Who needs rulers?

I read with profound gratitude the document released by a group of American bishops entitled The Constitutional Crisis and addressed to the House of Bishops gathered in New Orleans.

This statement written from a constitutional and canonical perspective raises very important issues on the actual debate within the Communion. The struggle from constitutional reformers is establish a kind of international rule for the whole communion guarantying a superlative legal instance that defines what is or not is Anglican in essence.

Many of those who defend the Covenant – a body of principles as a standard of faith and legal compromise between provinces – are inspired by a willingness to overcome theological differences. The Covenant as proposed until now is raising many reactions from around the worldwide Communion as a threat to its inclusiveness built trough centuries.

As the Archbishop of Wales told recently: ‘The indications now are that many see it as a contract, a means of ensuring a uniform view on human sexuality enforceable by the threat of exclusion from the Communion if one does not conform. I certainly do not want to sign up to that kind of Covenant.’

We need only a kind of Covenant. Each Christian is sealed in Baptismal liturgy to be a signal of love, peace and justice, continuing the ministry of Jesus. Each Christian is demanded to share body and blood to transform the world in a place where all humankind feel the presence of God. Each Christian is invited to promote the inclusion of all excluded to the great Lord’s banquet.

Trough the times, Anglicanism built a very solid non written constitution as the Bishops’ Document affirms. The Anglican Communion evolution traced quite parallel process of decolonization and creation of political autonomy within international society. The establishment of Provinces with their own canonical laws and self determination transform the Anglican Church in a very spread body o f people living in faith and respecting all the cultural diversities where they are placed. This complex mosaic remaining in communion with no need to have anyone or any instance to rule vertically theirs steps. Differences were managed with comprehensiveness and dialogue.

The instruments of unity gradually established: Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Conference, Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting never were seen as canonical rulers with authority to exclude anyone. The links were more heartfelt that legal. Collegiality and the shared authority were a common and truly accepted spirit of communion.

The crisis raised in our current context because some Anglicans lost their sense of collegiality. This sense will never be surpassed for any kind of proposed covenant. Thus, I agree with the statement published and I hope that its wise approach on the theme will inspire us in these difficult days.

Change and light: the nature of Mission

I was reading the news on Bonnie Anderson’s trip to Forth Worth. Her support for those who are experiencing difficult times within their diocese is a sign of hope. I’m happy her efforts have strengthened those who understand mission as openness to change the world and themselves.

The strong reactions to her visit by the Diocesan establishment seems to evidence how the theological conflict is overshadowing those who see maintenance of power as the final truth.

As a foreign partner I need to say that I don’t like to reinforce conflict. I respect profoundly the autonomy of each instance within the communion – this is a standard of our tradition. In this way I have no right to make any judgment on the statement made by the diocesan bishop. He has his right to have his own understanding of the right path for his diocese.

What I want to say is that I can’t conceive of Mission without movement. The Way of Jesus is a way of constant movement. Movement from a Jewish background toward a broad perspective. As the Canaanite woman said to him at the event of her possessed daughter, the dogs wait for the crumbs that fall from the table, and Jesus blessed her.
The great richness of a hermeneutic approach to God’s will is to have eyes and ears open to all human needs.

Every baptized person is obligated to be the light of the world. And when there is light, all that is hidden is revealed. Poverty, war, misuse of the environment, exclusion and discrimination due to gender, sexual orientation, and racism are sad marks of our times. Against these marks the Church needs to act courageously and adopt a positive agenda.

My many thanks to Bonnie in her effort to share thoughts and words in a way to lend more confidence and awareness to our ministry as members of Body of Christ. Her actions are expected of her not only because she is a Church leader but also because she is a baptized person.