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Interview with the Most Rev. Kallistos Ware, Archbishop of Gt. Britain

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=8803 LAMBETH: Interview with the Most Rev. Kallistos Ware, Archbishop of Gt. Britain Posted
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 2008

      LAMBETH: Interview with the Most Rev. Kallistos Ware, Archbishop of Gt. Britain

      Posted by David Virtue on 2008/8/5 16:40:00 (167 reads)

      LAMBETH: Interview with the Most Rev. Kallistos Ware, Archbishop of
      Gt. Britain for the Ecumenical Patriarchate

      By Fr. George Westhaver

      GW - Bishop Kallistos, may I ask you how you understand the role of
      the ecumenical observers here at the Conference?

      KW - Well, most obviously it signifies that we are conscious that we
      are all members of one Body in Christ. There are visible divisions
      separating Christians, but we know that on a deeper lever we do
      share, in a real sense, membership in one Body. Its expression is
      incomplete, imperfect, but it is nonetheless a genuine reality.

      Therefore, I can as an Orthodox, worship with my sisters and brothers
      who share with me belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and
      Saviour. But I would go further than that. I think of the words of
      St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12, when one member of the body
      suffers, all the other members suffer with it; when one member
      rejoices, all the other members rejoice. As fellow Christians we
      share one another's joys and sorrows. For me, as an Orthodox, coming
      to the Lambeth Conference is an opportunity to do precisely that - to
      share in your joys and your sorrows.

      But, even more, I will go a further step and say that the questions
      that you are considering are also questions that are of concern to
      us. And if they are not particularly on our immediate agenda now, yet
      they are questions that we will need to consider increasingly in the
      future. So, yes, you have much here to discuss as Anglicans -
      specifically Anglican problems. But I see them also as questions that
      are posed to us Orthodox. For example, the question of women priests
      and bishops. Most Orthodox would say, we should not ordain women. But
      if you ask them why not, they will say that it has never been done;
      they will appeal to tradition. But you press them a little farther,
      and say that there must be a reason why women have never been
      ordained as priests. The argument from tradition merely tells you
      that they have never been ordained as priests, but it does not tell
      you why. Surely there must be some theological reason. On the one
      hand, the Orthodox are certain and clear in their answer. Most of us
      would say, no, we could not ever ordain women. Yet others would say,
      it is for us essentially an open question. We are not proposing to do
      so in the near future, but we need to reflect more deeply on it. If
      all we say is, "impossible, never," we perhaps should ask ourselves,
      what are the implications for our understanding of human nature , of
      the difference between male and female, for our understanding of the
      priesthood and the relationship of the priest to Christ. That is an
      example of how your questions are perhaps to some extent also our questions.

      Then again the issue that is coming up very much here at Lambeth: the
      possibility of blessing homosexual relationships. The Orthodox Church
      would answer, no, this cannot be done - that sexuality is a gift from
      God, to be used within marriage, and by marriage we mean the union of
      one man and one woman. But it's quite clear in the modern world - and
      the Orthodox also belong to the modern world - that the whole issue
      of the meaning of human sexuality is going to be more and more
      explored. And if we are to interpret this traditional teaching to our
      people, we need to reflect deeply on the basic principles.

      So in those two ways I could say, your questions are also our
      questions; your concerns we also share.

      GW - Does your presence and participation at the Conference lead you
      to any reflection on the future relations between the Anglican
      Communion and the Orthodox Church?

      KW - The Anglican-Orthodox dialogue is going through a difficult
      period, we all have to admit that. Probably the high point in
      Anglican-Orthodox relations was in the 1920s and 1930s. Since we
      began the dialogue again in 1973, in an official and international
      way for the first time, a number of new issues have arisen which we
      on the Orthodox side did not foresee. These are exactly the two
      issues I've just mentioned - the ordination of women and the
      understanding of homosexuality. But, though the dialogue has become
      in some ways more difficult, I believe it should continue. One cannot
      at this stage see the dialogue between Orthodox and Anglicans as
      leading in the immediate future to organic unity. That is not our
      serious expectation. But, we need to talk to one another. We have
      everything to gain through learning more about one another's
      understanding, everything to gain through listening.

      And the effect of this dialogue carrying on is that we learn to
      understand better our own position. As Orthodox, we learn, through
      talking with the Anglicans, to understand better what it is that we
      as Orthodox believe. And the reverse would be true - I think that
      Anglicans too, through listening to the Orthodox, learn more about
      Anglicanism. It has often been said that the purpose of travel is to
      come back to your home and to see it for the first time with new
      eyes. So the purpose of ecumenical dialogue is, among other things,
      to understand better our own home, who we are. And therefore through
      the challenges that are put to us by our fellow Christians, in this
      case the Anglicans, we understand better what we Orthodox mean by our
      faith. So the dialogue continues to mutual self-understanding.

