Comments: American bishops: news conference

I know it is dangerous to predict the future, but here goes. The Primates will eventually remove us from most of the decision making bodies, even perhaps the Lambeth Conference, but they cannot actually expel us from the Communion, because what we are in communion with is the See of Canterbury. In the final analysis, +++Rowan will have to decide who is in Communion with him as the embodiment of the See. I predict he will deem TEC in Communion with him, even if we are not in communion with Nigeria and Uganda. But he may do some other things we may not like, perhaps recognizing another Anglican (read right-wing) body on our soil, also in communion with him. It is clear that he is unwilling to allow a schism, and is willing to pay whatever the price.
It is sad that the most talented, intellectual and spiritual ABC in generations has had his reign hijacked by this ludicrous dispute. We have now joined the Roman church and the American evangelicals in their obsession with sex, compromising the true imperatives of the Gospels.

Posted by Andrew at Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 7:40pm GMT

Thats good. She has her priorities right - her own church and their views above the dictatorial Communion, trying to direct where it doesn't have the power to do so.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 9:21pm GMT

But, Andrew, Rowan had the ability to stop all this - but he chose to abrogate leadership in favour of...well, I don't know what I would describe it as.

I think what has happened is largely down to his cowardice. If he had made it clear that this nonsense wasn't acceptable, then, sure, Nigeria may have tried to set up on its own - good riddance - and there may well have been a conservative backlash. Again, good - plenty of other churches for them to join.

But instead, he decided that organisational unity and typical liberal guilt about the Third world ( the one issue where I am resolutely right wing is on third world matters!) was his driving force, hence we are where we are.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 10:11pm GMT

It is hard to imagine what a visit from Rowan will do for the Americans, yet alone the whole Primates Standing Committee.

It isn’t as if we do not know his plan, or their collective thinking, it’s there for all to read in a variety of documents. Perhaps the Americans just can’t believe it and they want to hear it from the horses mouth. The bishop of Bethlehem has worked it out, to paraphrase him “You were amongst those who led us here and now you have deserted us.”. Bishop Schori has worked it out – but then of course she HAS met him.

Now we all have to decide (Province by Province) if we want this new “catholic order” where the Primates and Lambeth Conferences are recognized de jure for what we are told they already have de facto become. The fast track Covenant is meant to put us all to that test.

While it’s not possible to say that the ABC (and the Lambeth machine) has simply become inert or that the Anglican Communion Office has stopped trying to shape the present and future outcomes, it is clear that to some considerable extent they have all become the creatures of the Primates Group.

Rowan is playing a serious game here, he is attempting to forge a Church from the disparate Anglican Communion. A Church that will be welcomed at the table with the Catholic and Orthodox and that can still stand alongside the many burgeoning protestant sects. He has sacrificed his own personal views to this agenda and expects others to do the same – if not they will be pruned. He sees homosexual equality and all that goes with it as a premature move from the Americans and is willing to sacrifice both the principle and the Province (if necessary) to achieve the goal. In his heart he believes that in the long term things will change and that gays will just have to wait it out – 50 or 100 years perhaps.

Rowan is going to Canada next month. He will attend their House of Bishops to give a couple addresses for their retreat. There are to be no questions, no dialogue. That is how things are. America must expect to be disappointed.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 12:48am GMT

"But he may do some other things we may not like, perhaps recognizing another Anglican (read right-wing) body on our soil, also in communion with him. It is clear that he is unwilling to allow a schism, and is willing to pay whatever the price."

But you see, and I think - fear - he remains willfully ignorant of this - that his recognition of - say - CANA as also in communion - will help those who have left TEC in their efforts to steal TEC's property.

He bloody won't pay the price, but TEC might.

What price will he pay anyway? looking like what one of friends calls a ball-less prick? He's already achieved that.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 3:32am GMT

Yes MerseyMike, he could have put a stop to it, but it would have meant schism. I think his strategy is to avoid full schism, and simply have a number of churches in various degrees of mutual respect. Here in San Francisco, there is a wide variety of Orthodox churches, attached in different ways to Russia, Greece and other countries, but ultimately all Orthodox and I assume attached to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Although +++Rowen may not be planning to emulate that model, that seems to be where we are going to end up.

Posted by Andrew at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 6:04am GMT

I wonder whether this proposal wasn't in fact un-intentional.

It was moved by +Wimberly, who had not realized before what the White Sands Communique was after...

+Wimberly's invitation (which passed unanimously) squares Cantuar firmly in the corner. As someone already remarked, there is no way out.

I think it was the shock at the IRD driven mendacity - I don't think +Wimberly (or perhaps anybody) actually saw the consequences until afterwards.

