"Implementation of the agreed moratoria..."

The Communion is losing its mind (or the mind of its house the Anglican Consultative Council. At midday Friday, May 8th, a day that will live as remarkably disruptive in the annals of the Anglican Communion, the following resolution was passed concerning the Windsor Continuation Group. For the convenience of the reader who might not get it, I have printed in red the pertinent RUBRICS pursuant to the destruction of the the Anglican Communion:

The ACC:

  1. thanks the Archbishop of Canterbury for his report on the work and recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group;
  2. affirms the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group;
  3. affirms the request of the Windsor Report (2004), adopted at the Primates' Meetings (2005, 2007, 2009), and supported at the Lambeth Conference (2008) for the implementation of the agreed moratoria on the consecration of bishops living in a same-gender union, authorization of public rites of blessing same-sex unions and continued interventions in other provinces;
  4. acknowledges the efforts that have been made to hold to the moratoria, gives thanks for the gracious restraint that has been observed in these areas and recognizes the deep cost of such restraint;
  5. asks that urgent conversations are facilitated with those provinces where the application of the moratoria gives rise for concern;
  6. encourages the Archbishop of Canterbury to work with the Joint Standing Committee and the Secretary General to carry forward the implementation of the Windsor Continuation Group report recommendations as appropriate;
  7. asks the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order to undertake a study of the role and responsibilities in the Communion of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates' Meeting; the ecclesiological rationale of each, and the relationships between them, in line with the Windsor Continuation Group report, and to report back to ACC-15;
  8. calls the Communion to pray for repentance, conversion and renewal; leading to deeper communion.
It could have been worse, there was an effort to get a fourth moratorium added, a moratorium on litigation. The amendment to add that failed by one vote.

Now, just to be clear: Here are the Windsor Continuation Group Recommendations:

25. We request that the Instruments of Communion commit themselves to a renewal of the Listening Process, and a real seeking of a common mind upon the issues which threaten to divide us.

47. We recommend that the request for the moratoria expressed in Windsor/Dromantine be maintained in the life of the Communion, and that urgent conversations are facilitated with those Provinces where the application of the moratoria gives rise for concern.

65. We recommend that a number of possibilities could be explored: the Archbishop might revisit the idea of a bishop, appointed from the wider Communion, to work closely with him and act on his behalf in Communion affairs.

68. For a conference of bishops to provide the mutuality of counsel required of them, there is a need to ensure a high level of fellowship and sense of mutual responsibility. Quite simply, the bishops need to know one another. New patterns of Lambeth Conferences must therefore be considered: a shorter cycle of meetings, perhaps smaller meetings between plenary conferences, perhaps involving diocesan bishops only, or a system of regional or representative meetings.

70. The Primates’ Meeting has sometimes been accused of overreaching its authority, and it is important to note the principle articulated in the Lambeth Indaba Document that the primates collectively should not exercise more authority than properly belongs to them in their own Provinces.

73. A review should be commissioned of how the Anglican Consultative Council’s effectiveness and confidence in its work can be enhanced.

76. IASCUFO (The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission for Unity, Faith and Order - for which, see below), as a priority, should be invited to produce a concise statement on the Instruments of Communion, their several roles and the authority inherent in them and to offer recommendations for developing the effectiveness of the instruments.

79. The WCG would like to affirm strongly that the covenant process is an essential element in rebuilding the confidence in our common life. We also recognise that ACC-14 will be a critical point in the process, since Provinces are being asked to give their “in principle” response at this stage.

91. The WCG wish to commend the proposals for a Pastoral Forum, and for Pastoral Visitors as an interim measure, in the form discussed above, and urges their adoption without further delay.

101. The WCG therefore recommends that the Archbishop of Canterbury, in consultation with the Primates, establish at the earliest opportunity a professionally mediated conversation at which all the significant parties could be gathered.

The language of (b), (c) and (f) of the resolution on the WCG, combined with the actual content of the recommendations of the WCG, particularly items ( puts the cards all in place: The justification is in place to have the Instruments of Unity implement and to the extent that they can bring pressure, enforce the moratoria, bring in Pastoral Visitors, conduct hearings, command mediation, make recommendations to the Joint Standing Committee and generally do all that section 3.2 and 4 of the Anglican Covenant envisions.

The whole thing hinges on the phrase, "the implementation of the agreed moratoria." The problem is, of course, that these were not agreed to at all. The Windsor Report requested them, the meeting of the Primates at Dromantine supported that request. But neither the Primates nor the Windsor Report were in a position to state that the member churches affirmed these as "agreed moratoria." The nearest the Dromantine Primates Meeting could get to an 'agreed moratoria" statement was this:

"18. In the meantime, we ask our fellow primates to use their best influence to persuade their brothers and sisters to exercise a moratorium on public Rites of Blessing for Same-sex unions and on the consecration of any bishop living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage."

That is, the Primates themselves realized that they could not speak with authority and agree to moratoria on behalf of their "brothers and sisters" (one presumes this means other bishops). Instead they were asked to use their best influence in the matter.

There are not now, and have not been, "agreed moratoria." That is a fiction.

The truth is there has been considerable restraint, gracious or otherwise, by those wishing to produce Public Rites of Blessing and those approving the consecration of a bishop, etc. There has been NO restraint, gracious or otherwise, regarding incursions from one Province into another.

Interestingly, paragraph 15 of the Primates Meeting Communique in Dromantine said about incursions, "Equally, during this period we commit ourselves neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary interventions." Unlike the language of "asking or persuading" this statement is a pledge by the Primates in place.

A pledge is different in kind from a request, an asking, a persuading. A pledge not to initiate cross-boundary interventions is a clear promise. The Archbishops of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, and the Southern Cone broke that pledge. Rwanda had already gone round the bend.

The Resolution on the Windsor Continuation Group is a ecclesial mess, build on the dreams of those whose miters are on too tight.


  1. It may be time to move on to something new. Clearly the Anglican machinery as operated by this bunch is badly broken.


  2. We must be about our Father's business, following Jesus, spreading the Good News, welcoming all to the full life of His church, and blessing all who pledge to love till death do part.

    What follows from that, will follow. We will be in God's hands.

  3. I'm still opposed to unilaterally leaving the Communion.
    But, perhaps we should be preparing for alternative ways to maintain international relations with other churches just in case we get booted out or demoted. That may involve some alternatives for our international spending as well, especially if the Anglican Communion devolves into a cut-price Rome/Geneva funded by right wing American sugar daddies.

  4. We are at our annual clergy conference and when I announced the news of this vote, the bishop remarked dryly: Thank you for this cheerful news. Not.

    C'est une belle pagaille: It's a royal mess as Mark has so clearly shown.

  5. John the Baptist might call them a brood of vipers.

    Paul might call them foolish Anglicans

    Jesus might say, follow me, and let the Anglicans bury the covenant!

  6. Archbishop Rowan is right. Reconciliation takes as long as long as it takes. The present muddle comes from forcing ourselves as a Communion to take decisions when we are perhaps half a century or longer away from being ready to decide. The ACC has many fine people as members. What they lack, again as +Rowan understands, is a theology that helps us all to understand what the Spirit is saying to the church when there is root-and-branch disagreement.--Brian McK

  7. Counterlight,

    Some of us on OCICBW, and a couple of other sites are thinking aloud about interlaced relationships and community that do not rely on the formal structures of the out-of-tune instruments. I think that may be where the ACC failure is leading us.



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.