Thursday, 2 December 2010

Anglican Covenant - Bishop of Lincoln's synod speech

The speech made last week by the Bishop of Lincoln has been reproduced in full at RevdLesley.

Read it all at Bishop John Saxbee on the Anglican Covenant.

Here is an extract:

…Members of Synod, the Church of England has a bit of a history of putting in place measures in response to a particular presented issue and then discovering that the proposed cure does not only have unintended consequences (and The Good Intentions Paving Company is still very much in business, I assure you), not only will there be unintended consequences, but the cure can actually make matters worse.

We all know that the process towards the drawing up of this Covenant was triggered by events in The Episcopal Church of a few years ago, notwithstanding the long preamble which was helpfully presented to us by the Bishop of Bath and Wells. Those events were by no means trivial, but to elevate them to the status of game changers when it comes to how we deal with each other over time is… well… stepping over a very significant mark in the sand. And I truly doubt whether it will be conducive to long term stability.

The Covenant may of itself not be tyrannical, but there are those in the Communion whose treatment of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers has had at least a touch of the tyrannical about it. And if I ever come to the conclusion that a covenant of this kind would give them comfort then I would be bound to resist it.

Anglicanism has been described as a fellowship of civilised disagreement. Well I leave you to judge whether a two-tier Communion with first and second division members answers to that description of civilised disagreement. It frankly feels like we will be sending sincere and faithful Anglicans to stand in the corner until they have seen the error of their ways and can return to the ranks of the pure and spotless…

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Comments

I leave you to judge... it feels like sending faithful Anglicans into the corner.... but I'll vote for it anyway.

Can someone explain that, please?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 2:08pm GMT

Was the recent majority vote (for the Covenant) in the CofE Synod done as a symbol of respect for the request to approve it by the Archbishop of Canterbury or is there something else at play here? I'm still confused after reading all of the threads on this topic.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 4:01pm GMT

@ Chris Smith, AFAIK, different people voted for the Covenant for different reasons.

Some are interpreting the Covenant as a neutral, process-oriented document. Others believe its purpose is, or ought to be, to punish the US church retroactively. For the latter group, the Covenant corrects what they see as a "defect" in the Anglican Communion: namely, that in 2003 there was no way to expel the United States church for consecrating a bishop who was in a monogamous same-sex partnership.

(A bit of history. Lambeth 1.10 was intended to provide justification for expelling the United States church if and when it should ordain a gay bishop, and it was passed as such in 1998. Unfortunately, the group of plotters who got it through at Lambeth failed to notice that there was no procedure or method by which to expel a province from the Communion, and, in 2003, ++Canterbury took full advantage of that loophole. So the trap was set at Lambeth in 1998 and sprung on TEC in 2003, but its jaws failed to close, and here we are, twelve years later, and here they are too, at the same old game, trying to push them shut with a "Covenant.")

Some accept the Covenant as a more neutral document, a tool whose purpose depends on the hand that wields it. Therefore the key struggle is about who will implement it.

The latest draft of the Covenant confers implementation on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, also known as the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council.

There is a move afoot to remove the US Presiding Bishop from that committee; it will probably be successful.

+Christopher Seitz of the ACI has also been leading a campaign to increase African representation on the Standing Committee, on the grounds of "fairness" (= proportional representation by population). If successful, his proposal would give hard-line conservatives a majority on the Standing Committee, guranteeing that the Covenant will be implemented so as to expel the US Church from the Communion....(and so forth and so on....)

Posted by: Charlotte on Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 7:00pm GMT

Erika,

I think he didn't actually vote for it: he abstained.

Otherwise,

I think this is a great statement of a certain sort of Anglicanism, which admittedly is under pressure but which represents a true and consistent thread.

Posted by: john on Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 8:43pm GMT

My take on this is that the synod was "tabling" the issue, i.e, passing it down to the dioceses to hash out. This seems similar to LGBT studies that were conduct ad nausum in the Episcopal Church in the 1990's.

Posted by: evensongjunkie on Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 9:16pm GMT

I'm not sure the voting has been declared yet, although one member of the H of B did abstain. I thought the debate was extremely good in the main. The parts that concerned me were the speakers who implied that voting FOR the covenant was a the only way to show loyalty to Archbishop Rowan. There were implications around synod that the vote was THE test of our loyalty to Rowan. But the debate was expressly about the next step - which was the sending of the proposed covenant to the Dioceses, and I think people were persuaded by a line in Bishop John Saxbee's speech that we ought to go on talking about it - but think very long and hard before ever signing up to it. I thought his speech was very clearly the best of the whole debate.

