Comments: statements re San Joaquin

From the PR firm's (Gladstone International) website:

"Should a crisis hit, our team mobilizes immediately to minimize damage to your organization’s reputation."

Given their initial statement claiming +Schofield as being a member of both TEC and Southern Cone HoB's, which quickly had to be 'corrected', it's safe to say they failed straight out of the gate!

Unless +Schofield was himself under that impression, thus needing correction by his new Primate?!

In any case, +Venables has made it quite clear that +Schofield is no longer a member of TEC, therefore the inhibition and eventual deposition for 'abandonment of communion of the Episcopal Church' can proceed smoothly.

Posted by MJ at Saturday, 12 January 2008 at 11:10pm GMT

And the sooner TEC can be rid if him, the better - I think that swift action should be taken with any diocese which opts for the same path. The rest is for others to sort out - TEC's responsibility is to ensure there is a TEC presence throughout the USA

Posted by Merseymike at Saturday, 12 January 2008 at 11:43pm GMT

All these statements avoid the basic question:

Was the action of the diocesan convention even legal? Can a diocese that is formed by the action of a national church legally claim to disassociate itself from that church without the church's permission? Isn't that rather like Orange County voting to no longer be part of California but to be part of, say, Montana, instead?

And if Schofield is no longer a bishop of TEC, yet there are still Episcopalians in his domain, then clearly there is still a Diocese of San Joaquin in TEC, one whose episcopal chair stands empty.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 12:22am GMT

It's hard to figure out exactly which side of the "source"* may have been overly tippling/nipping with the cut-rate alter wine (unconsecrated).

Whomever it was this "pressed release" kinda makes me feel "car sick" and I think I want to toss my crookies.

*Does Gladstone Internationals "team" of "damage control experts" get paid by clients or the opponents of their clients?

Maybe I ought hold my breath and hang on to the bed until the "spin cycle" kicks in.

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 4:39am GMT

Clearly he wants to have his cake and eat it too. However, since it's septuagesima next week, perhaps it's time for a little pre-lenten restraint in the cakeshop direction? Far too much trifle here.

Posted by kieran crichton at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 6:18am GMT

The reason for the "clarification" is that the original statement was that San Joaquin was a member BOTH of the TEC House of Bishops AND of the Southern Cone House of Bishops. This was on Titus One Nine and on Stand Firm. When the clarification was issued, the original was pulled, and no trace was left of it. However, remnants of it are preserved in the comments which quote the original version.

See, for example the comment here:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/9121/#169427

which quotes the original text which said:

"Bishop Schofield is currently a member of both the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone, not prohibited by either house."

Posted by badman at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 11:23am GMT

Clearly the bishop's game of "I'm a bishop of TEC when I claim the property but a bishop of the Southern Cone when TEC tries to discipline me" didn't last long because it was patently absurd -- nevertheless, it is a relief, considering how many absurd statements by various schismatics in this world wide power game have been left unchallenged.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 3:26pm GMT

"Was the action of the diocesan convention even legal? Can a diocese that is formed by the action of a national church legally claim to disassociate itself from that church without the church's permission?"

Ultimately that is going to be a determination to be made by the civil courts. I wouldn't make any bets on how it will turnout.

Posted by Richard Lyon at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 4:28pm GMT

The better aspect of this latest round of realignment spin doctoring is that we get to see the separate realignment campaign steps which are usually rushed by us in a blur of media campaigning.

Like Halliburton making big bucks from Iraq war, one presumes that Gladston Intl will also earn its keep in this church life warfare.

I am more and more coming to see the rationale for the emergence of high school courses on media spin, advertising, and propaganda techniques which started to proliferate, often in California USA schools a few decades ago. As the state went, so now goes the national, and beyond.

One one small point of our penultimate disagreements:
It remains to be seen among the many sorts of the rest of us whether or not the antigay origins and antigay results of, say, Minns-Akinola-Schofield-Iker-Venables-and-company's realignment theology and ethics has now become the acknowledged whitewashed sepulchre full of dead mens' bones that the spin doctors believe it to be, helped along by their particular expertise in professional whitewashing.

Painter scores, anyone? Time will tell.

Keep following Jesus of Nazareth as Risen Lord. Love God with all your heart, soul, body and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. Coming to the kingdom feast does not mean claiming infallibility. TO SJ Remain Episcopal: Be wise as serpents, harmless as doves, and praise the Lord while keeping your powder dry.

Posted by drdanfee at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 6:19pm GMT

Christopher Seitz of the Anglican Communion Institute argues that what John-David Schofield has done is perfectly acceptable. He has simply transferred his diocese to the obedience of a different province, the Southern Cone. According to Seitz, any bishop may, on his own initiative, transfer his diocese to a different province, should he judge it necessary to do so. There is no need to seek the consent of the former province.

