Comments: Primates gathering: Saturday news and comment

I'm torn between being impressed with the graciousness of the Primates of TEC, ACoC and SEC and disappointment that they've not loudly denounced the injustice done by the primates' meeting, both to TEC and to those gay Anglicans living under oppression elsewhere in the world. It's an amazing thing that these three Primates can have such grace in the face of the smug self-righteousness of the GAFCON crowd, but I can't help the little bit of me that want to see them loudly and vehemently excoriate the homophobia and bigotry they're faced with.

Posted by Jo at Saturday, 16 January 2016 at 11:44am GMT

The milksop responses from the Scottish and Canadian primates illustrate why Gafcon are so bold.

The only credible response to Primates 2016's "consequences" would be to condemn the decision unequivocally, and stand in solidarity with TEC. Instead, hedging, hand-wringing, and hits about upcoming Synod votes on equal marriage. If you did to Gafcon a fraction of what they've done to progressives, the Communion would've splintered decades ago.

It's not a virtue to refuse to stand up to bullies. Yes, Jesus of Nazareth probably did say turn the other cheek. It shouldn't be elevated to dogma, and certainly shouldn't be used as an excuse to duck confrontations.

We know why England's been landed with a bishops' bench of craven placemen (and a handful of equally accommodating women). Canada and Scotland, by contrast, have a fair and open electoral process. What went wrong?

Posted by James Byron at Saturday, 16 January 2016 at 1:25pm GMT

Criticizing the Canadian and Scottish Primates for not blasting Gafcon or the result of the Primates' Meeting is inappropriate and unfortunate. It's not just a matter of turning the other cheek. To leave a meeting where one has assented to the proceedings and then to attack those who were there and the agreement reached is pure hypocritical, mean-spirited, and backstabbing. How does it look to the Communion and the world when Christian leaders behave that way? I am unhappy with the result, but adding more bitterness and anger by disavowing the meeting and those present gets the Church nowhere and makes matters much worse. Didn't Jesus say something about heaping coals of fire?

Posted by Adam Armstrong at Saturday, 16 January 2016 at 7:18pm GMT

The comments from the Canadian and Scottish primates indicate that the boys have been given their marching orders.

Thankfully secular human rights groups will continue to keep before the world's conscience the human rights abuses occurring in many of the countries where there are Anglican churches. Check out Uganada, for example, from the perspective of Human Rights Watch.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 16 January 2016 at 7:55pm GMT

It's almost as if the debates and final votes on the Anglican Covenant in the C of E never happened. The biggest controversy during the two General Synod debates and subsequent diocesan synods concerned the 'relational consequences' invoked by Section 4, which the Primates' Resolution now seeks to carry out. This section of the Covenant restricted the participation of a Province in an Instrument of Communion as a result of course of action 'incompatible with the Covenant'. But crucially, 'participation in the decision making ... in respect of Section 4.2 shall be limited to those members of the Instruments of Communion who are representatives of those churches who have adopted the Covenant or who are still in the process of adoption'. Given that the diocesan synods refused to adopt the Covenant proposals in 2012, the archbishops exceed their powers, I believe, by voting for the Resolution.

What is the point of having synodical processes if they are to be bypassed? When two-thirds of the dioceses in the Province of Canterbury rejected the Covenant that seemed to send a clear message that lay and ordained members of those synods did not wish to give the archbishop of Canterbury or the other instruments of Communion quasi-papal powers to discipline partner provinces. This is especially so when it was well known by the synods that the 'relational consequences' were intended for the North American churches, who were at the time progressing towards same-sex marriage, and when the UK Parliament was about to consider the same question.

The archbishop may or may not be entering a constitutional minefield by implementing the Resolution, but it certainly raises questions about whether, in so doing, he rides roughshod over synodical processes that provide the necessary checks and balances in his own polity. He acts against the express wishes of his own Church and should be constrained from doing so, in my view.

Posted by Andrew at Saturday, 16 January 2016 at 10:08pm GMT

Look, Adam Armstrong is right - even our friends went along! We. Are. Not. Wanted! Okay? We have different values and they can't be reconciled. British value stability and harmony first while American liberals value justice action and upfront differences first. Africa is desperately poor and torn by war and corruption and the stability of tribalism, requiring assigned roles and punishing difference is the only way to survive. ACNA are of the prevalent US culture of guns, God, the Prosperity Gospel, and rigid dogmatic formulae. There are irreconcilable differences. We are without voice influence or a home in the AC. We should go home, shore up our defences against ACNA there and leave them to their own ways. Staying also hurts US evangelism because we seem desperate to affiliate with all that makes religion evil to them. TEC is alien and outnumbered - the time of Men has come; we must diminish, sail into the West, and remain TEC.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Saturday, 16 January 2016 at 11:27pm GMT

@ Adam Armstrong, "Criticizing the Canadian and Scottish Primates for not blasting Gafcon or the result of the Primates' Meeting is inappropriate and unfortunate." No, it really is not Adam.

Canadians were told beforehand, for example, that this was not a "decision making" body. Turns out it is presenting itself as if it were. Also, the points made by Andrew are well taken in this regard.

The criticism of the Primates is warranted. They have been complicit in participating in a meeting that, technically anyway, is probably ultra vires. And, there has been confusion from the beginning as to whether or not this was a Primates Meeting or just a gathering of Primates. I'm not sure if some of the primates were all that clear about that.

I am appalled at both the decision and the curia like manner in which it was taken. Furthermore, there has yet be any real clarification as to which primates voted against this decision, taken by secret ballot apparently.

