From this side of the Atlantic, it is easy to deplore the obeisance shown to Rowan, but I can certainly appreciate it. I do feel proud when our own Presiding Bishop is appointed to a presidential commission or shows up in a television or newspaper story. I think twice before writing anything negative about our primate here or elsewhere. Certainly, the reluctance of our previous Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold, to act against the likes of Bob Duncan inhibited effective action by others, and his and Katharine’s support for B033 was sufficiently intimidating to achieve passage by a reluctant House of Deputies in 2006.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, however, is a special case. The incumbent in that office is accorded deference not only by his own church but also by the churches and people of the Anglican Communion in his role as primus inter pares.
Alas, Rowan has increasingly become a threat to the Church of England and to the Anglican Communion. He is, in the end, a political appointee of the English government who has exploited the respect given his office to wield power he has not been granted, to interfere in the affairs of churches not his own—rumor has it that Rowan’s was the hand behind B033, for instance—and to press for a Covenant that will change the nature of the Anglican Communion and, some would say, of Anglicanism itself. Moreover, the Covenant in which he is so invested will enshrine his office as an “Instrument of Communion” and give it even more power, since, as an “Instrument,” Rowan can decide by himself whether to impose the ominous but unspecified “relational consequences” that might be suggested by the Standing Committee.
As I asserted earlier, Rowan has acted as a tyrant. Why should we adopt a Covenant that will make him even more powerful? Episcopalians have no say in who occupies the office of Archbishop of Canterbury. Why should we be any less upset than were our colonial ancestors over the Stamp Act? I say, “No vexation without representation!” Reject the Anglican Covenant and hope that Rowan has the good sense to resign.
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