Furthermore, says Seitz, since Schofield is no longer a bishop or priest of the Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church cannot inhibit or depose him.

Finally, according to Seitz, since the Southern Cone and the Episcopal Church are both in the Anglican Communion, Schofield cannot be charged with abandoning the communion of the Episcopal Church.

His comments can be found at:
http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/9124/#comments

A pretty kettle of fish! But let us remember that the Archbishop of Canterbury accepts Seitz's arguments, and that all of this has been done with his foreknowledge and approval. The Archbishop of Canterbury has also refused to condemn similar developments in Canada, despite the Canadian Archbishop's direct plea to him to do so.

Nevertheless, ++Akinola's plans for the rival GAFCON conference continue unabated. Appeasement, it seems, has failed once again.

I condole with those of you in the Church of England on the mess that will shortly be made of your green and pleasant land. How many of your own bishoprics will be unilaterally translated to an overseas obedience, do you suppose? How many flavors of "bishop" will shortly be wandering your highways?

Posted by Charlotte at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 6:39pm GMT

Don't you just love the way papers and contributions disappear and are purported to have never existed?

The only good thing, is souls are learning never to play poker with some as they keep aces up their sleeves and collude behind the scenes to tip off others what is in your hands.

I don't have a problem souls not wanting to be in communion with TEC or any other communion for that matter. God does not impose upon those who want nothing to with God, God just strolls along doing God's thing and souls can get involved as and when they are ready. It doesn't matter whether that is on a individual basis, or family, or parish or even whole diocese.

What does matter is if they then interfere with other souls' communion. If they deprive them of meeting facilities or steal from the temples. Rachel died for taking her Dad's idols, and even Paul didn't approve of coveting and theft e.g. Romans 2:22-23 "You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?"

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 7:36pm GMT

"The Episcopal Church’s own identity is dependent upon its relationship with the whole Anglican Communion."

Not so. We are part of the Anglican Communion by being in communion with the ABC. As a province, we antedate the Anglican Communion by about 100 years or so. Maybe this firm should stick to damage control for companies with defective products. Oh - that's what Schofield's outfit is. There're just not very good at it.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 8:10pm GMT

"According to Seitz, any bishop may, on his own initiative, transfer his diocese to a different province, should he judge it necessary to do so. There is no need to seek the consent of the former province."

Oh, goody. Will we now see Rochester join, say, Nigeria, while London adheres to TEC? I suspect, ultimately, the British Parliament and courts may have something to say about that.

"As a province, we antedate the Anglican Communion by about 100 years or so."

Not as a "province," as that is a term that only has relevance within the Communion, but as a church, most definitely. In fact, were it not for the desire of the Episcopalians of the mid-19th C. to clarify their relationship with the Church of England (and the resulting Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral), there would be no Anglican Communion--since at the time, all other Anglican churches, parishes and dioceses were colonial outposts of the CoE.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 9:55pm GMT

"Maybe this firm should stick to damage control for companies with defective products. Oh - that's what Schofield's outfit is. They're just not very good at it."

PR companies are only as good as the line their client wants them to sell / defend / maintain...

Posted by kieran crichton at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 10:19pm GMT

> Christopher Seitz of the Anglican Communion Institute argues that what John-David Schofield has done is perfectly acceptable.

Since the Anglican Communion has no real rules and no enforcement mechanism that opinion is worth as much as any other opinion. None of them really count for very much.

> Oh, goody. Will we now see Rochester join, say, Nigeria, while London adheres to TEC? I suspect, ultimately, the British Parliament and courts may have something to say about that.

It is really only civil authority that has any real power in the matter. Obviously the British Parliament and Crown have a particular relationship to the C of E. But just how much does the general British public care about all this?

Posted by Richard Lyon at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 10:20pm GMT

"Obviously the British Parliament and Crown have a particular relationship to the C of E."

More than a particular relationship--the CoE owes its entire existence to Parliament and the Crown.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 11:52pm GMT

Gladstone International LIES.

In its website page congratulating itself on its "success" with the "breakaway" congregation of St. James in Newport Beach, CA, it states:

"The Diocese ultimately dropped all claims against St. James."

Um, well then, perhaps Gladstone International's principal, Ms. Joan Gladstone, would care to explain how these cases are in fact currently under appeal before the California Supreme Court.

*Surely* she is aware that they are still quite in litigation.

Gladstone International LIES, and they ought to be publicly called out for it. But apparently, they spin so much for a living, they can no longer tell the difference between reality and their wishful-thinking LIES.

