3/26/2007

The Anglican Communion Network is Mum, sort of.

The House of Bishops, meeting in Texas last week produced several important papers, namely two "mind of the house" resolution and a message to the Church. They can be read HERE. They were published as a group on March 20th by The Episcopal News Service. It is now March 26th. There have been a variety of comments from Network Bishops, some of whom did not attend the meeting. Telling Beads has a compendium of responses from bishops of all sorts and conditions. There has been nothing from the Moderator, save a comment on leaving the meeting that he was going to have to think about it all.

The Voice of the Anglican Communion Network, namely the Moderator, is silent so far. Not so the voices of various bishops and other "partners" within the Network.

Having read the various comments by them, I am struck by two things:

  1. Those bishops from the Network who attended made either thoughtful and reflective statements (Howe, Steenson, Stanton) or said they needed to think about it more (Love, Duncan). Those who did not attend were vocal but not very thoughtful or useful. This is a strong argument for why it is important for bishops to attend. Those attending had much more interesting things to say than those who stayed away.
  2. Those who stayed away advised waiting to see what the Primates would do and hoped the scheme for a Primatial council would go forward anyway. This in spite of the mind of the house that "…the House of Bishops believes the proposed Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué of February 19, 2007 would be injurious to The Episcopal Church and urges that the Executive Council decline to participate in it; and … the House of Bishops pledges itself to continue to work to find ways of meeting the pastoral concerns of the Primates that are compatible with our own polity and canons." They are waiting, one supposes, because they promised the Global South Steering Committee that they would act through their spokesperson (the Moderator of the Network) and in concert with the GSSC.

The House of Bishops statements have put the Moderator in a difficult position: The ACN did not have much faith in the Scheme anyway, but the "mind of the House" has spoken, and even that last option is untenable. In his Pastoral Letter of March 9,2007, the Moderator said,

"Most of us, but certainly not all, in the Anglican Communion Network now believe that it is the Episcopal Church majority's clear and continuing intention to "walk apart" in matters of Faith and Order. Nevertheless, we owe it to our beloved Communion to follow the Primates' wisdom as to how to take a last step in that discernment."

Well, it turns out this "last step in that discernment" has been challenged by the House of Bishops, since it believes it ill behooves The Episcopal Church to enter into this Pastoral Scheme. Now what is the Network to do?

Most of the cards have now been played. It is time to show them.

The Network, which at its best had 10 Dioceses must now be less sure of its hold on those dioceses. There is no question that each bishop in his own way is dissatisfied with at least some of what has been done at the House of Bishops meeting. It would appear that the "stay away" policy, which the Moderator articulated in his Pastoral Letter, in which "that discussion of the issues before us is the limit of our participation in the life of the House of Bishops at the present time," and which he said, "…represents no alteration of the grounds on which most Network Bishops have participated in the House of Bishops since August of 2003" is falling apart. More network bishops came than stayed away. Those who came and took part in the life of the meeting were by no means mollified in their concerns, but they were responsive in thoughtful ways.

The Network has bound its future to the authority of the Primates, and in particular the Global South Steering Committee Primates. There are real problems in doing that, and the House of Bishops' statements bring those out.

The authority ascribed to the Primates is just that – ascribed. When the cards are played, ascribed authority will find it hard to beat legitimate, empowered authority that arises out of an organization. The statements of the House of Bishops carries considerably more weight than the statement of the Primates because it takes place within a structure where such statements have a legitimate place. The House of Bishops does some things on its own – such as inviting the Archbishop of Canterbury to visit. It expresses its mind. It refers such expressions to appropriate places, the Executive Council, the General Convention, and places its observations about the Constitution in that context. The power of the statements of the House of Bishops is that they were made solidly within the confines of the proper duties and responsibilities of a body that is part of an organization with legitimate and empowered authority for the members of this Church.

The Network, by way of its Moderator, has put much of the future of the Network in the hands of the Archbishop of Nigeria who heads up the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa and the Global South Network and who has a foothold in the US by way of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. There is considerable distancing from the Archbishop going on these days, in part because of the role he has taken in legislation in Nigeria that will further criminalize homosexuality there and in part because he has pushed his agenda as if it were that of CAPA, or the GS Network. The Archbishop of Nigeria has real authority in Nigeria and lots and lots of ascribed power elsewhere by those who align with him. But will that power be of help in the end?

What now? If the Network bishops are completely together and if the authority they are relying on is found wanting, what are they going to do. No wonder the Moderator is taking his time on this one.

We await the Moderator's words with interest.

16 comments:

  1. Dr. James+26/3/07 5:27 PM

    Here is a little history about our relationship with the Anglican Communion by an old friend. I am amazed that you don't know this Mark.
    The Rt. Rev. William Wantland, former Bishop of Eau Claire had this to say: "First, I am deeply disturbed by the action of a number of heterophobic bigots, who encourage homosexuals to engage in a practice which is cruel and deadly. 91% of all male homosexuals engage in anal sodomy. Regular practice of anal sodomy will shorten human life an average of 26 years, even without factoring in AIDS. These people, purporting to act in the name of the Church, are as evil as those who would give whiskey to alcoholics. What 815 2nd Ave. (the national church's headquarters in New York City) is urging is death on a grand scale, and calling it care and support of their victims, without any regard for what they are doing. Don't ever say that TEC cares for or loves its homosexual members.

