Wednesday, 8 November 2006

APO: more developments

Updated Sunday morning

First, ENS reported on the Pittsburgh convention: Convention backs Duncan’s desire to leave Province III, achieve alternative primatial oversight. Also, the text of the Chancellor’s opinion to which I referred earlier is now available in a more accessible format, below the fold.

Second, the Living Church reports on a very interesting presentation given by David Booth Beers the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor, in Chancellor: Episcopal Church Will Prevail in Communion and Courts.

Update 28 November The Living Church has issued Correction to Conference Coverage which relates to the story linked above.

Third, ENS also reports that

A second group of Episcopalians has called on bishops and standing committees to consider seriously South Carolina Bishop-elect Mark Lawrence’s stance toward the diocese’s continued affiliation with the Episcopal Church, as they decide whether or not to consent to his ordination.

Read SOUTH CAROLINA: Episcopal Forum calls for caution in consent process. The original of the letter can be found here on the website of the group.

Update
And fourth, the Global South issued this note: A Statement by the Global South Steering Committee on Consultations with bishops requesting APO.

Update Sunday morning
A further article about the meeting which David Booth Beers addressed is here: Chancellor Sees Hopeful Outlook For TEC On Church Property Issues by Auburn Faber Traycik

Letter of 30 October from Robert G Devlin to The Rt. Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan, Jr. PDF original here

Dear Bishop Duncan:

You have asked for my opinion on two matters expected to come before Diocesan Convention. The first is whether the Diocese may withdraw from the Third Province of the Episcopal Church and the second is whether the Diocese may appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates of the Anglican Communion, and the Panel of Reference for alternative Primatial oversight and pastoral care.

1. Withdraw from the Third Province.

Article VII of the Constitution of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church reads in its entirety:

Dioceses may be united into Provinces in such manner, under such conditions, and with such powers, as shall be provided by Canon of the General Convention; Provided, however, that no Diocese shall be included in a Province without its own consent.

There is nothing in the legislative history or subsequent commentary with regard to this Article that suggests that the final clause should be read in any way other than its literal sense. No Diocese shall be included in a Province without its own consent. In my opinion, the Diocese of Pittsburgh is free to revoke its consent to inclusion in the Third Province at any time and remain non-provincial for as long as it sees fit.

It has been suggested that Canon 1.9.1 somehow refutes Article VII. This is incorrect for two reasons. First, as a matter of statutory interpretation, the Canon is subordinate to the Article. The Canon cannot alter, expand or contradict the meaning of the Article. Second, rather than standing in conflict with Article VII, Canon 1.9.1 actually incorporates the proviso of Article VII in the opening phrase of Section 1: “Subject to the proviso in Article VII of the Constitution.” That is a clear statement that the consent requirement set forth in the Article is to be carried forward into the Canon.

It has been suggested that Article VII is ambiguous, and that Canon 1.9.1 is intended as a clarification. If General Convention believed that the Article was ambiguous, the proper approach would have been to amend the Article, not adopt a Canon that perpetuates the confusion by incorporating the very phrase in question. Further, if General Convention had intended “included” to refer to the point of initial assignment it could have stipulated consent “at the time of admission” or “at the time of assignment.” It did not. Finally, there is no Article or Canon requiring a Diocese to be a member of a Province, which indicates that membership is not mandatory. Since no limitation was placed upon the time of consent and membership is not required by Canon, I believe that the proper interpretation of the Article VII proviso is that consent is required for as long as inclusion continues. Not only the initial assignment, but also continued membership in a Province, requires Diocesan consent.

We have been asked how an appeal from an Ecclesiastical Trial would be handled if the Diocese is non-provincial. That question is answered by Canon IV.4.37, which provides that “the appeal to the Court of Review of the Province which is geographically closest to that Diocese or is otherwise most appropriate as determined by the Presiding Bishop.” Note that the existence of Canon IV.4.37 supports the proposition that a Diocese may elect to be non-provincial.

2. Appeal for Alternative Primatial Oversight and Pastoral Care.

The Constitution and Canons of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church set forth the internal governance procedures of the Episcopal Church. One would not expect them to speak to an appeal for alternative Primatial oversight and pastoral care, and they do not. To address that question we must look to the history and traditions of the broader Anglican Communion.