      GW - Being aware as you are of the major issues that are facing the
      Anglican Communion both internally and externally, if you had to
      offer some advice to the Archbishop of Canterbury at this Conference,
      what advice would you give him?

      KW - First, I admire deeply the way in which Archbishop Rowan is
      fulfilling his role as Archbishop of Canterbury, at this moment of
      crisis. It's easy to say, with reference to his position here at the
      Lambeth Conference or generally in the current Anglican world, that
      he is in a no-win situation. But granted the immense difficulties
      that he is facing, he is not doing too badly. Now, what should he be
      doing here at Lambeth? Should he be offering very firm and clear
      leadership, insisting on a particular point of view, putting forward
      resolutions to the plenary gathering of the bishops for their
      acceptance? He has not chosen to do that. Some people feel
      disappointed. Some people feel he should be doing that. But if he
      were to do that, it would create confrontation and division. If you
      walk through the mountains and you find a large rock in your path,
      one method is to kick it out of the way. The other is to walk around
      it and go on with your journey. Now Archbishop Rowan has probably
      understood that if he tries to kick this particular stone, or this
      double rock - the ordination of women and homosexual relations - if
      he tries to confront it head-on and insist on a clear expression of
      the position of the Anglican Communion, to kick the stone out of the
      path, he is likely to hurt his toe. The stone perhaps is too sharp
      and heavy to be moved in that way at this moment. But you can walk
      round it in the sense of affirming the bonds of unity that exist
      beyond these divisive issues. And this is what he wants to do with
      the present Lambeth Conference. To make this a time of shared prayer,
      shared discussion, strengthening the bonds of friendship. Now some
      people would be disappointed that as far as we can see, and we are
      halfway through now, there is not going to be either a major
      confrontation or a very clear affirmation. But perhaps this is not
      the right moment - this is not the kairos, the opportunity given by
      God for such clear statements. Is a very difficult thing to discern,
      when to insist on a decision, when to say we are not ready. That's
      the problem that confronts the chairman of any gathering. And it
      confronts Rowan in a particularly poignant way.

      Perhaps there will be some clear resolutions coming out of the
      Conference - I don't see them emerging as yet. We are now Friday
      evening, in the first week. We've got another eight days and much can
      happen in that time. But, perhaps there are times when we have to
      say, "we are not ready, and we need to reflect further," rather than
      creating a clear division. I suppose his dilemma is this. Unity is
      good. Therefore, from one point of view, everything should be done to
      preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion. We do not want to see
      this division that has taken place between a meeting in Jerusalem and
      one at Lambeth as leading to a schism between the Anglican Church.
      But then there is the other side of the question, and it is this that
      creates the dilemma. Unity, yes, but not unity at any price. Unity
      has to go with truth. Sometimes people do have to break communion in
      the name of truth. That has been described today by the Archbishop as
      the "Reformation principle", though it existed long before the
      Reformation. But sometimes in the name of truth you do need to part
      company. Has the Anglican Communion come to that point? I don't
      believe that it necessarily has. And therefore my advice to
      Archbishop Rowan - though he doesn't need it - is go on, without
      compromising the truth, go on trying to maintain the bonds of
      communion within the Anglican fellowship.

      GW - Many Anglicans have looked to the Windsor Report and the process
      coming out of the Windsor Report as a means of preserving, building
      up and restoring these bonds of communion. I wonder if you could
      share the Orthodox perspective on the Report and the process coming from it.

      KW - First, I am impressed and helped by the way in which the Windsor
      Report, in common with many other statements in recent times, insists
      upon the nature of the Church as koinonia, communion, The Windsor
      Report says there are many different images of the church, but the
      one that acts as a unifying concept is the idea of the Church as
      communion, koinonia. We may develop this, and the Windsor Report does
      so, by saying that this Communion exists on three levels. First of
      all, it is to be found in the life of the Holy Trinity. The doctrine
      of the Trinity is a way of saying that God Himself is communion - God
      is koinonia. God is not just one, loving himself, turned inward, the
      eternal monad - God is three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, joined in
      a communion of love. And this, the doctrine of the Trinity, is a
      model for our understanding of the Church. The point is made, not
      only in the Windsor Report, but very clearly in the agreed statement
      put out by the Anglicans and the Orthodox, entitled "The Church of
      the Triune God", that was endorsed at Cyprus in the year 2005. There
      again, it is said that the Church is an icon of the Holy Trinity. And
      that I definitely find helpful. Of course, you have to say the unity
      of three Persons in the Trinity is incomparably closer than the unity
      of persons in the Church. But nonetheless the model of the Trinity is
      a paradigm of what our human position should be. And that is what
      Christ says in his high priestly prayer in St. John 17, "As you
      Father are in me and I in you, so also may they be one in us". So
      that the mutual love in the persons of the Trinity is what we in the
      Church are called to reproduce here on earth.

