Evasive answers from Bishop Venables.

The American Anglican Council sent out its weekly newsletter today. In it was portions of an interview by Robert Lundy, on the Communications staff of the AAC with Bishop Venables, Primate of the Province of the Southern Cone. From that interview:

AAC: Are you going to attend the Lambeth conference? If not, then why?

My personal conviction after a very long period of active participation in this drawn-out process is that the system is not allowing a solution. It's Catch 22. We believed initially that there was a simple, albeit painful, solution but there seemed to be an overwhelming reluctance to pay the price. It's not even "unity whatever the cost" because that's the one thing we won't end up with. The Anglican Communion has already unraveled, and things are even further away from resolving the deadlock. Under these conditions, Lambeth will not only fall far short of anything positive but actually make things worse. Perhaps, looking at it from the outside, it looks easy but inside it's not only labyrinthine, but there is no centre to get to. It's an ecclesiastical Alice through the Looking Glass, but there's no humour and little real love.

In case you missed it, Bishop Venables did not say if he was going to attend Lambeth or not.

AAC: Why do you think there is disillusionment with Canterbury and the Anglican System?

It's not personalised but it is definitely to do with the Anglican system and the whole procedural set up. So much has been done such as Lambeth 1:10, several very clear communiques, the Windsor report and even some crucial and concrete decisions taken, yet nothing seems to have really changed and it's hard not to read this negatively. It's as if every time you have to start from scratch and people have just got tired. The latest disillusionment is that there won't be another primates' meeting, which is a tragedy because it was there that everything was developed. In the real world you don't dismiss the medical team before the operation is completed.

Poor Bishop Venables is tired. Now the blame for disillusionment is that there won't be another Primates Meeting (prior to Lambeth, one presumes.) He elevates the fact that a special Primates Meeting, asked for by the Global South Anglicans and by at least one of the Provinces, is not scheduled to the level of tragedy. But it appears that the tragedy of not having the meeting is "because it was there that everything was developed." The tragedy, dear friends, is that the good Bishop and the consortium of Primates most closely aligned with the Global South Steering Committee, and their vasals, won't get a chance to make new demands and become the de-facto ruling body of the Communion. He was less interested in why the disillusionment for regular paid up Anglicans and more on why he found it a tragedy. He doesn't answer the question about disillusionment in the Communion, he answers concerning some of the Primates.

AAC: There are orthodox Anglicans who think attending Lambeth is the answer and that the GAFCON is a mistake; what do you say to them?

God bless them but they're probably making a mistake. Some of us who have actually participated in all the meetings believe we have to get on with the really important ministry of the Church, which is to do with salvation and eternal life, and that this can only be done with those who share the historic biblical faith. It's a question of realism and priorities.

Here he claims that GAFCON is about "salvation and eternal life." But GAFCON is about a Global Anglican Future, one carried forward by the pure and undefiled only. It beginning point then will be to proclaim, as Bishop Venables himself does, that "the Anglican Commuion has already unraveled." That being the case GAFCON will be about the ministry of the church, but it will begin by defining Church in ways to exclude a remarkably large portion of the population from vocations to the orders of bishop, priest or deacon, and from the assurance of God's blessing on what some will claim is a holy vocation to committed relationships, oh yes, and also any who believe that such persons ARE part of the future of the faith. The claim that the ministry having to do with salvation and eternal life is "can only be done with those who share the historic biblical faith," means, one supposes, that there is no salvation or eternal life outside the group that self-selects the guardians of that faith. For this to work in Anglican circles it means saying that a very large portion of church leaders are not guardians of the faith at all. GAFCON is a way to weed out the poor miserable sinners and throwing them on the fire.

Bishop Venables claims to be part of the Anglican Communion and a guardian of its peculiar way of being Christian. But he does not say yes or no, he does own his own power issues and he claims he has the goods on just who ought to be in and out of the group sharing the historic biblical faith. He is in over his head and it is a shame.

From a correspondent who has connections in the Province of the Southern Cone I have received information that the Province is having its own problems with the Primate. In the election of a new bishop in Paraguay the Paraguayan candidates were cut from the list and that they are looking for an English bishop, one supposes connected with SAMS. Regarding the new connection between the Province of the Southern Cone and the Bishop and Clergy of San Joaquin, the Primate seems to be play it both ways - it is individuals who are coming in (said to concerned clergy) and it is the whole Diocese coming in (to the US and other interested international friends).

