Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Gafcon primates say no to the Covenant

The GAFCON/FCA Primates Council recently met in Oxford. Today they have issued this press release: Oxford Statement of the Primates’ Council November 2010 AD.

The statement includes this paragraph [emphasis added].

5. For the sake of Christ and of His Gospel we can no longer maintain the illusion of normalcy and so we join with other Primates from the Global South in declaring that we will not be present at the next Primates’ meeting to be held in Ireland. And while we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 11:46am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion
Comments

"The illusion of normalcy" is hardly an Oxonian turn of phrase!

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 12:29pm GMT

Since placating these folk was the whole reason for the covenant, why don't we just drop the idea?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 12:44pm GMT

The Communion has been history since Dromantine. Where Primates (or anyone else) refuses Table Fellowship, there is no more Communion.

Posted by: Counterlight on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 12:50pm GMT

And yet General Synod votes for the Covenant -- attempting to bar the stable door even as the horse is galloping off into the middle distance.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 1:00pm GMT

What Counterlight said! Dromantine killed the Anglican Communion for good.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 1:50pm GMT

It is starting to appear that the only ones left who want the Covenant are those who have invested time and energy in drafting it. Hardly a good reason for continuing down this path.

Posted by: Fr Levi on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 2:10pm GMT

+Rowan has been chasing a mirage all along. The conservatives are not interested in keeping together with people they regard as heretics, plain and simple. Unfortunately, Rowan has sacrificed the 'liberals' and especially LGBT people in order to keep at the table people who have no intention of staying there, so it is a lose -lose situation and we end up with a church nobody is happy with. TEC has shown the way here by sticking to its beliefs and maintaining its integrity in the face of appalling bullying and now it is time for the C of E to follow suit. Let's hope they vote out the covenant.

Posted by: sj on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 2:28pm GMT

They call for faithfulness to Anglican tradition, yet there is not much that is Anglican in their words. The real subtext is "no gays allowed". Nothing else really matters, although "no women or North Americans we don't like" is right up thre. The ordination of women is not their real issue, although a women Primate certainly is. The astounding hypocrisy of inviting a schismatic bishop (Duncan) whose signature adorns their document tells us exactly what they're about. At the same time they include Jensen whose Calvinist lay-presidency diocese would be considered beyond the pale of Anglicanism by most of the others. Does Duncan talk to Jensen? Strange bedfellows indeed, but when there's power and greed on the table, nothing else matters. The Gospel apparently has nothing to say about those things. Oddly, it actually has nothing to say about homosexuality, a detail they seem to overlook, despite the fact that one would think that it's the only thing the Gospel is about. How twisted. The refusal to sign the Covenant can be construed in many ways, but the fact that they want nothing to do with anyone else, including ++Rowan, is clear.

Posted by: Richard Grand on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 2:32pm GMT

What Counterlight said (& I've said too many times before -- apparently no one is listening).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 2:55pm GMT

And just how much time and money have been wasted from the date the GAFCONS signed this document until releasing it? How they must have giggled, as various C of E defenders of the Covenant blithered on and on, culminating in the ABC's grand plea for it!

If this doesn't make the ABC feel foolish, nothing will.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 2:57pm GMT

Let them go. Let the rest of the Communion carry on and let the GAFCON provinces walk apart. It's their choice.

Posted by: Anglican on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 3:48pm GMT

Counterlight: since long before Dromantine. Whenever it was --Akinola wrote Canterbury out of Nigeria's constitution, that's when they quit. Ever since then I've wondered why anyone bothers paying them attention.

Sections 4 & 5 read like separatism for the sake of it, in context: "oh no, the Covenant might actually bring unity with these rebellious Westerners, quick run away". Perhaps we should let them go.

Posted by: Tim on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 3:59pm GMT

Let's think about this clearly. GAFCON took their decision on 7 Oct, but issued the press release only in the middle of the General Synod debate. Who has reason to feel most bitterly betrayed? Not the liberals who belatedly woke up to what a dreadful document the Covenant was, but the centrists led by Rowan Williams.

