Canon Kearon said that the membership and participation in the communion of provinces which decided to opt out of the covenant would not be altered, while Bishop Cameron had said, “at the moment, there is no linkage” but added that if 15 or 20 member churches approve the covenant “it might move quite quickly and give it more gravity.”
Asked to clarify, Bishop Cameron said, “we’re talking about a dynamic process … a process which is evolving and there’s no doubt that in the original vision for the covenant, it was envisaged that all the provinces of the communion would sign up to the covenant and that it would govern the life of the Anglican Communion in participation in the instruments of the communion.”
As the covenant process has evolved, said Bishop Cameron, “some have started to ask questions about what happens if others don’t sign up.” He added that it was the view of the Covenant Design Group that “at this stage of the covenant’s life, it didn’t want to link those two things – participation in the covenant with membership of the Instruments of Communion. It wanted to keep the two distinct.”
You’ve got to be kidding. Does this really say what I think it does? ‘No, no don’t worry. If you don’t like the covenant you can still participate in the Instruments of Communion.’ I don’t understand. To quote Denzel Washington: “Try explaining it to me like I’m a five year old.” If I read this correctly what they are saying is that you don’t have to sign up to the Covenant, but you can still participate in the Instruments of Communion (i.e. ACC, communion with the see of Canterbury, Primates Council and the Lambeth Conference).
Can anyone give me a different interpretation of the statement? I hate to say it, but if this isn’t the beginning of the end I don’t know what is….
As I have already stated, I’m intrigued by the majority of aspects of the neo-monastic movement. However, as I reflect on this movement, it is becoming more apparent to me that there is at least one aspect with which I take issue. The irony in all this is that it comes from both sides, those opposed and those in favour of neo-monasticism. It is the narrow focus of what comprises monasticism and neo-monasticism, that is, in particular the ‘social justice’ emphasis. Some have even gone so far as to term neo-monasticism: the New Friar Movement. However, as we will see their understanding of being a friar is found in the Franciscan tradition. On the outset there is nothing wrong with this, yet it is simply one strain of monasticism and to classify an entire movement through this filter might be premature.
For those who are involved with neo-monasticism there is a deep need to address the marginalised and the stranger. These are good things. Most definitely we would all do well to do more in this regard. However, this is not the only focus of traditional monasticism, nor should it be the central focus of neo-monasticism. Their appeal to embody the Sermon on the Mount is a sincere one. Nonetheless, it appears to be a highly censored Sermon on the Mount, comprised mainly of the ‘social justice’ aspects and little else. The Sermon on the Mount is about a gospelized humanity (hat tip: Darrell Johnson). It is capturing our full ‘created-ness.’ It is what we were created for. To limit this understanding is detrimental to the entire understanding of the Sermon. In fact, one might go so far to say it creates a specific duality between the spirit and the physical. In order to over come this understanding we must centre our understanding of Christianity in worship (cf. Chan, Liturgical Theology).
As I have already mentioned in a previous post, the central focus of any Christian’s life is worship. Without this focus all emerging movements will fail. I’m not talking about a simple understanding of worship. I’m talking about an all encompassing depth, which most evangelicals fail to fully understand. One of the most glaring omissions from a majority of evangelical theology is ecclesiology. Without it no movement has the foundation to stand. But that’s a topic for another time.
Objectors or critics of neo-monasticism see it on one side as a return to (Roman Catholicism and a works based righteousness) or a misdirected movement which will not pass beyond this generation. Neither is the case. However, the critics also cast a narrow definition of what monasticism was and is.
One example is only necessary for either focus: the Dominicans. Their primary purpose is two-fold: to evangelize and disciple (to use evangelical terms). It is their belief that if we do this well, then the rest will fall into place.
If we are to embrace the possibility of neo-monasticism, which in my humble opinion could be the way forward, we must begin to embrace monasticism in all its facets.
I’m not quite sure how many are familiar with the concept of neo(new)-monasticism, but it is one which is growing worldwide. For myself, neo-monasticism encompasses much of my own personal journey.
The formation of neo-monastic communities does centre around a variety of issues. For some, it is a way of living a life which is counter to current culture. It reaches out in radical hospitality to those on the edges of society. For others, it is about learning from communal living, being the Body together. These communities share resources to varying degrees and attempt to live out their own understanding of the traditional vow of poverty.
I do agree with much of what these communities strive for, I do question what they are centred on. Certainly there are benefits to the spiritual life when focused on community and the marginalized. However, this is where I differ with their understandings. Probably, this is why I am a postulant with the Dominicans, rather than another order.
