Monday, 11 January 2016

Comments

Current Communion affairs may have a very direct impact upon what happens in Canada at General Synod this year where a revision to the Marriage Canon allowing same sex marriage in the church is scheduled to come before synod for an initial vote. There is great anxiety about this in the Canadian House of Bishops.

Whether the meeting this week realizes or forestalls a larger split , the crisis environment may well be just what is needed for a "This is just not the time" pitch to be made to the Canadian GS by its house of bishops.

We shall soon see whether justice for Gay members is expendable in the quest for institutional unity.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 12:28pm GMT

I would think that if some conservative primates walk out of this week's gathering, then Canada will be much more at ease in moving ahead as its General Synod sees fit.

When the bullies leave the meeting, it becomes much easier for those who remain to move ahead.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 1:00pm GMT

@ Jeremy, one would hope for the consolation you postulate, but unlike the GLBTQ members of the Canadian Church, many of its conservatives are vocal, loudly pious, and have politcal clout. So a deepening and formalizing of the current Communion level schism, should either be the outcome of the week, may not clear the air so to speak.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 2:08pm GMT

My hunch is that this week will be a real moment of truth for conservative Anglicans throughout the Communion.

They are about to be tarred with a very nasty brush--whatever homophobic rants the 6 primates use to justify their departure from the gathering.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 4:48pm GMT

Any walkouts yet???

Posted by: Fr Paul on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 6:01pm GMT

At this time, prayer seems more appropriate than words.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 6:03pm GMT

Jeremy, given the numbers and demographics of the Communion and TEC, given the desire to maintain relations with Rome, the best you can hope for is some sort of associate status for TEC and no change to communion policy as that is what the GS and a large part (if not most) of the COfE wants. See the cases vs other Jeremy's. TEC will accept that as it even accepted one of its bishops not being invited to Lambeth 08. English liberals will write a letter that many of them won't sign and moan a lot to each other. Where are the liberals suggesting TEC(UK) so they're not bound to the existing positions of the church?

Posted by: S Cooper on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 6:06pm GMT

The most surprising thing about the Today programme interview was Justin Welby's touching tribute to LGBT artist David Bowie. Otherwise it was a missed opportunity for the presenter to dwell so much on the institutional politics of the gathering and ignore the letter from 105 plus 3000+ which had been the subject of the previous days' news agenda. It would have been relevant to ask what the archbishop thought about the status of LGBT people in Nottingham or Nigeria and what entails duty of care towards them. There has been a lot of focus on discipline in recent months - on terminating the ministries of the three Jeremys (3 of the 105 signaturies) - but next to nothing about the bishops' role as an pastors and caring for the flock. Hopefully the Canterbury meeting will provide time for reflection on this neglected aspect of episcopal ministry insofar as LGBT citizens and church members are concerned.

Posted by: Andrew on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 6:26pm GMT

"the best you can hope for is some sort of associate status for TEC"

Perhaps. But TEC has 2M members; ACoC has 500K. A total of 2.5M. ACNA claims 100K, 15% of which are REC members, who were not TEC or ACoC members. 25 to 1 ratio. ACNA is not a super success. TEC also gives lots of money to the WWAC. Like it or not, these numbers speak too along with the other numbers tossed out.

Posted by: dr.primose on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 7:51pm GMT

S Cooper, what do you mean by "the church"?

Do you mean the Anglican Communion, which is a family of independent churches?

You do realize that this week, Canterbury himself is calling the Communion a "family" of churches? The word "family" is all over the Primates2016 website.

Next, what is the "Communion policy" on gay marriage? And more importantly, how is any such "policy" enforced among the Communion "family"?

In other words, who at the Communion level has any such power--the power to block TEC's General Convention from changing its own canons?

The answer is **no one.**

TEC has made a decision, and I seriously doubt that TEC is going to backtrack on it. The CofE itself may be forced to make a similar decision soon. It is, after all, the established national church in a nation that permits gay marriages.