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 3:32am GMT

Bishop Schofield stated fairly clearly in his December response to Bishop Jefferts Schori that his diocesan convention had removed the Diocese of San Joaquin from TEC but that he himself retained his membership of the TEC House of Bishops while simultaneously joining the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone. This latest statement just repeats that viewpoint. It was "clarified" (More like "contradicted") by someone other than Bishop Schofield, man of many miters, seemingly at the instigation of Bishop (now Archbishop?) Venables. I am not convinced that Bishop Schofield yet concedes that he does not inhabit both houses, and I will not be convinced except by his own ipsissima verba.

Posted by Anthony W at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 7:45am GMT

I notice Tobias Haller had already made the quip about "contradiction" rather than "correction". Great minds . . .

Posted by Anthony W at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 8:04am GMT

'were it not for the desire of the Episcopalians of the mid-19th C. to clarify their relationship with the Church of England (and the resulting Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral), there would be no Anglican Communion--since at the time, all other Anglican churches, parishes and dioceses were colonial outposts of the CoE.'

Depends what you mean by 'colonial outposts'. The Church of Ireland was disestablished and disendowed in 1870, and the Scottish Episcopalians ejected from the established Church of Scotland in 1688. Both of these churches were separate and independent of the English Church. The presence of these churches, along with the non-British and successful model of the PECUSA, were no doubt important factors in the development of the Anglican Communion as a family of independent national churches that then grew as British colonies themselves gained independence -- first the 'old Commonwealth' in Canada, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand, and then the 'new Commonwealth' in the rest of the world, together with a few outposts of the (P)ECUSA. I fancy that the interaction with and the example of the (British) Commonwealth, and the way that is or was seen as a family of nations under the symbolic but non-executive headship of the Crown was also important in this understanding.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 8:38am GMT

But more important still is the 1688 beginning!

The Radical Calvinists threw out the Moderate Calvinists and all others from the Church of Scotland.

...."mainstreaming" it...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 9:17am GMT

Thanks for the correction about province vs. church.

I would be curious to know if former TEC bishop Schofield is still part of the Church Pension Fund, and who is paying for his health insurance. Stipendiary clergy in my diocese get their health insurance through the diocese.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 1:17pm GMT

"More than a particular relationship--the CoE owes its entire existence to Parliament and the Crown."

If the CoE becomes embroiled in turf wars, it would make a very good argument for disestablishment.

Posted by Richard Lyon at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 2:49pm GMT

"I would be curious to know if former TEC bishop Schofield is still part of the Church Pension Fund, and who is paying for his health insurance. Stipendiary clergy in my diocese get their health insurance through the diocese." - Cynthia Gilliatt.

Bishop Schofield is vested in the CPF and, while inhibited, is still able to make contributions to the fund. Once the HoB has deposed him, and since he is past retirement age, he will receive all his pension benefits as long as the DSJ has paid all its CPF assessments. I have no idea whether the DSJ has its own Health Insurance Plan for clergy or has elected to participate in TEC's Medical Trust.

Posted by John Henry at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 5:57pm GMT

I wish Richard Lyon wouldn't use an intransitive verb when a transitive verb is called for. Someone has to embroil the Church of England in turf wars; the Church doesn't embroil all on its own. (This is more than a grammatical point.)

Posted by Charlotte at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 6:02pm GMT

Seems to me the church is doing rather well at embroilling [trans.] itself.

Posted by Frank at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 7:42pm GMT

"I wish Richard Lyon wouldn't use an intransitive verb when a transitive verb is called for. Someone has to embroil the Church of England in turf wars; the Church doesn't embroil all on its own. (This is more than a grammatical point.)"

And your point is?

Posted by Richard Lyon at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 7:55pm GMT

Does de facto disestablishment occur for any C of E dioceses -- let's say, Rochester and Durham -- that leave the C of E to join, say, the Church of Nigeria?

Apparently, despite being a defender of establishment, the AbC seems to think Rochester and Durham *could* -- in term sof the ecclesiology and the canon law, anyway -- do so, what with ++Rowan's "dioceses are the only units that really matter" theory and his deafening silence on the Southern Cone's invasion of botht he USA and Canada.

It boggles the moind that as bright a mind as ++Rowan's has apparently not thought through to its logical conclusion his tacit acceptance of purported "transfers" to the Southern Cone. Wait, though, until Venables and Akinola start trying to snap up not just C of E parishes and whole dioceses!

Or is the C of E somehow an exception in His Grace's ecclesiological thinking? San Joaquin and Ft. Worth can "transfer" to Southern Cone, but Rochester and Durham can't do the same, whether to Southern Cone, Nigeria, or wherever?