As I think I have said before Archbishop Rowan was at pains to point out again that the Covenant "does not invent a new orthodoxy or a new system of doctrinal policing or a centralised authority, quite explicitly declaring that it does not seek to override any province's canonical autonomy. After such a number of discussions and revisions, it is dispiriting to see the Covenant still being represented as a tool of exclusion and tyranny." As soon as the first vote had taken place, in which synod agreed to send the text to the dioceses for discussion, we went on to deal with other motions, some of which sought to amend the covenant text. In these debates, people started to talk about 'discipline', with the clear implication that they wanted the covenant to do explicitly what the Archbishop had said it was not designed to do. I actually felt unable to vote for the Covenant as it stands, partly because, after listening to the debate, I felt that was a greater loyalty to Rowan. People want to use the Covenant as we have it as a way of doing what Rowan says it is not intended to do. Another Archbishop might think differently, and I wanted to signal that I found the Covenant a potentially duplicitous and also divisive piece of work.

Posted by: Canon Andrew Godsall on Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 10:08pm GMT

What I don't understand is:
the natural process means that after a yes vote the Covenant proposal has to go to Diocesan Synod. Evensongjunkie, this is not "tabling" the issue, this is the process that is laid down.

But GS had the choice to ask Diocesan Synods to debate the Covenant unecumbered by any GS vote, but the motion was rejected.
So, provided GS voted in favour, the proposal would end up in Deanery Synod anyway, but this time with everyone knowing that a vast majority has already supported it.

Diocesan Synods are unlikely to analyse the various speeches at GS and compare them to the votes. They will look at the overall voting trend and, I fear, will rubber stamp what appears to be overwhealming support.

If that's a great statement of Anglicanism, then maybe Anglicanism deserves to die.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 10:45pm GMT

Having read his speech to General Synod, I think Bishop John Saxbee made his position on the Covenant pretty clear: As it stands, he is against it - on the principle that it would effectively block any prophetic ministry from being put into practice in any one of the Communion Provinces, that could be considered *unwelcome* by any other member Province.

The Covenant as it stands has, rightly, in my opinion, been considered to be proscriptive towards TEC's and A.C.of C.'s movement towards inclusivity in their Provincial settings - the basic reason given for the GAFCON rejection of TEC and A.C.of C.'s continuing membership of the communion.

The Covenant was a move made by the A.C.O. to appease GAFCON and the Global South Provinces on this specific issue.

The obvious reason for Bishop Saxbee's agreement to forward the Covenant to the Dioceses - which is all he could have agreed to so far - would have been purely to prevent division in General Synod on the issue of further examination, in loyalty to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

One point of view on this is that, like me, the retiring Bishop of Lincoln may be hoping that - now GAFCON Prelates have declared themselves out of the Covenant process - the Covenant Document could be revised to suit the progressive ethos of inclusivity, thereby opening up the possibility of TEC's and the A.C.of C.'s involvement in it.

That way, we would get a Covenanted (if it really is found necessary) relationship of 'Unity in Diversity' that would welcome all the Provinces - including TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada - that want to be a part of the ongoing, inclusive freedom of Christ in the Gospel. This would maintain the Anglican genius of 'Scripture, Tradition and REASON".

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 11:20pm GMT

Thank you to Charlotte for clearly explaining the Covenant history and present situation. Now, more than ever, I feel it is wrong to proceed with the Covenant. I do not say this out of disrespect for Archbishop Williams, but I do feel he must certainly not grasp the pain and disenfranchisement that such a Covenant would have on women and glbt people. I guess I am just very disappointed that the Archbishop of Canterbury would even consider such a Covenant if it would marginalize and make second class, certain members of the Anglican Communion. This is truly a sad and shameful moment in Christian history.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Friday, 3 December 2010 at 12:05am GMT

There is a legal fiction (or perhaps illegal fiction) at work in so much of this Covenant Process. The fiction is the the Covenant is not about specific issues, but is there to provide a way to deal with issues of disagreement as they arise. (A description far better applied to the Continuing Indaba and Mutual Listening Process.)