Furthermore, given that Welby keeps saying that the Anglican family needs to disagree well, I suspect that this time, TEC's PB will not vote for a resolution just to achieve unanimity. Welby is encouraging honest disagreement--because that is the best he can currently hope for.

And on that point, Welby issues invitations to Primates' meetings and Lambeth Conferences. He has never publicly threatened to withhold any such invitation from TEC as a whole. (If he did, I imagine TEC would be distinctly unimpressed, and would say good riddance--but I don't think he's going to to there.)

So if the GS primates want a different system--one that features the ability to exclude theologically suspect provinces--then they are going to have to build a new one on their own. I think even they are realizing this. Hence the walkout threats.

"More numerous?" Even if that argument were statistically valid--and there are many questions on that point--the "more numerous" argument collapses if these 6 provinces leave.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 8:14pm GMT

I think you have things backward, S. Cooper. I think the most that ACNA can hope for is associate status. After all, the American Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are senior founding members of the Anglican Communion. (Plus, of course, they pay the bills...)

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by: Kurt Hill on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 9:29pm GMT

Dr Primrose - I'm calling for an expansion of tec; I want to see integrity and less compromising for institutional unity. So, I'd like to see TeC(UK); but you'd not claim average Sunday attendance and the demographics of tec are strong would you? Regardless of that, I'm calling for global expansion of TeC so that all who agree internationally can stop sacrificing their beliefs for institutional unity.

Jeremy - I don't buy all the semantics. Actions speak louder than words. A family which didn't invite bishop Robinson to the last big family gathering? That was a liberal Canterbury who didn't invite someone he didn't object to! There's a sanction, right there. A family which invites AcNa now! What does that mean for your family of churches - a new member of the family? He also invited them all with explicit mention of previous agreements which went against TeC - but you assume no censure? To get the GS present, Welby had to stop the Williams strategy of just pretending agreements he didn't like didn't exist. There has been no walkout. I think they must all be working towards an agreement which the GS and Gafcon can sign up to - and that will mean more moratoria on TEc if it wants to stay in the club. My fear is that nobody will have the guts to take that on (as usual) and in 10 years time there will be more similar meetings but more years lost sacrificing principles (and people) for institutional unity? Why does tec even want to be loosely affiliated with Nigeria???

Posted by: S Cooper on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 9:44pm GMT

Was it really necessary for Charles Moore to refer to Gene Robinson as a "gay alcoholic"?

While strictly correct, Robinson's alcoholism didn't noticeably affect the performance of his ministry (New Hampshire Anglicans were surprised at the diagnosis), and since Gafcon don't consider alcoholism to be a sin, it's irrelevant. Not only is it unfair to Robinson, unless they've used it as reason to condemn him, it's also unfair to the Gafcon primates.

I know Moore's a pretty conservative Catholic, but even by his high standards, there's no need to go there.

Posted by: James Byron on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 10:25pm GMT

"My hunch is that this week will be a real moment of truth for conservative Anglicans throughout the Communion.

"They are about to be tarred with a very nasty brush--whatever homophobic rants the 6 primates use to justify their departure from the gathering."

yes--and they'll play the victim card all the way home, where they can safely countenance and even preach the beating and murder of gays.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 10:31pm GMT

'The most surprising thing about the Today programme interview was Justin Welby's touching tribute to LGBT artist David Bowie.' (Andrew)

So true. It is as if, today, David Bowie is leading us forward, with his lyrical message and indomitable spirit ...

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 11:37pm GMT

If the Anglican Communion is a "family" of churches, where are the women?

Posted by: Peter S on Monday, 11 January 2016 at 11:42pm GMT

"I heard the news today, oh boy!"