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 8:15pm GMT

I think that Williams hasn't quite worked out that as an established church, the English dioceses concerned would have no right to secede or leave the CofE.

The CofE doesn't fit his ecclesiological dream at all.

The man is so politically inept, it is laughable. Pathetic really is the only word.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 10:01pm GMT

I don't understand any of these comments about Church of England dioceses. Nowhere have I read anything by any archbishop of the CofE even vaguely suggesting that an English diocese can go anywhere outside the Church of England. Any such idea is totally fanciful.

An English diocese is not merely an aggregation of parishes, it is defined to be a particular geographic territory. The General Synod has the power - though the procedures are complex - to create, abolish, combine, or revise diocesan boundaries. A diocese has no power to depart from the Church of England.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 11:10pm GMT

Simon --

All you say about dioceses in the Church of England applies equally to the General Convention of The Episcopal Church -- a diocese has no power to depart from The Episcopal Church -- but the ABC has certainly made it sound as if it can (as many of us pointed out with great objections at the time)!

Posted by Prior Aelred at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 11:27pm GMT

Simon, I think the point we are trying to make is that what is true for the C of E is true for each other Communion province as well, and that ++Rowan's novel and innovative theory holding dioceses to be the fundamental membership units of the Communion" -- along with his silence implying acceptance of Southern Cone invasions of North America, especially the entire Diocese of San Joaquin -- flies in the face of what is true in both the C of E and each other province.

Yet I doubt that, had it been not a retired Canadian bishop and an active American bishop and his diocesan leadership, but rather English bishops and dioceses, which purported to transfer to Southern Cone, he'd have been quite so silent on and acquiescent in the matter.

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 11:40pm GMT

Simon, while I normally find your contributions spot-on and informative, I am mystified by your apparent inability to appreciate the dichotomy of Rowan Williams failing to criticize "secession" of dioceses from non-English Provinces in which they were created, while you are simultaneously pointing out that dioceses of the CofE have no right to secede and realign with other Provinces. Dioceses of TEC also have no right to secede, and I would wager that this is true of most Provinces of the AC.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 3:37am GMT

"novel and innovative theory holding dioceses to be the fundamental membership units of the Communion""

Is this really all that novel and innovative? I have always understood the Church to organized on a diocesan basis. Not, as has been said, that the Church is simply an aggregate of dioceses, we have more responsibility for each other than that, and no one bishop can decide doctrine, for instance, on his own, but that the diocese is the basic building block of the Church. I though that went back to the beginning, or at least to the Roman world. I know the Celtic Church was organized a bit differently, they having no cities, but still the faithful gathered around their bishop was the basic unit of the Church. Am I way off the mark here?

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 12:33pm GMT

Simon S can make his own comments -- but there is a big difference between what is the case in England, and what might be the case elsewhere, and that is that in England the Church is established by law, and the rules and regulations of the Church are not just some common agreed rules, they are the law of the land. So it is absolutely clear that English dioceses cannot secede, and that as Simon S has noted, the General Synod has, under the terms of the Dioceses Measure, power to divide and unite and modify dioceses, and this peower is enshrined in law, and belongs to no one else (except that in principle Parliament could choose to enact something different). This is different from other countries where the canons and rules of a Church are not necessarily statute law but much more amenable to interpretation under more general charity and trust law.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 12:39pm GMT

Well, then, as long as the CofE is protected, it's no wonder the ABC isn't concerned with the rest of the communion falling to bits.

This is cold comfort to the American Church and, well, disestablishment when it comes, will be haunted by his inactions and then all bets will be off.

Posted by Davis d'Ambly at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 2:23pm GMT

Ford, when the C of E broke with Rome, was John Fisher permitted to stay affiliated with Rome and to keep Rochester in communion with Rome instead of going off with the rest of the C of E?

Was there an asterisk after the bold proclamation that "[t]he Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England," asserting "well, except in the diocese of Rochester, and except in such other dioceses as may, from time to time, elect to dis-affiliate from the C of E and re-affiliate with the RCC"?

The entire Church in the entire "Realm of England" went as a unit, with the dioceses as subsidiary units within it; this is foundational for the Anglican interpretation of Catholic ecclesiology. The principle of the right of each nation/state/people/"Realm" to govern its own corner of the Church catholic was established in Anglicanism thenceforth; it is this mad push to either decentralize authority to the level of the diocese, or to aggregate authority with a curial Primates Meeting, that is novel and an innovation in Anglican ecclesiology.

