Tuesday, 19 January 2010
General Synod - ACNA motion
Next month’s meeting of General Synod will be debating this private member’s motion, proposed by Lorna Ashworth, on Wednesday 10 February:
“That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with
the Anglican Church in North America”.
Here are the papers for this debate.
GS 1764A Background paper by Lorna Ashworth available here as a PDF, and also here as a web page
GS 1764B Background note from the Secretary General available here as a PDF, and also here as a web page
Posted by Peter Owen on
Tuesday, 19 January 2010 at 12:33pm GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Church of England
| General Synod
I have read the web version of this woman's background statement.
In Virginia, the churches that left all engaged in a process of 40 days of discernment, following an outline which would make the outcome of a parish vote inevitably to leave. They all held parish meetings, voted to leave, and filed identical lawsuits the next morning trying to steal TEC's property. Without their suits, there would be no litigation. The Diocese of Virginia and TEC would have violated their fiduciary duty by not contesting these suits. Remember - it was the ACNA churches that filed first.
I hope that the people considering this motion are informed by more than the lies and half truths of ACNA.
ACNA, by the way, unlike the Anglican Church of Canada and TEC, has NOT denounced the proposed murderous anti--gay legislation in Uganda, and indeed, Martyn Minns has more or less endorsed it. He did not speak out against less violent but equally odious proposals in Nigeria last year.
You want THOSE folks in the Communion? Liars? Thieves? Bigots? I hope not.
The appropriate response to Mrs. Ashworth's declaration of war on The Episcopal Church is silence.
Adoption of this motion will begin the formal Balkanization of the Anglican Communion, if non-geographical Balkanization is possible. A patchwork of affinity groups, some of them not in communion with others, all claiming to be in communion with a central hub? Is that a Communion? It sounds like less than we have at present, messy as it is, not more. There are three Anglican Churches in North America: one in Canada, one in the US (which also includes some non-US dioceses as relics of its missionary history), and one in Mexico. We do not need a third "non-geographical" province to assuage the consciences of those unable to accept the actions of the legitimate governing synods of their respective provinces.
Regarding the statement above about the action of the Virginia congregations. Technically, they did not file suit. What they did was to immediately file the required legal papers declaring their ownership of the properties. If the Diocese and TEC did not respond, the properties would have been awarded to the ACNA congregations by default. Hence, they sued. The congregations often tout their innocence in all this, ...as the persecuted, which the PMM's resolution notes. Those who understand the U.S. (and more specifically, that of the Commonwealth of Va.) find that risible. In similar manner, the deposed Bishop of Pittsburgh was sued by Calvary Pittsburgh. Calvary initiated that lawsuit. Bishop Duncan, and his ACNA diocese have lost that lawsuit. They have stated, in contrast to their avowed position to the GS at Dar-es-Salaam of opposition to the lawsuits, that they will appeal. The bottom line here is that the lawsuits and who initiates them is based on who is in possession of the property, and if the other part disagrees, that party will either have to initiate suit, or, in the case that they lost, appeal. It takes two to litigate. For those who understand how the system works, the Private Member's comments with their implications that the ACNA members are guileless in this process is direct effort to misrepresent the truth of the situation and to influence her colleagues with misinformation.
Point 2. Tobias Haller is correct. If the CofE adopts this, they will be contributing to Balkanization based on the theology of the moment. It will be establishing a precedent of which, ironically, it itself may be a victim of unintended consequences. Ironically, although the primates expressed mixed reviews of TEC's moratoria on ordinations and same sex blessings, as some may recall, their response to the border crossings as reported by ++Cantuar was unanimous disapproval. Because ACNA could not be successful in its internal strategy, it adopted an external one, for the most part, appointed its own bishops in a top-down manner, and adopted an outside strategy, hoping to create facts on the ground and a critical mass that could not be ignored. The PM's measure asks that the CofE buy in to not only WHAT but HOW, and one wonders if adoption of this resolution will not come back to bite it in the end.
Tobias Haller has a longer statement on his blog that I think is very much worth reading:
I am not at all sure what to make of Ms. Ashworth's intent here. She seems to be arguing that the folks who now identify themselves as ACNA were driven out of TEC. An interesting perspective. "Interesting," however, does not imply anything anywhere close to "true."
