3/06/2007

The Archbishop Writes and we can only wonder....

The whole of Archbishop Williams letter to the Primates is available here. I am excerpting several lines for comment.


He writes, "There was no questioning at our meeting of the fact that the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 remains the standard of teaching on matters of sexual morality for the Communion."

The constant reminder that Resolution 1.10 is "the standard of teaching" does nothing for the truth. The truth is that the Primates (and they alone) have determined that what Lambeth said in this resolution carries the stamp of definitive proclamation - it has become a defining statement regarding orthodox Anglicanism. This resolution has acquired such status that it will not be revisited at the next Lambeth Conference, cannot be countered without being considered a "communion breaker," and has status in this regard that is entirely out of line with reason, tradition and even scripture. It has become an Anglican idol.

So perhaps the first thing to challenge is this standard, and attack it at it core. But, I am afraid I do not see our Bishops doing this.

The ABC then writes, "To address these requests (for clarification of assent to Lambeth 1.1o) to the American House of Bishops is not to ignore the polity of The Episcopal Church, but to acknowledge that the bishops have a key role, acknowledged in the Constitution of that church, in authorising liturgies within their dioceses and in giving consent to the election of candidates for episcopal order. " What the Archbishop does not seem to understand that IF (and it is a big if) the Bishops were to come to an unequivocal covenant not to give consent, that covenant would itself spell the end of synodical governance in which the baptized have authority.

Then the ABC begins to reveal more than perhaps he wished to:

"A clear response on these questions is also needed in the near future: we cannot wait for another General Convention for further clarification. A readiness by the leadership of The Episcopal Church to live by that same formal standard of teaching on these matters which applies elsewhere in the Communion is perhaps the first and most important step in the way forward."

The matter of time, namely September 30, 2007, is somehow central. Why is it that "we cannot wait for another General Convention."? The answer is unfortunately fairly obvious. Because he has been given an ultimatum. The Church of Nigeria is only waiting until September before determining if it will ordain new bishops for CANA. Unless we give in, Nigeria will go forward. With Bishops Minns and Bena on board already, things are in place for a new Anglican Church in the US, this time in communion with Nigeria and perhaps others.


When the Archbishop later states, "...interventions in the jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church will be able to cease once there is sufficient provision within The Episcopal Church for the adequate pastoral care of such congregations" he is speaking with this same timetable in mind. He has very little time to act. If the bishops don't act with unequivocal compliance to Lambeth 1.10, others will act to further interventions, and indeed with a new American Anglican church. So he needs both compliance and alternative pastoral care in place prior to September 30, 2007.

The Pastoral Council scheme proposed by the Primates must the be developed very quickly. The ABC wants nominations by Friday, 16 March.

He then writes that "I am also in communication with the Presiding Bishop and the bishops identified in the Camp Allen correspondence to encourage the proposals developed at Dar es Salaam to be taken with all seriousness and dispatch. The practical question of how the Pastoral Council will be properly resourced and financed is of course central to this."

Well there the skunk is on the table. He writes the Presiding Bishop and the Camp Allen Bishops to get these proposals underway quickly...and then he raises the question of resources and finances. Since this wee paragraph is addressed to The Episcopal Church (its PB and some of its Bishops) I suppose he intends that The Episcopal Church should pay for the Pastoral Council, the Primatial Vicar, etc, and that right quickly.

We can only wonder the pressures the Archbishop is under, but more we can wonder the more if he is grasping at some final hope to avoid the realities of the Anglican future. Those realities will require greater provisionality, greater willingness to live with difference, and not less.

I believe there is indeed hope for Anglicanism in the future, and it does not belong with those who make idols of "standards" or who find broken communion a thing to be savored as an opportunity for mission.

It is time for the Archbishop to stop worrying about time. There is always plenty of time for dinner, and the Lord will invite who he wills. There is plenty of time to get there, for we know we will be welcome whenever we come. Everything else will sort itself out.

18 comments:

  1. If we are to be unworried about time, then why did we push the blessing of same sex unions through GC2003 (or 2000, depending on how you read things)? Why did we insist that NOW was the time to ordain a bishop who was sexually active outside of marriage.

