Andrew Gerns, who does the Friday news on The Lead, comments at his blog on an article in the Weekly Standard,by Joseph Bottum, titled with the alarmist The End of Canterbury: will the sun set on the Anglican Communion?
Early in the essay there is a decent, if rather conventional, analysis of Anglicanism today.
Then he drives off an ideological deep-end, and in the process misses the point of the importance of Anglicanism to Christianity and our essential witness to the world. Along the way, he missed the disappointment if not the outright tragedy that has been Williams’ tenure as Archbishop.
The problem with Rowan is not that Africa is an “anchor” and that the Church of England and the Episcopal Church is somehow at once pro-Muslim and pro-gay, and that the African church will march away in its theological purity. The problem is that Rowan did not use his innate voice.
Africa itself shows off the tensions and possibility within Anglicanism. The Continent that contains both Tutu and Orombi is also the Church that shares both approaches to Christianity. The Anglican Communion contains both Katharine Jefferts Schori and NT Wright. The Episcopal Church itself contains both Gene Robinson and Mark Lawrence.
The tragedy–and disappointment–that is Rowan Williams is that he chose not use his best possible tool in leading this impossibly diverse Anglican Communion. He chose not to use his own voice.
We all know that Williams wrote eloquently as both a priest and theologian, and even as Archbishop of Wales, for the full inclusion of gays into the life of the church including their ability to marry–or at least have some kind of civil and ecclessiasitcal analog to marriage–and that not only did he put these opinions aside, he has worked very hard to be certain that these views will never come to pass.
Bottum reveals a fact that I had forgotten, and I will bet many progressives did not know, that when he became Archbishop of Canterbury, he resigned his membership in the a group called The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.
It turns out that Williams himself encapsulated both the comprehensiveness and the tension that is Anglicanism.