anthills–Episcopalians & the Anglican Communion

March 11, 2006


Filed under: Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury, ECUSA — anthill @ 9:18 pm

A Google news search today (March 11) on Archbishop Rowan Williams’ letter of March 8 to the Primates of the Anglican Communion yielded 98 news items, largely based on two Associated Press articles and one British news agency.

Talk about being under surveillance! Every word counts and every statement may be picked up in minutes and spread around the world.

The official release of William’s letter is here.

Titusonenine did a Google news search the day of the press release and invited comparisons of the news coverage. Here goes one.

Comments on titusonenine here and here and here take the Williams’ letter apart pretty fairly. Please bring in morsels that catch your attention to the anthill.

It is surely significant that William’s felt compelled to include a major orientation on the sexuality crisis in his Lenten exhortation to his brother Archbishops. Leaders in ECUSA who say this is all a minor distraction from mission have missed something or are covering it up from the great center of our church.

In all of this, don’t overlook that the Primates of the Anglican Communion got the letter as original recipients. They are the readers that will directly respond to it.

From the most original source I could find, to the comments by interest groups, here is how Williams’ letter was put out to the world.

Headlines: Bypassing the most objective (“Archbishop Williams Writes to the Primates”, etc.), the most careful analysis-in-headline might be from The Christian Post—“Anglican Teachings on Homosexuality Unchanged, Canterbury Says.”

The Christian Post cites a key line from Williams’ letter: “In my judgment, we cannot properly or usefully reopen the discussion as if Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth 1998 did not continue to represent the general mind of the Communion.”

The article explains: “Resolution 1.10 upholds marriage as a union between a man and a woman and rejects the homosexual lifestyle as ‘incompatible with Scripture.’ It also calls against the ‘legitimizing or blessing of same-sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.’” The full Resolution is here.

The earliest coverage of Williams’ letter in Great Britain had a distinctly British headline picked up by several outlets: “Archbishop keen to avoid gay row.” This is likely an accurate reading of Williams’ mind.

AP’s first take on the letter, picked up very early that first day was “Archbishop of Canterbury rules out attempt to rewrite stern resolution on homosexuality.” (Boston Globe). USA Today toned this down a bit (but added a scary photo of Williams).

AP is not fully-informed about how Lambeth might unfold. From recent meetings of the Primates, it is clear that the Archbishop (in spite of his sometimes ferocious visage) cannot absolutely “rule out” anything. He can make his wishes known very clearly. He does so in his letter.

The summary of the Lambeth resolution in the first AP release is interesting: “The resolution condemning gay sex also opposed the ordination of those involved in homosexual relationships and the blessing of gay unions.” Not a lot of nuance there!

AP did catch that Lambeth will include an opportunity to hear from the Provinces on the subject of homosexuality. “It will be important to allow time for this to be presented and reflected upon in 2008,” he wrote.

In the next morph of the headline, AP changed it’s approach slightly: “Anglican leader rules out gay debate” (Washington Post, Houston, Seattle, San Jose, The Guardian (UK), and also Forbes!) The lead sentence in the article was: “The leader of the world’s Anglicans has ruled out a new debate on the church’s teaching that gay sex is “incompatible with Scripture.”

No new debate is correct, but debate at Lambeth there will be.

The Concord, NH!, Monitor had the second AP article but upped the headline ante a little—Anglican leader: No debate on gay sex.

Three gay websites turned up late on the Google search. The first simply picks up the later AP story with a slightly edgier headline. The second (from the UK and with a much friendlier photo) has a byline by a staffer who also misses the point: Archbishop dismisses gay debate. “Dismisses” sounds, well, dismissive.

It seems, rather, that the Archbishop is taking this very seriously. The writer’s read is better: “The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned Anglican leaders that he does not want to use the Church’s upcoming conference as a debating ground for homosexuality.”

The debate, however will be around homosexuality

The third gay treatment borders on demagoguery: Anglican head rejects attempt to rewrite antigay resolution. It is at least arguable whether the stance of the Anglican Communion is “antigay.”

Other news organs put this news under Religion news in brief (Miami,
With the summary: “The leader of the international Anglican Communion has ruled out new debate on the teaching that gay sex is ‘incompatible with Scripture.’.”

Coming late to the dance was The Living Church (online version) with the mild headline: Archbishop Williams Writes to the Primates. Bless their hearts, The Living Church seems to be trying to keep people from reading their article with the most boring title possible.

And the official Episcopal News Service may have needed extra time to decide whether to even publicize the letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Primates of the whole durn Anglican Communion. They skipped his statement last month in Brazil about ECUSA needing to maintain its moratorium on consecrating bishops in same-sex unions. Odd that, seeing it was addressed directly to ECUSA!

Anyway ENS finally copied the official release of the letter with the original title (no references to sex to alert readers): “Archbishop of Canterbury sets out thinking on Lambeth” .

Silence often says something. I found nothing in Google about William’s letter in NY Times, LA Times, the Chicago papers, Atlanta, St. Louis, or some other major cities. Either our things are irrelevant there or they don’t want to get into it, or….

And finally, not because this represents my final word, but just because it is Saturday, here is the March 9 lead headline from Classic Anglican News Network (CaNN): “And now, the end is near.” Go ahead, sing on with Ol’ Blue Eyes. The lyrics are prophetic of now. Too much!



  1. I find it strange how such large news that involves ECUSA is not reported on. If the biblical stance were to change, I am sure that it would make front page top news from every pulpit that has the power orate. The headline print would not be large enough to contain their excitement.

    Yet, when it disagrees with their agenda, it sometimes goes under their radar. And one can here the whispers of “Maybe next time.”

    But they continue on in their blatant disregard for any council from the Four Instruments of Unity.

    Nice site!
    It’s on my favorites! Blog on!

    Comment by Milton Finch — March 13, 2006 @ 10:30 pm

  2. Dear Mr. Finch,

    You win two nights in downtown Toledo for being my first commenter. Truly, you have made my day.

    I see your name on titusonenine and will now pay more attention.

    Just a thought on one reason we don’t make the big papers anymore (except for sensationalist news). We are now a little denomination with only the trappings of former glory.

    Thanks again,

    From the anthill

    Comment by anthill — March 14, 2006 @ 12:29 am

  3. Cool! Call me Milton. (It’s better than the other names I get called.) 🙂

    I’ll be there next Saturday! (kidding)

    I see what you’re saying about the little denomination. Once a proud flagship, now a secondary universalist brethren/sistren club.

    Sad, indeed.

    (You’re on my favorites, too.)

    Comment by Milton Finch — March 14, 2006 @ 1:14 am

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