The problem is that the Covenant sprouts in lineal descent from the Windsor Report which just might have been used as a beginning of a neutral process had it not fatally "specified" itself as really being about gay bishops, same-sex blessings, and border-crossings by calling for moratoria. These "issues" became part of the genome of the Covenant Process, and have passed along to all of the descendants, even though not "expressed" in the phenotype.

It is thus perfectly possible for the Archbishop to deny that the text of the Covenant says anything at all about punitive measures, and so on; but the _process_ that has informed the Covenant is rife with calls for discipline, either the self-discipline of restraint or the heteronomous discipline of "relational consequences."

The Bishop of Lincoln has spoken wisely.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 3 December 2010 at 12:48am GMT

I think it was very unfortunate that the ABC put the Covenant up as a test of loyalty and that synod members accepted that (is there no loyal opposition? - an English turn of tongue I seem to remember...). I wonder if Rowan doesn't want it so badly to give him and his more clout in ecumenical agreements-negotiations (read: RC). As things are now for example, the committee members in ARCIC can decide what they like, but it starts and ends there. For Anglicans the catholic creeds have been enough and if ARCIC finds a way of saying that Mary was immaculately conceived, Anglicans can take it or leave it and also for the papal authority talks which are up and coming. The covenant tightens the 'bonds' between Anglicans or could. As WATCH reminds us it makes decisions more clerical and more ..... male. Just a thought...

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Friday, 3 December 2010 at 5:05am GMT

Our diocese is going to miss bishop John, and I hope some bright spark doesn't decide that we need a 'corrective' as after he retires. Perhaps the Bishop of Lewes will be hailed as an ideal candidate to ensure that Lincoln doesn't stay too Anglican??

Posted by: david rowett on Friday, 3 December 2010 at 11:22am GMT

David Rowett needn't worry. Mr Benn is too old to get a diocese. As Tennyson's Lincolnshire churchwarden says "He'll niver swap Owlby an' Scratby fur owt but the Kingdom o' Heaven".

Of course someone might have the bright idea of rusticating Bishop Pete to the Wolds and the Fens which might not be a lot better.

Posted by: cryptogram on Saturday, 4 December 2010 at 6:42pm GMT

Leading a campaign? That sounds vaunted.

I am genunely confused. Are fairness/justice not Christian virtues? Shouldn’t a Standing Committee of the Primates be representational? You make it sound like this is all contrivance/politics, so as to achieve an end. I don’t know what a representational SC would do in respect of TEC; the GS is not monolothic. But the point surely is that a Standing Committee needs to be fairly representative. At present that is not so. I would have thought that liberals would not find this just and would wish for a fair system of representation -- not one tilted toward white, western affluence.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 4 December 2010 at 7:01pm GMT

I think that Christopher Seitz is talking about a monolithic 'Anglican Communion' that GAFCON and ACNA could be a legitimate part of. We have already been shown - by the activities of ACNA and GAFCON that there is no such animal.

This leaves us with the possibility of a Communion of like-minded conservative biblically fundamentalist Provinces - large as it may or may not be (GAFCON?); as contrasted with a really inclusive Communion of Anglicans willing to be a opart of a diverse and eirenic community of mutually supportive Christians.

Perhaps there should be 2 Standing Committees of such a different set of 'Anglicans'. Would that suit you, Christopher? I can't see why the present Instruments of Unity in the Communion should have to bow to the demands of a group within the Communion that has already divorced itself from the other Instruments - i.e. Lambeth, the See of Canterbury and the Primates' Meeting.
And as for ACNA - it doesn't belong any more!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 5 December 2010 at 8:57am GMT

Mr. Seitz:

The problem with your "representational" Standing Committee is that too many of the provinces are not "representational" themselves in their leaders. We have no idea if the majority of Anglicans in, say, Nigeria, agree with their primate's stand on the issues in question. Why? Because they do not elect their primate, he is chosen by the bishops, who are, again, chosen from among the clergy by the bishops.

Further, we have no outside source to confirm these primates' reports on the number of active Anglicans in their provinces.

All of this is tantamount to establishing a "representational" parliament in which the representatives are chosen by themselves based on numbers of constituents they have personally "counted".

We have a word for this kind of "representation" in the US, sir...it is called "gerrymandering". I suggest you look it up.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 5 December 2010 at 12:35pm GMT

@ cseitz:

Nice try at playing the liberal-guilt harp.