The Secretary General's note does not recommend adoption of this motion, but does say that adoption of the motion would initiate, not conclude a process. Overall, I read the Secretary General as quite favorable to Mrs. Ashworth's motion, and I think we can expect that it will be adopted by General Synod.
The usual chorus of voices will tell us it doesn't matter to TEC if the motion is adopted, but of course it does matter. I could wish that it would be defeated but I do not at all expect that it will be.
Regarding the ACNA Motion; it cannot be forgotten that ACNA's constituent membership - from various dissenting sodalities of former-Anglicans - have already disassociated themselves from the Anglican Communion in their schismatic departure.
Why on earth would the Founding Church of the Anglican Communion (The Church of England) want to malign the prophetic mission of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, by diverting their hold on the 'Anglican' franchise and offering it, willy-nilly, to a bunch of intentional GAFCON-motivated schismatics?
As Tobias Haller has already suggested, such a contingency would fragment the Anglican Communion even more than it seems to be at present. This is not the way to 'unity in diversity'; something which, hitherto, the Communion has been good at, and one of the reasons for its existence.
We learned two things about this at the press briefing on Monday.
One was that the House of Bishops discussed this forthcoming motion recently and decided it would propose an amendment to this motion. The text is not yet available, but should be soon.
The other was that in relation to the first, the HoB had not consulted either the Canadian or the American provinces of the Anglican Communion.
I am left wondering how it would be "in order" for the Synod of the Church of England to debate a resolution calling for the CofE to begin a process towards recognizing and including the ACNA in a more direct relationship to the ABC and, I am sure they hope, including them in the Anglican Communion.
How is it "in order" to debate seriously the recognition and inclusion of a Church formed by Primates establishing parishes and dioceses in the jurisdiction of another province of the Anglican Communion, and whose episcopacy is composed largely of deposed priests and bishops from a member province, who violated their ordination vows to be faithful to TEC and to be subject to its General Convention? I am not suggesting that there is no alternative for a priest or bishop who believes, in conscience, that he (it is almost always "he") must separate from TEC. Such persons may seek letters dimissory and transfer to another province, or resign their right to function as a priest or bishop in TEC and seek acceptance by another province or Church which will recognize their ordination.
How is it "in order" to consider the recognition and inclusion of a Church that is explicitly based on exclusion of LGBT persons? I understand that ACNA welcomes LGBT persons who are willing to attempt psychological suicide and to pretend to be someone else for the rest of their lives, in the name of Jesus. Pardon me if I equate that with exclusion.
I understand that the bishops of ACNA believe that they are the aggrieved parties even though they declined to use the canonical processes available to them to separate from TEC in favor of attempting to lead as many parishioners as possible to leave with them, and to assert claims to possession of the parish property and diocesan trust funds, claims which they had to know were contrary to consistent precedential decisions of the United States Supreme Court for over a century.
I understand that when Archbishop Duncan publicly planned to separate his diocese from TEC, drew up pertinent legal documents, transferred diocesan property to his personal possession, changed the legal title and name of the diocese and the entity in which the diocesan property and endowments were held, and scheduled a final diocesan convention with the sole purpose of voting to separate from TEC, that those actions are not considered by Mrs. Ashworth and friends as sufficient grounds to depose him for having abandoned the Communion of TEC. Mrs Ashworth and those who agree with her seem to think that both the Canons of TEC and the decisions of the US Supreme Court since the early 19th century regarding property ownership by hierarchical Churches in the United States are appropriate subject matter for the Synod of the CofE to discuss and about which to express their disapproval. One can hardly imagine such ecclesiastical hubris.
Finally, I am wondering why the pending legislation in Nigeria and Uganda to imprison and execute LGBT persons is not on the agenda of the Synod. And, Mrs. Ashworth, have you yet publicly indicated your view of this matter? Or may we infer your view from your thorougly tendentious presentation of the relationship between ACNA and TEC, given that the bones of contention seem to be ordination of women and/or real inclusion of LGBT persons in the Church?
Simon, your news is deeply discouraging. The C of E House of Bishops saw no reason to consult TEC or Canada!