Therefore I see this as an opportunity of healing, not recrimination. Rowan can now abandon the ratification process and those who criticised him for even trying can forgive and forget. It is GAFCON who have taken the ball away - and dishonestly withheld the announcement of it.

Posted by: Iain McLean on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 4:19pm GMT

Let's see. The so-called "Primates" (Jensen isn't one and Duncan is a self-appointed schismatic and is Primate of nothing, Venables is retired) met in Bermuda, Singapore, and now Oxford. They certainly get around, and all of this in the past year or so, not including other tete-a-tetes. It would be interesting to know who is paying for all this and what their clergy and congregations know of the activities of these "princes of the church" who give "leadership" to those who aren't asking for it but seemingly aren't needed at home so much. Regarding the abyss of heresy Anglicans are being warned against, I had no idea that condemnation of homosexuality was and article of the Creeds and defined by the Councils. Of course, the Orthodox consider us heretics anyway, since we don't recognize the same Councils we do. What do views on homosexuality have to do with doctrinal orthodoxy? I have met gay persons with impeccable orthodox theological views. Then again, I have met many right-wing nuts as well.

Posted by: Adam Armstrong on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 4:53pm GMT

The GAFCON people won't go their own way. What they will do is set up parallel groups and structures of what Bishop Benn has called "our people" and take decisions their way and use their own finance. They will compete, but from within, and attempt to take over where the opportunity arises - a church, a theological college, a ministry and so on.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 4:59pm GMT

Cor! Well, I laughed until I cried ..... cheeky dears!!

Quoting Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk!! Who would anathematise all that goes on in Sydney in an instant - and most likely several other of the named Provinces ..... but why bother with a small truth when you are selling such a big lie already.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 5:01pm GMT

If, like me, you are persuaded to look back at "Dromantine", by this thread, you may, like me, regard yourself as a bemused Alice in Wonderland when you read para.10 of The Primates’ Meeting Communiqué, February 2005 (Dromantine):

"We also have further questions concerning the development of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and of a Council of Advice. While we welcome the ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury as that of one who can speak to us as primus inter pares about the realities we face as a Communion, we are cautious of any development which would seem to imply the creation of an international jurisdiction which could override our proper provincial autonomy. We ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to explore ways of consulting further on these matters."

Posted by: William on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 5:02pm GMT

Counterlight and the good Prior have it right. When you refuse Table Fellowship, no document in the world can restore communion.

I'm trying to think how ++Canterbury could have handled the whole affair worse, but for the life of me I can't see how...

Posted by: David H. on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 5:04pm GMT

If GAFCON does not sign the covenant, who will be left to use it against the evil liberal West? Will we Episcopalians be safe?
What happens if ABC continues in communion with the non-Duncan members of GAFCON? Do they want to be in communion with him?
Perhaps there will be an Anglican Communion with several branches, united only by their tenuous connection to the See of Canterbury, and not in communion with each other.
An Anglican fudge?

Posted by: Andrew on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 7:39pm GMT

This is like the tin pot reforms of President Botha in 1984 South Africa..both the right and liberals voted no for his new constitution.The same is happening to President Rowan Williams.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 8:06pm GMT

Cynthia
"If this doesn't make the ABC feel foolish, nothing will."

I don't know about that.
I haven't quite understood his motivation yet and I find it hard because a. I don't value institutional unity to the same extent and b. I don't like what the Covenant says.

But I'm pretty sure he is more even handed than people think and he's just as happy to have GAFCON as a 2nd tier member of the Communion as TEC.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 8:35pm GMT

Aren't these GAFCON Primates the people who were being invited to private and separate meetings with Rowan Williams. Hasn't he bent over backwards to appease the? And now they say they they don't care anyway? They seem like a bunch of mean old men who behave like children. Also a bunch of nasty old men who act like bullies who have an inordinate amount of time to obsess about gay people-thank goodness they are all such wonderful examples of Christian virility. What a terrible example of what it means to be loyal to "Christ and the Gospel". No room for charity or concern for others. Thank goodness they have gay people to give them an excuse for behaving so abysmally, but then they are always right so they can never be faulted. The Pharisees have nothing on them,

Posted by: Adam Armstrong on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 9:08pm GMT

What if they had a Covenant, and nobody * came?