But "representative"? Doesn't that beg the question?

The European Commission has one commissioner per member state. Is it therefore unrepresentative?

Or is it representative, but in a federative way, as opposed to a directly democratic way?

Generally, small entities do not give up their sovereignty to larger entities, in which they might be outvoted, without securing significant institutional or procedural protections.

What you are really urging, in the Anglican context, is that the smaller provinces abandon such protections.

Such protections, of course, are more necessary now than ever.

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 5 December 2010 at 12:59pm GMT

I can’t follow your hypothetical worries (Gafcon is already a part of the Primates Meeting). Let’s keep it simple, Ron. There are 38 Provinces represented at the Primates Meeting. The present system of representation consists of five regions, but they are of vastly different size; Africa in particular is underepresented. (It reminds me of the New Yorker map of the world in which Manhattan is bigger than China.) You do not understand the GS very well if you keep harping on Gafcon, of which it is but a part. I have no idea what a fair representational system has to do with wanting ACNA to be part of the Communion, as I have never said such in relation to the topic. The topic has to do with the standing committee for the Primates, not for ACNA (on whose views of such a thing I haven’t a clue). And this is hardly a personal campaign of mine. There was a published report that revision of the SC was going to be discussed/undertaken. I think that is overdue, if true. Do liberals not want a fair system of representation? And frankly, I find the idea that Africa has invented its numbers almost racist in character – made worse by saying western evangelicals helped them cook the numbers. Philip Jenkins, e.g., is no western evangelical. Is it really in doubt that the number of Anglican Christians in Nigeria and Uganda alone vastly, exponentially overshadows all of the region of the Americas? TEC has less than 1 Million Christians in church on Sunday morning, and sits at 2 million total number, a number that continues to drop. Southern Cone is a tiny region. The Anglican Church of Canada is small. Mexico, ditto. West Indies, also. But we are to believe it is fair for the Americas to have a single vote, and so Africa. I am glad that such a system will be overhauled, if indeed it is.

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 5 December 2010 at 1:11pm GMT

My comment was written without reference to the two that proceed it (the timing of postings is not obvious). Jeremy -- I think your idea is spot on. Yes, let every region of Africa and other portions of the Global South receive individual representation as in the European Commission. That would serve as a complement to a system that would also give representation to larger regions -- much like Senate and Congress. But in any case, it would still result in a massive and overdue overhaul of the system as it presently exists, where Americas is small in total number of 'member states' as well as in total numerical count.
The system as it presently exists is fair in neither register.
Which is presumably why there has been indicated a need to review it -- that proposal did not come from me! -- but I agree it is overdue.

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 5 December 2010 at 6:34pm GMT

Mr. Seitz:

So, it is "racist" to suggest that any entity might inflate its own numbers in order to expand its influence? The difference here, of course, is that TEC's numbers (or those of the ACCanada) are certifiable by outside entities. There are regular polls by various agencies on religious denominations in these countries. Can the same be said of the African provinces?

And that still doesn't get to the issue of whether the bishops of these provinces truly reflect the opinions (religious and otherwise) of the laity of their sees. We know they do in TEC and ACC--we see it in the process by which bishops are chosen, by the votes in diocesan and provincial synods and conventions. Can you show us the same in these African provinces?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 5 December 2010 at 8:38pm GMT

Oh, yes: One asks to see the means by which African church membership figures are calculated and is called a racist.

Nonsense. How are they calcluated?

Posted by: Charlotte on Sunday, 5 December 2010 at 10:39pm GMT

"I can’t follow your hypothetical worries (Gafcon is already a part of the Primates Meeting)"

- Christopher Seitz -

Another fiction from the 'A.C.I.'! How on earth can GAFCON be 'a part of the Primates' Meeting' when, manifestly, it declines to attend a meeting to which it has been specifically invited? Is that part of the culture of GAFCON? Doesn't seem very logical to me!

