Comments: Global South Primates' letter to the Crown Nominations Commission

Well, it is interesting that it has been leaked, by whom and for what end? The letter should be read totally apart from the so-called Global South Primates’ Communiqué with its very specific anti-TEC strictures, which, unlike this letter, was not discussed at the Global South Primates’ meeting but was written afterwards (see my comments on the TA thread about this Communiqué). The media will link these two documents and give the letter a spin that is not entirely accurate. Given the previous hijacking of the Global South Primates’ meeting by the anti-TEC anti-Canterbury element, I think this letter should be regarded as a move towards moderation, even if there are major elements one disagrees with. From my perspective, the ABC certainly should have deep cross-cultural experience (as should Global North and South Primates and bishops). The jab at the ACC office is a bit unexpected; they are hardly a den of liberalism. Episcopal authority is generally stronger in the global south than in the north; that has both advantages and disadvantages. It will be interesting to see how much the British media (both left and right) milk this letter and the spurious Communiqué for their own ends. For me, the main focus of the letter is the unity of the Anglican Communion and that is not a bad thing. The global south church has the capacity to absorb developments happening in the USA and Canada and that insight may be lost in all the anti-Global South rhetoric. All global churches, including the RCs, have “ecclesial deficits”, another name for sin, I would say. Finally, this is hardly an anti-Rowan letter, perhaps that is why the Southern Cone did not sign it; too far to the left for them.

Posted by Bishop Terry Brown at Sunday, 29 July 2012 at 10:00pm BST

Chickens, here is your Lambeth-Palace roost.

Just goes to show that the next Archbishop of Canterbury ought not encourage the notion that there is any such thing as an "ecclesial deficit."

The Anglican Communion is a family of autonomous churches. Nothing more, nothing less.

The clearer the next Archbishop is on this point, the better.

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 29 July 2012 at 11:48pm BST

At least two of the 'Global South' Primates who are signatories of this Letter (++Nigeria * ++Kenya) have been involved in Border-Crossing activity in the world-wide Anglican Communion. They also have refused to take part in assemblies called by the current Archbishop of Canterbury (Lambeth and the Primates' Meeting). This action shows scant regard for any show of loyalty to the See of Canterbury.

My question, in view of these facts, is: "Why should these Primates have any say in who should become the next Archbishop of Canterbury?"

They have shown a high degree of disregard for the present Archbishop of Canterbury and for the role of the ABC in the Communion. Why now, when they have demonstrated their unwillingness to continue as part of the current Communion Family, should they be given any consideration - as though they were willing partners in a continuing fellowship?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 30 July 2012 at 12:27am BST

There is only proper use of the term "ecclesial deficit" in reference to the structures of the Anglican Communion. It should be spread liberally on the garden to aid plant growth.

This idiocy about an "ecclesial deficit" is a complete rejection of authentic Anglicanism, which was born in the rejection of centralized authority. Does no one remember "The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England?" The BS talking point of "ecclesial deficit" is the rhetorical legerdemain of those seeking to replace the Anglican Communion with a single, unitary Church governed by the Primates-as-Curia.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Monday, 30 July 2012 at 7:58am BST

"All global churches, including the RCs, have 'ecclesial deficits', another name for sin, I would say."

No, no. Do not obscure the issue.

These people cannot discipline autonomous churches themselves, so they want the new A of C to help set up a structure that can.

In other words, these people want a curia.

Such an institution would be antithetical to Anglicanism.

Fortunately, it isn't going to happen.

As for the slightly nicer tone, I wouldn't read into this any change in substance--only tactics. They are merely toning down the rhetoric.

And why? Because the GSPs know that bible-thumping will not likely get them very far with the current UK government. That's why they leaked this letter to the Telegraph--in order to raise the political pressure.

At the same time, perhaps the GSPs also now realize, with the failure of the Covenant in England itself, that they have badly overplayed their hand.

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 30 July 2012 at 11:35am BST

I agree with Malcom. The Anglican Communion is not a church but a fellowship of churches with a common tradition and affection. We are not a Church to be ruled by a curia but separate Provinces whose main responsibility is to carry out their mission as best they can in their own setting. In the current situation in England we need most of all a Primate who will heal our relationship with Society . To do this we need as a church to develop in our own life the Christian principles of openness,inclusivity, equality and love.We should not be dictated to by African Prelates with their literal reading of the Scriptures.

Posted by Jean Mayland at Monday, 30 July 2012 at 12:25pm BST

Who doubts that both communique and letter were written as complementary, one for one audience and another for a different one.

Is it clear that S Cone abstained from signing or was not contacted and confirmed?

Melanasia is clearly a signatory this time, too.

Posted by cseitz at Monday, 30 July 2012 at 1:00pm BST

I meant +Vunagi of Melanesia. He's on board here clearly.