    I submit that the time pressures were created by TECUSA, not by Nigeria.

    YBIC,
    Phil Snyder

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  2. On the other hand, the ABC's strategy to keep the AC together may be to simply play both ends against the middle.

    To quote a conservative commenter on Stand Firm regarding the ABC's strategy - "The AOC’s strategy before GC2006 is exactly the same strategy he is employing now: apply as much pressure before TEC’s deliberative body meets to extract the maximum concessions, and apply as much pressure after the meeting to obtain an acceptance of TEC’s response by the rest of the Commmunion... He seemed to be our best friend before GC2006, and our worst enemy a few months later when the task force report was released. In reality he is neither. His overriding goal is to keep the Communion together as long as possible by pushing both sides toward the middle as hard as he can."

    So while Akinola may have given him an ultimatum, he is really doing only what he knows how to do under the circumstances. And hope it works out. But he doesn't seem to care what havoc it wrecks on AC polity and the polity of TEC in the meantime. But then why would he, it only serves to consolidate his power and the power of the Primates, and why would he want to turn his back on that?
    C.B.

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  3. He seems to have drank the Kool-Aid and has cited one interpretation of one subsection of one Lambeth Resolution as if it is an infallible teaching.

    The Archbishop of Wales in his recent lecture reminds us that Lambeth Resolutions were never meant to be used this way, nor were they thought of as final teachings on anything. There have been complete reversals on divorce and contraception in the past.

    Lecture – St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork – Saturday 3 March 2007

    It seems to be a big gamble to put his eggs in the Nigerian basket in hopes that the American church will back down but it just seems to be delaying the inevitable.

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  4. christopher+6/3/07 10:00 AM

    Does anyone quite understand why Archbishop Rowan is allowing himself to be used as a pawn in a crass attempt at coercion in the Church? Does he believe that Episcopalians in the United States will simply give up all principles of Gospel inclusion and traditional Anglican polity for the sake of satisfying Nigeria - even as leaders of that Province actively support human rights violations against GLBT people?

    Or does he perhaps really believe that Lambeth resolutions like 1998 LR 1.10 - or at least, as with the Bible itself, the parts some people seem to favor most for whatever reason - should have the force of law across the entire Communion? If that's truly the case, we Anglicans all have an entirely different problem - and that we do indeed need to address posthaste.

    The Primate of Wales, Archbishop Barry Morgan, addressed this conundrum very clearly and thoroughly in a recent lecture:

    http://www.cork.anglican.org/news/030307.pdf

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  5. One of the key symptoms of a disordered family system is that one member is forced to accept responsibility for another member's actions: the "look what you made me do" syndrome. In just such a way, TEC has been made the whipping boy for Episcopal and Anglican fundamentalists, and now by Abp Williams as well. Their responses have been "forced," as they view it, by our bad behavior.

    The way to break this abusive pattern is to decline to participate in it. TEC needs to calmly assert that we will come to a decision on these matters in the time and manner appropriate to our ecclesiology. The AC's reaction to this is their responsibility, not ours.

    Such patterns are hard to break, of course, because the needs being met on both sides are real, even if disordered. Are the HoB and Executive Council up to the task? We will know soon enough.

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  6. Fr. Mark, I appreciate the insights you give in this post. I had not thought of your guess that the deadline might be because the Global South will only wait that long to set up their American Church. My guess was that the deadline is because he needs to know if he is going to invite us to the Lambeth Conference or not.

    I disagree with you about the authority of the Bishops to make this decision. This would not "spell the end of synodical governance in which the baptized have authority" because under our Constitution, Bishops are given the authority to veto a candidate for their house and to authorize liturgies. The constitution of TEC recognizes that these are two very specific areas that are appropriate for the episcopal order. There are still plenty of other areas that the entire General Convention is needed for.

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  7. christopher+6/3/07 1:29 PM

    Doug is quite right. We should simply decline to participate in this disordered dynamic and stop acting as if there really were some sort of crisis. There is not.