I am afraid this shows that in the Church of England at large, it is the ACNA story that is believed. That is why the tragedy is coming; why, in my view, TEC is already out of the Communion and should plan accordingly.
Why is ACNA's the story the Church of England believes? Some of the responsibility has to fall on TEC, of course -- for too long, TEC did little or nothing to get its own story out. But many in the Church of England must share in the blame for this situation: those who did nothing to counter the slanders spread about TEC as well as those who spread them.
Here's me being bitter: Yes, the Chapman Report should be required reading, and yes, as Emily H shows, the claims of ACNA and its supporters are deeply duplicitous. Yes, the Windsor Continuation Group was quite concerned about the formation of ACNA, and yes, recognizing ACNA would be a substantial breach of tradition. But of course none of that means anything next to the undeniable fact that Trinity Wall Street once had the bad taste to celebrate a clown Mass. Not to mention that Kraft is buying Cadbury, so let's seize the chance to stick it to the Americans in return.
I hope Inclusive Church or someone else is working on additional briefing papers. Ms. Ashworth's paper is full of errors and omits much of the picture.
Is there any chance Synod would ask someone from ECUSA to provide background information or even speak to this motion? If I read only the background papers, with no other information, I'd be inclined to support the PMM. Knowing more, I find it highly problematic.
I hope General Synod will not make an uninformed decision.
"One was that the House of Bishops discussed this forthcoming motion recently and decided it would propose an amendment to this motion. The text is not yet available, but should be soon.
"The other was that in relation to the first, the HoB had not consulted either the Canadian or the American provinces of the Anglican Communion."
Well isn't that just special!
I'm trying to come up with an analogy, from somewhere this side of reason.
Maybe we should consult with Terry Pratchett.
At the moment I am deep into Doris Kearns Goodwin's wonderful book about Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals. Although Lincoln was against slavery, his deepest concern was the Union, and he felt, rightly so history says, that if any state could simply secede any time a majority of its citizens disagreed with any policy advocated by the majority of US citizens, then there could be no Republic and the Revolutionary War had been in vain and the founding fathers (and mothers) completely misguided. The same principal holds in TEC I believe, if any diocese or even any parish can simply secede when it doesn't like TEC position on an issue, but retain the property and stature of a diocese 'in the Anglican Communion' - then there can be no local church (TEC) and no Anglican Communion.
Calm down, people.
Just as whether to ordain Gene Robinson was an internal TEC matter, so too is whether to recognize ACNA an internal C of E matter. Just because there are international repercussions does not mean that a church should not decide such an issue autonomously.
Indeed, the debate on this PMM will be quite useful. It will be an acid test of where the C of E actually stands on the issues that truly divide the Anglican family. Surely clarity in the C of E's position will be helpful for all sides. No more waffling!
In this regard, I would note that the bishops' amendment could be friendly, or unfriendly, to the PMM. It could be a series of technical improvements, or it could be a substitute that changes the PMM's entire approach.
If the bishops' amendment is an unfriendly one, drafted to change the PMM's entire approach, then surely its chances are improved by TEC having had no hand in drafting it.
It is my hope and prayer that this motion - as amended - will initiate a process whereby the orders and ministries of those ordained under ACNA will be accepted by the C of E. Certainly the C of E seems unwilling to recognize the depositions that have taken place, especially Bishop Henry Scriven and The Rev. Dr. J.I.I.Packer. This seems to me to be more about recognition and acceptance of orders than formal acceptance of a new province and that this is what the secretary general has said in his piece.
On my part I am all in favor of keeping people in the family rather than expelling them. Others will disagree.
I will not calm down.
God willing, the bishops' amendment will indeed be unfriendly to the PMM.
However, internal matter or not, if lies are all that are told at Synod, then the only clarity will be that the C of E cares nothing for truth.
So far we have no assurance that anything but the lies will be told. Will no one stand up in Synod and refute the lies supporting this PMM?
"Just as whether to ordain Gene Robinson was an internal TEC matter, so too is whether to recognize ACNA an internal C of E matter. Just because there are international repercussions does not mean that a church should not decide such an issue autonomously."
