10/01/2011

Misperceptions by Associated Press re CANA and Anglicans

The news from Connecticut this week that parishioners of Groton parish in the Diocese of Connecticut who wish to leave The Episcopal Church cannot, just like that, walk off with the property is good news. It may be, as Bishop Douglas is reported to have said, a sad circumstance in which there are no victors, but the ruling by the State Supreme Court is clarifying.  People can leave, but the property is not theirs by right. 

The AP report, by Dave Collins, reads, Conn. court: breakaway parish can't keep property. There is much to recommend in this article, but there are two glaring errors in the text. According to the Kansas City Star and the Associated Press, 

"Both the 2 million-member Episcopal Church in the U.S. and the Convocation of Anglicans in North America are branches of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion, which traces its roots to the Church of England. Anglicans split from Rome in 1534 when English King Henry VIII was refused a marriage annulment. The Convocation of Anglicans says it has 95 congregations and over 250 clergy in more than 30 states and Washington, D.C."
The errors:
(i) The Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion. CANA is not. 
(ii) The Church of England split from Rome under Henry VIII, but reunited under Mary and finally became again the Church of England under Elizabeth, became mostly Presbyterian under the Commonwealth and finally CofE with the restoration of the monarchy.  Most Anglicans (that is all the rest of us around the world that are part of the Anglican Communion) never split from anybody, but rather claim we are living out the faith of the undivided church in the midst of a divided Christendom.  

The first of these notes is just a fact.
The second may be choppy as history but it beats the hell out of the Associated Press' summation. And it is clear the reporter spoke to someone from CANA who was happy to give numbers of congregations and clergy, but apparently not so ready to give over all figures of communicants or members.

What is missing from the AP report is that CANA is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). CANA is not a member church of the Anglican Communion, but a jurisdiction of several bishops of the Church of Nigeria working away in North America, where there is in fact an Anglican Communion member church in place.

Too bad the AP got sucked in.

43 comments:

  1. Let me say up-front that I am not a fan of ACNA and strictly speaking you are correct: TEC is in the AC and ACNA is not.

    The problem is that 'strictly speaking' is now not possible.

    ACNA can claim that is is in communion with more Anglican Christians than TEC is, and factually that is correct.

    And to the degree that the head of the Anglican Communion indicates the need and desire for a covenant, and TEC has argued it doesn't need or want one, a) the AC is in a liminal state, and b) TEC appears to want to belong to a Communion that the head of the Communion says needs new character and definition.

    In such a state of affairs it is natural that news agencies make the statements they do. They put that down to our inherent confusion -- for such it is; such is our time -- and not their sloppiness.

    I'm not sure I can blame them.

    Bart

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  2. “ACNA can claim that is is [sic] in communion with more Anglican Christians than TEC is, and factually that is correct.”—Bart

    I don’t know if that is factually correct at all, Bart. ACNA may be in communion with more Anglican BISHOPS, perhaps. But then, WHO CARES? These bishops’ opinions may be important to you, but they are not particularly important to most Episcopalians. I certainly COULD CARE LESS what they think.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  3. Bart,
    You know better than to assert that TEC has argued that it doesn't want the covenant. You know that the only body that speaks for TEC is General Convention and it hasn't spoken yet.

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  4. Fr Weir

    I was indicating why reasonable reporters might be confused. The situation is confusing.

    Many TEC people have made it very clear they do not want the covenant under any conditions. Will that view be manifest this coming summer? I'd bet on it.

    But the very fact that we do not know hardly makes the general perception that TEC does not want what the ABC has initiated incorrect. If I were not a member of TEC and was viewing it from the point of view of AP reporting, I'm not sure I'd write anything different to what was written.

    The older ways of thinking about being in the Anglican Communion are themselves being tested to the limit by TEC's actions. Given that reality, ACNA makes the claims it does.

    As for lots of people in regions like Nigeria who do not hold the view of Bishops -- that strikes me both as fantasy and irrelevant.

    These provinces that judge themselves in Communion with ACNA do so because their teaching matches what they see ACNA teaching. You can claim they have secret beliefs to the contrary, but that is what they would then be: secret beliefs.

    And of course you do not care what these provinces publically believe and declare. And it is precisely for this reason that AP reports things the way it does. It realizes many in TEC don't care about the wider Communion -- as you make eloquently clear.

    Bart

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  5. Bart: In the post I spoke of CANA, not ACNA. What I said was that CANA is not in the Anglican Communion, not ACNA.

    So...the AP made one confusion, you made another.

    You say ACNA can claim to be in communion with more Anglican Christians than TEC, but I have not seen that claim by ACNA. And I am not at all sure that is true.