    Some members of the Communion - by no means all, or even most - are trying to keep the myth of imminent crisis alive to achieve their goals by means of coercion. Enough already. There is no crisis, no need for deadlines, and we should all address the important matters of theology and ecclesiology at hand carefully, taking as much time as we need and our polity requires.

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  8. "One of the key symptoms of a disordered family system is that one member is forced to accept responsibility for another member's actions: the "look what you made me do" syndrome. In just such a way, TEC has been made the whipping boy for Episcopal and Anglican fundamentalists, and now by Abp Williams as well. Their responses have been "forced," as they view it, by our bad behavior." Doug S.

    Exactly. The entire "blame game" sham/shame is nothing more than failing to take responsiblity for ones OWN despicable action/part of fear/hate! Rationalizing twisted thinking will not change the dynamic of ongoing deceit that is now being employed by selfrighteous extremists at the Anglican Communion.

    It's time to say "no" to all the obnoxious/noisy deceit and PRETEND! It's time to say no to those conservative foot stompping children throwing their neo-con tantrums while simultaneously endorsing the brutal outcasting/demoralization of fellow Christians/Anglicans in Nigeria and Uganda.

    This is very sick stuff!

    More, more, more is the cry of discrimination by the spiritually sick as they seek MORE reasons for being validated in their terror and greed. They are afraid of not getting enough of everything they demand and think they MUST have at The Episcopal Church.

    No means no.

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  9. I posted this at Jake's place today. It's kind of long, but... Sorry for the repetition for folks who comment at both sites.

    The Archbishop of Canterbury may be a fair theologian, but he is a terrible administrator. Even he proclaims Lambeth 1.10 as the official teaching of the church. He apparently does not know his own history. How many times has Lambeth itself said that it is not its role and function to determine doctrine? It certainly is not the role and function of the Primates. The good Archbishop of Canterbury seems not to want to be the one to make a difficult decision, abdicating his legitimate authority to decide who is and is not a constituent member of the Anglican Communion to a handful of theological thugs who will stop at nothing in their insatiable appetite to dominate.

    I am one of the proverbial nice guys. If you want to push me, you can do that, if that’s the kind of person you want to be; I can be pushed…to a point, and then you will wish you had not pushed. I am nice until it is time to stop being nice. It is time for The Episcopal Church to stop being nice. We have done everything according to the way we do things. We have done nothing that has required us to ask permission from anyone else. We voluntarily absented ourselves from the ACC in a show of good faith. We darn near monopolized GenCon06 in addressing our part of the Windsor Report’s recommendations, addressing it with as much energy (too much, in my opinion) and honesty as possible. Our Presiding Bishop took up her cross and signed the bloody Tanzania Communique. We have not violated our Constitution and Canons; we have neither denied the authority of holy scripture nor abandoned the faith; have remained true to who God has called us to be as clergy and people of The Episcopal Church, remaining ever-faithful disciples of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

    Unfortunately, you cannot deal in good faith with those who have none. Paraphrasing a line from a movie I saw recently, evil comes in all manner of masks, but none so treacherous as the mask of virtue. In the name of righteousness, the Primates and the Network have subverted, manipulated, willfully distorted (in a word, lied), usurped, interfered, condescended, issued ultimatums, abused human rights, claimed authority for themselves that they do not have and coercively attempted to exercise it, on and on in their unorthodox, unrelenting and unholy quest for power. I cannot help but wonder how in the world anyone, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, can expect “bonds of affection” to be restored in an such an atmosphere of corruption and coercion.

    It is time to stop being nice with people who bully in the name of our Savior because they only become more bold in their demands. It is time to turn the tables. The GS/Network keeps calling for clarity with a simple yes or no answer to the Tanzania Ultimatum, the response from our House of Bishops by September 30 of this year; no conditions, just yes or no. Using the standard allowed to be set by the Archbishop himself, I call upon the Archbishop of Canterbury, by the end of the upcoming House of Bishop’s meeting at Camp Allen, to offer clarity with a simple yes or no answer to the following question: Rev. Dr. Sir: As the only Instrument of Communion who can *legitimately* determine who is or is not a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, do you want The Episcopal Church to remain a constituent member of the Anglican Communion or not? No conditions, just yes or no?