But I hope the discussion is bassed on more than the often erroneous and often misleading material presented to the group. For a thorough study of what lies behind the situation TEC is in may be found on the web site of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC. It is by Jim Naughton and is called "Follow the Money." It is a thorough and well documented history of how we in TEC were plotted against and attacked.
Jeremy, my inclination is to agree with you except for the fact that, as pointed out above, what is at stake is the franchise, and the owner of the franchise, at least in the perception of the pew sitter, is not the "Communion", it is the Church of England. If the CofE gives ACNA its seal of approval, that is the guarantee of the connection with Canterbury. By contrast, Nigerian ACNA members in the US would be discouraged to learn that the Church of Nigeria has removed any connection to Canterbury in its constitution. Again, at the departure of San Joaquin, if one reads through the material and comments made by Fr. Dan Martin, in the discussion of San Joaquin's secession to Southern Cone, what the people of San Joaquin cared about was assurance of their connection to Canterbury, not the communion and that is what they were promised by Schofield and Venables. From my own experience, in the ACNA/Kenyan congregation that I am familiar with, the issue is Canterbury not the communion. Quite frankly, as soon as the GAFCON primates have fulfilled their purpose of helping to legitimize ACNA with the CofE, they will have lost their usefulness and any role of consequence in the ACNA "province in waiting" Ironically, I believe their guidance and direction will have no more meaning other than as possible continued, if attenuated, financial support. The prize for TEC and for ACNA is the CofE stamp of approval, not the communion's
You've gotta hand it to Ms. Ashworth--few people can pack so many lies into such a small space. She has a genuine--if ugly--talent.
"God willing, the bishops' amendment will indeed be unfriendly to the PMM.
However, internal matter or not, if lies are all that are told at Synod, then the only clarity will be that the C of E cares nothing for truth.
So far we have no assurance that anything but the lies will be told. Will no one stand up in Synod and refute the lies supporting this PMM? - Lois Keen
I very much agree with Lois Keen, and cannot even begin to understand how a body which purports to represent what is good in this world and the next, would not immediately seek to learn the truth.
How can lies be the basis for such a decision?
How can the General Synod of CofE even entertain an unbalanced, non-validated set of contentions by a member?
Why is there not a public outcry by CoE bishops and clergy and laity that demands the full story be told in advance, and not presented subsequently as some defense to a presumed-guilty-until-proven-innocent set of charges based in self-proving victimhood and vitriol?
"if one reads through the material and comments made by Fr. Dan Martin, in the discussion of San Joaquin's secession to Southern Cone, what the people of San Joaquin cared about was assurance of their connection to Canterbury"
Posted by: Emily H on Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 2:07pm GMT
Assurances that the San Joaquin leadership knew they could not deliver on.
It is the continued stream of lies and deceptions that have come from so many that is so disheartening to those who love the Church.
It infected so many bishops and culminated (for me) in the doctrine of "gracious restraint" - the most evil and scurrilous falsehood I have ever known.
I believe these bishops have used up all the patience gay Christian people and their families can offer - now is time for direct action to discomfort and disturb them.
Peter Tatchell has been showing the way for years, but it is now time for Christians to take up where he bravely and justly led. I am happy to work with several friends to plan direct action focusing on bishops - those who have accepted, tolerated and implemented this evil doctrine.
"You've gotta hand it to Ms. Ashworth--few people can pack so many lies into such a small space."
I obviously don't know her. Those in ACNA have a track record of lying and distortion. I she listens only to them, she may not KNOW they are lies and half truths. My hope and prayer is that in discussing this, ACNA's is not the only version of the story put forth. The facts are available.
"The facts are available" -- yes, Cynthia, but our friends in the Church of England have not brought these facts to the attention of the General Synod, so the facts can do us no good.
Or should I write "friends"? It seems to me that some who claim to be supporters of TEC might have been more active than they have been on our behalf. As it is, the slurs and slanders against TEC disseminated by Mrs. Ashworth and her supporters among the bishops have circulated as truth and are now accepted as truth. Even Gregory Cameron now appears to believe them. The Archbishop of Canterbury wants absolutely nothing to do with us and will not even set foot inside an Episcopal Church.