It might do all parties in this debate good to look at what a truly significant event looks like, one that connects with people's deepest longings, losses, hopes and fears, and think back on a life that has undoubtedly changed society (in the UK at least) a life that followed its calling and eschewed complacency, a life that *dared*. People look at a life like that with wonder and gratitude, among them working class men in Britain who saw glimpses of a sea change in attitudes to sexuality and identity over forty years ago. Not a perfect, saintly life, probably not a nominally Christian one, but one that raises questions about freedom, vocation, redemption, and in a profoundly *scriptural* mode of ambiguity.

I've heard people today in my workplace and in the media talking earnestly about whether there's a heaven, and in what our future hope consists. Listening perhaps for answers in lyrics that are as difficult to fathom as real life and real faith. When did the church, institutionally, last allow those questions to *really* be asked? (I know this happens in innumerable individual pastoral encounters - I'm talking institutionally, where it's usually, painfully, "Here's the answer... And here's the question" Can the church still do this?

One side in the debate may be well over the horizon of irrelevancy to most of those people who felt moved to tears (of sadness and gratitude) by David Bowie's passing, but the other side need to find radically new ways to connect too.

Look at that photo at the head of the Charles Moore article. (I've got nothing against vestments per se!) But behind all the gaudy trappings, people see a complacent, compromising, uninspiring. spiritually shallow, almost lifeless institution, and not a bringer of good news, a herald of hope, an assuager of a deep hunger that people *already know* they feel but are wary to admit to, and do not recognize at all in pre-packaged, unambiguous, alpha-minus terms. Dressing up as the Spiders from Mars no longer cuts it I'm afraid. All glam and too little soul.

Posted by: ExRevd on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 12:03am GMT

"There has been no walkout."

Not yet. So far the primates have managed to (i) hear a lengthy address by their host, (ii) discuss the week's agenda, and (iii) turn out for evensong.

Evensong of course is not communion.

When Foley Beach leaves, you'll know that they are getting down to actual business. That's when the fur might fly. J

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 12:30am GMT

"While strictly correct, Robinson's alcoholism didn't noticeably affect the performance of his ministry..."

+Gene has had to live with continuous death threats and a variety of ugliness.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 2:31am GMT

Amen, Susannah. Amen.

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 6:24am GMT

@ James Byron, yes a nasty dig on the part of Charles Moore. I believe that +Gene Robinson is a recovered alcoholic in any case (and who cares?) and is no longer married to his ex-husband. In any case those Episcopalians I know in NH found him an excellent bishop. His only 'disqualification' was that he was public about his sexual orientation, while (from what I hear) there are several C-of-E bishops who are.... less so.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 6:26am GMT

'Any walkouts yet???'

Perhaps those predictions of day one departures were classic 'expectation management', so whatever happens (I.e. LGBT Anglicans sacrificed yet again) can be presented as a positive outcome and capitulation to prejudice spun as peacemaking.

Posted by: Fr Andrew on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 7:04am GMT

"... LGBT Anglicans sacrificed yet again ..."

Disgracefully, Fr. Andrew, that's a racing certainty, and also a portent: society in general's indifferent about gay rights. Oh, it's not actively homophobic, but it'll go with the flow. Yes, it's also indifferent about religion, but not so much that it'd tolerate the church being openly racist.

After his legislative defeat on equal marriage (passed not for reasons of principle, but as part of a Conservative Party civil war between modernizers and traditionalists) the Church of England may have switched to a long game: focus on educating/indoctrinating millions of children into the traditional position, ensure the Christian Unions focus on the next generation of leaders in college, evangelize the hundreds of thousands compelled to rely on church food banks, then spring the trap years down the line.

And if it does, the majority will ignore it. Don't go looking for trouble. Don't make a fuss. Shame for that nice gay couple we know, of course, but none of our business. They'll get used to it.

Posted by: James Byron on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 9:05am GMT

Fr Andrew,
The opening address rather makes it clear that the sacrifice won't even be "spun." Rather, it will be crowed from the rooftops, with hands extended for the medals they expect to receive for their service to Christendom.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 11:48am GMT
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