(just me reading the tea leaves)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 8:41am GMT

To Cynthia Gillatt:

I am confident that the one thing the CANA and other splinter groups will not get is TEC property. We have long legal precedent for keeping real property when people try to take it for another religion. Moreover, we have the best lawyers money can buy, and many of them are Episcopalians.

In a related matter, one of problems with the so-called 2.3 million is that it only includes pledging members. There are surely another 5 to 10 million, whose parents are Episcopalians (including the current US President) or who were baptised or married in our churches, or come to our churches for funerals. This is especially true in areas such as California where many people are secular but still lean toward a church when needs appear. Both of my supporters at our wedding fall into this category as does my wife's maid of honor. We also have people who support Grace Cathedral who are Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish, because of its importance to the community.

So in some sense, the influence, wealth and power of TEC is much greater than her enemies may realize, not to mention her resilience.

Posted by Andrew at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 9:14am GMT

I am nodding my head at so much of what is said in these comments; thank you very much for them.

The ECUSA conservatives' strategy, back in 1998, of using the gay issue to unite their domestic goals and money with the majority strength of the Global South was clever, and it succeeded to a frightening extent over the last 10 years. Their activism and forward thinking left our last two Archbishops of Canterbury standing: silly old George Carey happily opened Pandora's box for them by backing Lambeth 1.10 instead of the careful compromise which was the resolution as originally drafted. And Rowan Williams was too timid and too foolish (clever, but foolish) not to be swept along in his turn.

There is still much unravelling to do. Expect a unilateral declaration of independence by some conservatives, and an appeal for primatial oversight for them not sanctioned by TEC, which it is just possible that Rowan Williams will support.

But I do think the strategy has now failed. And the person responsible for the failure is Akinola. The hateful things he says about gay people as people, and his shocking disregard for their human dignity and rights, is abhorrent even to most US conservatives. And his naked bullying and abuse of power and influence finally forced the worms to turn. Suddenly, dissent became disloyalty, and that would not wash with any except the hardest of hard cores. The conservatives overplayed their hand - or, rather, Akinola overplayed it for them.

I also think that Akinola has lost credibility with the Primates. They mostly believe that gay sex is incompatible with scripture. But they mostly don’t believe that the issue should destroy the Anglican Communion. Now that the Williams appeasement strategy has failed, I don’t think they will agree to open civil war by supporting a rival US primate who is opposed even by the Windsor bishops.

Posted by badman at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 9:45am GMT

Martin ; I think you are right.

Clearly that isn't acceptable, so lets get on with seeing schism for what it really is - a positive new start where conservative Christianity can be left behind, and a new global organisation led by the US Episcopal Church can come into being.

There can be no place for those who believe in gay and lesbian equality within Williams' brave new world. It is simply supporting institutionalised homophobia, and frankly, equality for gay and lesbian people is far more important than the organisational unity of a religious organisation.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 10:33am GMT

"In his heart he believes that in the long term things will change and that gays will just have to wait it out – 50 or 100 years perhaps."

If so, sounds like the attitude that prompted MLK to write the Letter from Birmingham Jail. I've got news for him: the pace of change is a bit faster than that.

History remembers MLK. The pastors and bishops who urged him to wait for a time when whites were 'ready?' Name one.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 11:50am GMT

Rowan is going to Canada next month. He will attend their House of Bishops to give a couple addresses for their retreat. There are to be no questions, no dialogue. That is how things are.

Martin:

It sounds like the George Bush White House, where the truth is awkward and has to be managed.

Continuing this parallel for a moment, it would be interesting to know who's in RW's "inner circle", who shares his vision, the long game you outline? Is there a Cheney at Lambeth Palace?

Posted by Andrew Innes at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 12:47pm GMT

badman said: "But I do think the strategy has now failed. And the person responsible for the failure is Akinola. The hateful things he says about gay people as people, and his shocking disregard for their human dignity and rights, is abhorrent even to most US conservatives. And his naked bullying and abuse of power and influence finally forced the worms to turn. Suddenly, dissent became disloyalty, and that would not wash with any except the hardest of hard cores. The conservatives overplayed their hand - or, rather, Akinola overplayed it for them."

A very cogent analysis of the current state of play. By nature, I am also a bit of an institutional conservative - or perhaps more of a tactically conservative progressive. While I believe the questions at hand about ordaining non-celibate homosexuals or blessing same-sex unions are certainly open to discussion, intuitively I'm inclined that it was imprudent for the Church in North America to push the question so boldly.

