5/27/2010

A.S. Haley on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.

It's lead up time, friends, time in Anglicanland when the spin masters try out the words they will use when the going gets tough. Times are going to get tough indeed, for there is always wreckage in the fast lane. So here is the word of the day:

Hypocrite.

Now there's a word. Folks are trying it out from the left and right.

In a blog entry Friday, May 21st, (my birthday I might add) A. S. Haley set out to show just how all us terrible hypocrites on the left are plotting to keep a strangle hold on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. He implicates me in this hypocrisy, a not particularly welcome birthday present.

In Hypocrisy on the Left (or, Dog Bites Man) Haley pulls together considerable research in support of his narrow legal argument that Bishop Douglas by virtue of his becoming bishop has lost his seat on the Anglican Consultative Council and is not therefore able to serve on the Standing Committee.

I believe his argument is at the most a very narrow read of a rather complex and convoluted Constitution and By-Laws for the ACC. I believe a more generous read is possible, in which it is possible for Bishop Douglas to continue on ACC if elected to the bishop chair from TEC on ACC, and for him to be ruled a member of the Standing Committee elected by the ACC itself. On this and many other things Mr. Haley and I disagree.

However, while Mr. Haley implicates me in hypocrisy, I do not suggest that he is in any way a hypocrite. In that he will have his reward, and I, I suppose, will have mine. His basic argument has been worked over enough and I do not wish to hash it over again.

Meanwhile, Mr. Haley does us all a service in tracing out the history of the formation of the Standing Committee, now sometimes called the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. Here is what he had to say:

"Interlude: A brief history. The Standing Committee of the ACC was originally a nine-member body established by the ACC Constitution's Article 7. Its function, as established by a later amendment, was to "act for the Council between meetings of the Council and [to] execute such matters as are referred to it by the Council." It met annually, while the ACC met only once every three (originally: every two) years. However, ACC-10 in 1996 adopted a recommendation of the Virginia Report (see paragraph 6.26 on pages 37-38) to increase the membership of the Standing Committee by including the five members of the Standing Committee of the Primates' Meeting. This created a Standing Committee of fourteen members, by the language added to Article 7, which included (as per paragraph [e] of the Schedule of Membership) "Five members of the body known as the Standing Committee of the Primates of the Anglican Communion[,] in each case for so long as they shall remain members of such Standing Committee." In time, and after several meetings in connection with the Primates' Meeting, this committee became referred to as the "Joint Standing Committee" of the ACC and the Primates' Meeting, and it accordingly had fourteen members. At their latest meeting a year ago, the ACC approved a resolution changing the name of the group back to the "Standing Committee."

This is the thing that has at times been referred to as "The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion." The Anglican Covenant in 4.2.2 refers to the committee first as "the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion" and then as "the Standing Committee."

Mr. Haley has at least shown that the Standing Committee is indeed the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council with a new name.

The Anglican Communion Institute suggests that the Standing Committee in the Anglican Covenant , while clearly the Standing Committee of the ACC Constitution, has such different functions as to make it logically or legally impossible for the work of managing the ACC and overseeing the Anglican Covenant to be done by the one structural entity. It is certainly true that the Standing Committee in the Anglican Covenant context is not spending its time dealing with the details of funding, reviewing staff reports - the sorts of things expected by the ACC Constitution. But it is the same body as indicated in the commentary on the final draft of section 4 of the Anglican Covenant:

"The question ‘who should be responsible for the maintenance of the Covenant?’ proved to be one of the enduring problems with which the Covenant Design Group worked. The Nassau Draft sought to reflect the actual working of the Communion at the time, and gave the central role in discernment to the Primates’ Meeting. In response to extensive criticism, the Anglican Consultative Council was placed in this role in the St Andrew’s Draft. This also met with considerable criticism. However, the Covenant Design Group did not see its role as inventing new structures for the Communion, but rather explicating and strengthening existing structures. Hence, in the Ridley Cambridge April Draft, the Joint Standing Committee was placed in this role. Current responses have also questioned this, wondering whether the Covenant exalts the Joint Standing Committee into a fifth instrument of Communion.

In the meantime, the Joint Standing Committee as such has ceased to exist. By the constitutional changes which became active at ACC-14, following approval by two thirds of the Provinces, the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting has developed into “The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion”, in which membership is constituted by elections from the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting."