The most recent thorough consideration of the nature of authority within the Anglican Communion is the Windsor Report. A theme running through the Windsor Report is that Provincial autonomy must be framed by Anglican interdependence on matters of deep theological concern to the Communion.
[Windsor Report, paragraph 21, http://www.anglicancommunion.org/windsor2004/ ]
That the motivating factors for the appeal for alternative Primatial oversight and pastoral care are matters of deep theological concern to the whole Communion is evident from the July 16, 2006 letter from the supplicant dioceses to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Paragraph 21 of the Windsor Report gives an example of one instance of decision-making on a contentious issue with Communion-wide significance, and notes the importance of the involvement of the traditional Instruments of Unity in the process. The message is that consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates is an appropriate path in crisis situations.

“From the beginning, the Archbishop of Canterbury, both in his person and his office, has been the pivotal instrument and focus of unity; and relationship to him became a touchstone of what it was to be Anglican.” [Windsor Report, paragraph 99]. In petitioning the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Diocese of Pittsburgh is asking the Archbishop to claim a role rooted in the conciliar tradition of Patriarchs. The Archbishop of Canterbury, as first among equals with respect to the Primates of the Anglican Communion, would be expected to initiate and coordinate explicit pastoral, canonical and theological oversight for the good of the Communion. This is a clear demonstration of the patristic understanding of Primacy, which includes the right of the Archbishop to convene the Primates and act in collegium.

In addition, a direct appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates is an application of the emergency right of intervention through which help can be sought by a Bishop through the assumptive authority and oversight of the Anglican episcopal college (which is how the Primates can be understood). An appeal of the Bishop of a local jurisdiction to the Primates has roots in a long recognized canonical tradition whereby deviation from day-to-day church order is permitted in extraordinary circumstances. Certainly, the present disorder of the Episcopal Church would meet the criteria of extraordinary circumstances.

Finally, the appeal to the Panel of Reference is squarely within the intention of the Primates in establishing the Panel. The purpose of the Panel, as expressed in the Primates’ Communique of February 24, 2005, is “to protect the integrity and legitimate needs of groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their provinces.”
[http://www.globalsouthanglican.org/index.php/comments/the_anglican_communion_primates_meeting_communique_february_2005_dromantine/]

Therefore, while I cannot cite internal policies or procedures of the Episcopal Church in support of the legitimacy of the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s appeal for alternative Primatial oversight and pastoral care, it is my opinion that the Anglican Communion’s traditions as well as its contemporary examination of the nature of authority within the Communion permit such an appeal. I believe that the positive reception the appeal has received from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates indicates at least their initial acceptance of this conclusion.

Very truly yours,
Robert G. Devlin
Chancellor

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Comments

There is no conflict between Article VII and Canon I.9.1 when one understands that, contrary to the Chancellor, the Article is only about the creation of provinces, not their continued existence. Most importantly, from a legal standpoint, is the use of the word "into" in the Article --- "Dioceses may be united into Provinces... provided however that no Diocese shall be included in a Province without its own consent." The plain sense meaning, which is also the legal meaning (given the contractual nature of consent as well) is that prior to dioceses being united _into_ provinces, consent must be given. The Article was added to the Constitution prior to the creation of any internal provinces, and solely to provide the possibility for that long debated development.

Posted by: Tobias Haller BSG on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 9:30pm GMT

Another point on which I disagree with the Chancellor is his suggestion, gently phrased, that the existence of non-provincial dioceses attested in Canon IV.4.37 supports his argument. Again, it doesn't, but merely indicates that there have existed a small number of dioceses which _are not yet_ part of a province (they are "extra-provincial") -- normally because of a heritage as a missionary jurisdiction. There is, as far as I know, no precedent (or intent) for a diocese to cease being a member of a TEC province other than by transfer to or settlement as another Church of the Anglican Communion (e.g., Mexico). Which, of course, may be Pittsburgh's goal.