GAFCON may now be considered not even to hold 'de facto' membership - simply because it denies the benefit and privelege of belonging. As was the case of the non-appearance of certain GAFCON Primates at the last Lambeth Conference. Surely this is as pointed a denial of membership as that of the Province of Nigeria, which has removed any reference to the See of Canterbury in its Provincial Statutes?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 5 December 2010 at 10:53pm GMT

I was commenting on your confused statement, re: "...is talking about a monolithic 'Anglican Communion' that GAFCON and ACNA could be a legitimate part of" and my point was that the primates of Gafcon are already members of the communion, as against ACNA, which may seek to be (I really don't know). And I was not talking about a "monolithic Anglican Communion," but the present real one. Do try to calm down.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 6 December 2010 at 2:14pm GMT

Those who do not believe that African Provinces accurately represent their memberships should request that the ACC investigate the matter. I have yet to hear one good reason why the Americas and Africa both get a single vote when the size of the latter is exponentially larger. And remember, this is a Standing Committee for the Primates, not a SC for Christians whose Bishops misrepresent them -- as it here stated. I conclude that the commentators who defend the present simply do not want anything in the way of their agenda -- including a fair system of representation. I also hope that the published reports are correct that the Primates intend to address this.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 6 December 2010 at 2:21pm GMT

Mr. Seitz:

There is no such thing as a "fair system of representation" when the people being represented have no voice in their representatives. I suppose you think the old English system of "rotten boroughs" was a "fair system of representation" as well.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 6 December 2010 at 9:28pm GMT

Pat said: "TEC's numbers (or those of the ACCanada) are certifiable by outside entities. There are regular polls by various agencies on religious denominations in these countries."

Malcolm+ observes: In fact, census data in both countries would suggest far larger numbers of members than either TEC or ACoC would claim.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 at 3:14am GMT

I wouldn't have thought that *anyone* would want a system "tilted" toward violence, degradation and ignorance, regardless of the color of the "representation."

Evil intent can be "fairly" represented, too.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 at 6:05am GMT

Mr Brunson, then perhaps you can take personal charge of indicating to the ACC the parameters for fairness above the actual realities within the african provinces. Their Primates clearly should not be free to speak for themselves and their constituencies. If you can supply the criterion for representation, then the handicapping of the numerical realities could be deployed. As in any decent fascist system...

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 at 5:39pm GMT

Here, for comparison, is a comment Christopher Seitz+ made on a Stand Firm thread, reposted on TitusOneNine:

"Our view is the GS [Global South] will/ought to covenant and also see to its proper administration. Why concede to the present SC[Standing Committee]? Gafcon appears to be more worried about the SC than the actual covenant text; that is correct."

Here, Seitz+ confirms what I've been saying: he is not seeking "fairness" on the Standing Committee; he wants the Global South to control it. Then they will be able to use their powers under the Covenant to discipline the Episcopal Church.

Posted by: Charlotte on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 at 11:31pm GMT

" If you can supply the criterion for representation, then the handicapping of the numerical realities could be deployed. As in any decent fascist system... "
Mr Seitz,

I find your suggestions about 'equal representation in the Anglican Communion Instruments' disingenuous.
Christianity is neither wedded to proportional representation not democratic government. It is a matter of trying to behave justly in a world of many cultural differences.

Just as TEC is adult enough to be able to risk the election of Bishops by the whole constituency of it membership; and the Church of England historically has had to rely on the perspicacity of officials of the Crown and the political nous of its Bishops-in-Synod to agree on who is fit to exercise episcopal authority in the C.of E.; so many of the global South Churches elect their Bishops by Episcopal fiat - and not by any sort of involvement of laity or clergy in the choosing. All these are traditional and cultural differences which help to make up the variety of representational 'Instruments' of authority within the world-wide Anglican Communion.

Your own 'Anglican Communion Institute, for instance, though tiny in membership, tries to have the same amount of influence brought to bear on world-wide Anglican Communion matters as weither GAFCON or the Global South enclave. Now even you would agree that you have the entitlement to represent your own limited point of view. Well, so does every individual Province of the World-Wide Anglican Communion - though they may be a small as, say, Southern Cone.

So, I just don't get the validity of your argument that Africa (with a preponderance of Muslims), because of its burgeoning population of 'Anglicans', should have any more say than Europe or North America, in the ongoing matters of Gospel priorities in a modern Anglican world.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 at 12:00am GMT

As I suspected, "orthodox" morality becomes very flexible in playing for power.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 at 8:24am GMT

Mr Seitz wrote:

"Their Primates clearly should not be free to speak for themselves and their constituencies."