      Then again, the idea of communion applies to the Eucharist, and it
      applies to the Church, as I've already said. Koinonia is a key word
      running through all three levels.

      It's significant that the phrase "communion of saints" in the
      Apostles' Creed - in the Latin, communio sanctorum - can refer either
      to the sancti, the holy persons, or to the sancta, the holy things
      And these two meanings are integrally bound up with one another. This
      has been pointed out in the recent statement put out by the Anglicans
      and Roman Catholics called "Growing Together". So yes, the level of
      God, the first level of the Trinity, God as communion, is reproduced
      on earth in the Church, the communion of the holy people. But the
      communion of the holy people is brought about in the third place
      through communion in the holy gifts - the Eucharist makes the Church,
      and the Church makes the Eucharist. So the Church is held together
      not by power of jurisdiction, but by sharing in the mysteries of the
      Body and Blood of Christ.

      So I see the Windsor report as helpfully stressing these three levels
      of koinonia. However, this koinonia is not limited to the Anglican
      Communion. The Windsor report is written in that particular
      perspective, and that I find a little strange. After all, the
      Anglican Church has always claimed to be no more than part of the
      Catholic Church, and this is stated in the Windsor Report among other
      places. So surely the Anglican Communion cannot decide the question
      of the ordination of women to the priesthood or episcopate in
      isolation. Nor the question of the possibility of blessing of
      same-sex marriages. Surely that must involve a consensus of the total
      Body. The Anglican Communion cannot settle this without bearing in
      mind its bonds with the wider communion of the Church - the Orthodox
      and the Roman Catholics. And that is one thing, I think, that
      troubles us very much as Orthodox, as it troubles the Roman
      Catholics. We feel that the Anglican Church, on these matters which
      are of basic importance, has acted alone, without catholic consensus.
      So I would have wished that the Windsor Report had put more emphasis
      upon communion meaning the total Body, not just the Anglican
      Communion. That I see as a limitation in its perspective.

      I've spoken about the need for catholic consensus on issues like the
      ordination of women or the blessing of homosexual relations. These
      are departures from Church order and from accepted moral teaching of
      major importance, and therefore there ought to be some consensus not
      just within the Anglican Communion but with the other Churches,
      especially those that preserve the historic apostolic faith and
      order, the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox. That is one side of the
      matter, the need for consensus. But then we might also say, should
      there not also be the possibility for a prophetic action? Will you
      ever have change unless some people are willing to stand up and say,
      this is what we ought to be doing? And even if their testimony is
      highly controversial, who will nonetheless stand by their position.
      It could be argued that perhaps the Anglican Communion was guided by
      the Holy Spirit to lead other Christians into new paths. Now I can
      see that as a valid argument and I want to balance that against the
      point that we need to act with catholic consensus. How can we do both
      these things together - preserve catholic consensus, and yet allow
      grace for freedom in the Holy Spirit? Christ did not tell us that
      nothing should never be done for the first time. The whole witness of
      the early Church points in a different direction. So how do you
      balance these two things - the need for consensus with the need for
      freedom in the Spirit, the need for loyalty to holy tradition, with
      the need to be open to new initiatives? And I think this is at the
      heart of a great deal of what we are talking about here in Canterbury
      at this Lambeth Conference.

      GW - Some people have said that issues such as sexuality and the
      ordination of women, are distractions getting in the way of the
      Conference. Do you see these things as distractions from such things
      as the issues of social justice and mission?

      KW - This is certainly the way in which the outside world, or a large
      part of it, will view the Lambeth Conference. They will say that when
      so much of the human population is permanently hungry, ill-housed,
      suffering from disease which could be cured (if we the rich nations
      would really set our minds to helping), when so much of the world is
      suffering in this way, is it not a loss of proportion to be
      concentrating on women priests, or even on homosexuality? And one
      could strengthen this point by saying, the Church does not exist for
      herself. Christ said, "May they all be one that the world may
      believe". The Church exists for the world, for the conversion of the
      world, for mission, and mission doesn't just mean telling people
      about Christ (though that is vitally important). Mission means also
      helping them and ensuring that there is social, political and
      economic justice - that is all part of mission. The Epistle of James
      is very clear on this matter, that if a poor man comes to you and is
      hungry, has no clothes, no home and no food, and you just talk to him
      about Jesus Christ and say, "Now go away," that's not really mission,
      that's not preaching the faith. Faith is not words, faith is how we
      relate to living persons, how we make their joys and sorrows our own,
      to use the image of St. Paul that I have already mentioned.

