On September 13th, The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria made the following proposal:
"As a matter of utmost urgency, call a special session of the Primates Meeting to:
a) Receive the responses made by The Episcopal Church to the Dromantine and Dar es Salaam Communiqués and determine their adequacy.
b) Arrive at a consensus for the application of the Windsor Process especially in Provinces whose self-understanding is at odds with the predominant mind of the Communion.
c) Set in motion an agreed process to finalize the Anglican Covenant Proposal and set a timetable for its ratification by individual provinces. This cannot be done at the Lambeth Conference because it is simply too large and, we all know, the Anglican Covenant requires individual provincial endorsement and signature.
Postpone current plans for the Lambeth Conference (as has been done before). This will:
a) Allow the current tensions to subside and leave room for the hard work of reconciliation that is a prerequisite for the fellowship we all desire.
b) Confirm that those invited to the Lambeth Conference have already endorsed the Anglican Covenant and so are able to come together as witnesses to our common faith.
The Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) on October 5th posted this: (The portions in dark red are lifted word for word, from the Nigerian statement.)
"We therefore propose the following actions: a. Call a special session of the Primates Meeting. We believe that meeting together is essential if we are prayerfully to allow the Holy Spirit to work through our interactions and bring us to a common mind.
We would need to:
i. Review the actual response made by The Episcopal Church – both their words and their actions.
ii. Finalize the Covenant proposal and set a timetable for ratification by individual provinces.
b. Postpone current plans for the Lambeth Conference. We recognize that such an action will be costly, however, we believe that the alternative – a divided conference with several provinces unable to participate and hundreds of bishops absent would be much more costly to our life and witness. It would bring an end to the Communion, as we know it. Postponement will accomplish the following:
i. Allow the current tensions to subside and leave room for the hard work of reconciliation that must be done.
ii. Ensure that those invited to the Lambeth Conference have already endorsed the Covenant and so can come together as witness to our common faith.
7. We make these proposals in good faith believing that they provide an opportunity for us to reunite the Communion consistent with our common heritage and give us a way forward. We also stand ready to work with the various instruments of the Communion to ensure their success."
It is not unusual to see recommendations from one Church appear in another venue. That is, after all, how the Chicago - Lambeth Quadrilateral got from Chicago to Lambeth. What is unusual here is that in two instances the CAPA statement is more demanding than even the Nigerian one.
There is no mention in the CAPA statement to the Windsor Report or the Dromantine or Dar es Salaam Communiques. The CAPA communique speaks of finalizing the Anglican Covenant prior to any Lambeth Conference, rather than "setting in motion an agreed process to finalize..." CAPA proposes that the Primates meet and review the actual responses of The Episcopal Church -both their words and their actions," this being stronger than "determine their (the words) adequacy."
CAPA is to be congratulated on clarifying the Nigerian recommendation to the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is now absolutely clear that IF a special Primates Meeting is called with this agenda every aspect of the life of the Episcopal Church will be subject to star chamber judgment. There will be no recourse to the Windsor Report or Process. This recommendation would make it clear that the Lambeth Conference is not engaged in the ratification of the Anglican Covenant and that its final form would be determined by the Primates directives at this "special" meeting.
When Nigeria proposed this sequence: Primates Meeting immediately, Anglican Covenant next, Lambeth later with only members signatory to the Covenant invited, I thought the idea wretched.
Now I consider it a trap. The camel has its nose almost under the side of the tent. If there is a Primates Meeting called again in an "emergency" context the other "instruments of Unity" will simply become tools for the Primates to use as occasion merits.