Posted by c.r.seitz at Monday, 30 July 2012 at 1:05pm BST

I have posted a clarification on the relation between the Global South Primates’ meeting and the Global South Primates’ Communiqué on the TA Global South Primates’ Communiqué thread, namely that the GS Primates’ Communiqué was formulated at the last session of the Primates’ meetings, which was unexpectedly held earlier than scheduled and at which not all the Primates (including Melanesia) were present; nor were those not present told of the contents of the Communiqué afterwards, even though their names were affixed to it. The letter to the Crown Nomination Commission was discussed at an earlier session of the GS Primates’ meeting and all those present (including Melanesia) signed the letter (with the question around the Southern Cone). One may not like the letter (and parts of it I do not agree with) but I think it reflects more a Windsor agenda than a GAFCON agenda, though there is certainly some of the latter, given the presence of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, etc. I am not sure how much is gained by the “family of autonomous churches” definition of the Anglican Communion as it is clearly a dysfunctional family. Ecclesial deficit = dysfunctional family, what’s the difference, both need help.

Posted by Bishop Terry Brown at Monday, 30 July 2012 at 9:05pm BST

I think we need to recall that the idea of "ecclesial deficit" has a history that predates the Windsor Report. In the declaration "Dominus Iesus," written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger before his election to the Papacy, wrte, "these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation." Now, "separated Churches" includes us, along with just about everybody else, who are not, for the purposes of "Dominus Iesus," considered "true particular churches." That is, if Rome doesn't accept the validity of your episcopate or your sacraments, you're Christian and not insignificant, but you're defective - and you're not a "church."

I found it troubling that the Windsor Report was so enamored of this idea; but since Rowan has seemed more concerned about communion with Rome (and perhaps Constantinople) than with other ecumenical partners, it's not a shock. It's rather more a shock that the Global South Primates should be so attached to this Roman definition of "church;" that is, unless one is prepared to recognize opportunism when it rears its head.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Monday, 30 July 2012 at 10:33pm BST

Yes, and perhaps the 'Gafcon agenda' is transforming itself toward a Windsor direction....

If +Vunagi is not supportive of the communique, surely it should be he who declares that.

Posted by c.r.seitz at Tuesday, 31 July 2012 at 1:28am BST

"I am not sure how much is gained by the “family of autonomous churches” definition of the Anglican Communion as it is clearly a dysfunctional family. Ecclesial deficit = dysfunctional family, what’s the difference, both need help."

No, no, no. Wrong again.

Phrasing the Communion as a family reminds everyone of the fundamental truth that family members do not always get along--and that we shouldn't expect them to.

The phrase "ecclesial deficit," by contrast, does two harmful things.

First, in "ecclesial," it surreptitiously assumes that the Communion is one church. This assumption is manifestly false.

Second, in "deficit," it suggests that there is some other ecclesia, compared to which the Communion falls short in some fashion.

What an anti-Anglican notion that is!

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 31 July 2012 at 4:23am BST

'Ecclesial Deficit' - if it means anything - must mean: whatever it is that falls short of God's vision for the Church. Christ's prayer that we be One, as He and The Father are One, must surely be the aim for 'ecclesial completeness'.

In which case, none of the present ecclesial denominations can claim to be without 'ecclesial deficit' - not even the Roman Catholic Church, which, however, claims to be the sole candidate.
(Unless, of course, they consider the Orthodox to be equal contenders).

So where does that leave the Anglican Communion at the present? In a place no different from any other denominational body - much as the Global South entity might want to claim 'ecclesial sufficiency' for themselves. This, for practical purposes, make use of the phrase "Ecclesial Deficit' redundant.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 1 August 2012 at 10:05am BST

I'd just echo what Jeremy on Tuesday is saying (and perhaps he's saying it other days as well)... It looks like some posters are interested in engaging in a lively discussion with the term "Ecclesial deficit" - which seems harmless enough. BUT the term is being used in a very specific way and its use implies a series of assumptions that are not part of the Anglican tradition. And the danger in entertaining the term is that the baggage will tend to creep into the picture. The effect will be that instead of rejecting "Ecclesial Deficit" as a term with no meaning in the Anglican tradition, we'll now be in the position of proposing ways to correct the deficit. And at that point, the discussion is lost.

Posted by Scott at Wednesday, 1 August 2012 at 7:36pm BST

"'Ecclesial Deficit' - if it means anything - must mean: whatever it is that falls short of God's vision for the Church. Christ's prayer that we be One, as He and The Father are One, must surely be the aim for 'ecclesial completeness'."

Well, we are not aware that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ever disagree with each other. And if they did, it is not clear how such a disagreement would be resolved. The Trinity is, after all, a mystery.

The problem in the here and now, of course, is that the GS folks are not willing to let the unity of the Anglican Communion be at all mysterious.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 1 August 2012 at 10:29pm BST

"In conclusion, the Global South Primates expect to be consulted on this decision of great importance for the Communion ...."

Of course they should be consulted - but not by the CNC!

They should be, and probably will be, consulted by the Most Revd. Dr. Barry Morgan, the Primate representing the Anglican Communion, whose appointment to the CNC was for just that purpose. It is for him to make known to the other members of the CNC the views of the Communion [which, of course, includes the Primates (which, of course, includes those of the Global South)].

Posted by RPNewark at Saturday, 4 August 2012 at 3:02pm BST
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