Comments: Archbishop of Canterbury criticises cross-border interventions

It seems to me that Archbishop Justin's position on cross border interventions would be much easier to understand if it had not been for the Columba Agreement debacle and his enthusiastic support for the agreement.

It caused great disturbance and discord. It is difficult to think of a better way of describing it.

Posted by Kelvin Holdsworth at Monday, 12 June 2017 at 12:19am BST

This is interesting news. It is just a shame that the Archbishop didn't see fit to publish his letter to make clear to the world his views. GAFCON are, after all, not backwards in coming forwards when they have plans in hand, and this response is very significant. I wonder if Lambeth will now make the full text available?

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Monday, 12 June 2017 at 6:40am BST

Too little. Too late.

Kelvin is right.

Fr John Emlyn

Posted by Fr John E. Harris-White at Monday, 12 June 2017 at 8:05am BST

This comes a decade too late.

If cross-border interventions in England are disruptive, then why were they not disruptive to the Episcopal Church as well?

Where was the Archbishop of Canterbury then?

Or do Archbishops of Canterbury only act when it is the Church of England's ox that is gored?

And what might that mean, for Cantuar's symbolic firstness in the Communion?

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 12 June 2017 at 12:43pm BST

I have been an Anglican of one or another stripe all my life, but I am always struck by the absurdity of the various "church unity" and "provincial jurisdiction" argument when spouted by Anglicans. To quote from the article, the ABoC "quoted the ‘uncompromising’ verdict of the early Church’s First Council of Nicea in 325 AD"

By that same "uncompromising" verdict, the ABoC must turn over, at the very least, all the parishes in continental Europe, and arguably, all the parishes of the CoE, to the Roman Catholic Church (or the Orthodox). The CoE (and by extension, the entire Anglican Communion) was formed by planting bishops in the jurisdiction of other bishops. (And yes, I do realize that the history is rather more complicated than that, but the end result is that every AC jurisdiction has several bishops. In the case of Europe, the jurisdictions have bishops of both CoE and TEC, as well as Roman and (in some cases several) Orthodox, plus various Lutheran and other Protestant denominations or national churches.

Posted by TJ McMahon at Monday, 12 June 2017 at 1:58pm BST

I had forgotten about the Columba Agreement; Kelvin makes a good point.

Apparently, the Archbishop of Canterbury is the only one allowed to engage in cross-border interventions.

"L'eglise, c'est moi."

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 12 June 2017 at 2:53pm BST

Would TJ McMahon care to name just one of the C of E "parishes in continental Europe" to which s/he refers? I think s/he may be confusing parishes with chaplaincies which, although identified geographically, were established to serve expatriate congregations, rather than to vie with indigenous churches.

Posted by John Barton at Monday, 12 June 2017 at 4:55pm BST

"The CoE (and by extension, the entire Anglican Communion) was formed by planting bishops in the jurisdiction of other bishops."

How so? There were no bishops in most of England when Augustine came here. The hierarchy that began then continues as the hierarchy of the Church of England. The Bishop of Rome intruded another hierarchy in the mid-19th century.

Similarly there were no bishops of any denomination in most of the places where the Anglican Communion now exists. For example, much of North America was colonised from England, and there were no RC bishops there when the Bishop of London was given jurisdiction there.

As for Europe, the diocese itself is somewhat anomalous, but the See is Gibraltar, and the bishop has no parishes under his jurisdiction, but a collection of non-territorial chaplaincies.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Monday, 12 June 2017 at 5:06pm BST

I will concede to being an American and often misusing the word "parish" to refer to any congregation. Clearly several here are more conversant in the nuances of parishes, missions, chaplaincies and such. My apologies.

Posted by TJ McMahon at Monday, 12 June 2017 at 5:50pm BST

"... much of North America was colonized from England"

Simon, I'm sure Bishop Laval, amongst others, would have something to say about that, and with good reason. Thankfully, today the Bishops of Quebec are on pretty good terms. In fact, in the Anglican Cathedral in Quebec City, there is a stall in the choir specifically for the RC Bishop of Quebec directly opposite the Anglican Bishop's cathedra.