(nobody = Rowan Cantuar)

The "Covenant" is dead: Long live The Quad!!!! :-D

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 9:29pm GMT

I can´t wait for the witch hunt directed against LGBTI Anglicans and others to be over--the Gafcon Army of Christian Toy Soldiers is made up of a tiresome bunch of border crossing intruding grandstanders. These troubled men, and they are men, recklessly bash the dignity and reputations of others. They burn up monetary legacies where they ¨poach¨ and then squander away the good-will and basic decency of others at the Anglican Communion¨ by being common troublemakers. All of this is done has to be done with great arrogance to be believable even to a few. Sadly if these men, and they are men, had any of the REAL spiritual virtues they yammer on and on about they would have ALREADY cleaned up the vertical corruption, sex slavery, child witchburning and civil wars on their home turf.

What a racket for a bunch of religiouslike men, and they are men, who improve their REAL personal histories and current images by excluding and tormenting others at The Body of Christ.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 9:59pm GMT

Well, I *am* glad that GAFCON is finally going to stop pretending to be normal. Knowing it is half the battle.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 9:27am GMT

"we can no longer maintain the illusion of normalcy"

This implies that there has been an illusion of normalcy. Normally, with an illusion, someone else believes that the illusion is real. I think they meant "delusion."

And bless you, William, for the Dromantine quote!

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 12:19pm GMT

Erica wrote: "But I'm pretty sure he [the ABC]is more even handed than people think and he's just as happy to have GAFCON as a 2nd tier member of the Communion as TEC."

Why should they even be second tier members? It doesn't look like they want to be members at all. And if they were "relegated," along with Canada and TEC, would they sit still for that? I don't think so.

I hope TEC and Canada also reject the Covenant.

We in the US are well aware of a time in our past when congregations were divided into two sets: the whites who sat in the nave and the slaves who sat in the balconies.

I don't want an Anglican Communion where ANYONE is sent to the balcony, and that includes GAFCON.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 12:33pm GMT

One wonders about a Russian Orthodox bishop (although the Roman church would do the same) who take an opportunity to lecture Gafcon "Primates" on the avoidance of heresy, when they are all heretics in their eyes anyway. No Orthodox church could possibly consider these Protestant fundamentalist/Calvinist/charismatics doctrinally orthodox. What about lay presidency? Strange bedfellows indeed. Agreeing to hate gay people hardly is a definition of what it means to be orthodox.

Posted by: Adam Armstrong on Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 1:52pm GMT

It appears the GAFCON primates are rejecting the Covenant without even bringing it to their respective Synods - which I'm sure sure is legally beyond even the dictatorial authority they presume to have. The decision lies with the provinces, not the individual primates.

Interestingly, the following excerpt from a report on an Irish bishop's visit to Nigeria paints a slightly different picture regarding the Covenenat than what Nigeria's primate might portray:

"In the evening the bishop gave a lecture to a large gathering in St Michael's Cathedral on Anglicanism and the Covenant. He gave an outline of the threads of Anglicanism and showed how these could be found in the Covenant text. He underlined the localness of Anglicanism based on the application of shared principles and practices; he shared reflections on his experiences of the diocese of Kaduna; and he described the Covenant as an exercise in shared trust. The Covenant had been given to people in the deaneries ahead of the lecture and there was lively discussion particularly of autonomy. Interestingly he was asked why there was no specific mention of youth as a major component in the Anglican future. The bishop suggested the lady write with her suggestion to the ACO. There was no antipathy at all expressed towards the Covenant.

http://www.ireland.anglican.org/index.php?do=news&newsid=3302

Posted by: Anglican on Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 2:09pm GMT

Maxims:

You can not compromise with people who will accept no compromise.