So, if one takes the whole of Lambeth 1.10 (rather than just bits) or the whole of Windsor (rather than just bits), I could accept and support staying in this waystation until there was greater consensus in the Church.

And then I look to the conduct of the so-called Global South Primates - His Grace of Nigeria in particular.

They have done more to persuade me of the progressive position than anything said or done by anyone on the progressive side.

One further observation. Both conservative and progressive and conservative commentators, as well as the media, have depicted the USHOB's statement as a "NO!"

I don't think that is accurate.

What the HOB did, in accordance with an ecclesiastical polity that the foreign prelates cannot grasp, was to refer the question to the appropriate body - the Executive Council - while offering an opinion on what that body ought to do.

The argument is about polity - and part of that argument has been that the HOB does not have the authority to take decisions for the Church while excluding those structures (the Executive Council, the General Convention) which provide for the participation of the other orders in the governance of the Church.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 5:09pm GMT

Rev King wrote the letter from Birmingham Jail in response to clergy of Birmingham, including +George Murray, Episcopal Diocese of Alabama. +Murray and others commended 'local news media and law enforcement... on the calm manner the demonstrations have been handled.' http://www.stanford.edu/group/King//frequentdocs/clergy.pdf
That was ECUSA then. I thank the Lord it changed its ways.
I see parallels, of a church which heard the prophetic voice of the Spirit and turned away from it's past support of segregation in America, to the church today which clearly stated the call of ministry of all the baptized. 'In Christ there is no East nor West' is the old hymn, God's love is for all of us. The Spirit called Rev King and showed him the time is now. +++Williams, like +Murray, urges restraint, but how can we deny the call of the Spirit?
Let us pray that we hear the Spirit call us like it called to St Paul, to God's love for Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and Romans: all we mortals in this broken world.

Posted by montyman at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 6:21pm GMT

Martin Reynolds --

Always most interested in your posts!

I believe that the clever bishops at Camp Allen (by which I do not by any means include all who voted for the ABC to come & meet with them) see the significance of this resolution not in being able to clarify matters with ++Rowan, but precisely in his refusal to meet with them. This would be a case of actions speaking louder than words.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 8:37pm GMT

It has been 35 years since I read Il Principe, Fr Prior.

It may well be as you say and that others across the pond have not been so lacking in their studies.

As to “the Lambeth White House” I am not sure. There are complex characters playing out their role there. The power politics between Lambeth and the ACO has been a significant factor in the past and remains an important factor. The Lambeth chief of staff made a play for ultimate control of the ACO some short while ago and lost. Those who are interested in the development of the role of the ABC as senior Primate and the English domestic issues that surrounded it should read the Hurd Report http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/acnsarchive/acns2600/acns2618.html
(Interesting to note the process described here of moving York into the Primates Group was ignored)
Senior legal advisors meeting at the Ecclesiastical Law Society here in the UK earlier this year seemed to suggest that the strategy was to isolate the extremists and forge a middle way. The extremists were obviously (in their view) America on the one hand and Akinola/Sydney on the other.

This was where Canon Gregory Cameron gave his “Order without loosing Ardour” speech.
A title later adapted by LGCM!

What happened at Dar es Salaam is that the centre did not materialise strongly. The sub group assessing the 2006 response from TEC to the Primates was ignored in a last ditch attempt to hold Akinola, not been isolated enough to make him powerless. There were further complications as Michael Poon started to talk a different language too.

Akinola remained powerful enough not even to be challenged about the greater breach of agreed polity in the new Nigerian law – to quote the senior Primate writing to us: “I don’t think there was a chance of getting an agreed statement on this subject at that moment. I don’t take any pride in that but it’s a fact.”

The result was the Dar ultimatum, written as if the group assessing GC 2006 had never spoken.

For some bizarre reason some progressive groups saw this as a victory, I suspect that they felt the grace period allowed was better than Akinola expected – but he got what he wanted as the centre crumbled. The Americans could do no other than they have done. Many Primates who were unhappy at the deal support them. (see my inbox!)

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 1:01am GMT

Martin:

Thanks very much for your comments. By the sounds of it, we're not much further ahead. Some time bought, perhaps.

Will the Primates who held their noses and signed the document be able to sell it to their constituencies? I rather doubt it. A split or splintering seems inevitable.

Posted by Andrew Innes at Sunday, 25 March 2007 at 10:56am GMT

Merseymike - are you sure about your logic? the vast majority of an organisation disagree with you wanting to break its stated rules so you think they should all leave the organisation!

"You cannot be serious!" (J McEnroe, a clear-thinker)

Posted by NP at Monday, 26 March 2007 at 1:33pm BST
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