    "Second, the action is also based on a blindness to history. How dare they say that TEC is totally autonomous, and that TEC is not answerable in either liturgy or canon to others in the Anglican Communion. Do they not know how PECUSA came into existence? When an American Book of Common Prayer was first proposed in 1785, it was submitted to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for approval. The Archbishops found it unacceptable, and the Americans were told to make a number of changes. Likewise, in proposed Constitution and Canons, the process for electing Bishops was unacceptable. So, in 1789, when General Convention met, it approved a BCP acceptable to the Archbishops, and a canonical process of electing Bishops that conformed to the demands of the Archbishops. There was absolutely NO claim of autonomy and the right to do as Americans pleased. But now, TEC has become an imperial force, answerable to no one.

    "TEC is no longer a Catholic body. It is no longer even a Christian one. It is simply an embodiment of a corrupt, historically inaccurate, spirit of this age. And if the Anglican Communion does not see TEC for what it really is, even that Communion will be on its way to be a miserable footnote in Christian history."

    The bishops did not address the key issues on which the primates have requested a response-namely, whether TEC will abide by the Communion's standard of teaching on human sexuality (as expressed in Lambeth Resolution 1.10) by giving its assurance that it will not permit rites for same-sex blessings or consent to bishops living in same-sex unions.

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  2. Well, we await the immoderator's words, but I'm not so sure it's with much interest that we await.

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  3. ....."95 of all male homosexuals engage in anal sodomy. Regular practice of anal sodomy will shorten human life an average of 26 years, even without factoring in AIDS."


    The above crap comes from the totally discredited work of Paul Cameron, a man who has been thrown out of professional associations and denounced by people who's data he distorted. This garbage is about as true as the old goodie about how the Jews spread bubonic plague by poisoning the well.

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  4. The former Bp. of Eau Claire clearly had very strong convictions.

    No real facts or goodwill, of course, but, I suppose sheer volume must count for something. After all, they released Barabbas.

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  5. Meanwhile the plot thickens, Don Armstrong and Colorado Springs church bolt for CANA. Interesting press releases from the parish an diocese.

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  6. If TEC has become such a horrible institution, why is the Rt. Rev. William Wantland still in it? Has he no integrity?

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  7. I have been wondering for some time how the synchophants would react if the bully finally heard the single word: no. The bishops rightly commented on the Nigerian law, the attempt to create a papal environment and said the word. And the silence is amazing. Imageine that, somewhere (clearly not Canterbury) bishops have backbones.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  8. It's hard to believe the retired +Wantland is still fully alert but apparently he "sharpens up" his thinking/believing "acting out" as he *fashions* Cameron born absurdities into "being" to accomodate HIS personally twisted and filthy minded realities against others! Wantland may HARM other Christians and fellow human beings with his dangerous/loosecanon speaking pronouncements against other Christians...imagine, he's now a judge?

    I think he badly needs a change of venue of the emotionally restorative and/or "assisted living" sort!

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  9. The thing about studies, is that, in order to make sense of the data, you need to see the same results repeatedly, across studies, to get any real picture of what is going on.

    That doesn't appear to be the case with the study James+ cited - that appears to be data in isolation.

    But, even if you were to cite other disputing/refuting studies, it wouldn't matter, because it's not what James+ nor +Wetland want to believe.

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  10. The ACN Newsletter is reporting:

    "Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator for the Network, is meeting with various leaders in the orthodox Anglican movement to pray about and discern the Lord's mind for a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in the U.S. that remains in full communion with the Anglican Communion."

    I suspect Duncan will withhold all statements until the Network knows who is on board and how it will act. In light of Radner's new statement, perhaps they are getting ready to effectively "leave" TEC.

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  11. I have corresponded with Bp. Wantland, and have an employee who worked for him when he was an ordinary in Wisconsin. He is, I think, bright, charming, and utterly convinced of his own rectitude. That last item is perhaps the ultimate temptation for bright people. The Cammeron, "research" which even they note is full of reasearch issues is in line with what he expects. His use of it shows us what heappens when prejudice clouds judgement.

    His comments on prayerbook history are a bit off too. The new American book was indeed submitted to Canterbury and York for comment, but not because they were in charge. Rather it was an effort to assure a supply of trained clerics.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  12. "...perhaps they are getting ready to effectively "leave" TEC."
    C.B.

    Do you suppose they will be able to "listen" better to the Holy Spirit reveals "Gods will" when they only have themselves to "listen" to?

    Sounds like a real challenge to me and in Duncans own words "it will be hard."

    No doubt about it, *it* will be a nightmare of their own insisting, demanding and manipulating.

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  13. Many at SF are noting that the Primatial Vicar scheme can apparently go forward with or without the PB and/or the HOB. I haven't seen any official comments on that, except that +Iker (as I recall) did indicate that in the HOB meeting, that the PB indicated she can always delegate at least some of her duties to a PV. So I surmise that the ACN et. al., are working on something to stand up a Primatial Vicariate no matter 815 or the PB or the Exec. Council or HOB says.

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  14. Mark - I recall a while back you asking what were the Camp Allen/Windsor Bishops up to at their meetings. Well, it appears from an official statement by Chris Seitz President of ACI that they were secretly designing the Primate PV Scheme.

    He has now called for those same CA Bishops to appoint the members of the Pastoral Council as called for under that scheme, and for the Primates to do so also. In other words, asking them, like Radner, to decide now.

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  15. Bp. Wantland is in no position to pontificate on matters of sexual morality, being divorced and remarried himself.

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  16. Oh, I'm sorry.

    The Mark at post #4 is not the Mark who runs this blog.

    I can be a bit immoderate in stating my views, so I don't want anyone to attribute what I say to our very gracious host!

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