Posted by: Tobias Haller BSG on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 11:35pm GMT

"the Diocese of Pittsburgh is asking the Archbishop to claim a role rooted in the conciliar tradition of Patriarchs"

Yes, but the Archbishop of Canterbury is not a Patriarch with respect to the entire Anglican Communion. The role of a Patriarch is rooted in the rightful exercise of jurisdiction over a particular church.

The Archbishop of Canterbury might well be styled the Patriarch of the Church of England, but the real comparison being made here seems to be with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who is primus inter pares with respect to the other Patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Church. To view the Archbishop of Canterbury in this way would, it seems to me, require that the other member churches of the Communion acknowledge that Canterbury holds this status. This might well be true with respect to the "new" churches of the Global South, but it certainly is not true with respect to TEC, especially if one remembers the events that brought about the founding of TEC in the years around 1789.

The fallacy in the Chancellor's argument has been classically called petitio principii, that is, one is assuming the existence of the very principle that one is required to prove.

It seems that the APO-requesters seem to feel that simple repetition of their claim will establish its truth.

Posted by: Nick Finke on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 12:20am GMT

Nick's observation is "spot on" -- and I will add that Nigeria, at least, has made it clear in last year's revision of its Constitution, that Canterbury has no patriarchal position in relation to the CON.

Posted by: Tobias Haller BSG on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 3:25pm GMT

It is small surprise to find legalistic arguments exercising the fallacy of petitio principii since this same strategy, or a very near variant of it, is central to much new conservative theologizing as well. Presume what you wish to eventually find written into your scriptures, or your tradition, or culminatively deem reasonable and fair-minded, given your own traditional straight privileges and superiorities.

Ho-hum. One hopes these constant ploys - hungry for power in innumerable ways - will eventually wear out their partisans. Goodness knows the constant petitio principii is tiring. Goodness knows for all of us, power corrupts and great power corrupts, greatly.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 3:28pm GMT

There's a lot of it about ! *

*'petitio principii, that is, one is assuming the existence of the very principle that one is required to prove.'

'the APO-requesters seem to feel that simple repetition of their claim will establish its truth.'

Yes, this principle of 'repetition of their claim' is greatly in use among those who don't want to to go on thinking (and feeling?) the religious or spiritual life. -- e.g. mindless reieetition of tired christological formulae, or of the 'saving formula' 'Jesus saves from sin' and so on. The new PB was slated for her neglect of their use recently.

Nick given much to think on and apply.......

Posted by: laurence on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 8:42pm GMT

Canterbury does seem an odd choice for oversight surely Sidney or Nigeria?

Posted by: Dave Williams on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 11:07pm GMT

PB Katharine should declare the Diocese of Pittsburgh vacant, and send in a missionary bishop. Presentment should be made against Duncan. Time for these traitors to reap what they've sowed. No APO, no separate province, no more accommodation of these rebels.

Posted by: pete on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 2:23am GMT

"Canterbury does seem an odd choice for oversight surely Sidney or Nigeria?" Dave W.

My hope/prayers would be for ++York (if I believed in the seeking of a truly honorable Alpo).

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 2:47am GMT

Perhaps the more Catholic minded of them are happy enough to side with Sydney on "the gay issue", but not willing to have primatial oversight by a bishop whose sacramental theology would destroy their claim to orthodoxy.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 5:06am GMT

or maybe it is the ABC has chosen every time to back the orthodox view?
(eg J John being dumped / Windsor Report / BO33 being forced/ "welcoming but not inclusive" interview / even rowing back from his musings as an academic and making it clear he is not ABC to promote the agenda of any particular campaign)

Basically, he does not seem to want to go down in history as the ABC who let a small group of radicals blow up the Anglican Communion.
He seems to know who is causing the trouble......notice how well he treats +Duncan, spporting the idea of a "confessing church" - that is a huge compliment!

So, he is the right person to ask for oversight from at this time as it is his job to work for unity based in a common understanding of what is truth and what is not.

Posted by: NP on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 8:55am GMT

What an insult to the memory of Bonhoeffer and the true confessing church-- and all who SUFFER


these latter day jet setting episcope vagantes are no confessing church

Posted by: laurence on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 9:42am GMT

J John generously stood down as a gesture to his old friend and what he thought was 'the good of the Church'. Having the Royal Assent he needed none from Dr Giddings et al. Having the Royal Assent nothing could have stopped his consecration.