    Unless you are seriously engaged in trying to make AP look good, stop. Your lead leads off into questions about ACNA. The article, AP's misunderstanding, and my post were about CANA, and the chopped history piece AP put out.

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  6. Fr Harris

    1. ACNA has repeatedly stated that it has the support of the majority of the Communion (by provincial numbers) -- is this in serious doubt?

    2. The basic point should come through just fine: The Anglican Communion as traditionally understood is under negotiation. Many in TEC do not want the covenant even as it is being proposed by the ABC as the means of clarifying the Communion's future life.

    That the AP would get confused is because the traditional ways of speaking about the Communion are themselves under negotiation.

    Do you doubt this?

    Would it matter if you did?

    Perception is frequently more virulent than reality -- esp when reality is unclear, as it is in this instance.

    Bart

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  7. Fr Weir

    News just in. California delegation resolved NOT to covenant.

    Bart

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  8. ACNA and CANA are not members of the Anglican Communion, period. There may come a day when they are officially recognized, but that day has not yet arrived (if it ever will).

    The more likely outcome is that several of the Global South pointy hats will declare themselves the last vestige of Anglicanism, break away from the AC all together, and (along with their North American friends) go off on their own. Once that occurs, their unending quest for purity and conformity will lead to further splintering and we will end up with even more groups of churches, each claiming to be the last of the real, true Anglicans.

    But until that time, CANA and ACNA would be better served by being truthful about their status. Their being "in communion" with the Church of Nigeria makes them just as much a part of the Anglican Communion as it makes the ELCA part of it merely because they are "in communion" with TEC.

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  9. Bart,
    Have you ever admitted a mistake when it was pointed out to you?
    You made a statement that wasn't true and, rather than acknowledging your mistake, you resorted to predicting what might happen at General Convention. Perhaps, on the basis of recent poll data, you will declare that Mr. Generic Repunlicsn is our next president.

    And you wonder why some of us don't take you seriously.

    BTW, if the General Comvention votes to adopt the covenant even dioceses whose conventions expressed the desire that it not be adopted will be bound by it. That's the way our polity works.

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  10. David and John:

    You're joking right? Nigeria?

    How about Nigeria, SE Asia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, S Cone, Tanzania, Middle East, Indian Ocean, Burundi, W Africa, and on it goes.

    Maybe even C of E. (that is under negotiation).

    Look, let's agree that ACNA is hardly a good development. Let's not deny that it has significant support in global anglicanism. It does.

    I don't think just manufacturing realities serves anyone's cause.

    Bart

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  11. Fr Weir

    The thread had to do with AP 'misperceiving' things.

    Are you saying that there are no grounds for this?

    Whether the GC does or does not approve the covenant takes nothing away from the AP perception that the Communion's members are unclear.

    I have made clear my view that AP might be right in assuming that a covenant (as a means of Communion identity) will be rejected by TEC.

    But I have also said that they would be correct in being confused about the Communion, given the widespread (is this in doubt?) public manifestation of anti-covenant (and I would include anti-Communion) sentiment.

    What mistake is critical for me to acknowledge over against this obvious main point -- which has been my main point?

    I'm sorry, Fr Weir, but the fact that the situation is perceived as it is by AP has far more to do with realities on the ground than your opinions about Bart as blogger. It is in that spirit that I respond.

    Say I have no credibility. It matters not to me. The credible reality speaks far more clearly. And it is this reality that will have the final word.

    Bart

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  12. Fr Weir

    I must say, this statement is from fantasy land:

    "BTW, if the General Comvention votes to adopt the covenant even dioceses whose conventions expressed the desire that it not be adopted will be bound by it. That's the way our polity works."

    If GC adopts a covenant that contains Section IV, I assure you that individual dioceses will stand aloof.

    And, in my view, that would be consistent with the polity of TEC.

    But this is not going to happen. TEC will not adopt the covenant. I have seen no evidence to the contrary.

    Bart

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  13. Bart,

    Thank you for making it clear that you have no intention of engaging in serious dialog. As long as you make inaccurate statements and refuse to admit it, you have no credibility with me. To defend your inaccuracies by pointing out that this thread is about the AP is simply a dodge and one for which I thought you had too much integrity. I was wrong. While all of your predictions may come true, stating them as fact is dishonest.

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  14. Nothing on this blog about the closing of the Cathedral of St. John in Wilmington? The Dio of DE is a small one compared to other dioceses in TEC. Interesting that no commentary has been offered here as yet.

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  15. T19 is running two excellent entries this morning, one on the dangers of centralization (historical piece) and one from AS Haley, with a very good exchange from Jeremy Bonner.

    In my view, this is the kind of discussion that needs to be taking place.