On a sacramental level, yes, of course "the faithful gathered around their bishop [is] the basic unit of the Church." But to then extrapolate from the sacramental into the ecclesiological, on a matter specifically of polity, as ++Rowan appears to do, is to gut a foundational ecclesiological principle of the Anglican tradition/expression of Christianity: The right of a particular national people -- with the national province as the fundamental unit of polity, not the diocese -- to govern themselves their own corner of the Church catholic.

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 3:05pm GMT

Viriato, my argument would be that such a connection between Church and nation is too Erastian for my tastes. I very much support the idea of the Church expressing Her faith and worship in the local cultural context, which includes but isn't limited to language. I am also aware that it isn't only us Anglicans who think that way, the Eastern Christians do as well. Rome, for once, gets this better, I think. I read in a book on liturgics that a main theme of the Reformation was to strip away the unnecessary and at times mistaken "accretions" that had come into the Church during the Middle Ages and leave "the true faith" whatever that was. I think maybe this idea of the "national Church" is one of those accretions that we should have gotten rid of 500 years ago. This in no way is meant to imply that each diocese is a Church in its own right, and, frankly, I don't know how to deal with that. Perhaps the "accretions" of the Middle Ages in this regard are a Truth into which the Spirit has led us? I don't know.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 4:28pm GMT

Viriato: yes, you express the situation very well in your comment above. What we see is simply a mixture of cowardice and hypocrisy on the part of the current English episcopate: cowardice, because none of them dare raise their voice against the Con Evos, however outrageous their unChristian behaviour to their gay fellow humans; and hypocrisy, because they can contemplate the break-up of churches overseas with equanimity, on ecclesiological grounds which they would find unacceptable at home.

Posted by Fr Mark at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 5:16pm GMT

Simon K, as a US attorney, permit me to assure you that in this country, the "canons and rules of [TEC]" are not at all "amenable to interpretation under more general charity and trust law." Under certain circumstances, it is true, "general charity and trust law" may be held to speak to, e.g., issues of property ownership, but in such case they *trump* "canons and rules," they are not employed to "interpret" them. And US courts tend to steer clear of anything that could be viewed as injecting themselves into deciding matters internal to a denomination or as deciiding questions that are fundamentally theological (including ecclesiological), lest they violate the Establishment Clause of our federal Constitution.

So yes, in limited circumstances, non-established Churches of the Anglican Communion may, in theory, be subject to dioceses pealing themselves off from their
province in a way that is currently legally impossible in the case of the C of E. And that is indeed part of the legal issues that are being and will be fought out in the USA on a state by state basis, and perhaps ultimately need to be resolved by the US Supreme Court. Canons and ecclesiology may point in one direction, yet (as in the trial court level decisions in California, subsequently overturned and now on appeal before that state's supreme court), arguably, deeds and other documents may point to a legal set-up insufficient for the courts to *implement* said canons and ecclesiology. We shall see.

[to be continued in a second post…]

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 6:22pm GMT

[continued from post above replying to Simon K]

But I think that's a tangent, because the point we are trying to make here regarding ++Rowan's sad opening of the barn door is not a *legal* one but an *ecclesiological* one.

Let us step back from the human-made legal overlay. What ++Rowan's actions and words appear to state is that, if a "bishop with congregation gathered about him/her" desires to de-link from a provincial affiliation without that province's approval, well, for Anglican Communion purposes, that's just fine and dandy, and said bishop and flock can reaffiliate wherever else they might want, including within the Communion.

Well, to be consistent in such ecclesiology, what's good enough for San Joaquin must be good enough for -- i.e., equally applicable to -- each other diocese in every other province, *including* C of E dioceses such as Rochester and Durham.

In other words, secular legalities aside, and to be logically consistent with his own words and (non-)actions, ++Rowan should in theory be supportive of Rochester's absolute right to leave the C of E and re-affiliate as part of Southern Cone if it so chooses, or Durham's right to "transfer" to Nigeria – or, for that matter, London's right to "transfer" to, say, TEC (or even Utrecht -- or Rome!).

And to the extent that secular legalities do not accommodate this ecclesiological vision, ++Rowan should presumably be fully supportive of *changing* the law in order to make possible all this province-to-province game of diocesan musical chairs. He can't just fall back on saying, "Oh, well, that's not legally possible for the C of E, but it's the appropriate ecclesiological outcome elsewhere in the Communion."

Now, would some nice C of E progressives kindly exert a tad more muscle on behalf of TEC and ACoC and put ++Rowan's ecclesiology to the test, by starting movements for the more progressive C of E dioceses to enter into talks with TEC and the ACoC regarding un-affiliating from the C of E and re-affiliating with a North American province? It wouldn't (and shouldn't) get very far, but it might help dramatize for ++Rowan the full real-world implications of his ethereal ecclesiological ponderings.