And here, as I keep repeating, is the crux of the matter. We have no independent evidence that these primates speak for anyone BUT themselves. They are not chosen in any way, shape or form by their "constituencies," so we have no idea if these constituencies actually share the primates' opinions on these matters.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 at 1:00pm GMT

Charlotte:

ACI’s web site can give you any information you need, should you wish. Nothing is hidden from view. We have made our position clear.
We want the communion preserved at its greatest length and breadth. 2) We believe the covenant can facilitate that, in this season of communion dissolution. 3) The present SC of the AC is not regarded with trust so that 1) can happen. 4) The SC of the Primates Meeting is not representative of the communion’s numerical reality (it is a different complaint to say that representation is not wanted because the communion’s views at the widest breadth are not shared by progressives); we hope it will be adapted for better representation, as has been stated in several reports. 5) We believe the covenant members—should the GS and others undertake this—should be in charge of the covenant’s life, and not an unrepresentative committee; see 2) above. 6) we accept that ‘progressives’ may/will not judge this covenanted communion to be what they want, and respect that. No one will ‘throw them out’ but they will decide—if they do—that the mind of the communion of covenanted members is not shared by them.

Ron: A Standing Committee typically seeks to represent the Primates (in this instance) is a balanced way. If I am in the NFL and there is a SC that is composed of six members and 4 out of the six are drawn from New England, then if I live in Texas, I am going to conclude the system is not fair. And, Pat, this is a SC of the Primates. That is what it has always been. You can make the claim that the Primates don't represent their people--I take that to be wrong-headed and condescending--but the SC of the Primates is, well, a SC of the Primates.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 at 4:01pm GMT

Some TA readers will have no idea at all what the NFL is.

Here's an alternative criticism of the SC
http://standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/26942#450575

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 at 6:03pm GMT

Mr Seitz:

"And, Pat, this is a SC of the Primates. That is what it has always been. You can make the claim that the Primates don't represent their people--I take that to be wrong-headed and condescending--but the SC of the Primates is, well, a SC of the Primates. "

Well, then, why the fuss about "representation"?

Each province has, indeed, equal representation: One primate for each province. In that, it is rather like the US Senate. You are the one who keeps talking about Africa being under-represented by its numbers of Anglicans.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 at 7:39pm GMT

Fine, call it Six Nations Rugby and let their SC be comprised of Wales and France; or Premier League Football, with a SC with a majority from Bolton, West Ham, and Newcastle. The point is not that hard to follow...

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 at 8:06pm GMT

But isn't the discussion about the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, which is at play in the Covenant and which is most assuredly not a committee of Primates? (Though a minimum of 5 of the 14 members, or 6 of the 15 if the ABC is present, will be Primates.)

Posted by: Christopher (P.) on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 at 8:46pm GMT

I too am confused at times about what people are proposing I (and others) are saying.
1. There is a SC of the Primates. It is supposed to be representative. It has at present five members. Reports are that it is to be recast to be more fair. (Pat, this is a representative SC for the Primates; I did not realise this was confusing to you).
2. This SC and various ACC reps together constitute the SC of the Anglican Communion (in its latest manifestation).
3. Christopher (P). If the SC of the Primates is more representative, because augmented, this will of course affect the SC of the AC.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 at 11:30pm GMT

Pat--It sounds like you do not understand the Standing Committee of the Primates. It consists of five members, at present. The issue is whether the regions constituting the five are commensurate (see any of the previous notes on this). Africa is a numerically vast region, whether one means church attedance or Bishops or Primates in total. It gets the same number of reps as the Americas, which are much smaller in all of these categories. Reports mentioned adjusting this so as to be fairer. This is a Standing Committee for the Primates in toto, and that each province has an individual Primate is irrelevant to the SC in its representative function for them as a whole, and also its functioning within the context of a SC of the Anglican Communion.
I assumed this was clear and apparently should not have.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 9 December 2010 at 12:27am GMT

Mr. Seitz:

Yes, I see that I misunderstood. Thank you for clarifying.

However, I still see a problem...in that we are, again, assuming that the African provinces' self-reported numbers are real. Or that the opinions of their primates truly reflect the concerns of the vast majority of Anglicans in those provinces.

