2/03/2007

Bishop Minns puts on his thinking cap: it doesn't work.

In rereading the interview between the Living Church and Bishop Minns of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, I was struck by this exchange:

TLC: What was your reaction after the secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council stated shortly before the parish votes that CANA "is not a branch of the Anglican Communion as such but an organsation which relates to a single province of the Anglican Communion"?

Bishop Minns: I felt it was a misleading statement. We are no different than the Diocese of Virginia. CANA is part of the Church of Nigeria and the Diocese of Virginia is part of The Episcopal Church. I never asked for any separate recognition from the ACC. The real question to me is whether the Diocese of Virginia will remain part of the Anglican Communion.

Being "part of" the Church of Nigeria and being "part of the Episcopal Church" is not the issue. The problem is that Bishop Minns believes that CANA is, or is like, a diocese, and that CANA and the Diocese of Virginia are "part of" the Provinces they belong to in the same way. So, Bishop Minns believes CANA to be a Diocese (sort of) of the Church of Nigeria.

If CANA is, or is like, a diocese, what the Church of Nigeria has done is even more clearly a violation of canons ancient and modern and a straightforward proof of schismatic behavior.

The Constitution of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) says this about CANA type entities: The General Syond has powers "(c) to create convocations, chaplaincies of like-minded faithful outside Nigeria and to appoint persons within or outside Nigeria to administer them and the Primate shall give Episcopal Oversight."

It has been reported that the special General Synod of the Church of Nigeria, meeting beginning Tuesday, 6 February, will enact some changes in the Constitution of the Church. I wonder if one will be to authorize General Synod to create dioceses outside Nigeria of "like-minded faithful", which dioceses will be part of the Church of Nigeria.

Then at least Bishop Minns would be correct - CANA would indeed be like a diocese - and the Church of Nigeria would no longer be part of the Anglican Communion, having decided to establish new dioceses in territory clearly including all or parts of a diocese already in existence, thereby breaking the bonds of affection and long standing agreemenet.

Bishop Minns asks whether the Diocese of Virginia will remain part of the Anglican Communion. Who knows? But I am not putting any bets on CANA.



3 comments:

  1. Mark,

    Can you tell me which of the unwritten rules of the Anglican Communion we can violate and which we cannot? I would like to know. So far, we can violate moral rules that have their roots in Holy Scripture, but we cannot violate the political boundries (even when such "violation" is not mentioned or condemned in Scripture and we have reports of heros of the faith (such as Athanasius) violating episcopal boundries). I am confused as to which rules are ok to violate.

    YBIC,
    Phil Snyder

    ReplyDelete
  2. christopher+5/2/07 9:55 AM

    Phil,

    If I may join the conversation on this point....

    All sarcasm aside, the issue is indeed what constitutes "rules" in the common life of the Anglican Communion. Your point is well taken: If, for example, one asserts the Windsor Report as a forceful set of "rules" governing the life of the Anglican Communion, then violating diocesan and provincial boundaries is as much a violation of the "rules" as not acquiescing fully to any other recommendations made in the same report.

    If, however, the "rules" are worked out in each Province through synod AND by the Provinces in dialogue with each other through the Instruments of Communion and, e.g., the Windsor Process, then the "rules" - often quite written in such places as constitutions and canons, both in the Provinces and, for example, in the Anglican Consultative Council - are worked out prayerfully together - over time - with no single Province, Instrument of Communion, or Focus of Unity dictating to all others what the rules are.

    Heated debates on non-core biblical interpretations have taken place - in unity - throughout Anglican history, but there has never been until recently (to the best of my knowledge) any serious debate among Anglicans on basic respect for diocesan boundaries.

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  3. Considering what we now know of Canon Kearon's partisanship, I'm not sure how much weight we should put in his personal evaluation of CANA's status within the Communion. Not for the first time, Kearon is out of step with the majority of the Communion, and Bishop Minns is correct in his statements.

    ReplyDelete

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