Here are three questions I would ask the Archbishop if I had the chance. I have asked each of these in other contexts, of other people. Since I don’t think the Archbishop will actually get these questions, answers with references to texts from anyone reading this blog would be helpful.
These questions concern matters of information and in the case of the second, unwelcomed silence. They concern transparency in governance and the Archbishop’s role in supervision. They concern who judges us, who provides the context, process and content of covenant discussions, and why the Archbishop does, or does not speak out on matters of concern.
1. Who are the members of the “small working group?” that you speak of when you say, “I am grateful that the JSC of the Primates and ACC has already appointed a small working group to assist this process of reflection and to advise me on these matters (concerning the Episcopal Church and its responses to the askings of the Windsor Report etc) in the months leading up to the next Primates’ Meeting”?
As Archbishop you have every reason to seek advice and that advice can be as privately procured as you wish, of course. Given that this advice concerns The Episcopal Church and its decisions at General Convention, and the fact that the only American group publicly listed that you met with prior to Convention consisted mostly of conservative bishops, it would be helpful if we knew something of the make up of this group. Are there any members of The Episcopal Church in the group? Are there any progressives? Keeping the list secret may have its value, but secret advisory groups smack of star chamber.
(I have asked this question on the House of Bishops/ House of Deputies list… no definitive answer.)
2. Why have you said nothing publicly concerning the Church of Nigeria (Anglican)’s election of The Rev. Canon Martin Minns as bishop for CANA (The Convocation of Anglicans in North America)? Your “spokesperson” has, but you have not. Jonathan Jennings has said, “"This is not a welcome development, It's neither timely nor constructive. It further complicates an already complex situation.” So your spokesperson said something, but not you.
About the election of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Shori as Presiding Bishop you had this to say, “Her election will undoubtedly have an impact on the collegial life of the Anglican Primates; and it also brings into focus some continuing issues in several of our ecumenical dialogues.”
We have a personal cautionary word concerning the Presiding Bishop elect but not about Canon Minns, bishop elect of the Church of Nigeria. Your silence concerning things done in the Church of Nigeria is stunning.
3. Who is on the Covenant Drafting Group? This is spoken of in the paper “Towards an Anglican Covenant.” That paper recommends that the JSC “… establish a small covenant drafting group (CDG): perhaps ten members reflecting diversity in the Communion as to geography, culture and church tradition. JSC resolved that the Archbishop of Canterbury should appoint such a group in consultation with the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. Its function is to formulate a draft or a number of draft options accompanied by an explanatory text (to include the cases for and against such draft(s) and how the draft(s) would work in practice). In the meantime, it is intended that this paper should be used as the basis of an initial informal consultation, inviting input from interested parties especially other Communion bodies (eg IATDC, IASCOME, ACLAN, ecumenical commissions, the Global South). CDG is asked to submit preliminary work on a draft or drafts to a joint meeting of the JSC and the Primates in early 2007.” I would hope that the persons named to the Covenant Drafting Group will include persons from around the Communion, some of whom will be women and some lay persons.
Unless the reference to the Global South is a general one, it is reference to the group of Provinces that call themselves “The Global South.” This is the one clearly partisan group in this mix and it is highly inappropriate to include them without naming and including groups with other viewpoints. The leadership of that organization has excluded provinces in the global south (Brazil) because of their theological approach and has included in its leadership Primates who have unilaterally declared that they are out of communion with The Episcopal Church, dioceses in Canada, and have condoned and organized efforts to interfere in the life of the Province of The Episcopal Church.
Perhaps the CDG has not been named yet. If it has I have missed the notice. Still, the paper was published in March 2006 and the group is expected to report to the Primates in early 2007. Have the names been published yet?