For all the rhetoric about walking together, this entire process appears to be a text book case of politcal manipulation i.e. people in a room under emotional and politcal pressure, giving them a wedge politics opening speech, assuming an authority which, a number of them anyway, clearly don't have at home according to their polity, failing to consult with other duly constituted bodies, etc. etc.

And of course, there was no one from the GLBTQ communities there to present, so very easy to vilify people you are talking about rather than with.

I wouldn't be surprised if a few of the primates have come down with a mild case of Stockholm Syndrome.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 17 January 2016 at 3:30am GMT

To Andrew's point, it seems that at the ACC meeting, the ABC is going to have to make a choice.

Is he Primate of All England -- which rejected "relational consequences" and supraprovincial disciplining by voting the so-called Anglican Covenant down to its deserved death?

Or is the ABC the head of a new Primates' Curia that will soon exercise its newfound powers to "require" things of the Church of England?

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 17 January 2016 at 4:54am GMT

"But [Gay Clark Jennings] went on to say that the Primates do not have authority over the Anglican Consultative Council. ... She wrote that she had no intention of not taking part in her own work for the council, on which she is a representative to that body, along with Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut. "I am planning to travel to Zambia for our scheduled meeting in April and to participate fully," she said."

Go Gay! Go Gay! Go Gay! :-D

["It's not a virtue to refuse to stand up to bullies. Yes, Jesus of Nazareth probably did say turn the other cheek." IMO, JamesB, I've never seen standing up to bullies as contradicting Jesus re turning the other cheek! (See re Gandhi and MLKJr)]

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 17 January 2016 at 5:05am GMT

It seems to me as a Scottish Episcopalian that our Primus has done well to comment quickly and graciously.

It seems to me to be unfair to expect more at the moment as the polity of our church is that he can't speak as Primus without discussing matters with the Scottish College of Bishops.

He isn't an archbishop and I don't want him to be.

Posted by Kelvin Holdsworth at Sunday, 17 January 2016 at 9:28am GMT

There's also a fairly strong-looking leader from The Times.

"Unholy Split: On gay marriage, Justin Welby misreads history, morality and his job description"

Of course it's behind a pay wall.

Anyone know what the "job description" point might be?

Is someone at last chiding Welby for putting his global role ahead of his duties to his own province?

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 17 January 2016 at 12:16pm GMT

@MarkBrunson @rodgillis I am not saying that the Canadian and Scottish Primates "went along" as mere toadies. They simply had to own the decision, since it is the right thing to do. How would a parish function if a significant decision was made at parish council and then the church warden or rector walks out and publicly disowns it? I essentially agree with both of these posters and I am a Canadian. However, in the case of Fred Hiltz, how would it look if he returned to Canada and from a safe distance disowned a decision made by a group of which he was a member? With the pending decision to be made at General Synod that would be especially inappropriate. The idea of sniping from a safe distance is not responsible and making such behaviour acceptable by modelling it would make matters much worse. The desire to walk out in anger and disgust us strong and appealing, but we have decried such behaviour in others in the past. Someone has to be the adult in the room.

Posted by Adam Armstrong at Sunday, 17 January 2016 at 1:54pm GMT

Kelvin, I can understand why Chillingworth's hands may be tied.

I responded at I did mainly due to the combination of his lack of condemnation with the dog-whistle phrase "issues of human sexuality," linked to appeals to "unity." I also remembered him and other bishops issuing "guidance" on equal marriage that prompted many Scottish clergy to write back in protest.

That said, following your comment here about SEC polity, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, and apologize for the strength of the comment.

Posted by James Byron at Sunday, 17 January 2016 at 2:37pm GMT

If a grave injustice is being committed and a group is trying to exercise power way beyond its remit then any duty to stand by a decision is utterly void.

Posted by Jo at Sunday, 17 January 2016 at 8:19pm GMT

I didn't mean that they were toadying, merely that they did assent, which indicates that TEC has no support or place in the AC. Indeed, I would assume their assent was sincere, which indicates such a great gap in priorities as to be unbridgeable.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Sunday, 17 January 2016 at 9:12pm GMT

@ Adam Armstrong, you parish council analogy is not a good one. This was a meeting of Primates which has probably acted ultra vires. There was a vote with a majority and minority split. A better analogy would be a commission in which a minority report is issued or a Supreme Court case in which there is a majority minority decision and one or more judges writes for the minority.

The moment was lost. As soon as the decision was leaked ( a politcal PR manipulation) minority Primates could have stepped outside with their own statement focusing, not so much on the decision itself, but on their dissent from the whole illegitimate process.

What I would liked to have heard from my Primate Fred Hiltz is a clear statement that Canada is governed by a synodical process and that our Church will continue to respect its own polity and process without fear or favor, without foreign intimidation.

This whole process has been a flawed confusing politically orchestrated amateur hour misadventure. No one is required to respect it.

When the meeting was first announced my thought was that the Canadian and American Primates ought not to attend because anyone could see this was a trap. They walked right into it. They might consider getting better advisers; but maybe Primates don't cotton to advice. Political hubris has not been and is not unknown among prelates.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 17 January 2016 at 10:50pm GMT

"As soon as the decision was leaked ( a political PR manipulation) minority Primates could have stepped outside with their own statement focusing, not so much on the decision itself, but on their dissent from the whole illegitimate process"

Thank you, Rod Gillis.
That would still have enabled TEC to be saint-like and accept the illegitimate conclusion, but it would at least have set the official record straight.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 18 January 2016 at 11:00am GMT
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