However, in the long run his generosity will have alerted many in the C of E to the nastiness that is abroad in it from person who misuse the evangel, by misappropriating the Greek word, but without life and power

Posted by: laurence on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 9:46am GMT

Your understanding, NP. Not mine, not many others here either.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 9:55am GMT

laurence - the "confessing church" tag was not mine.....

merseymike - I know that many here will not agree - i am just one the very few evos who bother to talk to liberals as most think liberals will have disappeared within 50 yrs so it is a waste of time debating with "fundamentalist liberals" who are not really open-minded

but I think it is worth talking- do you guys prefer I did not come and disagree?

Posted by: NP on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 12:11pm GMT

"eg J John being dumped"

What have I missed, Can someone please explain?

Posted by: DaveW on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 12:56pm GMT

well - was J John not forced to step down? dress it up as you will but the ABC did what he did (even if he did not like doing it)

Posted by: NP on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 2:30pm GMT

Liberals do not disappear. If you look at the history of belief, you can see that it has considerably liberalised over the last few hundred years, even amongst today's evanglicals. Put many an evangelical up against a mainstream Christian in early Victorian period and earlier and they would be suspect. People simply do not mean what they used to mean by doctrinal affirmations, the same arguments no longer agitate, the same denominations are not being created, strengthened or split.

Those of us who have a non-supernaturalist view of faith may well be the middle ground in the future, if Christianity stays connected with culture. If it becomes a tiny, pointless sect, or endless series of sects, then maybe not, but what would be the relevance of that for faith?

I used to be part of the Unitarians, at least associated and attending. The faith that they used to express, which they could only call unitarian at that time, now passes for trinitarian by a large group of peolpe in the mainstream, and there are many interpretations of Trinity that just would not have washed in the past.

Liberals will be around for a lot longer; they are, like the faith they are in, a moving and changing entity.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 4:26pm GMT

'PB Katharine should declare the Diocese of Pittsburgh vacant, and send in a missionary bishop. Presentment should be made against Duncan.'

Fair enough. But I disagree with Beers - just like leaving parishes lose in court to the diocese, the diocese would win in court over this.

+Pittsburgh and his parishes would remain as they were only not in TEC any more.

The missionary bishop would have to start in a rented church or hall...

... unless a liberal parish broke from the diocese and +Pittsburgh was nice and sold them the building instead of winning it in court.

The Golden Rule and all that.

Posted by: The young fogey on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 5:15pm GMT

Pluralist, I hold a strongly supernaturalist view of the faith, indeed, I can't imagine being faithful without a sense of the supernatural. It was, in part, the growing awareness that there is more to life than what can be seen, studied, and quantified that brought me back to faith. I also don't believe that Christianity should be connected to the culture around it. Our calling to be in the world, not of the world, means to me that we should be connected to the culture of the Kingdom and stand apart from the culture of the day so as to challenge it with Christian truth. I wouldn't want to be part of the middle ground you forsee.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 5:18pm GMT

Pluralist - there may always be some liberals around (as long as there are subsidies to be had) but are there are not lots of strong, growing liberal churches all over England and lots of non-Christians coming to find about the "reasonable" faith taught and lived out in those churches?

If not, why not?

(and please, please do not say because people are put off by large, growing evo churches which attract lots of unchurched people - that is lame, self-delusion and evading responsibility)

Posted by: NP on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 5:56pm GMT

Dave asked, "Canterbury does seem an odd choice for oversight surely Sidney or Nigeria?"

Well, certainly +Nigeria is famous for coming over here to the States a few years ago and telling the "orthodox" crowd that it was time to give up their property along with their ties to TEC and boldly launch a new Anglican church (I believe he said this in +Duncan's own diocese, if I'm not mistaken).

This "give up your property" suggestion, errr...didn't go over too well ;)

Posted by: David Huff on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 6:02pm GMT

These (GS) hucksters say in their recent pitch
"A number of the primates have also been sent an invitation by Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. They will be responding to her in due course through private communication."

One can only hope that they will avoid using the US postal service or poor Katharine will be sipping her tea alone wondering where they all are.


Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 11:03pm GMT

The sociologist finds that converts are often those who are interested in religion already, and many a liberal is home grown within the faith. They do transfer, if the place has an open identity.

One of the problems is Christianity is formed around doctrine, so a different approach and clearly so is problematic. The creedless Unitarians used to have a steady trickle of enquirers coming in and mainly moving on, some staying for a time or a long time. They were ex-Christians, people interested in faiths, those who did meditation. But it also had an image problem: people loved the publicity and then left because the practice did not match up.

I read testomonies on dicussion boards about people who were once evangelicals or traditionalists who have changed, as they have tackled inconsistencies and arguments.

In any case, I've said that I am interested in they being as we whilst they stay as they. Dialogue.

As for Ford Elms' point, I don't see how we can be outside of culture: of course we can challenge it ethically and actions. It depends whether you think existence has a dual nature or not - natural and supernatural.

Don Cupitt made the rather amusing point recently that the Roman Catholic Church became very defensive appointing someone to tackle the Da Vinci Code and its errors, but whereas the Da Vinci Code could be conceivably true the Roman Catholic version could not be true given its reliance on the supernatural.

It seems to me that faith should be of this world and consistent with our problem-solving this-worldly outlook. Well it is not as simple as this, because religion involves projection and it talking to us, it setting up a challenge. Which is why I don't agree with Cupitt's rejection of what he calls heterological language, that is language somewhat remythologised, in favour of autological language, a kind of Occam's Razor of straight talk. I do not think that works, when religion should have some sort of symbolic removal and later reintegration, rather like listening to music and letting it work, letting it refresh and allowing people to bind together and go on in the world and its everyday nature.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 11 November 2006 at 1:49am GMT

"Well, certainly +Nigeria is famous for coming over here to the States a few years ago and telling the "orthodox" crowd that it was time to give up their property along with their ties to TEC and boldly launch a new Anglican church (I believe he said this in +Duncan's own diocese, if I'm not mistaken)." David Huff

Perhaps +Akinola is getting a little forgetful as his Nigerian Bishop Minns just secured a "extension" as a priest in TEC of Virginia...not exactly "boldly launching" anything but more accurately dragging his feet as Nigerias representative in the good ol' U.S.A. at the Episcopal Church!

Big Chief "Heap Big Smoke But No Fire"...specializes in "moral" grandstanding...talk is cheap!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Saturday, 11 November 2006 at 2:47am GMT

Martin...I suspect that ++Katherine will be sipping her tea alone regardless! It sure was nice of her to extend a very public invitation, though. And I am certain that even the most private of responses will make their way into the spotlight.

Posted by: Shawn+ on Saturday, 11 November 2006 at 4:39am GMT

Pluralist's post is interesting and the Don C. comment very amusing --'conceiveably' being the operative word, perhaps !

I think Quaker meetings get that 'trickle' at the moment and seems to become a spiritual home or base for quite a few. Also, Quakers have renewed confidence at the present, running 'Outreach programmes' (Quaker Quest) all over the country --a bit like a seeker's alpha, perhaps.

Although a small movement I do think that thoughtful / questioning* people in other Churches and religions could find stuff among Today's UK Quaker thought and practice, that could transplant, or be re-applied in non-Quaker contexts usefully, perhaps.

* if I can use these terms-- words like 'liberal' seem tired, over-used ---or perhaps just too bashed about, having been so often duffed up. I'm not sure it is about being liberal--whereas, thoughtful, questioning , seeking, struggling, critiquing so it for me--- and perhaps most of all those people (or 'parts' of people) in search of a deeper discipleship / following in gospel terms that makes a practical / ethical difference for the world today; & as another side of the coin a spirituality or interior discipleship Inreach) to back up the discipleship-actions in life , in the world.

Not sure if this is well expressed. I expect someone will let me know ! : - )

Posted by: laurence on Sunday, 12 November 2006 at 6:24pm GMT

Re Liberal;

Remember that from the 17th century onwards, well into the 20th century, it was the Calvinists and Evangelicals who were the Liberals.

Something happened in (late) 20th century USA.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 6:45am GMT
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