      So in that way I do say that those questions we are considering here
      at Lambeth are not all-important, and not all perhaps the first
      priority. On the other hand they do need to be discussed, because
      they do involve our understanding of the basic questions of human
      nature and of priesthood. And so as long as we do not lose sight of
      the wider agenda, we are right to try and get clear our minds clear
      on these issues. And it was extremely significant that yesterday on
      our London day we didn't march through the streets of London with
      placards about homosexuality and women priests, we marched through
      the streets of London with placards about poverty and justice.

      GW - For anyone with even a moderate understanding of the Orthodox
      Church, one of the first things they think of is the liturgy of the
      Church and the rich worship. Do you think that the orthodox
      perspective of liturgy could hold some importance for Anglicans?

      KW - Liturgy is fundamental to the life of the church. At the Last
      Supper Jesus did not tell us, "Say these things," he didn't give us a
      verbal message that we were to pass on to others. He said, "Do this
      in remembrance of me". He gave us an action, the operation of the
      Eucharist. And so the Church becomes truly herself when she
      celebrates the Eucharist. Therefore liturgy is fundamental. But there
      are different ways of approaching liturgy. Sometimes discussions of
      liturgy become deeply archaeological. For example, when was this
      particular prayer introduced and in what places? Then liturgy seems
      very distant from the practical mission of the Church. There is the
      story told about the great Anglican dean of St. Paul's in the early
      part of the twentieth century, Dean Inge, who was asked at a dinner
      party by his next door neighbour, trying to make conversation, "Dear
      Dean, are you interested in liturgy?" To which he replied, "No, and I
      do not collect postage stamps." [i.e. he was not interested in an
      archaeological discussion of liturgy] So that's the false idea of
      liturgy, which turns it into discussion of minute questions of ritual
      and ceremonial. But if we understand liturgy in the broader sense of
      the action of Christ in the Church, the celebration of the Lord's
      Supper with Jesus Himself as the high Priest present invisibly
      offering the holy gifts, and giving himself to us, then surely we see
      that liturgy is central to the existence of the church, and central
      to the church's mission. The celebration of the Eucharist, communion
      in the holy sacrament of his body and blood, this is the life-giving
      source from which all our social witness, all our practical action,
      to relieve disease and poverty and injustice, has to proceed. This is
      the fountain from which all else springs. And so liturgy in that
      sense is inseparable from mission and social action. Liturgy is the
      inspiration and the power that is given to us by God to change the
      world. So at the end of the Orthodox celebration of the Eucharist,
      the celebrant says, "Let us go forth in peace," and that is not an
      epilogue but a prologue. It doesn't mean, the service is over, go off
      and have a cup of coffee. It means, the liturgy is over and the
      liturgy after the liturgy is now about to begin. Go out into the
      world to transfigure the world through the power of the communion
      that you have received in Christ's sacrament.

      GW - With regard to unity in the Communion - we Anglicans don't have
      any kind of a magisterium the way the Roman Catholics do. Do you have
      any suggestions as to how the Orthodox might offer any model for
      Anglicans who are trying to approach the question of unity?

      KW - We Orthodox bear in my view a marvellous theology, in principle,
      of conciliarity, of what the Russians call sobornost (unanimity in
      freedom would be a good translation of sobornost). But the problem
      is, while we affirm all this in theory, what happens in practice? And
      so, as an Orthodox I am deeply conscious of the gap between theory
      and practice, and am deeply hesitant about offering advice to other
      people. But in all humility, yes, what is our model for decision
      making in the Orthodox Church? We believe strongly in the principle
      of conciliarity. If you speak of communion, koinonia, and ask through
      what instrument this communion in the Church is manifested, then we
      Orthodox would answer, through the council. It might be an ecumenical
      council, claiming to represent the whole Church. But we haven't had
      in the Orthodox Church such a council since the year 787. It might be
      through a local council, and we have had many such in later Orthodox
      history. A local council would not claim to represent the whole
      Church, but its witness and decisions might be accepted by the other
      parts of the Church and thus would require an ecumenical authority.
      But for us, the instrument through which the Holy Spirit manifests
      himself in the Church is through people meeting together in synod.
      And every true Church council is a continuation of Pentecost. The
      mystery of Pentecost was that people of many different nationalities,
      languages, races, met together in one room, and the Holy Spirit
      descended upon them all, and they all spoke and they all understood
      one another. The breaking down of barriers, the creation of mutual
      harmony, mutual comprehension - that is the mystery of Pentecost and
      we believe by God's grace that it is reproduced in every true
      council. And I pray that the present Lambeth Conference will share in
      this grace of the council.