Lastly, isn't the number of bishops and primates in Africa mostly a matter of the number of nations on that continent? With each nation--just about--constituting a province, with its own primate and episcopacy? And as for number of bishops--well, gee, it seems that any province that wanted to tilt the scale on that measure could easily go about consecrating a huge number of suffragans and diocesans.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 9 December 2010 at 11:31am GMT

This is not a SC of allegedly inflated individual anglican churchgoers, Pat. It is a Standing Committee of the Primates themselves. No one is saying TEC can't have a Primate, and Nigeria can, because the former is so small and the latter twenty times its size (to follow your logic). This is about a Standing Committee and its fair representation of the Primates Meeting. The idea that Nigerian churchgoers do not share the views of their Bishops on sexuality is borders on nonsensical, but it is not relevant for the question of the composition of the SC of the Primates.
You can do a quick search and determine the number and size of the African Provinces. Very few as individual provinces are smaller than their counterparts elsewhere, and several are larger than the Americas *as a totality*.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 9 December 2010 at 2:45pm GMT

Mr. Seitz:

You miss my point entirely. You say that Africa is under-represented in the Primates SC, because it has only one representative, the same as the Americas, even though--by the figures you cite--there are far more Anglicans in Africa than in the Americas.

My point is that we have no independent verification of those numbers. To me, it is like accepting any organization's report of its own membership, without any outside audit.

And why is it nonsensical to ask if the Anglicans of, say, Nigeria, agree with their primate on these matters? If he represents them, shouldn't he? If he does not, can he truly represent them?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 9 December 2010 at 6:37pm GMT

At the risk of seeming cavalier--or naive--the Primates Meetings are themselves one of the independent instruments of communion. According to the AC website, they were concieved of as an opportunity for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation.” Why should anyone other than those ~38 primates care how they put together their own steering committee? Why should anyone other than those ~38 primates lobby for anything different? -- unless the group is meant for purposes other than "thought, prayer, and consultation."

Posted by: Christopher (P.) on Thursday, 9 December 2010 at 6:51pm GMT

Pat--you are joking, surely. Do you mean seriously to question whether on the African continent there are only as many anglican Christians as in the Americas region? This would be fraud of an enormous proportion and would have been the news story of the century for Anglicans.
Christopher (P). And that is exactly what they are doing: calling for an overhaul. What is being questioned is whether that is deserved or whether the fraud attending their numbers means there are far too many provinces and far too many bishops, given their true size, for them to have proper representation. I find that notion absurd and without any legitimacy. Pat would alone be in possession of the true reality that has missed every other friend or foe of African Anglican Christainity.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 9 December 2010 at 8:18pm GMT

Mr. Seitz:

Yes, I do question it. Why? Because I have only the word of those who benefit from inflating the numbers for the veracity of the numbers they give. OTOH, TEC and ACC willingly disclose numbers that do NOT benefit them, even sometimes when those numbers are at odds with census and polling numbers by outside parties that indicate a higher membership than either church advertises.

Sorry if this makes me a skeptic in your eyes. In this matter, I suggest it is better to stand with Thomas the apostle than accept what I am told with blind faith.

And I still maintain--no matter what the numbers--without some indication that the unelected primates of these provinces truly reflect the beliefs and opinions of the laity of their provinces that their ability to "represent" these people on any level is suspect.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 9 December 2010 at 10:48pm GMT

Pat--anyone serving as a missionary, as a visitor, as a long term educator or business owner, in the African provinces, will attend services that confirm the numbers. Wycliffe College in Toronto has contacts throughout the African context. Your comments, if not offensive, are severely ill-informed. May I ask, have you any personal experience of anglicanism in the Global South? Why would you claim that a Bishop in Tanzania has wrested control of that office without any consent of the people? I really do not understand your mindset or the factual concerns that ought to govern your comments. 'Mr Seitz'

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 10 December 2010 at 12:53am GMT

Mr. Seitz:

My experience with the Global South is through members of my parish here in the US who are immigrants from it. They tell stories of being not the largest Christian denomination in their homelands but the smallest (RC and pentecostal groups far outnumber them); they tell stories of being persecuted within their own parishes for holding beliefs more liberal than their vicars would approve.

It is my understanding that bishops throughout Africa--and especially the most vocal, as in Nigeria and Uganda--are not chosen by the laity but are "elected" (a perversion of that word, IMO) by the bishops from among the clergy. And that the primate is chosen from among the bishops by the bishops themselves.

Hence my questioning of their representation of the beliefs of their flocks...since the flocks have no choice in who leads them.

