Williams speaks on Communion structure


The Church Times reports on an interview with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury:

In the long term, the Anglican Communion would survive, he argues. “We may be less obviously at one for a few years, but that doesn’t let us off the obligation to keep listening to each other.” The model of diffused authority was part of the essence of Anglicanism: “If we did have a tight central model, we would cease to be the kind of Church we have always set out to be.”

The Church does, however, need to keep up to date with the new speed of global communications: “When something which happens in one province is instantly around the world, you have to go for a more coherent structure.”

(The full interview is available to subscribers only.)

What would that “more coherent structure” be if it is not “a tight control model”?

For thoughts on Williams’ thinking see today’s essay in the Daily Episcopalian by Adrian Worsfold.

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Ann Fontaine

I don't see Rowan's logic - because we have instant communications we have to have more coherent structures. Instant communications is one cause of network centric breakdown of coherence. It is possible to know what others in your network are doing and make choices about those actions for your time and place.

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Jane Redmont

I sometimes wonder whether Christians should not take a lesson from Jews. Religious Judaism has survived just fine without hierarchy, albeits with some splits and evolutions and plenty of argument. There are other models in religious history (yea even Christian history) that do not involve tight control.

Which is, I fear, exactly what "more coherent structure" means, as JB Chilton notes. I can't remember which commentator or historian pointed out during John Paul II's papacy that communication and travel had never been more speedy and that JPII was the most traveling pope ever AND that centralization had increased under his papacy. It doesn't have to be that way, of course. Communication technology can have a decentralizing function. There's even some theological and ecclesiological work on this, from about ten years ago at the Communication Theology seminar of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA).

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