Moderator Duncan’s opening address to the “Hope and the Future” conference included the following quote, one which has been picked up in varioius places with some level of triumphal joy.
"Just thirteen days ago, at Ain-El-Suhknah on the
What is more significant still is that the plain sense of the Archbishop's words means that someone who stands with us -- even if outside the Episcopal Church USA or the Anglican Church of Canada -- is an Anglican. That is not Hope, or the Future, that is the present! The old exclusive franchises are no more. A new day is dawning. The day has a very long way to run, but the day is begun. Praise God!”
Here is what the South to South Encounter reported from the record of the question and answer time with the Archbishop. I presume this is the public statement of the Archbishop that the Moderator is quoting:
“Q7. We have welcomed the Anglican communion networks in ECUSA and
A7. There is no doubt in my mind at all that these networks are full members of the Anglican communion. That is to say, they are bishops, they are clergy, they are people that are involved in the life of the communion which I share with them, which I will share with them. Formal ecclesial recognition of a network as if it were a province is not simply in my hands or in the hands of any individual. I do want to say it quite simply, of course, these are part of our Anglican fellowship and I welcome that.”
We can all make of this response what we will.
The Moderator sees this as formal recognition of the Network as an entity, and therefore the way in for the Network to be given organizational status more and more in the way a Province has such status.
But I read the end of the Archbishop’s statement as making clear that these organizations are within the Anglican fellowship because the members of the organizations are Anglicans. The Archbishop seems to be clear that he does not mean “formal ecclesial recognition of a network as if it were a province” which the Archbishop says “is not simply in my hands or in the hands of any individual.”
In an otherwise generous and perhaps less than careful response, the Archbishop understands that recognition of the Network as a Province or something like is outside his purview. It lies with the internal decision making of the Church of England as to the churches with which it considers itself to be in communion. The list of such churches is found at the end of the Canons of the Church of England.
Externally new provinces in the Anglican Communion are recognized by a variety of signs: invitation of bishops to Lambeth, inclusion in the Anglican Consultative Council, primates who are invited to the Primates meetings. Those too seem not to be “in my hands or in the hands of any individual.”
The Moderator speaks of the embrace with the Archbishop prior to his comments “minutes later.” Perhaps the delight in the personal greeting led the Moderator to remember only the first part of the answer the Archbishop gave in the question and answer time. Time flies when things are triumphant. The Archbishop’s answer was number seven in a list of questions and answers, some of the answers being quite long. Some considerable time pasted by before the Archbishop spoke to the question of the Networks. Perhaps we ought not to take the Moderator’s summary of the statement as involving too much cut and snip. He was perhaps taken by delight.
Still, perhaps the Moderator overreached when he then said, “The old exclusive franchises are no more.” This statement says more about the far edge of the Moderator’s excitement of public recognition. It is, for me, a disturbing picture of his notion that the Episcopal Church either had an “exclusive franchise” as the Anglican Communion in these parts (The US and its overseas jurisdictions) or that he is seeking to take over the franchise or open up a nonexclusive franchise option of some sort.
The trouble with all of this is that the Episcopal Church does not claim to be the exclusive franchise of something called the Anglican Communion, as if the Anglican Communion somehow authorized or patented its existence. We are a church with Episcopal orders by the good offices of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and later the Church of England, and very quickly by continued ordination within this Church. No one gave us permission to be the Episcopal Church, it is how we organized ourselves. We are not a franchise of anything.
I am glad it is straightened out that the Archbishop of Canterbury recognizes the Network(s) as consisting of Anglicans. I have never doubted that the Moderator is also the Bishop of Pittsburgh, a diocese of the Episcopal Church and am glad to see that the Archbishop also understands this. But the Moderator senses the beginnings of some new day, a hope realized. In this I think he has allowed the tasks of oration and the excitement of an embrace to lead to a confusion of the quality of the weather on this, another day in the life of the Episcopal Church, the Network and the Anglican Communion.