A new kind of parliament?

July 30, 2008 at 9:57 pm Leave a comment

Today at Lambeth we have begun to see at first hand how this conference design might offer the church a way of coming to a mind about complex subjects without using a synodical process of resolutions and majority votes. It still remains to be seen how well it can work, but over the next 3 days we shall be working hard to see if we can agree a text which speaks for all of us and does justice to the wide variety of experiences which such a diverse global conference is bound to produce.

So this afternoon several hundred of us gathered to comment on a draft of a statement which will try to express to the churches of the world what we have been exploring in our groups and what are the key messages we want to pass on. The process involves a drafting group listening carefully to comments from the floor and amending the text accordingly.

Perhaps there is something here for us to learn from in our synods which are really little parliaments where some win the argument and others lose. Here it seems is a serious attempt to avoid winners and losers and instead accept every voice as having something to contribute to the big picture. And at this point I am pretty confident it can work.

And the issue of how churches govern themselves and reach conclusions when there is conflict came up in a well attended talk given by Cardinal Casper, the head man at the Vatican on ecumenical relations. Although he was very frank with us about how Rome views issues around the ordination of women, he also acknowledged that the issues we face in our Communion are the same issues which the Roman Catholic Church faces. Clearly they resolve things very differently from us, but the process of listening to the voice of the whole church which we see emerging here is one which possibly both communions could learn from.

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