This week, the Crown Nominations Commission in England has been engaged in three days of top secret deliberations to choose the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Church wonks on this side of the pond have been waiting patiently, and playing
an interactive game at the British newspaper, The Guardian, that allows the reader to choose an ABC based on their likes and dislikes. (I was knocked out of the game early when I said I wanted a woman.)
After three days, we still have no answer on who will succeed Rowan Williams, who is retiring at the end of December to return to academic life. The Anglican Communion Office released the following statement:
"This week's meeting of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) has been accompanied by much speculation about possible candidates and the likely timing of an announcement of the name of who will succeed Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury when he steps down to become Master of Magdalene College.
The CNC is an elected, prayerful body. Its meetings are necessarily confidential to enable members to fulfil their important responsibilities for discerning who should undertake this major national and international role. Previous official briefings have indicated that an announcement is expected during the autumn and that remains the case; the work of the Commission continues. There will be no comment on any speculation about candidates or about the CNC's deliberations. Dr Williams remains in office until the end of December."
Some are saying the group has "failed" to make a decision. Others are saying that the candidate, who must receive the blessing of the Queen, also must be put through medical tests and so forth before an announcement will be made. In another report, a church source told "The Telegraph" that the above statement was a way of saying, "Back off!" And would you believe that the bookies are running odds on the various candidates?
I am disappointed not to see Mad Priest's name on the list. I might then actually care who is the next ABC.
And that's the real crux of the thing. I don't care. While the CNC and the Church of England may believe that the ABC is an important and pivotal player in international church affairs, I fail to see why I should give a crap at this point. The current Archbishop has been such a disappointment and so often catered to the cowardly and the cruelty of the homophobes in the Church that not only have I lost all respect for him, I don't have a lot of respect for the office. The world of the 21st century is not the the world of the 18th century, when we in the States desperately needed approval from the Church of England in order to set up shop in the colonies. Even then, England refused to be of service, and our bishops came through the Scottish Episcopal Church. To this day, Scotland has been much more hospitable to the progressive stands taken by The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada.
So, while I will be interested to see who is chosen, I have learned not to get too excited about the whole thing. The ABC really is a figurehead who has very little influence on the lives of Episcopalians in the United States. He attempts to assert control, but that's folly when dealing with the movement of the Spirit. We have moved many light years ahead of the Church of England on matters of sexuality and social justice. Whoever is chosen as the next ABC should really put their efforts into the Church of England and playing "catch up" rather than trying to shackle the rest of us to a bygone era.