Let me put it this way--is the average African really more concerned about how gays live in America than in how AIDS is spreading in his own country?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 10 December 2010 at 11:34am GMT

In very very few places in Anglicanism are the 'bishops elected by the laity.' Not in the Church of England, not in the Scottish Episcopal Church, not in SE Asia, and in reality, not in TEC -- at least as you imply.
You also appear to think that most Christians in Anglican churches in Africa believe they are not being represented properly by their leaders -- a view that is groundless.
And yes, the millions of Christians who are anglican are often outnumbered by pentecostals and RCs, or even Lutherans. But they are still exponentially greater in number than in the US.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 10 December 2010 at 2:08pm GMT

In TEC, no bishop can be elected without the approval of the house of laity of the diocese; and the Presiding Bishop must have the approval of the lay house of the entire national church. Yes, the other houses have a vote, too--but it does not override the vote of the laity.

If my view of the beliefs regarding representation in the African provinces is "groundless," then produce the grounds for your view. Is there any outside organization which has polled African Anglicans in the pews regarding these issues?

As for your third paragraph: Greater in number, yes...after all Africa has a billion people (as of 2009) and the US less than one-third that number--around 307 million. Episcopalians are around 2 million in US (baptized), giving it around six-tenths of one percent of the population. To meet the same percentage, there would need to be 6 million Anglicans in Africa. Is this the case?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 10 December 2010 at 7:08pm GMT

Cseitz says "In very very few places in Anglicanism are the 'bishops elected by the laity.' Not in the Church of England, not in the Scottish Episcopal Church, not in SE Asia, and in reality, not in TEC -- at least as you imply."

For the SEC, if you mean that only (and all) the laity in a diocese elect the bishop then that is the case.

But the lay reps from each church in the diocese vote to elect their bishop in Synod along with their clergy brothers and sisters. (See Canon 4 of the SEC Code of Canons).

Posted by: Kennedy on Friday, 10 December 2010 at 8:51pm GMT

Bishops in TEC, CofE and SEC are not 'elected by the laity' and certainly not by a kind of democratic process of one member one vote. Ask any individual member of the church whether they 'voted for/approved of' the Bishop and they will stare in wonderment.

Pat: You are on your own on the representation question. If you want to show that the numbers for Uganda and Nigeria are false, have at it. As for the question, are the six million anglicans in *all of Africa*?! Are you serious? Ask any of your own progressive friends. Don't ask the biased 'Mr Seitz.' Uganda alone has more Anglicans than that.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 10 December 2010 at 11:50pm GMT

Really, Mr. Seitz?

The "fascist" canard?

The "racist" card?

Let’s look at your response, shall we?

I say - "I wouldn't have thought that *anyone* would want a system 'tilted' toward violence, degradation and ignorance, regardless of the color of the 'representation.'"

Your response - "Mr Brunson, then perhaps you can take personal charge of indicating to the ACC the parameters for fairness above the actual realities within the african provinces. Their Primates clearly should not be free to speak for themselves and their constituencies. If you can supply the criterion for representation, then the handicapping of the numerical realities could be deployed. As in any decent fascist system... "

No response at all, other than name-calling. "Fascist!" The cry of the balked adolescent, and the same charge the alleged-orthodox had fainting fits over when levelled at them.

Care to address the "realities" of the same primates you support as the helmsmen of this little ship of Christ and their support for violence against Muslims? Their support of the torture, imprisonment and vilification of gays and lesbians, quite against principles that the same communion decided were Christian principles in dealing with gays and lesbians? What about charges of corruption and strong-arm tactics (literally), including physical attacks, on dissenting priests?

Care to explain how this - in your opinion - would form a valid basis for directing a supposedly-Christian Communion?

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Saturday, 11 December 2010 at 6:10am GMT

Fine. Send a note to the ACC detailing your objections. Tell them they should police the Primates Meeting and that a SC cannot be constructed that includes African representatives. There's no point in blustering with blanket indictments. The Primates from Africa are in your view evil people and must be stopped. Why not get right on it?
(Just for the record, the former Archbishop of Kaduna, in northern Nigeria, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, lost his nephew to Muslim violence -- he was beheaded. AB Josiah is a renowned advocate for Muslim-Christian dialogue and an expert in the Qur'an. He's worth hearing if you get a chance. A truly saintly man).

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 11 December 2010 at 2:52pm GMT
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