Those with large control needs imagine everyone is as interested in control as they.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 2:54pm GMT

Don´t forget, retired or not, +Drexel Gomez awaits ¨as needed¨ to further destroy the Anglican Communion with covenant revisions...just think about it, +Drexel Gomez has always been privileged to know the inner workings of the Global South whom he openly endorses and applauds as ¨good¨ Anglicans. This is a man whom ++Rowan trusts with our ongoing spiritual lives...the palace is crawling with serpants unfortunately.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 3:04pm GMT

Erica wrote: "But I'm pretty sure he [the ABC] is more even handed than people think and he's just as happy to have GAFCON as a 2nd tier member of the Communion as TEC."

No. The Archbishop of Canterbury has acted naively, but he cannot be happy to have anyone in a second tier.

Indeed, if Cantuar's chief concern is unity, then he may realize that his Covenant project has achieved little, at great cost.

Instead of keeping the Global South within the fold, the Covenant project has raised their hopes, only to dash them -- with predictable results for their Ireland attendance.

So if the point of the Covenant was to prevent GAFCON provinces from moving into a second tier, then the Covenant has completely failed. Already.

Looking ahead, the only fruit of the Covenant process may be to place Canada and TEC and several other provinces in the second tier, along with GAFCON.

If that is the only likely result of the Covenant process, then why is anyone continuing it? Why are people so reluctant to say that the emperor has no clothes?

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 3:07pm GMT

Jeremy and Cynthia

there are two different issues here. One is that, like you, I don't want the Covenant, I don't want anyone to be second tier and I do believe the Emperor has no clothes.

But the question was how Rowan might feel about GAFCON's decision, not how we feel about it.
And, Jeremy, he was the one who proposed the Covenant and who at least co-devised the idea of two tiers, expecting at least TEC to find itself relegated there.
Maybe he saw it as a valid way of being together yet separate.

But he's no fool. He knows that GAFCON are not the compromising type and we may just be blinded by our own perceptions of Rowan being on their side.
He may well have suspected from the outside that both "extremes" in this debate would not be part of the centre.

I just sincerely hope that if this appalling piece of legislation does come about, the CoE will find itself on the same side as TEC.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 4:02pm GMT

Erika, I am trying to answer the question you are posing -- trying, hard though it is to see through the fog of ACO spin and archepiscopal incompetence, to imagine what Lambeth Palace's view of today's situation might be.

I got your point the first time. Let me see if I can be a little more direct in response.

General Synod has moved the Covenant out to the dioceses. At the same time, the GAFCON primates (and hangers-on) have now relegated themselves to the second tier by declaring that they will not sign it.

Why would the latter development please the Archbishop of Canterbury? Here you have truly puzzled me.

I understand you to be suggesting that he's playing a deep and long game -- of play the extremes against each other. I understand your suggestion; I simply disagree with it, because it doesn't make any sense.

Indeed, I seriously doubt that Canterbury has ever hoped that both extremes would end up second tier. How, pray tell, would that benefit him, the Church of England, the Communion as a whole? What would be the point?

It can't be to have the easily managed moderate middle more closely bound to itself. The whole point of the Covenant was to stop the extremes from leaving. To quote Pat O'Neill above, "placating these folk was the whole reason for the covenant."

Pat O'Neill adds, "why don't we just drop the idea?" If only it were that easy! Dropping it would require Lambeth Palace to admit its mistakes.

The whole Covenant project is becoming victim to the law of unintended consequences. What Canterbury had hoped would be a rallying point has become a dividing point. (And no, given the General Synod vote, I don't think there's any chance of the CofE and TEC ending up in the same tier.)

The Archbishop of Canterbury may not be a fool, but for someone who sought the role of international ecclesiastical leader, he's done some spectacularly foolish things.

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 9:19pm GMT

"Those with large control needs imagine everyone is as interested in control as they."

Er, shouldn't this read:

Those with large control needs imagine everyone is interested in being controlled by them?

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Friday, 26 November 2010 at 3:46am GMT

"Those with large control needs imagine everyone is as interested in control as they." Posted by Tobias Haller

True dat!