      So this is the way in which the Church makes its decisions, not just
      by majority vote but by a process of convergence. We shouldn't apply
      rules of parliamentary procedure to Church councils - they are on
      another level. We shouldn't apply simply democratic methods, where
      the majority is always right. Sometimes truth lies with a minority,
      and a council should always find a place for the conscientious views
      of minorities.

      I think it is through the council that the Church on earth reaches a
      decision on crucial problems. Then there is the question of the
      reception of the council by the total Body of Christ, by the whole
      people of God. This has been discussed a good deal in ecumenical
      meetings recently, and there is an important section in the Report,
      The Church and the Triune God, section 9, on this question. [ The
      Church of the Triune God: The Cyprus Agreed Statement , 2007.]. This
      is one of the best sections in the Report. I hope it will be widely
      read and noted. So koinonia means the meeting in council of the
      bishops, who bear witness to the faith of their Churches, but then
      the reception, the acceptance, the reaffirmation of what the bishops
      have said by the total Church of Christ, by the total people of God,
      the royal priesthood of all the baptized. This is the process that I
      would see as our Orthodox model. How it works in practice is not
      always clear. But Christ did not say, "I will give you a quick and
      easy answer to all questions until I come again". Christ said, "The
      Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth, and the gates of hell will
      not prevail against the Church". But he did not say that this would
      be quick and easy, and that you would always have an instant sound
      bite that would solve all your problems. The Holy Spirit is always
      present in the church; the Church will never fail or fall away
      totally from the truth. But through whom the Holy Spirit is speaking
      at any one point in Church history is not always clear. So if we are
      to hear the voice of the Spirit we must listen carefully.

      GW - The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken more than once at the
      conference about the importance of common prayer in establishing and
      nurturing the unity of the Church. Do you have any reflections on
      process of liturgical reform in the Anglican Communion alongside the
      significance of common prayer?

      KW - One of the big differences between the Orthodox Church and the
      Anglican Church has to do with common liturgy. The great majority,
      99% of the Orthodox, use the Byzantine rite. A priest may come to
      Oxford with no common language, and yet he would know exactly has is
      happening and being said in the liturgy. We have the bond of a single
      liturgy that is used by everyone. The same is no longer the case for Anglicans.

      There has been a very big disintegration in the C of E in my
      lifetime. When I was young, yes, there were a lot of differences in
      the way the Eucharist was celebrated. But basically what you had were
      many parishes using 1662, not just the evangelicals but right across.
      And then you had the Anglo-Catholics who by and large were using what
      we then called the interim rite, which was again 1662, rearranged in
      the light of 1549. There was a wide range of shared worship, and this
      I think has grown much less now.

      I remember a few years ago in Canterbury here, when we were having an
      Anglican-Orthodox meeting, we agreed to go on Sunday morning to the
      Cathedral, and we were told it would be the 1662 rite. Archbishop
      Runcie was celebrating. And he didn't actually celebrate it from the
      north end - it was the eastward position, which was already then a
      departure from the rubrics. But north side they meant something quite
      different from what we have today, and we would need to furnish the
      church in a Laudian manner to understand that. But what struck me as
      very strange was to end the Eucharistic prayer with the narrative of
      institution, and then have Communion, and then say the Lord's Prayer,
      which in all the historic liturgies goes before Communion (but I
      think I'm right in saying that in 1662 it comes before Communion). I
      found that very, very strange. I think that all the revisions of the
      Anglican rite have seen the need to have some further prayer after
      the narrative of institution. I don't demand that it should be
      exactly the same as the Byzantine epiclesis. I hope that the action
      of the Spirit would be emphasized, in a way it is not in the Roman
      rite, the so-called Tridentine rite, or in the 1662 rite. If you have
      an invocation of the Spirit before the words of institution, that
      would still be all right in my view - you judge everything by the
      spirit of the total rite. But you need some prayer after the
      institution and before the Communion. To have the prayer without that
      I found very strange.

      one of the Ecumenical observers at the Lambeth Conference
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