The Ridley Cambridge November Text continues to accord the Standing Committee with the crucial role of monitoring the functioning of the Covenant. The Covenant Working Group considers that the Standing Committee with membership from all four Instruments of Communion, combining bishops, clergy and laity, is best placed for this role. What is made explicit in the current draft is that the Standing Committee derives its authority from its responsibility to the two Instruments of Communion which elect its membership, and on whose behalf it acts. It provides a co-ordinating function for matters to do with Covenant maintenance, supported by relevant expertise (cf 4.2.2) and in close communication with both the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting, on whose advice it acts. (cf 4.2.6 and 4.2.7)"

So much then for the ACI bickering about the Standing Committee and its roles. Yes it is the same committee, and yes its roles vis a vis the Anglican Covenant and the ACC are different. But there it is: they are the same people, same committee, chosen by the Primates and the ACC to serve.

And yes indeed, the Realignment / Right is indeed about the business of trying to get rid of any representation from TEC on the Standing Committee. You bet. That is what is going on here.

So the idea is to try out the word 'hypocrite" as a way into disabling and discounting those awful people on the progressive end of things. Anything to get people to look "over there" at all those hypocrites and not at the content of the brief they present, a brief that is not very helpful.

Over on the Progressive end of things the phrase, "conservative hypocrite" as been seen on occasion. One blogsite asks, "
Do conservative hypocrites more negatively impact religious communities?" Good question, "more negatively" than what? Than liberal hypocrites? I don't think so. But wait, maybe they do. The writer suggests that hypocrites on sexual matters either continue their lie with words that dance around the reality (Clinton for example) or admit their wrongdoing but stand dumbfounded that it was such a big deal. Conservative hypocrites on sexual matters prattle on about high morals and practice considerably lower morals and later practice high contrition while working for a reduced sentence using forgiveness as the basis.

But at least we know that Progressives also bring out the "hypocrite" charge.

Progressives, who regularly get beat-up by Global South Anglican folk, could also remark on the hypocritical situation regarding purity and stability of life of a remarkably large number of bishops in the Global South who are under investigation, indictment, or in court for various immoral behaviors. George Conger writes about a number of these:
  • There is open warfare in Zimbabwe between the forces of deposed Bishop Kunonga and the forces of the current Bishop of Harare, Dr. Chad Gandiya. It is a royal mess.
  • Then we are informed that "Drink-driving bishop resigns" Melanesia Bishop Koete was forced into resignation for drinking on the job.
  • Not to be outdone, there is then this report from the Church of South India "Bishop Dorai arrested." Bishop Dorai was accused of menacing a priest. But that is only the surface to what promises to be a long and difficult legal matter.
  • Then there is a related CSI matter: Corruption charges brought against the Moderator of the CSI." The charges are taking big money out of Church hands.
  • The bishop of Jerusalem and the former bishop of same are suing the pants off each other.This in a Province that decries the legal wrangling in the US.
  • The Archbishop of Uganda suspended and then deposed a bishop whose "notable crime" was advocating for gay and lesbian persons in Uganda. The rules of deposition look remarkably like those of The Episcopal Church which is accused of being unfeeling and unChristian in its deposition policies.

Its quite a roster bishop leaders exercising less than fully virtuous lives.

So from the left we might ask if those of the "Global South" are in much of a position to accuse progressives having such logs in their own eyes. And of course we hear very little about this.

But its all a work up for days to come. I predict a rousing round of charges of 'hypocrisy.' We on the progressive side would do well to step back from such charges. They have a tendency to come home to roost. Those who make such charges will have their reward.

1 comment:

  1. Sir - given most of the AC is not too bothered by the finer points of a standing committee they see as illegitimate, it matters little. The ABC might write us all a letter asking for compliance with procedures etc..... but even he may soon realise that the old AC is gone.....he failed to hold it all together with fudge and indecision.....new realities have to be engaged with soon..........please that TEC is doing that by ignoring his pleas for "gracious restraint" - which would have made you hypocrites..... but I guess many expect no consequences from going against the mind of the communion ....and do not want to be hypocrites for the sake of institutional unity. I respect that.

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