This bit of slight of hand movement is so that it can be claimed that in FOCA the Primates have a "groundswell" of support for a new improved Anglican Communion. It is all spelled out in a Communique from the "GAFCON / FCA Primates' Council. It is on the GAFCON pages as "GAFCON Communique issued - ACNA recognized." In the usual thumping for numbers, the Communique suggests that "... FCA in its initial stages is attracting membership by individuals, churches, dioceses, provinces and organizations involving millions of Anglicans."
The Primates' Council consists of Primates of seven churches within the Anglican Communion who were sponsors of GAFCON and a number of bishops who as bishops or priests were formerly part of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada and are now deposed or otherwise left TEC and ACoC to join other Churches. There have been some difference of opinion as to whether or not Archbishop Justice Akrofi of West Africa was there. The often cited "eight Provinces" includes Archbishop Peter Jensen, who is not properly the Primate for Australia. See my post HERE.
The specific points of the Communique, with my comments following each:
This responsibility is of course self-generated and assumed. And what in the world does it mean to authenticate "orthodox Anglicans?" Are they to be the litmus test of all Anglican orthodoxy? Time for all Churches in the Communion to hold on to their autonomy - the strip-search gang is out to find out if there is any hidden weapons out there.
(i) "The GAFCON Primates’ Council has the responsibility of recognizing and authenticating orthodox Anglicans especially those who are alienated by their original Provinces.
(ii)"We are also called to promote the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) in its stand against false teaching and as a rallying point for orthodoxy. It is our aim to ensure that the unity of the Anglican Communion is centered on Biblical teaching rather than mere institutional loyalty."
Right FOCA (FCA) is the subversive people-power thingy, you know, the one that makes institutional loyalty - to the 1662 or any other institutionally derived liturgy - unnecessary. But wait, wait....remember the FOCA crowd also insists on the 1662 book. The whacked logic of it all makes for headaches.
(iii) "It is essential to provide a way in which faithful Anglicans, many of whom are suffering much loss, can remain as Anglicans within the Communion while distancing themselves from false teaching.""The FCA Primates’ Council recognizes the Anglican Church in North America as genuinely Anglican and recommends that Anglican Provinces affirm full communion with the ACNA." (bold in the original text)
I predicted this as an outcome. Now they will take this to the Anglican Consultative Council as a done deal and note that as it now stands eight Churches in the Anglican Communion recognize an ecclesiastical body that is in direct and complete non-communication with existing churches in the Anglican Communion. Will the ACC have the courage to say that this is an untenable situation? Will ACC finally jump onto the "two tiered approach" for a time with ACNA as the "second" and TEC / ACoC as the "first," but later possibly reversed? That is no less untenable.
(iii) "We look forward in real hope to a positive response amongst the Churches, Dioceses and Provinces of the Communion to our call to enter into full communion with the new Anglican Church in North America. Only in this way, we believe, will the need for the so-called ‘cross border incursions’ come to an end and a measure of peace restored."
Meaning, we might suppose that there will be no moratorium on "cross border incursions."
(iv) "While we support the concept of an Anglican Covenant, we understand that its adequacy depends on the willingness to address the crisis that has “torn the fabric” of the Communion. We welcome the Ridley Cambridge Draft Covenant and call for principled response from the Provinces."
There is an odd addendum to this in the report on Religious Intelligence, written by Nick Mackenzie. He drops the "We welcome the Ridley Cambridge Draft..." and replaced it with, "If those who have left the standards of the Bible are able to enter the Covenant with a good conscience, it seems to be of little use.” Perhaps this was the language in an earlier version of the text prior to release.
As I have noted before only two of the six GAFCON / FOCA Provinces responded to the last draft. My sense is that Mr. Mackenzie picked up on a central point of the Primates concerning the Anglican Covenant - that it is of little use if those suspected could sign.
There is no new news here: GAFCON was set out to support the emerging thing in North America. The only really new news is that GAFCON / FOCA Primates have finally written it down: "The FCA Primates’ Council recognizes the Anglican Church in North America as genuinely Anglican and recommends that Anglican Provinces affirm full communion with the ACNA." and, unless they are out to fire the person who makes the headlines, when GAFCON says, "GAFCON issues communique, ACNA recognized" that is what the Primates meant.
What can we gather from all this?
We can presume then that the six Churches that now recognize ACNA as a Province are in the recruiting stage. The Primates will recruit other Primates and use FOCA and its "millions" as a talking point.
We can presume that the Moderator of the Common Cause Partnership will take the title Archbishop of ACNA in June with the recognition and authentication of the GAFCON Primates.
We can presume that since all of this takes place against the backdrop of the GAFCON / FOCA Primates declaring their Churches out of communion with TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada as institutions (i.e. as churches). Incursions will continue until such time as ACNA becomes the Anglican province in North America.
The contention that the GAFCON Primates are in any way Anglican in any of this has been complete hokum and a ruse. Now at least it is out in the open: a state of war now exists, GAFCON / FOCA Primates having recognized and authenticated a church battling with TEC and ACoC for the loyalties, hearts and minds, etc, of Anglicans in North America.
If the "instruments of communion" - the Archbishop of Canterbury, the ACC, the Lambeth Conference, and the Primates Meeting - do not respond there will be no place for anything like the Anglican Covenant being proposed, no fellowship for a Primates meeting of all 38 Provinces, a smaller Lambeth Conference and a reduced role for the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Wait...perhaps this is a good thing. So, go ahead GAFCON / FOCA. Maybe there will be eight or ten Provinces that go all the way with you on this and join in church warfare against TEC and the ACoC. Then the rest of us can get on with our work, FOCA can become the World Wide Anglican Communion , Inc, with offices in Egypt. They can become distant ecumenical partners in good works and we can all think back about paths not taken. "Ah," we will say, "too bad we couldn't make it work." They will cease to be sister churches and become distant cousins.
But meanwhile, dear friends, remember the thought police, the patrols of the orthodox squads, the push to end the creative life in tension with modernity, the hope for a church that lives beyond church. This gang will return us to an incurable romanticism about the good life fulfilled in a language not even spoken outside church circles in England anymore. Those who want a confessing church of is sort are welcome to go.
It is time to be awake and aware.