There has been considerable talk of what happens to Bishop Schofield who has indeed left the Episcopal Church for the south. The question ought also to be raised, what happens to Bishop Venables?

He has determined that the Anglican Communion has unraveled. He has determined that the Primates who count (the Global South Anglicans Steering Committee and a few others) are the power to contend with, not the Archbishop of Canterbury (see unraveled above.) He considers himself in a self-appointed guardianship role, along with the so called orthodox Primates, able to determine just who is part of the historic biblical faith.

Along with Archbishop Akinola and several others he will have a fully owned subsidiary of the Province of the Southern Cone in the United States.

Perhaps, as my Southern Cone friend suggests, this invasive business of one Province mucking about in the jurisdiction of another, needs to go to the ACC, the only legislative body there is in the Anglican Communion.

But wherever it goes, Bishop Venables has got a lot to answer for. He will, I am sure, cover himself with glory by claiming that he has the faith and all the rest of us don't. But maybe he will simply be hiding behind the skirts of Mother Church, who might decide that enough is enough.


  1. James tells us, "Let your yes be yes and your no, no."

    Apparently the correct fundamentalist interpretation is, "Let your empty rhetoric be empty rhetoric - to hell with yes or no."

    And that tidbit about Paraguay is really quite startling. Of course, if confirmed, it suggests that the Province of the Southern Cone isn't so much a church as a chaplaincy for English expats.

  2. "[Bishop Venables] considers himself in a self-appointed guardianship role, along with the so called orthodox Primates, able to determine just who is part of the historic biblical faith."

    Sadly, this is the classic "Puritan" move, which essentially translates as "my way or the highway."

    Not very Anglican really, not in any traditional, historic sense. "My way or the highway" belies the wonderful - if, yes, occasionally frustrating - comprehensiveness of traditional Anglicanism.

  3. Venebles: "It's not personalised but it is definitely to do with the Anglican system and the whole procedural set up."

    It seems that the part about the Anglican Communion that Bishop Venebles doesn't like is its anglicanism.

  4. "So much has been done such as Lambeth 1:10"

    Amazing how 2000+ years of tradition has been summarised in a 1998 resolution that was rammed through Lambeth. It boggles the mind.

  5. Lambeth started "making things worse" in 1998 when it foolishly began to lay out "positions on doctrine" contrary to its charter to be a forum for open discussion and shared reflection.

  6. malcolm says that "James tells us, "Let your yes be yes and your no, no.""

    Quite right.... just as GC2006 was so clear and unequivocal in its reponses to questions from the Primates?

    Maybe ++Venables is taking lessons in answering questions from some TEC bishops?

    It is great to use the bible....trouble is we all fall short and need to repent when we do so....which is exactly why we should use it as it has genuine integrity.

  7. Anonymous - there is a difference between nuance and bafflegab.

    As I read it, the Episcopal bishops tried to fashion a response that honestly described where they were - and at the end of the day clearly rejected certain of the Primates' demands.

    The pretendy primate of the western hemisphere, by contrast, hasn't told us squat.

  8. It's remarkable how clear documents can be when one ignores all the parts one doesn't like.


  9. Let's be clear what's going on here. This is sour grapes writ big. This group of self-proclaimed orthodox have failed in getting TEC kicked out of the Communion, so the Communion becomes part of the problem and must be discarded. If they can't run it, they have to try to tear it down.

    Jesus weeps.

  10. The "tidbit about Paraguay" as Malcom nicely phrases it, is a peek into the future for some of our conservative brethren. They assume that they will be able to pick their parish clergy and elect their bishops just like they did in ECUSA. What a shock when they discover that the monarchical episcopate is not just a phrase to be memorized for General Ordination Exams.

  11. ruidh says "This group of self-proclaimed orthodox have failed in getting TEC kicked out of the Communion, so the Communion becomes part of the problem and must be discarded"

    Maybe....but without "this group of self-proclaimed orthodox" you are talking about a "Communion" led by the ABC which certainly does not contain 77m Anglicans nor 53m (if you do not pretend England has 26m Anglicans but in reality about 2m)......without what you call ""this group of self-proclaimed orthodox", the AC becomes a very small and shrinking denomination in the world.....this is not necessarily a bad thing but it explains why, in the end, the ABC always gives way to "this group of self-proclaimed orthodox" ......and even his invitation to Lambeth 08 talks of Windsor Compliance and Lambeth 1.10 being the mind of the Communion (with the result that not all TEC bishops are invited)

    All I am saying, ruidh, is do not quickly dismiss what you call "this group of self-proclaimed orthodox" in the AC.....they represent most of the AC whichever way you cut it.