Posted by Garry Lovatt at Monday, 12 June 2017 at 7:35pm BST

As others have noted, where was Welby's concern for cross-border incursions when the incursions were made against the Episcopal Church in the US? Did he think that Episcopalians are any less able to "express a range of views" than worshippers in the UK are?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Monday, 12 June 2017 at 8:06pm BST

Garry: thanks, I had hoped that my "much of" was enough to cover any jurisdiction in Quebec without lengthening my comment further. And there are other likely exceptions, such as South America. But in general, I think Anglican missionaries plied their trade, like their colonising colleagues, in lands where Christianity and white men had not previously travelled. Isn't that so?

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Monday, 12 June 2017 at 9:52pm BST

Actually, Simon, the French got much farther than Quebec long before the English arrived. French explorers and missionaries made it about as far as the Rockies in what is now Canada, and it's worth noting the extent of territory sold by France to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. And, of course, the Spanish initially claimed a fair bit of territory in what is now the United States. In fact, I should think that Anglican missionaries as the first "white men" in any section of North America would be very much the exception to the rule. In most of the continent the English were the second wave of Europeans to arrive, not the first.

That said, the real issue here is boundary crossing by Anglicans into another Anglican Province, and not Anglican missionaries arriving where others had already preceded them.

Posted by Alan T Perry at Monday, 12 June 2017 at 11:04pm BST

I suppose, Simon, one would have to sort one's way through the complex history of papal claims of jurisdiction and colonial history to answer your question, remembering that the Pope viewed his jurisdiction sufficiently universal that he felt at ease about dividing the non-Christian world between Portugal and Spain. And of course there was a Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska in colonial times, although westerners didn't pay much attention to that.

Obviously adherence to Nicea has been spotty to say the least and I doubt it will move our current renegade bishops, who don't really believe in bishops anyway, except as tools of personal power.

What I can say with some confidence is that the Diocese of Quebec began as an Apostolic Vicariate in 1658 and was raised to the status of a diocese not many years later. By 1712 its territory was defined as the entirety of North America to the Gulf Mexico with the exception of the Spanish colony of Florida and the relatively insignificant British territory on the Atlantic coast from present day Maine south.

Posted by Garry Lovatt at Tuesday, 13 June 2017 at 12:38am BST

'How so? There were no bishops in most of England when Augustine came here.'

Mr Kershaw, there were British bishops present at the council of Arles in 314, a fair number of them if memory serves, but I have no Denzinger at hand, though of course there was no England at the time.

Posted by Lorenzo at Tuesday, 13 June 2017 at 7:16am BST

"As others have noted, where was Welby's concern for cross-border incursions when the incursions were made against the Episcopal Church in the US?"

I don't think it's really fair to criticise Justin Welby for this, considering that ACNA was founded in 2009, and he didn't even become a bishop until 2011, never mind Archbishop of Canterbury.

Posted by Chris Routledge at Tuesday, 13 June 2017 at 7:33am BST

"the bishop has no parishes under his jurisdiction, but a collection of non-territorial chaplaincies"

A "collection" meaning, in this instance, nearly 300. In several large archdeaconries. In the largest diocese in the Anglican Communion.

It is also not that obvious how strictly "territorial parishes" exist much in modern days. Is a chaplaincy really all that different? In some ways in Europe they may even be more territorial in character, however one refers to them.

Posted by crs at Tuesday, 13 June 2017 at 8:45am BST

I am not sure if it is similar to the split in the Episcopal Church in the US as this split was initially internal - within the US, and the internal body that split appealed for inter-provincial oversight support albeit not from the COE. The Episcopal Church also chose to overlook the recommendations from the Anglican Communion in general not to proceed down the theological path they chose.

It doesn't seem to me that the COE in England has reached such a point yet. Firstly, as stated on the matter of sexuality no matter how much debated etc nothing has altered in church canon law or position. Secondly, because of this a 'missionary' Bishop hardly seems appropriate simply because of women being allowed into the episcopacy in England when a Bishop for congregations of this viewpoint already exists.

As far as I am aware neither the US Episcopal Church or ACNA are against women standing for ordination or the episcopacy, however, I am open to correction?

As for Scotland.... As for leaking an Archbishops private letter...

Posted by Cathy at Tuesday, 13 June 2017 at 9:00am BST

Cathy, even as to the CofE, consider Jesmond and the take-note debate.

The Episcopalians in Scotland of course have just chosen to overlook the "recommendations" you describe.

