Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Anglican Communion and the End of Colonialism

One always tells a story from a particular perspective. This is an inevitable consequence of being finite.

The accounts of the troubles of the Anglican Communion as told by the western press understandably tell the story from a western perspective. What gets lost is a key element in the way the global south Anglicans understand the problems in the AC. Global South Anglicans see the present problems rooted in vestiges of colonialism.

Thirty-Eight equal provinces (national churches) make up the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury is one primate among thirty-eight. He has organizational and symbolic authority (and those are not simply pefunctory things). Cantuar is not the pope. He is the Archbishop of Canterbury in England. He is appointed by Queen and Parliament. None of the other primates have a role in deciding who the Archbishop of Canterbury is. He is imposed upon them by the British Government.

Can you see why they feel like the current structures and the current problems are vestiges of colonialism? An Archbishop imposed by the British Government? How long did they live with all kinds of things imposed upon them by the British government?

To the global south Anglicans the problems in the AC were dealt with when the Primates met together in agreement in 2005. Yet, they have witnessed the Abp. Canterbury taking their decision and implanting in communion instruments centered in Canterbury and as a result have wtinessed the emasculation of their will to bring proper discipline to the errant churches of the Anglican Communion.

To the global south this is colonialism. We in the west don't see it -- it is off our radar screen.


James Gibson said...

Word on the street is that ++Orombi will drive this point home in a commentary for the London Times tomorrow in which he will accuse ++Rowan of "betrayal at the deepest level."

Steve Hayes said...

I agree, but some people see it differently: Notes from underground: Why I am not a Marxist: Class war and the Anglican schism