  12. Malcolm, thanks for your answer but would you really say that Bishop Bruno gave clear and unequivocal answers re SSBs post the New Orleans conference? Even the PB surprised the Primates by coming back from Tanzania saying that she had merely agreed to take home the Primates' message......everyone else seemed to have understood her to have been part of a unanimous message from the Primates.

    Basically, I agree with you, Malcolm ..... we should have truth and honesty but all I am saying is both sides can be pulled up on this point.

    Sadly, I think some bureacrats in Lambeth Palace believe ambiguous words have some chance of creating unity.....

  13. Anonymous comments "..........they represent most of the AC whichever way you cut it". A couple of weeks back, on her blog "My Manner of Life", Lisa Fox observed of the planned GAFCON meeting: "I do think it's funny that they feel the need to state that "these leaders represent over 30 million of the 55 million active Anglicans in the world." ....... it leads me to reflect: A vote was taken as to whether to crucify Jesus or Barrabas; the vote was overwhelming: "Crucify Jesus!""

  14. (Dan)
    So which is it, Lapinbizarre? When GC votes by majority to do something, it is the will of the HS, but when a majority of other Christians function similarly, it is the work of the Devil? If the Diocese of NH elects a partnered gay bishop, they were led by God but if Third World Christians decide otherwise, they seek to crucify again Out Lord and Savior?I forgot that 815 owns the HS along with the buildings in which the faithful have worshipped for hundreds of years. Thanks for the reminder.

  15. I've been around too long to assume that either side owns the Holy Spirit, Dan. I'm with the Archbishop of Kenya on this one when he appeals to church leaders to “preach peace, unity, and co-existence”, though sadly Archbishop Nzimbi appears only to see the application of this principle to events in his own back yard.

  16. Anonymous said: "If the Diocese of NH elects a partnered gay bishop, they were led by God but if Third World Christians decide otherwise, they seek to crucify again Out Lord and Savior?"

    I was not aware that anyone had said Third World Christians couldn't go on electing straight bishops.

  17. malcolm - you (deliberatly?) miss the point...... a majority election in NH is not necessarily good and a majority decision by Anglican bishops in 1998 is not necessarily bad (if one looks at things fairly.

    If people want to reject majority decisions, let us focus on what scripture says on the presenting issues....since we are talking about what churches should approve and teach here, it is reasonable to take scripture as our guide

  18. The synod of the Diocese of New Hampshire acted within it's scope of authority by electing a bishop.

    The Episcopal bishops with jurisdiction and the Episcopal diocesan standing committees acted within their authority to ratify that election.

    The Lambeth conference acted within its authority (albeit with an unseemly amount of intrigue) to pass a resolution stating the majority opinion of those present.

    The "conservatives" have been dishonest in pretending that the majority opinion of those present at Lambeth 1998 is binding on anyone at all.

    Perhaps New Hampshire was wrong to elect Gene Robinson. Perhaps the bishops with jurisdiction and the standing committees were wrong to ratify. Personally, I've always suspected that the Holy Spirit may have been on holidays when Mrs. Thatcher proposed George Carey for Canterbury. Decisions made can be wrong.

    But the "conservatives" have not been merely wrong, but consistently dishonest in pretending that Lambeth 1998 1.10 is an authoritative statement obligatory to all Anglicans.

    Indeed, let me be plainer, they've lied.

  19. Malcolm,

    Would you accept that TEC has been wrong in thinking the AC must accept a bishop who openly condones and practises(by his own "out and proud" admission)behaviour which most of our Anglican bishops and Primates still today say is incompatible with scripture?

    TEC could have said they believe what they have done is is RIGHT and HOLY and withdrawn from the AC given its stated positions and what the ABC calls "the mind of the communion" in Lambeth 1.10.... but because TEC has wanted both to follow its conscience and stay in the AC club, we have horrible, exhausting, undedifying conflict.

    I would respect TEC saying it is going to lead a liberal Anglican worldwide church and all from the AC who think Lambeth 1.10 is wrong should be free to join with properties and pensions. The disunity and hatred in the AC comes from the endless talking and delays aimed at keeping contradictory views all in the AC.... the result of a misguided "leadership"


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.