Moderator Robert Duncan, deposed bishop of Pittsburgh, gave a press conference in London and Anglican Mainstream has produced the transcript of one section of that conference touching on the question of a North American Province HERE.
He makes some quite odd statements:
"The Archbishop of Canterbury is very concerned about the inter-provincial model and recognizes that one of the ways that that model would disappear would be the recognition of a second province in the US. That would create a very localized irregular reality. But we do have a terribly irregular relationship in Europe where there are 250 congregations of the Diocese of Gibraltar and a dozen congregations of the American convocation. And the American convocation gets tremendous airtime but it does not really occupy very many souls does it?"
He is repeating the old saw about "irregular" meaning dual jurisdictions in Europe. What he doesn't mention, however, is that the two bodies of Anglican parishes in Europe are in full communion with one another, and are not there because the other is doing something they believe to be heretical or immoral. The irregularities are historical and one hopes they will be overcome at some point. For very many years it was argued that there should be no Anglican Diocese of Europe, since the faith was there by way of churches already fully present in the cultures of Europe. Most Anglican congregations in Europe began as chaplaincies. Given the apparently low level of interest in the churches in place, Anglicans are beginning to see that they too may have ministries not only to the transient Anglicans in Europe but to peoples of the countries. So the parallel does not exist at all.
And what is this about air time?
Moderator Duncan then says,
"It will be very interesting to see if the wider communion, particularly if there is a meeting of all the primates in February, as is proposed, how they will they respond to this. So many of the primates now have commented, beyond that limited group that was the Jerusalem group, that they do not recognize my deposition. So what do you do when you have an American church that has deposed a leader who stands with most of the rest of the Communion and represents these jurisdictions that have been forced out or in conscience left and are under so many other provinces, does it not make sense to end the inter-provincial arrangements."
The fact that a number of primates do not recognize the deposition of Moderator Duncan is a sign that the "inter-provincial arrangements" - that is communion among the various provinces- is broken. Granted. The Moderator's argument seems to be that if it is broken, don't fix it, dump it.
I trust the Archbishop of Canterbury recognizes that if the notion of one nation (or area) one church (Province) is dumped, the Communion will begin to be made up of one nation-several churches (Provinces) with those being opposed to one another. This will set the stage not only for the disestablishment of the Church of England, but the absolute end of there being a Church OF England. There will then be many churches in England, none of them with the legitimate claim to be the Church of England.
More importantly it will make of Anglicanism an ideology, pure and simple, but one with a flawed center. The notion that in all of England there would be one church, one prayer book, one church that was the church of the Nation became in the rest of the Anglican Communion the notion that there would be a single Anglican church for the nation. There would be, in other words, separate jurisdictions at best, or parallel jurisdictions of churches in full communion, in very nation where Anglicans found themselves.
While there have been major defections from this in the past, those have at least broken off and become what they envisioned the church to be. And there are now all sorts of Anglican church entities that claim the Anglican vision, but only the Churches in the Anglican Communion have kept that "arrangement" intact. As the Anglican Communion grew, new Provinces arose, every one of them territorially defined, usually by national boundaries. In the brave new world of the Moderator's Anglican Church would this one church, one jurisdiction, model change? I doubt it.
The Moderator then said, speaking to a question on the role of the Anglican Consultative Council in the matter of admission of new Provinces,
"But for those of us who want to be part of a global church, we continue to work with the existing systems, recognizing that in the crisis new systems are likely to emerge. And so some parts may recognize, and who knows, it may please God that even the ACC would see the wisdom of limiting this crisis to one continent as opposed to the present five."
The Moderator wants "to be part of a global church." As far as he is concerned the current Anglican Communion structures and systems are unequal to the task. In that he is right. That is because the Anglican Communion is not a global church. It is a fellowship of churches.
If the ACC authorizes three provinces in North America - the existing two on the one hand and the Common Cause Partnership Province on the other - with it being clear that the CCP exists because of the "the American situation and the American outrage" and that it is not in communion with the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada - the ACC will contribute to the end of the Anglican Communion as we know it.
Moderator Duncan is not interested in the Anglican Communion as it is. He wants it to be something else, the Anglican Church, of which the Episcopal Church and every other Church is a franchise. Perhaps the franchise licenses will be given out on a basis other than territory, but we need to be clear - there will be jurisdictions for each new franchise. When the dust settles, Moderator Duncan believes the CCP Province will be the franchise for North America, not in the Anglican Communion but the Anglican Church.
Episcopal News Service picked up on another of the Moderator's thoughts: "Duncan noted that Anis had compared him to 'St. Athanasius, who as Bishop of Alexandria, was deposed and exiled from his see.'" Interesting that the Moderator seems to think this is a valid comparison.
I remember from grade school: "compare" was always accompanied by "contrast," otherwise it was not comparison that was going on but identification. So, what is the contrast between the Moderator and the Bishop of Alexandria? Well, for starters Athanasius is considered one of the Doctors of the Church. I am not sure the Moderator is in that league. Very little about his press conference gives me any confidence that he is up to the task of saving Western Christianity. Then again, I could be wrong.