The Anglican Communion Institute on Border Crossing Goes into Verbal Overload.

The Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) has produced a massive analysis with the title, "What Is A Cross Border Intervention And When Is A Moratorium Indeed a Moratorium."

It is a case of verbal overload worthy of ACI's ongoing attempt to whack us all with words until we are beaten down. It is, unfortunately, unmoving and unconvincing.

At the core of ACI's argument is the contention that "it is possible, despite outstanding issues, to comment on the basis and appropriateness of the action taken by the Secretary General in respect to Bishop Zavala. In acting as he has, the Secretary General has failed to distinguish adequately between what the Southern Cone has done and other violations of the various moratoria requested by one or another of the Instruments of Communion. Further, he has assumed that the moratorium on border crossing has the same authority as the moratoria on blessing same sex unions and the consecration of persons who have entered such unions. He has not asked if these moratoria are of the same kind or of the same weight, and he has falsely assumed that border crossings have been proscribed by the Instruments of Communion in the same way as have the moratoria on blessings and consecrations."

So, away they go, commenting on this and that, concluding that "there has never been an unconditional moratorium on interventions in effect. And since TEC rejected the pastoral scheme in the Dar communiqué out of hand in 2007 the conditions applicable to this moratorium have not been satisfied and no operative moratorium has been in effect."

On the basis of that conclusion, ACI turns on the Secretary General and determines that he was wrong to exclude Bishop, (now Presiding Bishop) Zavala from participation on an ecumenical commission, since there is "no operative moratorium in effect." The problem is, of course, that the Secretary General was acting on a request from the Archbishop of Canterbury that referred to the initial moratoria in the Windsor Report. Those moratoria included the matter of border crossing. Essentially the Windsor Report said, "don't do it." 

The Southern Cone did do it, and did so as a matter of pastoral concern. That's it.

Contrary to all the words, that's it.

The authors, Mark McCall and Philip Turner are no doubt busy men and one wonders why this long argument.

If the issues is the removal of Bishop Zabala I think there is an easier criticism. One hopes he was put on the commission he served on because he had something to contribute to the dialogue. That is not dependent on the purity of his Province. Indeed it is not his Province that is "represented" on the commission, it is he as an Anglican theologian who is on the commission.  That was true also for the TEC persons removed from other commissions. The criticism of their removal is then fairly simple: They should not have been removed because it reduces their participation to that of representative, rather than individual participant.

The members of the various ecumenical conversations will we hope represent in a fairly broad way what they understand Anglican polity and theology to require as a "stance." But in no way do these appointed members "represent" the views of the whole Communion. When questions come up concerning the "mind of the communion" on various ecumenical issues one hopes they will refer to statements, reports, findings, etc., from a variety of sources indicating the general sense of the Communion. But it would be unfortunate if we expected our voices in those ecumenical conversations to tow a party line or make statements about the mind of the communion. 

The critique of the Archbishop of Canterbury's request and the Secretary General's actions is that it is a response unworthy of the quality of people chosen to be there to suggest that they could not, by being from a particular church, speak with appropriate clarity and voice on issues before them.

So, if that is the short critique, why does ACI have this longer one? Perhaps it is to carry on with their ongoing argument that what the Global South provinces have done is noble and what the wicked west provinces have done is sin. The point they are arguing is that the incursions were right, not wrong, and the moratoria against what they have done has long since been lifted.

Bully for them. I don't buy it.

They do what they do and so we have what we have: A proto-synod of bishops eager to make the claim that The Episcopal Church is apostate, wrongheaded, evil, the work of the devil, progressively anti-Christian, and the like, and that they are what Anglicanism is all about.

If that is not border crossing and disobeying the ol' canon on bishops being content to exercise episcopal authority in their own dioceses, I don't know what is.  Unless, of course, they have already concluded that TEC is a total fiction as an Anglican province and that their bishops aren't bishops and their dioceses aren't dioceses, and on and on.

Perhaps that is what ACI wants to argue. I am sure this will not come as welcome news to the Communion Partner bishops, or the rest of us for that matter.


  1. "Those moratoria included the matter of border crossing. Essentially the Windsor Report said, "don't do it."
    The Southern Cone did do it, and did so as a matter of pastoral concern. That's it.
    Contrary to all the words, that's it."

    Then I guess you can also say...

    "The whole Anglican Communion asked TEC NOT to elect and consent to Gene Robinson's election as bishop. TEC did do it. That's it. Contrary to all the words, that's it."


  2. Andy, your conflation of the Windsor Report, a politically motivated and carefully controlled extravaganza, and the “whole Anglican Communion” is embarrassing to you.

    I didn’t read this posting as Mark arguing for different treatment of TEC and the Bishop of the Southern Cone.

    We can split hairs and argue the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin until time ceases to be but making false dichotomies doesn’t prove your point.

    There were members of the Anglican Communion who received the news of Bishop Gene’s ordination with gladness of heart and full support. There were also members of the Anglican Communion who did the same in response to the border crossings of the Southern Cone, NIgeria, and Uganda.

    And we are no further down the road to reconciliation or resolution than we were before your posting.