Well, as these things are the case, we must now face facts. Yes, if the slurs and slanders against TEC had been countered earlier, then people in the Church of England would not believe them. But they weren't, and they do. No, the Church of England shouldn't be recognizing ACNA or breaking communion with TEC. But they are and they will.
What's done is done; let's just start working with the new situation. Let's build ecumenical alliances with willing partners like ELCA and the Church of Sweden instead.
Please, Martin, this is not just about "gay Christian people and their families," nor just about female clergy and their families, but about a breadth of deceit and deception which have been carefully orchestrated.
This is indeed about pretending fiction are facts, included among which are issues related to homosexuals in the Church, clergy and lay, and also women in the clergy, but those are convenient rallying cries for the fundamentalist neo-Puritans and their troops.
Their goal is to make the Anglican Communion, beginning with TEC and ACofC, into a new Baptist High Church in the guise of Anglicanism.
When we are destroyed then their well funded extreme right wing puppet-masters will go after the Lutherans (ECLA, not Wisconsin and maybe not Missouri), the United Church of Christ, and the Methodists.
The question is how all people in the Anglican Communion who demand the truth can make the ostrich-head-in-the-sand segment of the CofE realize its potential gross errors and current serious omissions concerning due diligence.
Charlotte said, "The Archbishop of Canterbury wants absolutely nothing to do with us and will not even set foot inside an Episcopal Church."
In fairness to His Fuzziness, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be visiting Trinity Wall Street soon as part of the Trinity Institute.
He's probably being well paid for his services. But still.
Last week I attended a funeral. It was of a man who was prominent in our community, and our church, many years ago. There were attendees who have joined the Kenyan/Anglican church down the street and family members of the secessionists who formed it returning to town for the funeral. One said to the Rector of our church who presided at the service: "That was such an Anglican service, you should be an Anglican". His response: "I am an Anglican." Since her information about us was filtered through our new "Anglican" colleagues, one only wonders what she had been told. In the case of the PMM's resolution above, one wonders what she has been told.
"In fairness to His Fuzziness, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be visiting Trinity Wall Street soon ..."
Does he know that they have had at least one CLOWN MASS there?
He'd better wear his Clown Cootie Repellent!
With respect to Dr. Packer, let's get the facts straight.
He was never deposed. He was licensed for years by the Bishop of New Westminster even when he was busy denouncing the Canadian church.
He decided to leave the Anglican Church of Canada, renounce his license, and accept an appointment from the Primate of the Southern Cone. All while remaining in a diocesan pulpit in Vancouver.
The bishop then declared him to have abandoned his ministry in this Church, and asked him to move aside. To date, he has refused.
Packer's right to his theological position was never questioned. He voluntarily withdrew his own membership in the Church, repudiating both his bishop and his diocese.
'Deposition' is nonsense.
The Trinity Institute program, if it includes a Eucharist, might not be part of ABC Rowan's program. If it is, and he takes part and receives communion, well hallelujah. That would be wonderful.
Mrs Ashworth's background paper is replete with errors and misinformation, to put it mildly. Is it also self-contradictory. Notwithstanding her claim to have researched the matter carefully, it is clear that she has relied solely on the self-serving propaganda of ACNA. One could do a line-by-line refutation of the document, but a blog post is not the place to do it. But I will offer a few comments from the perspective of a Canadian Anglican.
Mrs Ashworth claims that "this motion is not about interfering in the polity of other Anglican provinces." But in fact it does so in two important respects, one of which Mrs Ashworth herself names. At the conclusion of her paper, Mrs Ashworth expresses the hope that the motion might, "in some cases ... help parishes to retain the property they have built and paid for." This is a very direct interference in the polity of other Anglican provinces, and would be absolutely unconscionable for the Church of England even to contemplate.
There is a second respect in which this motion constitutes interference in the polity of other Provinces, and that has to do with the fact that it is predicated on the refusal to recognize or respect the canonical process by which clergy have voluntarily relinquished, been found to have abandoned, or been deposed from their ministries. Principle 13(2) of "The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion" states that "each church and its individual members should respect a legislative, executive, judicial or other decision or action duly authorised under the law of another church." The motion if adopted would violate this principle.
