Thursday, 6 July 2006

Is Nigeria in communion with Virginia?

The Living Church has questioned the canonical status of the “election” of Canon Martyn Minns as a bishop by the Church of Nigeria. See Canon Minns Election Appears to Violate Nigerian Canons:

The election of an Episcopal priest as a missionary bishop to the United States by the Anglican Church of Nigeria appears to be in violation of a Nigerian canon which stipulates that eligible persons to the episcopate must belong either to the Church of Nigeria or a diocese in communion with it. The Church of Nigeria broke communion with The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia after the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson was consecrated Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire in 2003.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 6:50pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA
Comments

Who cares about canons in the Anglican Province of Nigeria? ++Peter Abuja is a LAW unto himself.

Posted by: John Henry on Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 7:39pm BST

Minns and Truro are members of the Anglican Communion Network which is in communion with Nigeria.

Posted by: Milton Finch on Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 9:09pm BST

The Living Church's article does present Canon Minns and his supporters with a dilemma.

Either Canon Minns's election to a Nigerian-American bishopric is invalid under Nigerian canons, because Canon Minns, as a member of the Episcopal Church, is not in communion with the Nigerian Church --

Or Canon Minns is not a member of the Episcopal Church, but of a separate group of American churches known as the Network.

In the latter case, the Network churches could be considered in communion with Nigeria (and Canon Minn's election would be valid). But then a prima facie case that membership in the Network constitutes abandonment of communion with the Episcopal Church would also exist. Thus all Network bishops and clergy could be presented.

For the record: I know of no one in the Episcopal Church, of any party, who is anxious to bring such presentments against Network bishops. It is something all parties would like to avoid.

Posted by: Charlotte on Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 9:29pm BST

One for them!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 9:36pm BST

Delicious if true.

Posted by: Davis d'Ambly on Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 10:00pm BST

The "Anglican Communion Network" isn't a diocese, regardless off whether its members consider themselves to be in communion with the Church of Nigeria, so the canonical disqualification exists.

Posted by: Richard Zevnik on Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 11:38pm BST

The prima facie case would fall short. One can be a part of mankind, for instance...and there are parts that make us animal, yet there are parts that make us human. Or take Christ, again. God yet/and man. A perfect mix of both. His manhood did not disqualify Him as also God. If the prima facie case is won on the matter for the liberals, it would have to state that everyone BUT ECUSA is outside the actual Anglican Communion and thereby outside of the Kingdom of God.

Posted by: Milton Finch on Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 11:47pm BST

While I believe the argument raised by the Living Church has merit and deserves to be developed, I think the days of the Anglican Communion being “tidy” have been over for some little time.
We are now in a chaotic period, just how much of a “free-for-all” this will become we have yet to see, but I am of the opinion that over the next eighteen months things will continue to unravel at speed. In this context the canonical position of Martyn Minns’ “election” will be very small potatoes.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 7 July 2006 at 12:28am BST

Richard Zevnik, it's not at all clear what the Network is. Its leadership appears to consider it separate from the Episcopal Church in some ways, but part of the Episcopal Church in others. As with the proposals for Alternative Primatial Oversight, its status as an organization appears to vary depending on circumstances.

Posted by: Charlotte on Friday, 7 July 2006 at 1:07am BST

What a bunch of silliness. In times of theological crisis, one does not expect canon law to cover all contingencies. If one wants to be a lawyer, then one can surely fudge the matter by pointing out that Nigeria is in communion with a number of dioceses, including Canterbury, that are in communion with the Diocese of Virginia, etc.

The far more interesting question is whether ECUSA canons allow Minns to remain as rector of Truro. When Chuck Murphy was elected a bishop in AMiA, Bishop Salmon judged that the canons did not allow him to continue as rector of All Saints.

Posted by: Al Kimel on Friday, 7 July 2006 at 5:22am BST

Al, who seriously expects canon law "to cover all contingencies" at any time? That's a straw man--nobody holds that.

These circumstances are far from trivial, or silly as you suggest,and concern just the sort of thing to which canon law has always intended to lend some objective sense: the full well-being of a church.

Surely the full well being of a church is serious enough to merit careful forethought; indeed, this is an essential part of the episcopal office.

Posted by: The Anglican Scotist on Friday, 7 July 2006 at 10:27am BST

It seems to me that the "Network" has always been a matter of having your cake & eating it too -- refusing to be part of TEC when it is inconvenient in one way (paying assessments?), but claiming membership when it wants (voting at General Convention) -- this would seem to be just another such occasion (IMHO).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Friday, 7 July 2006 at 1:11pm BST

"It seems to me that the "Network" has always been a matter of having your cake & eating it too" ...
... not to mention not paying your diocesan share to the general church, [that's what we Virginians sometimes call TEC] or paying only part, but by gum participating in the Church Pension Fund, which is one of the most solvant and generous defined benefit pension plans you could ask for [I'm non-stipendiary, working full time as a university professor, so can only admire from a distance] and also not to mention wanting to keep all your stuff - real estate that is held in trust for the diocese, which holds the deed [I think I've got that right - I teach English literture, not law].

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Friday, 7 July 2006 at 6:26pm BST

As I see the issues (and I think Anglican Scotist and Prior Aelred might agree with me here), the underlying question being raised by Canon Minns's irregular consecration has to do with the rule of law in Church matters. Are canons to be suspended or disregarded whenever we conclude we are living "in a time of crisis"? Or is the rule of law particularly to be upheld at such times, precisely because it acts as a break on our human tendencies to rush headlong into actions that often prove disastrous?

I have to confess I don't understand the relevance of Milton Finch's allegory to the matter at hand. Perhaps someone else can explain it?

Posted by: Charlotte on Friday, 7 July 2006 at 6:53pm BST

Wrote: Milton Finch: "God yet/and man. A perfect mix of both."

Mr. Finch seems to have misunderstood the teaching of the Council of Chalcedon. "... Son of God... recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union..."

Posted by: John Henry on Saturday, 8 July 2006 at 8:13am BST
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