    If the answer is yes, then it makes the GS Primates’ ultimatum moot, as it should be, and we will continue to do our part in restoring the bonds of affection, as we have done. If the answer is no, then again, the ultimatum and the Communique become moot and we will leave the Anglican Communion to self-destruct in ever-increasing factionalism, redirecting our energy, our resources, our mission and our ministries to those who will welcome faithful, truly orthodox Christians who are reaching out our hands in love.

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  10. One has to wonder, as the ABC pushes TEC into a box, does he know (he sould know)that with Canada, Wales and Scotland, CoE is on the hit list?

    Already at the last gathering of super egos, ++Akinola said that they were judging the ABC.

    We have one honest bishop in NH, they have hundreds of clerics in civil unions. Does anyone think most are celibate? Sooner or later, Foreward in Faith is going to bolt. A woman will eventually come up as a candidate for bishop and that will be that.

    I am capable of wondering if this whole excercise by the ABC is an attempt to feed us to the Akinolistas in hopes that they wont attack England?

    So what do we have here?

    Another affirmation that the Windsor fiction is a map somewhere real. That document whose principal author would have failed a student doing history that sloppy leads nowhere.


    Another claim that a resolution of Lambeth with not one word of input from the priest, deacons and layity of the church is somehow a communion wide standard. But even then, only the parts Nigerian powere seekers like apply as standards.

    At the end of the day, Jesus could have hidden. He did not have to go to the garden. He clearly knew that the pharisees had made a very uncomfortable alliance with the Herodians to get rid of him. He could have gotten out of town and waited -- the alliance did not last and could not have even if he had not died. He named evil, and he went on about his business.

    I submit we should do the same. Name evil -- the communique is evil. Now turn our attention to our own issues.

    Nothing makes a bully more unhappy than being ignored. Ignoring ++Akinola and his cronies is exactly what we should do.

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  11. ++Akinola has several times threatened to split the Church of England as well as the Episcopal Church. He was in conference at Tanzania not only with the American Bishops Duncan and Minns, but with Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream, an organization of very conservative English Evangelicals.

    Anglican Mainstream and Reform delivered a covenant draft to Lambeth Palace just before the Tanzania meeting, which demanded a "separate province" arrangement for English Evangelicals much like the arrangement the Network has been demanding in the United States.

    My guess, then, is that the ABC is most concerned to prevent a Network-style schism within the Church of England. One is being fomented by Anglican Mainstream and Reform, supported by the Bishops of Winchester and Rochester in concert with Archbishop Akinola and his six supporters among the Primates and the Network leaders in the US.

    So one way to answer Christopher+'s question is to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury may be much less concerned with the Episcopal Church than we think. He doesn't want the schismatics to attack his own Church and he will do whatever he judges necessary to ours to prevent that.

    Perhaps, then, we ought to tell him cheerfully: "Sorry, can't comply with the demands in the Communique; ball's in your court, Archbishop. Deal with the problems in the Church of England; they're your responsibility. We're under no obligation to sacrifice our Church so you can preserve yours."

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  12. Leonardo said: "The entire "blame game" sham/shame is nothing more than failing to take responsiblity for ones OWN despicable action/part of fear/hate! Rationalizing twisted thinking will not change the dynamic of ongoing deceit that is now being employed by selfrighteous extremists at the Anglican Communion"

    Just a note. Projection doesn't just happen in the movie theater.

    The reasserters weren't the ones who kept bringing the issue up. We are not the ones who proceeded with consecrating +Robinson after the primates warned it would tear the fabric (=schism) of the communion. We are not the ones who refused to listen to the rest of the communion. We have spent the last 4 years telling the Communion to get stuffed and you are act like their reaction of anger towards us is unexpected.

    YBIC,
    Phil Snyder

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  13. Padre Wayne6/3/07 11:03 PM

    Doug Simonsen: "The way to break this abusive pattern is to decline to participate in it. TEC needs to calmly assert that we will come to a decision on these matters in the time and manner appropriate to our ecclesiology. The AC's reaction to this is their responsibility, not ours."

