Is Canterbury dancing to Rome’s tune?
The interesting dimension to these statements is that there is no appeal to Scripture or tradition, but they are based on the wholly subjective assertion that women priests had not ‘renewed’ the Church in any ‘spectacular ways’. In what sense is this a measure of the rightness of ecclesiology, the applicability of theology, or the practice of liturgy? Has the decision to ditch my Book of Common Prayer ‘renewed’ the Church of England in any ‘spectacular way’? Has the Archbishop’s own office achieved the same?
Lambeth Palace has said that Dr Williams’ remarks to The Catholic Herald had been ‘wilfully misinterpreted’, insisting that the Archbishop fully supports women’s ordination, but they seem oblivious to the effects of his equivocations. He does indeed state this, but he also leaves the door open for reversal of the decision. Cranmer wonders if such mixed signals have anything to do with his plans to visit the Pope next week, not least because Rome has indicated that any moves to consecrate women bishops would cause an intolerable division in an already imperfect communion.
The Archbishop views his ministry as ‘containing and managing the diversity’. This is not leadership; it is functionalism. What are the limits of such diversity? What about the ordination of gay clergy? What of gay marriage? What of adherents to racism? How is unity expressed in such diversity? At what point does communion become impossible? It is worth considering that a ‘broad church’ may acquire such breadth that it ceases to be a church at all, yet if ‘managing diversity’ is the Archbishop’s raison d’être, why bother trying to repair the split with Rome?