“I would guess that the papal announcement had some impact on the way some people thought and voted on the committee,” concedes Dr Williams. “But actually I don’t think it is a solution. A great many Anglo-Catholics have good reason for not being Roman Catholics. They don’t believe the Pope is infallible. [Do they not? Will they not?] And that’s why they’re still pressing for a solution in Anglican terms, rather than what many of them see as a theologically rather eccentric option on the Roman side.” [You have got to love this guy. What the Pope did was "theologically eccentric".]
What does eccentric really say? Click HERE!