Christopher Wells: Are the moderates the modern expression of the old anglican catholic party?

Centrists / Religion

Christopher Wells (a member of the Special Committee that dealt with the Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor report) has done it to me again. He has this ability to make an off-hand remark that causes me to immediately stop and go “Hmmmm.”

In this latest case, he was writing a response to a note on the House of Bishops and Deputies Email list. It was in response to a post about a satire website “selling” a game called “Risk: Anglican Communion Windsor Report Edition“.

Wells wrote:

“How telling that the two ‘sides’ here are Evangelical and Liberal! For these, indeed, seem to be the new ‘parties’ in our recent disputes; with the Catholics, who once were a ‘party,’ now playing the moderating, via media role that the Liberals used to play (back when they made arguments and were reasonable).”

As Christopher has reminded me in a subsequent note (in which he also gave me permission to post his words), this comment today echos a previous comment he made in his exchange of views with Lionel Deimel just prior to General Convention:

And if I were to argue the point right now, I would point up the conclusion of Canterbury’s July 7 address to the C of E synod to show that he is thinking along these lines, too. For note how he comes out as a “Catholic” there. I cannot recall him doing so in these direct terms in any major pastoral writing since he became AbC; and I think that is very significant: because in our present ecclesiological crisis, one needs an articulate ecclesiology! And for all the gifts and stregths of our Liberal and Evangelical strands, one does not look to them for a kind of concrete ecclesial identity–apostolic, ecumenical, sacramental etc. Abp Carey for instance, could not have written that address to the Synod, and esp. at its end.

What an interesting point! I can testify that much of my motivation in trying to find a way through the present issues that will allow the largest number of people to stay in relationship with each other stems from my anglo-catholic theological roots. I wonder if that’s true for others as well?

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. How odd–I’m writing a long post in reply to your call and much of it is spent in discussing my anglo-catholicism.
    I think it needs to be said that the Anglo-Catholics who self-identify in the current debate are either the FiF Anglo-Catholics or the Affirming Catholicism folk. I can’t agree with the first and am leery of the second.
    I’ll send you a link when mine’s up…

  2. Super! Thanks – I’m looking forward to reading it. (And thanks for the pointer on your site to this endevor.)

Comments are closed.