[Still wondering about the faraway places I'm supposedly "invading" and "forcing down throats" my homosexuality. The only place I've been abroad was the UK . . . already there (London) I passed a pink triangle'd bookstore (?) called "Gay's The Word", and this was (1980) long before I was even out TO myself! :-0]

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 26 November 2010 at 7:30am GMT

Jeremy
If the Archbishop seriously did not want anyone to be a 2nd tier member, then why propose the structure in the first place?

He must have known and accepted (not hoped!) that some provinces would end up there and he must have decided that this was nevertheless preferable to them leaving the Commuinion altogether. At least there would still be some level of unity and the possibility to merge again fully some time in the future.

But if he accepted that some provinces would end up there anyway, then GAFCON was always as strong a contender as TEC, possibly even more so, because they have long shown that they are not willing to compromise with anyone anywhere.

It would astonish me if he was seriously surprised by this development.


Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 26 November 2010 at 9:14am GMT

Erika said, "If the Archbishop seriously did not want anyone to be a 2nd tier member, then why propose the structure in the first place?"

Because he was being bullied into it, he didn't have the spine to resist?

Because he forgot that if you give in to a bully's demands, the bully will only demand more?

And lastly, because the Covenant project actually aligns with his own why-can't-Lambeth-be-more-like-Rome instincts?

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 26 November 2010 at 1:55pm GMT

Jeremy
If he was being bullied into it he would have known from the very moment the 2nd draft was considered "too lenient" by GAFCON that they wouldn't sign. Again, the result should come as no surprise to him.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 26 November 2010 at 3:13pm GMT

Erika -- Should have, certainly. Would have? I doubt it.

If he knew they were going to reject it, why put his prestige on the line in General Synod?

Only to be pilloried in the press the next day, which correctly discerns chaos and confusion in Canterbury's policy?

The further Canterbury goes down this road, the worse he looks.

Advice to Lambeth Palace: When you're in a hole, stop digging.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 26 November 2010 at 6:55pm GMT

"And no, given the General Synod vote, I don't think there's any chance of the CofE and TEC ending up in the same tier."

- Jeremy, on Thursday -

Are you then, Jeremy preempting whatever the Holy Spirit might be doing behind the scenes - to secure a Communion of catholic, evangelical and reformed Anglicanism as was first intended at the Reformation?

Whatever comes out of all of this we must believe that God is somewhere in the process. If this means that the 'episcopal' Churches of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are able to dwell in peace with TEC and the A.C.of C. - together with the other Provinces of the Communion who can live with the radical inclusion of women and gays in the mix, then that may yet be part of God's greater plan.

I can already visualise, not two tiers of the Anglican Communion; but 2 different Churches, which may not be able to sup together at the table of the Lord - not because of their incompatibility, but because of their differences on the radical call of the Gospel to minister to the margins of society - with love and tolerance:

1. The world-wide Anglican Communion.
2. The Protestant Church of the Global South.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 26 November 2010 at 9:41pm GMT

Ron, I can't decide which aspect of your question is worse--its history or its theology.

As for history: I was not aware that at the Reformation anyone had any notion of an Anglican Communion. A catholic, evangelical, reformed Church of England, certainly; but the Church of England and the Anglican Communion are two very different things.

Which is fortunate, because some other commenters don't think the world-wide Anglican Communion exists anymore.

As for theology: At present, the Holy Spirit and the dying Anglican Communion have very little to do with each other. I can see nothing of God in this Covenant process--nothing at all.

Just because something exists does not mean that it is of God. Let us not mistake what is for what ought to be.

Sometimes the arc of the moral universe is long indeed. This is one of those times.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 27 November 2010 at 12:45am GMT

"As for theology: At present, the Holy Spirit and the dying Anglican Communion have very little to do with each other. I can see nothing of God in this Covenant process--nothing at all."

- Jeremy, on Saturday -

Jeremy, may I respecfully suggest to you that, though YOU cannot see anything of the Holy Spirit in the Covenant process, maybe other in the Communion can? - Even if it means, as you so tragically prophesy, the end of the Communion as it presently exists. "My ways are not your ways; nor my thoughts your thoughts".

After all, God used a foreign King to help in the restoration of Israel.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 28 November 2010 at 11:02pm GMT
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