    +Sauls at least acknowledges we have a problem. I'm not persuaded a Special Convention is the way to address it.

    Pertinent to this thread. I can see why people want to stay focused on anti-covenant and SSBs in 2012 convention. But are the pressing adminstrative and budget concerns really unavoidable now?

    Bart

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  16. Some good proposals from Naughton at The Lead as well.

    Bart

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  17. For one who is obviously inordinately proud of his academic credentials, Bart, it is curious that you appear to align yourself with some of the least educated, most socially backward provinces of the Communion.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  18. Spoken like a true snob.

    The caricature Pharisee.

    Bart

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  19. Sticks and stones, Bart, sticks and stones.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  20. Your words speak for themselves:


    "you appear to align yourself with some of the least educated, most socially backward provinces of the Communion."

    Bart

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  21. Well, Bart, do you need for me to quote the illiteracy rates for some of these provinces? Nigeria is by no means the worst case, though by comparison even Mississippi looks good.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  22. Yes, we wouldn't want anyone becoming a Christian who was illiterate! God forbid.

    (There go centuries of Christians in one fell swoop).

    The myopia of western surfeit.

    Bart

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  23. Right above the comments box there is this notice:


    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.

    People are not trying very hard here. Kurt and Bart are in an unproductive shouting match (at least as far as I can see). Several of us think Bart is beating a horse he invented, hoping it will run the faster...

    Everyone back off. This isn't Bart's blog but it has become mostly his comment string. If we don't like it we need not respond further to him.

    This is the part of keeping comments open that I hate - having eventually to bounce comments.

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  24. Off topic as usual, Bart.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  25. I am going to presume to thank you, Fr Harris. I say 'presume' on the assumption that you, too, find the language used here against your basic policy.

    "least educated, most socially backward provinces of the Communion."

    If this is the way we are to speak of the fellow Christian, we might as well pass by on the other side like the Levite in Luke 10.

    Bart

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  26. Bart... yes indeed, but also "Spoken like a true snob."

    Time to drop it, I think.

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  27. Wyclif... see my post today 10.3.11

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  28. Thank you for standing up for decency.

    I did not make the initial statement. I was stunned by the un-Christian sentiment. If I over-reacted, I apologize. I really did not know Christians spoke about fellow Christians in less affluent areas in this way.

    It caught me off guard.

    Bart

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  29. After the ungracious comments that you have made about +Gene and GLBT morality in another thread Bart, pardon me while I get out my hip waders for this one.

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  30. Yes, David, we learn a lot from that on your part.

    'Preferential option for the poor' -- a Gospel mandate.

    Replaced by

    'Preferential option for the enlightened.'

    All within my lifetime.

    But no, those in poor countries who read their Bibles and conform their lives are...benightened. Backward. Unworthy to be called our neighbors. Socially backward. Least educated.

    Wade all you want. There's plenty to wade in.

    Lord have mercy.

    Bart

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  31. “But no, those in poor countries who read their Bibles and conform their lives are...benightened. Backward. Unworthy to be called our neighbors. Socially backward. Least educated.”—Bart

    Ah, yes Bart, they read their Bibles. But, Bart some of them not only can read, they also can and do murder their Muslim neighbors (and their gay neighbors, too!). Some practice “female circumcision.” And don’t forget what some of these socially enlightened neighbors do to their “witches.” Some of them (non-clergy at least) even practice polygamy. All the while they keep “reading their Bibles” and pointing their fingers at the West. Do you deny this, Bart?

    If you are going to embrace the self-styled “majority of the Anglican Communion” you had better be prepared to embrace them in all their contradictions. That’s my basic beef with you, Bart, your selectivity. Conservaatives selectively point to some odd beliefs/practices that pop up here and there in TEC from time to time, but you totally ignore the negative features on your side of the Communion divide. Indeed, you squeal when they are pointed out to you. At least try to be consistent. If you want to ignore the contradictions and odd beliefs/practices of our African friends, you should extend the same courtesy to TEC and give us the benefit of the doubt, too.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  32. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time in Africa and in other anglican provinces in the world, I am quite happy to stand alongside the fellow Christians there. They know far more about the Gospel than I do. And they have been prepare to suffer for it and have done.

    Preferential option for the poor is to my mind a Gospel mandate.

    Your lack of on-the-ground experience of African Christianity betrays your provincialism.

    Go to Tanzania. Meet the Christian there. See what the Gospel does when it confronts cultural inheritances.

    Meet with Bishop Idowu-Fearon in N Nigeria and let him give you his testimony about Islam and cooperation, even if this means death. (He has a Phd from Durham and speaks impeccable arabic, knows the Koran, etc -- if you are worried about backwardness).