It would also fundamentally call into question the very basis for communion between the Church of England and the legitimate North American provinces. Full communion is predicated on the recognition of orders. That is, that each partner fully recognizes and respects the canonical, administrative and liturgical processes involved in the conferring of Holy Orders. Concomitant with that is surely the respect for the canonical and administrative mechanisms by which orders may be relinquished, abandoned or deposed from. To adopt this motion would thus violate the basis for communion between the Church of England and the North American Provinces. It could create uncertainty with respect to whether someone from England purporting to be a cleric is actually a cleric in good standing.
Mrs Ashworth claims that 6 bishops in Canada "have been accused and convicted of 'presumption of the abandonment of the ordained ministry.'" I am aware of only three Canadian bishops who are involved in ACNA. In all three cases, the bishops in question are retired from active duty in the Anglican Church of Canada, and it is my understanding that all three voluntarily relinquished their ministry pursuant to Canon XIX of the Anglican Church of Canada. This is the equivalent of Canon C1(2) of the Church of England which makes provision for a cleric "voluntarily [to] relinquish the exercise of his orders and use himself as a layman." I have personal knowledge of the voluntary relinquishment of ministry of one of the bishops in question.
The phrase "relinquish license for ministry" is canonically meaningless in the Anglican Church of Canada. The correct phrase is "relinquish ministry" as above.
The Anglican Church of Canada (and TEC) is a voluntary association, in which the members and officers agree to abide by the rules that it shall from time to time adopt. I do not see how members can refuse to abide by the rules and then demand special treatment as victims of "oppression". They cannot refuse to avail themselves of the canonical processes available to them and then complain that they have not been treated fairly. The ACNA complainants remind one of the man convicted for murdering his parents who appealed to the court for clemency on the ground that he was an orphan.
Much more could be said about the details of the background paper, but I have already abused the good graces of Thinking Anglicans.
Mrs Ashworth states that the General Synod members will be given an opportunity to quiz ACNA representatives. I trust an equal opportunity will be given to meet knowledgeable representative of the legitimate Provinces. The Bishop of Winchester, who seems to be very supportive of this motion, has an archdeacon in his diocese who studied Canon Law with a Canadian classmate. I am sure this Canadian canonist would be very happy to appear before the General Synod to explain Canadian Canon Law to the members.
"The ACNA complainants remind one of the man convicted for murdering his parents who appealed to the court for clemency on the ground that he was an orphan." - Nom de Plume
Oh yes, brother, you have identified their game candidly and succinctly.
But what is being done within CofE to ensure that duplicity and deceit is not allowed to stand unchallenged?
Where is the Good Samaritan who will bother crossing to the other side of the road, to bring love and the power of truth?
At the very least the General Synod of the Church of England needs to consult with the Anglican Church of CAnada and TEC about the proposed motion. The implications of even preparing for a debate without such consultation are huge.
Nom de Plume, may I also add, in light of your first point, that the intrusion on behalf of "Parishes" to retain their property is also in intrusion into US _Civil_ Law! The Dennis Canon was enacted at the request of the US Supreme Court, in an effort to provide for a more efficient settlement of such cases.
"The Trinity Institute program, if it includes a Eucharist, might not be part of ABC Rowan's program. If it is, and he takes part and receives communion, well hallelujah. That would be wonderful." - Lois Keen
I presume he will receive communion, given that he is the celebrant. I will be there.
Good news, Nom de Plume. Thank you.
ABC Rowan, then, does step inside an Episcopal Church and more.
"I presume he [the ABC] will receive communion, given that he is the celebrant. I will be there."
Ah! It will be a Clown Mass after all!
I would love to be rich enough to pass out clown noses as people enter.
"On my part I am all in favor of keeping people in the family rather than expelling them. Others will disagree. (Posted by: Ian Montgomery on Wednesday, 20 January )
Then how do you feel about the people who themselves - by their actions - have already schismatically departed from the main body of the Communion. Do you want to force them to reverse their own decision? Schism is Schism, after all.
If my brother refuses to come to the family dinner, that is his action. If we refuse to invite him because he refused to come last year, that is our action - whether he would have accepted or not.