    This is so to the point, Doug. It's time to grow up -- who knows, perhaps others will, too? (Though their current track record doesn't inspire confidence...)

    Marc: Copy and paste your comment over at T19 or SF please. I've discovered there are a few reasonable people over at T19 (fewer at SF) who might actually appreciate your own critique. (Then again, beware of flames!)

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  14. I'm used to getting flamed at T19, Padre. Thanks for the affirmation, though. I purposely did not post this at T19 1) because it is probably too long for the elves to appreciate, and 2) anything I post anywhere I hope will contribute to the conversation. I've never posted anything at Stand Firm for the same reason I've never done anything but take a peak at Virtue. A post like this one, even at T19, I'm afraid would *only* inflame and not begin to get across to the couple of folks who might actually be listening.

    But, hey, if you want to send it out and about, be my guest. I don't have any illusions that the AbC will actually see it, but I'm toying with sending it to my bishop before she goes to Camp Allen, although she is quite capable of expressing herself.

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  15. "Just a note. Projection doesn't just happen in the movie theater." Phil

    Thought that might get your attention but not the "projection" part...the truth is, my dear brother Phil, that many extreme thinking/believing puritan types are worried about not getting enough of what they think they MUST have...it's pure emotional/spiritual instability, I think, coupled with greed, arrogance and selfrighteousness.

    Episcopalian/Anglican Christians who discriminate against fellow Christians at all levels of OUR Churchlife should be pleased they probably aren't going to have to pay money (yes) "reparations" for all the slanderous, dangerous and selective scriptural hatemongering that has resulted in the demoralization, outcasting, raping, murderer and general loathing of many LGBT people everywhere.

    Talk is cheap, Phil, but there really is a BIG moral price to pay for the kind of excluding that Akinola and accomplices are trying to impose on the human race through the anti-human rights legislation pending in Nigeria!

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  16. why did we push the blessing of same sex unions through GC2003 (or 2000, depending on how you read things)?

    Huh? We didn't---we're STILL waiting for same-sex unions to be authorized by GC!

    Why did we insist that NOW was the time to ordain a bishop who was sexually active outside of marriage.

    Um---cuz New Hampshire elected him? (+GR, like several other bishops, being in a second marriage---w/ or w/o the legal title. As far as "sexually active"? Again, Phil, you're just being rudely invasive)

    *****

    At the end of the day, Jesus could have hidden. He did not have to go to the garden. He clearly knew that the pharisees had made a very uncomfortable alliance with the Herodians to get rid of him. He could have gotten out of town and waited -- the alliance did not last and could not have even if he had not died. He named evil, and he went on about his business.

    I submit we should do the same. Name evil -- the communique is evil. Now turn our attention to our own issues.


    AWESOMELY well-said, Jim. Thank you! :-D

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  17. "Perhaps, then, we ought to tell him cheerfully: "Sorry, can't comply with the demands in the Communique; ball's in your court, Archbishop" (Charlotte)
    My preference, in the above sentence, with which I agree, is to substitute "will not" for the word "can't". It's a little thing, I know, but I learned a long time ago that "can't" is a weak word in the face of power or assumed power. "Will not" retains our own integrity.
    Having said that, my hope is that the House of Bishops, meeting in March, make a statement deferring to the power (appropriate kind) of Executive Council as part of the decision making process, withholding any final statement until after Council's meeting in June. Whatever happens after that is up for grabs, depending on Council.
    Again, if Council and/or the HoB decide that General Convention is the proper place for this discussion (again!), I'd prefer language that says "We will refer this communique to GC2009. This is where major decisions are made." rather than "We HAVE TO wait until..." Stronger, more integrity, makes a clearer statement.
    Clearly I don't have enough to do today but play composition teacher!
    Lois Keen

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  18. http://www.GlobeandMail.comYou might be interested to see what Michael Ingham said recently on the subject of sexuality to a Canadian conference in Ottawa. See articles on March 8 and 9 by writer Michael Valpy

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