    Bart

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  33. “Preferential option for the poor is to my mind a Gospel mandate.”—Bart

    I have no problem with a preferential option for the poor, Bart. I have worked on housing and homeless issues with people of various races for 40 years now. I have been thrown to the ground by police and arrested for my efforts on more than one occasion. And more recently I have been working with the Occupy Wall Street protest for some time. You see Bart, one need not travel half way around the world to promote Gospel mandates. One can find the poor in one’s own backyard.

    But, quite frankly I’m tired of arguing with you. So, I’m going to stop now and allow you the last word—as usual—if you wish.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  34. Most of my students in the Bronx are from poor backgrounds, some from very poor backgrounds, some from shelters. They all hope to finish a 4 year college degree, and a lot of them will.

    I agree with Kurt. You don't have to go very far to find poverty, especially these days. In my neighborhood, there are sweatshops and many small apartments shared by 5 or 6 tenants, all within walking distance of my home.

    Kudos to Kurt for his Occupy Wall Street participation.

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  35. This knowledge of the poverty conditions in NYC inexplicably leads you to make comments about African Christians I can only conclude have to do with not knowing the on-the-ground there realities in the same way.

    'The least of these' our Lord speaks of are what you call

    "the least educated, most socially backward provinces of the Communion."

    I have nothing more to add to the same basic point I have been repeating.

    Bart

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  36. BTW, I made no disparaging comment about the poor in NYC or the conservative beliefs of poor Christians in NYC.

    I hold that such beliefs are often more a penetrating grasp of the Gospel.

    'These things are hidden from the wise...' as Luke's Gospel recalls our Lord saying.

    Bart

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  37. "This knowledge of the poverty conditions in NYC inexplicably leads you to make comments about African Christians I can only conclude have to do with not knowing the on-the-ground there realities in the same way."

    Where the hell did that come from?

    Below is the full text of my post. Show me where I dissed poor Africans O Holy Bart (Peace Be Upon Him) of Correct and Superior Wisdom:


    "Most of my students in the Bronx are from poor backgrounds, some from very poor backgrounds, some from shelters. They all hope to finish a 4 year college degree, and a lot of them will.

    I agree with Kurt. You don't have to go very far to find poverty, especially these days. In my neighborhood, there are sweatshops and many small apartments shared by 5 or 6 tenants, all within walking distance of my home.

    Kudos to Kurt for his Occupy Wall Street participation."

    I'm beginning to think that you are just another angry obsessive that's latched onto this blog. If that's the case, then I'm wasting my time here.

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  38. I had almost promised myself that I would not respond to any of Bart's comments, but his non-response to Kurt floored me. So one question for Bart, which I suspect he will not answer: do you deny that some Christians in Africa have committed violent acts towards their neighbors who are gay?

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  39. Fr Weir

    Here's a question for you.

    We are speaking about anglican Christians in Africa.

    Or, I thought we were.

    Can you describe the vast anglican Christian presence in Africa--throughout the continent--that literally, in formal church decisions, promotes 'violent acts' toward Gays?

    Or is this just more sophistry?

    Church teaching that promotes violent acts toward Gays?

    Augustine readily responded against claims that God's justice against sin was 'unjust' and indeed violent, that it was the exact enactment of 'love your neighbor as yourself.'

    But you are claiming, beyond that, that anglican Christians in Africa are promoting violent acts against Gays.

    Don't be floored. Try to be rational, careful and accurate.

    Bart

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  40. Father Weir,

    I think we've been wasting our time and energy with Bart. I suspect he gets some kind of jolly out of dissing us all, or he would be happy in the safe and well guarded domains of TitusOneNine or Virtue Online.

    We're not going to get any direct answers to our questions out of him, which should lead us to conclude that there is a certain measure of bad faith in his long verbose tirades.

    Therefore enough is enough.

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  41. Actually, I mistated your sophistry.

    I spoke of 'promoting' violence.

    True to your words, I should have spoken of 'committing acts of violence.'

    Wasting time? Are you kidding?

    Who spoke of backward, uneducated Christians in Africa?

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  42. Counterlight is quite right and I was right in predicting that Bart would not answer my question. I am reminded of the countless times that I have heard a politician respond to a question, not with an answer but with his/her own taklikng points.

    I will follow Counterlight's sage advice.

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  43. Dear Daniel

    My prayer is that you will feel convicted in your position that you know the way ahead for Christians and that others will follow you in that.

    There is no good reason the Lord Jesus would want his Body in disorder or in contention.

    Let Him declare that you are right and that others are in error and are occluded. Let Him be gracious in revealing his righteous will to those who do not grasp it as you have been given to know it now.

    For the sake of peace in His Body,

    Bart

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OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation 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.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.