Using the 12 marks of neo(new)-monasticism as our starting point, it strikes me that there is much that supersedes what I perceive the necessary centre to be, that is, worship. Many of the websites of new monastic communities (see resource section on Wikipedia) focus on either community or hospitality. Again referring to the 12 marks, it seems as if the ‘contemplative life’ is tagged on the end in order for there to be some sort of support for the previous eleven. I would be the first to recognise my own need to spend more time dealing with and integrating these two specific areas in my own life. However, these two areas stem from our worship.
Community is formed from an understanding of the Triune Godhead. This is the starting point for all community. Secondly, community is part of our own ‘created-ness,’ our own need to have relationship, firstly with God and secondly with others. Also, if we practise a radical hospitality it can only stem from our own receiving of radical hospitality through Christ and the gospel of the kingdom. Any other attempt to extend radical hospitality without such a foundation falls flat and becomes exertion through our own efforts. Moreover, the central act of such a gospel is the cross. Without it we lose the impetus for our hospitality, the reconciling love of God.
I remember a project I had to do for a course during my time at Regent College. We had to study, analyse and critique a ‘discipleship programme.’ The purpose was to understand its effectiveness and its shortcomings. A friend and myself decided to revisit the BCP catechism. (If you’re not familiar with it, don’t worry most people aren’t.) But what struck me in our study was the centrality of the need for a ‘rule of life.’ Amidst all the other theological assertions was the emphasis for a ‘rule of life’ which would mature a disciple, out of which all other things would flow.
I guess what I am trying to point out is that without a strong emphasis on worship/rule of life (daily office, study, etc.) we will fall short of our goal of achieving a reform of the Church. We will fall short of what my own hope is – a vital, dynamic, exciting, life-giving, radical Christianity.
I am just beginning my journey in these waters. But I do agree that it appears that neo(new)-monasticism is what the Church is desperately longing for.
Now the majority of my friends and family who would classify themselves as Anglican would have significant difficulty with what Cardinal Kasper has said. But before we jump too quickly to assumptions or we become defensive, it might be a good idea to listen to what the Cardinal says and then decide. I for one agree with many things that the Cardinal mentions. Call me crazy….
Anglicans must choose between Protestantism and tradition, says Vatican
By Anna Arco
6 May 2008
Cardinal Kasper delivers his Newman lecture in Oxford
Vatican has said that the time has come for the Anglican Church to
choose between Protestantism and the ancient churches of Rome and
Speaking on the day that the Archbishop of Canterbury met Benedict XVI
in Rome, Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical
Council of Christian Unity, said it was time for Anglicanism to
“clarify its identity”.
He told the Catholic Herald: “Ultimately, it is a question of the identity of the Anglican Church. Where does it belong?
“Does it belong more to the churches of the first millennium -Catholic
and Orthodox – or does it belong more to the Protestant churches of the
16th century? At the moment it is somewhere in between, but it must
clarify its identity now and that will not be possible without certain
He said he hoped that the Lambeth conference, an event which brings the
worldwide Anglican Communion together every 10 years, would be the
deciding moment for Anglicanism.
Cardinal Kasper, who has been asked to speak at the Lambeth Conference
by the Archbishop of Canterbury, said: “We hope that certain
fundamental questions will be clarified at the conference so that
dialogue will be possible.
“We shall work and pray that it is possible, but I think that it is not
sustainable to keep pushing decision-making back because it only
extends the crisis.”
His comments will be interpreted as an attempt by Rome to put pressure
on the Church of England not to proceed with the ordination women
bishops or to sanction gay partnerships, both serious obstacles to
They have come at an extremely sensitive time for the Anglican
Communion, as between different factions in the church are
beginning to show ahead of the conference in July.
Dr Rowan Williams faces rebellion from conservative and liberal Anglicans over homosexuality and women bishops.
The Rt Rev Gene Robinson, the Anglican bishop of New Hampshire, whose
attempts to enter into a civil union with his gay partner have angered
conservative Anglicans, plans to attend the public events of the
conference despite the fact that he has not been invited by Dr
On the other side of the spectrum, rebel conservative bishops, headed
by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, dismayed by the Archbishop of
Canterbury’s refusal to condemn homosexuality outright, plan a rival
conference in the Holy Land in June.
Ecumenical dialogue between Rome and the Anglican Communion ground to a
halt in 2006. Cardinal Kasper said at the time that a decision by the
Church of England to consecrate women bishops would lead to “a serious
and long lasting chill”.
But last month the Church of England’s Legislative Drafting Group
published a report preparing the ground for women bishops, who are
already ordained in several Anglican provinces.