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 6:24pm GMT

Ford, I think you will find (though I am happy to be corrected) that the Celtic church was based around monasteries, not bishops. While Celtic Bishops performed key sacramental functions, they were not afforded anything like the same status or power as their counterparts in the Roman church of the time. Abbots and Abbesses were much more prominent - or so my understanding goes - and the church had no formal dioceses as such. As a result it is not quite accurate to say that every limb of the catholic church, certainly prior to the great schism of 1054, used bishops as their focus of unity. Once that system was rejected and bishops were given the status we would recognise, perhaps we always ran the risk of letting ambitious, egotistical characters get into positions where they could do significant damage to the body of Christ.

Posted by Greg Ironside at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 7:22pm GMT

Part 1 to Ford

"Viriato, my argument would be that such a connection between Church and nation is too Erastian for my tastes. I very much support the idea of the Church expressing Her faith and worship in the local cultural context, which includes but isn't limited to language." [Ford]

Well, I think we need to de-couple the concept of the national/provincial/culture-specific church from the rather inaccurately named bogeyman "Erastianism" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erastianism). The concept of the national/provincial/culture-specific church is not dependent upon "Erastianism," which really addresses the nature of the relationship between state/government and church. (This is why I find the 3-tikanga/3-stream approach of the Anglican Church of ANZP to be a perfectly appropriate further development of the national church concept.)

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 7:42pm GMT

Part 2 to Ford

There are legitimate reasons for fostering ecclesial autonomy on a culture-specific basis. Different dioceses that nonetheless share a common cultural context are best able, collectively, to discern the appropriate/accurate contours the Gospel takes within that culture. "Outsiders" such as the Bishop of Rome who "hath no jurisdiction" (or the "Arch"bishop / Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, or the Archbishop of All Nigeria, et al.) are simply not similarly equipped.

And culture-wide discernment and decision-making -- as opposed to diocese by diocese -- is more likely to "get it right"; see, e.g., recent research and analysis on collective decision-making processes (the "wisdom of crowds," in one popularizer's phrasing).

The province -- the "national church," or culture-specific church -- makes eminent sense as balancing (1) shared cultural context (differing across the Church catholic) with (2) deriving the benefits of collective discernment and decision-making. The alternatives would be either a Roman-like imperial uniformity imposed on sometimes radically different cultures, leveling otherwise relevant differences in context, or else an extreme atomization or balkanization (at congregational or diocesan level) despite/within a shared context, removing the benefits of collective processes.

In other words, resorting to a sometimes over-used but still valid Anglican phrase, the "national church" concept presents a via media for the Church catholic -- in this case, navigating between (a) papacy or curialism and (b) congregationalism or (to coin a phrase?) "diocesanism" (i.e., what ++Rowan seems to be de facto espousing despite deluding himself into thinking it somehow represents catholicity).

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 7:42pm GMT

I think Viriato's point is the same one I've probably made here and there to the degree that everyone is tired of seeing it: one can imagine *an ecclesiology* in which dioceses are, like so many Lego blocks, fundamental and separable units of the Church (though, as Tobias has pointed out, the insistence of having three bishops for a regular consecration seems to undercut that idea), and one can also feel, as Ford says, that the idea that the church in each nation is as sovereign as (because it shares in the sovereignty of) the state itself is a might too Erastian for comfort. What one *cannot* claim is that the English Reformation was about separable dioceses considered as churches, or about a less-than-sovereign national church. My patrons of 4 May were slaughtered on the twin altars of an independent national church and lay supremacy, and it is, at least, unseemly for +Cantuar now to argue, explictily or implicitly, that rejection of those two principles constitutes "Anglicanism": it is as though he, like Napoleon the pig, were to paint on the walls of Lambeth, "Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better."

Posted by 4 May 1535+ at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 8:30pm GMT

I was just wondering if since the Diocese of San Joaquin was originally a part of the Diocese of California if the properties and maybe for a time those remaining faithful to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA could be regained by the Diocese of California. After all, that diocese spent its precious resources to foster the growth of the church in San Joaquin, and I don't understand why it should be allowed to walk away with them.

Posted by Russel Kester at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 9:00pm GMT

What if the Diocese of San Joaquin had decided to affiliate, not with the Southern Cone, but with York, for example? Would that have been OK?

Posted by Anthony W at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 9:26pm GMT

The most baffling aspect of the ABC's baffling Advent letter was on the one hand to undermine the authority of the provinces by making their dioceses detachable while at the same time elevating the authority of the primates (who apparently have authority over the entire Communion but not over their own dioceses -- it is absurd).