    To state otherwise is falsehood.

  3. I think it may be a bit of a stretch to think that Communion Partners are not as concerned about these matters as ACI is. They are in favour of a covenant; I believe ND is the most recent to include language of affirmation of the covenant in the diocesan resolutions. This follows CFL, Dallas, W-LA, Albany and others. CP has also gone on record as asking that TEC be placed in second-tier status in the light of Glasspool, etc. AJM

  4. Tempted to ask "Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?", Fr Harris. In cyberspace - excuse the mixed metaphors - one sometimes knows from experience when one is dealing with a dog.

  5. Christopher (P.)6/11/10 3:07 PM

    Hey--let's read what's written, shall we?

    Andy, as I read Fr. Harris he is claiming that both TEC and Southern Cone broke the moratoria, that it's foolish to argue that the first did and second didn't (as ACI do), but that in all cases the "punishment" is not consonant with the "crime"!

    Anonymous AHM--again, whether or not different dioceses within TEC support the Covenant is not part of what's said. As I read it, what's said is that the most natural read of ACI's conclusion that border crossing is not, indeed, border crossing, is that the territory crossed-into is not currently within an Anglican province. This would be tantamount to non-recognition of the existing dioceses and their bishops and priests, and that indeed might be alarming to those Communion Partner bishops and priests.

    Or have I missed your points?

    Christopher (P.)

  6. Thank you for your question. Let me clarify. Mr Harris concluded that CP dioceses would take issue with this analysis. I doubt that very much, and for the reasons given. CP Bishops agree that TEC has acted unilaterally and they are prepared to have the consequences for that enacted. AJM

  7. The whole Anglican Communion asked TEC NOT to elect and consent to Gene Robinson's election as bishop. TEC did do it. That's it. Contrary to all the words, that's it.

    I think you meant +Mary Glasspool, Andy. These "moratoria" were proclaimed AFTER +Gene Robinson's consecration.


    I feel somewhat disingenuous, trying to argue w/ ACI on this point.

    They argue that ordaining/marrying LGBT people, and crossing ecclesiastical borders, aren't the same . . . and I have to agree.

    The first is compelled by the Gospel, the latter is (by implication) forbidden by it.

    Does that mean that NO moratoria should be declared and/or enforced?


    Border crossing DIRECTLY affects the good order of the church, internationally. The varying sexual ethics of varying national churches, does not (inasmuch as I believe ALL Anglican churches SHOULD marry/ordain LGBT persons, it's not something I insist upon).

    In short, the problem is something I've often noted (more often, since this week's elections!): some people's moralities are Upside-Down. Calling good "evil", and evil "good". Lord have mercy (and OCICBW).

  8. I suppose there will be no moratorium on hounding out, jailing, and killing LGBTs in Central Africa, just on ordaining them and blessing their relationships.

    The bishops' sense of morality these days is *ss side up. Small wonder "None of the Above" is the single fastest growing religious choice in the USA these days. The churches are going verkakte over this issue.

  9. It is well and good that dioceses exercise their free speech but ultimately they are not the ones who will decide whether or not to adopt the covenant; it is the province called The Episcopal Church and the body that will make that decision is General Convention (with deputies duly elected from said dioceses) with serious examination on how adopting the covenant might affect our constitution and canons. If there are canonical changes, it would take two General Conventions, 2012 and 2015 to adopt it and it would be by a vote by orders in the House of Deputies.

  10. A point of interest to me is what may be the impact on the credibility of the ACI with more moderate primates if they should peruse this. The primates are not stupid. If one province can invade another province because it doesn't like its theology, their's might be next. ACI is certainly saying it can. Is ACI's interpretation something they might support now but wish they hadn't when its their borders that are being shaken. EmilyH

  11. Caminante, just to clarify: changes to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church require two conventions, and votes by orders in Deputies. Changes to Canons can be done by one Convention, and don't require votes by orders (although for changes proposed around this particular topic, I'd be willing to bet votes by orders would be called for).

    That said, I still think we could not finally adopt the Covenant-as-proposed in less than two Conventions, and possibly three. I don't know whether anyone will porpose, much less whether the Convention in 2012 would pass, changes either to Constitution or Canons that had been drafted before we had spoken to the Covenant-as-proposed. So, I expect we will speak to the Covenant-as-proposed in 2012 (and as a Deputy myself I say "we" advisedly); and if we choose to move forward, folks will then begin deciding what changes need to be made either to Constitution or Canons. Such changes would be presented, then, in 2015 and approved in 2015 (Canons) or 2018 (Constitution) - or not. (Call this an educated guess.)

    And, of course, we can decline the Covenant-as-proposed in one Convention.

  12. Thanks, Marshall... my writing was a bit too telegraphic. The D020 Task Force of Executive Council, of which Mark and I are members, will doubtlessly be the body that submits resolution(s) to enable discussion about the proposed covenant... and those resolutions would go, I would think based on GC 2009, to the World Mission legislative committee at GC 2012. We will see! Mark, pitch in if I have bungled anything because my brain is quite tired today post diocesan convention this weekend.


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.