And considering that the Anglican Communion is nothing more than a family of churches, the "recommendations" were never more than a type of border-crossing interference themselves.

Mind you, given that the Anglican Communion is nothing more than a family of churches, I do not consider the position against border crossings to be very strong. The provinces lack authority to prevent each other from consecrating missionary bishops; it's more a matter of courtesy.

The CofE countenanced sauce for the goose for a decade or more. Indeed Rowan Williams interfered at a General Convention.

But sauce for the gander? Heaven forbid!

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 13 June 2017 at 10:31am BST

The situation in Europe is routinely invoked concerning overlapping jurisdictions. Both the late Bishop Geoffrey Rowell and I made it clear that our ministries are the jurisdiction of people, not geography. We also agreed that non-geographical jurisdictions are a generally bad idea,

See e.g.,

Posted by Pierre Whalon at Tuesday, 13 June 2017 at 10:37am BST

The Roman Catholic bishop of Quebec was very welcoming when the Anglican bishop arrived. Of course, the Anglican bishop was seen as ministering only to the relatively small English community in Quebec and not as being out to convert the French, which didn't happen. When it comes to various bishops invading other jurisdictions, look no further than the various ethnic Orthodox bishops and dioceses that overlap in much of the world. However, none of this is the same thing as a deliberate incursion into another territory with claims to be bringing "true religion" and rescuing people from those treat gay people as God's creation.

Posted by Adam Armstrong at Tuesday, 13 June 2017 at 1:57pm BST

Sibling Cathy, the ACNA has had internal differences regarding ordination of women. This goes back before ACNA to differences within the AMiA. The primates who participated in ordaining the first AMiA bishops represented different positions on ordaining women, and they struggled with that for a while. The varied heritages of bishops in ACNA - Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Southeast Asia, Southern Cone - have affected this. I don't know that it is resolved for all of ACNA at this point.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Tuesday, 13 June 2017 at 2:33pm BST

Cathy, FYI the ACNA does not ordain women to the episcopate.

The ACNA follows a local option principle -- diocese by diocese -- regarding ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood.

You can find this policy here:

<a href=""

They've just had a major multi-year study of the subject, which produced a long report and recommended no change. You can, if you are interested, find their report here:

<a href=""

Posted by jnwall at Tuesday, 13 June 2017 at 4:54pm BST

Yes, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander…I think it’s time for people to recognize the obvious. It’s time for the more progressive (i.e., forward-looking, 21st century-oriented) Anglican provinces, (such as TEC and ECS), to offer “alternative episcopal oversight” to the liberal Anglicans in places like Nigeria and Uganda; surely there must be a few such people in Africa and Asia. We should begin to cease funding in any way those backward jurisdictions that have been interfering in our Churches for decades, and begin supporting and funding those clergy and congregations there that will at least agree to disagree on certain issues. Defund the bigots. Consecrate alternative bishops to the bigot bishops. Help the progressive congregations. Let ACNA et al fund the bigots and yahoos if they are so inclined…

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by Kurt Hill at Tuesday, 13 June 2017 at 6:01pm BST

Correct me if I'm mistaken, but schism and border crossing are schism and border crossing, whatever the justification of those who use it. Historically, justifications have included, theological differences, ethnic and language differences, and so on. But the basic principle is that you only function in a bishop's territory with the consent and approval of that bishop. OTOH, it seems there have always been bishops who wrap themselves in one kind of justification or another, attempting to make their favoured justification into a trump card that cloaks a failure to observe not only the rule of law, but also the rules of courtesy and love. They just think they know better, perhaps even than God, end of story, period. In one way or another they walk and try to pin the blame on someone else. (Remember, Flip Wilson's characters Geraldine who always said, "The devil made me do it.")

Posted by Garry Lovatt at Tuesday, 13 June 2017 at 8:16pm BST

Didn't stop John Wesley. The gospel knows no boundaries.

Posted by Steve T at Thursday, 15 June 2017 at 9:13am BST

"Didn't stop John Wesley. ..." Interesting. Seems to me that the story of John Wesley exhibits a want of love on both sides. What is the Gospel if not the Gospel of love, and love respects boundaries - as St. Paul taught, it both respects boundaries and is not possesive of boundaries.

Posted by Garry Lovatt at Friday, 16 June 2017 at 2:34pm BST
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