Posted by Prior Aelred at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 11:05pm GMT

"What if the Diocese of San Joaquin had decided to affiliate, not with the Southern Cone, but with York, for example? Would that have been OK?"

Nope--not to my mind, anyway. The issue isn't the politics or the stance on any particular issue of the "invading" province, but the fact that it is invading.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 11:08pm GMT

"What if the Diocese of San Joaquin had decided to affiliate, not with the Southern Cone, but with York, for example? Would that have been OK?"

What on earth makes you think any of us is saying *that*?

Logical consistency on our part demands that that be considered equally impossible. The ideological orientation of the province purportedly transferred to, or any other characteristic of that province, is wholly irrelevant.

While I would amused to see, let's say, London depart the C of E to join TEC, I'd view it to be as theologically unsupportable, and as ecclesiologically impossible, as San Joaquin's attempted "transfer" to the ever-melting Southern Cone.

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Tuesday, 15 January 2008 at 11:38pm GMT

Greg,

I think you are mostly right on that count. Celtic ecclesiology, at least in Ireland, was premised on monasteries being the "building blocks" rather than the diocese, which is an imperial Roman invention dating from the time of (the persecutor) Diocletian, IIRC. When Columba exported Irish monasticism, he came up against an obstacle that on the continent, bishops were more powerful than abbots.

Ford and Viriato:

I've always held that the bishop and his/her church are, in a very real sense, an instantiation of the church catholic in a particular place. (Of course, non-geographical jurisdictions are also possible.) But the diocese is never isolated from the wider church. It is reflected, indeed, in the holding of councils and the sending of letters. It is also reflected in the Council of Nicaea's standard that all the provincial bishops must consent to the election of a bishop and that three bishops, at a minimum, are needed to consecrate a bishop.

There is some justification for having particular groupings of local churches based on the modern notion of the nation-state. It is indeed a bulwark against imperial power, whatever form it takes, but it also guarantees that people in the same territory share a common way of proceeding. Hence, Anglicanism since the Scottish Episcopal Church has emphasized that this instance is just as catholic as a pure "local-universal" model. This is where Viriato's argument, to me, makes sense.

But Ford has a point too. I think what Ford is complaining about is the identification of church with nation to the exclusion of catholicity as such--not Erastianism, but phyletism. And by nation, I cover the categories of common ethnicity and culture.

I find this particularly appalling in a Church that exists in a diverse country like mine. The Episcopal Church, for better or for worse, took root among the indigenous peoples of the country to the point that others are excluded, especially those from the urban south who discovered the Anglican way of being Christian (thanks to ++Ndungane for teaching me that). While I welcome its particular witness for the rights of indigenous peoples, its identity as a part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is distorted by its willingness to vanish into an ethnic ghetto.

That is why, Viriato, ultimately, there are limits to "national churches." The heresy of phyletism will flourish if it is not checked by a sense of catholic identity.

Posted by Ren Aguila at Wednesday, 16 January 2008 at 1:14am GMT

"why I find the 3-tikanga/3-stream approach of the Anglican Church of ANZP to be a perfectly appropriate further development of the national church concept."

For the Church to express herself in the forms and language of the local culture is a good thing, and as far as I understand the NZ situation, I fully support it.

"Different dioceses that nonetheless share a common cultural context are best able, collectively, to discern the appropriate/accurate contours the Gospel takes within that culture."

But that presupposes a common culture that may not be there. We are part of the Anglican Church of Canada, yet we are not culturally the same as the rest of Canada. So, our membership in the ACC is not on the basis of shared culture, but rather that 60 years ago we decided to give up our country for monetary gain. We 're still Canadian Anglicans, though.

"What one *cannot* claim is that the English Reformation was about separable dioceses considered as churches, or about a less-than-sovereign national church."

Absolutely. And, yeah, phyletism is probably a better word. I am comfortable with the "Church in Canada" or the US, or England. I am not at all comfortable with the Church OF Canada, or the US, or England.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 16 January 2008 at 12:42pm GMT

Further to Viriato's point about New Zealand: I think it is something churches with diverse cultural backgrounds can study. But there has to be a sense, as the New Zealanders have shown us, that this diversity precisely shapes their unity as a particular church.

I think this exchange--if we go back to San Joaquin--shows us that a priority for Lambeth, before it even considers a Covenant, is to decide what for Anglicans is the locus of catholicity. If we decide for the diocese, then San Joaquin's actions can be justified based on that. If we decide for the national church, then ECUSA wins. Perhaps, and I seem to see this as another direction, the "via media," pace Viriato, may well be a balance between both--with a reminder, lest we all forget, that the Church is ultimately one, and it is Christ's.

Posted by Ren Aguila at Wednesday, 16 January 2008 at 2:34pm GMT

Ren and Ford -- Thank you for this very nice, very stimulating exchange.

"That is why, Viriato, ultimately, there are limits to "national churches." The heresy of phyletism will flourish if it is not checked by a sense of catholic identity." [Ren]

We agree. I don't believe I have argued that there be *no* limits to national churches. Being schooled in international law, I tend to think of these categories in analogous terms, fwiw. Thus, each national church is analogous to a nation-state, with sovereignty and "legal personality." In that context, "law" exists above the nation-state level -- or national church level -- but doesn't express itself in the same way; it exists by voluntary cesion of authority via treaty or within defined limits to such supranational structures as the EU or UN.

The "diocesanist" approach undermines the benefits of collective discernment and decision-making at the highest feasible level, which is that in which folks "speak the same language" culturally.

Btw, I had thought myself rather clever for coining "diocesanism"... But after some Googling, I found that apparently it's a term of long standing in the Australian Church, describing (in apparently negative terms) the effects of excessive autonomy as evolved within the Australian context, heightening churchmanship battles (and so enabling such phenomena as the Sydney Anglicans' Calvinist oasis).

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Wednesday, 16 January 2008 at 5:21pm GMT

"But that presupposes a common culture that may not be there. We are part of the Anglican Church of Canada, yet we are not culturally the same as the rest of Canada. So, our membership in the ACC is not on the basis of shared culture, but rather that 60 years ago we decided to give up our country for monetary gain. We 're still Canadian Anglicans, though." [Ford]

Ford, I'm sorry for my ignorance -- does this mean you are from Newfoundland?

I actually do think that *some* countries/states, by virtue of having distinct strong subcultures, might actually be better off having either their own "national church" ("nation" in the sense not of a sovereign state but of a coherent cultural-linguistic group sharing an identity, an "ethnos"). Different histories among anglophone Canadians might warrant distinct churches, or at least a separate NZ-style "tikanga," and certainly, if there are enough francophone Anglicans in Canada (I don't know if there are), it might make sense to have a Quebec-based distinct province or subprovincial tikanga...

I often think there would be great growth among U.S. Hispanics and Lusitanics in The Episcopal Church if there could be a distinct Latin tikanga for us (including TEC's South American dioceses as well). Hispanics and Lusitanics differ from each other, and within each group as well, yet still there is a much stronger cultural commonality when compared with the dominant Anglo-Saxon culture of TEC. (Similarly, while there are of course cultural distinctions among different groups of anglophone Canadian Anglicans, don't they share more cultural context in common with each other than with -- to generalize -- francophone Canadians or anglophone Americans?)

In any event, I agree that phyletism is a danger, but the Orthodox-style model, and the traditional Anglican model, both seem to optimize both the benefits of particular "national churches" and the degree of messy-but-real interconnection (i.e., communion) via a web of non-centralized relationships and institutions (as is the case, analogously, with international law and supranational organizations).

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Wednesday, 16 January 2008 at 5:37pm GMT

Viriato: I suppose the idea of language-group based churches has some similarity with the RC situation after Vatican II, where bishops' conferences were ecouraged to think of themselves as representing national churches; and the use of the vernacular brought in new language-group cultural consciousness. The difference with the RC experience, though, is that the RC churches in the West all use exactly the same rite, whereas Anglican ones don't; and the RC bishops' conferences in fact have very limited power compared to the central Vatican structures.

Posted by Fr Mark at Thursday, 17 January 2008 at 8:47am GMT

"Ford, I'm sorry for my ignorance -- does this mean you are from Newfoundland?"

Sorry to have been obtuse. Yes, indeed, from the place the native people believe was made from the rubble God had left over after He finished making North America! Your points are well taken, and I don't fundamentally disagree, I think maybe we're dealing with emphasis. For me, organization above the diocesan level is about local "management" so to speak. It can't be about doctrine, for instance. Also, while I believe strongly in the idea of the faith expressed in terms of the local culture "a language understanded of the people" which is an old Orthodox concept, the Gospel is above cultural differences, the Kingdom is not about our cultures, and while we must respect each other's culture and express our faith in ways that are meaningful to us, there is a danger of losing sight of the fact that we are ALL citizens of the same Kingdom, and dependant on each other. You mention a Latin Tikanga for TEC, what's your takle on things like Iglesia de Jesus, Spansih congregations in TEC, etc.? I correspond with people who are heavily involved in immigration issues in the US and work within Latin congregations in TEC that, from this side of the continent, based in their discriptions, look much like what I'm talking about.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 17 January 2008 at 3:36pm GMT
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