Thinking Anglicans

report from Bishop Pierre Whalon

Updated Monday

In addition to the report from Bishop Jim Kelsey, there is now a very long report indeed from Bishop Pierre Whalon, who is Bishop of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe.

That is available as a Word document at Long note on the Situation, March 2007.doc. Again it is strongly recommended reading.

Update Monday
Another version of the full article now appears on Anglicans Online at A Bishop’s Estimate of the Situation.

Much of that report is concerned with the Anglican historical background to current events, but his account of the recent American House of Bishops meeting is not too long to reproduce here:

Our House’s meeting

Finally we come to the present moment, from the “big picture” to the details. The February 2007 Primates’ Communiqué made several specific demands of The Episcopal Church’s bishops, to be met by September 30. The Communiqué asked for clarification of the bishops’ intentions to abide by the decisions of the 2006 and 2003 General Conventions not to accept the consecrations of other partnered gay bishops or create rites of same-sex blessings. Furthermore, it proposed appointing a pastoral council composed of two foreign bishops and two bishops appointed by the Presiding Bishop, chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which would oversee the ministry of a “primatial vicar,” a bishop to represent the Presiding Bishop to seven of the church’s one hundred ten dioceses and parishes in other dioceses that do not accept her ministry.

Ephraim Radner, a conservative Episcopal theologian appointed to the newly-formed Covenant Design Group, told the Episcopal bishops that everything boils down to trust. He presented the Covenant process as a way to create trust again. He is of course quite right. However, there have been many developments, some even during the meeting, which contributed to eroding trust.

First, The Episcopal Church has been held to the standards of Lambeth I.10 and the Windsor Report, which some of those demanding a reckoning from us have themselves ignored:

  • Some provinces have given full support and encouragement in their respective nations to draconian legislation criminalizing people for being gay which has been unanimously condemned by the world’s human-rights organizations, in blatant disregard of the Lambeth resolution we are accused of violating. Had the Primates’ Communiqué addressed this firmly, it would have had much greater credibility.
  • Some primates and other foreign bishops since 2000 have been coming into our dioceses (and Italy as well) despite requests from the respective diocesans that they should not. They have wreaked havoc by setting up illicit non-geographical jurisdictions and making grandiose promises to clergy and people, thus violating not only the Windsor Report conditions (para. 155), but also the unanimous practice of Anglicans, and indeed the Church Catholic since the First Council of Nicea.

(We would all do well to remember the Lord’s instruction: before removing the speck of sawdust from your brother or sister’s eye, pay attention to the great wooden log in your own (Mt. 7:3-5; Lk 6: 41-42).)

The Communiqué seemed to “move the markers” again, by sweeping aside the scheme set up by the bishops for dissenting congregations (“delegated episcopal pastoral oversight,” which the Windsor Report had commended) in favor of this council. There was no appreciation that the Constitution of The Episcopal Church requires unconditionally that any clergy exercising within the church must swear to “conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship” of the Church (Article VIII). Can one reasonably demand something of a bishop which he or she has no power to grant, and then complain about the bishop’s unwillingness to work with them?

The first day the bishops convened to consider the Communiqué (March 16) was also announced as the last day for nominations to fill the pastoral council, as if the Episcopal bishops had already acquiesced to it. Perhaps it was thought that Bishop Katharine had agreed to the scheme, which in any event she has no authority to do. In fact, she reported (and others can confirm) that she only agreed to take it to her House of Bishops.

Furthermore, despite a report from their own Standing Committee that The Episcopal Church through its General Convention had accepted the restrictions on it required by the Windsor Report, the Primates seemed to demand more assurances. And the Communiqué threatened implicitly that if the bishops did not accede to all its demands, the setting up of alternative jurisdictions within the American province would continue unabated.

Further erosion of trust occurred when it was learned that the Archbishop of Uganda was in Los Angeles during our meeting to administer confirmation in three of the diocese’s congregations. The Bishop of Los Angeles asserted that he had written “twenty to thirty” letters to him, none of which had received the favor of a reply.

A report from bishops working on the matter of property disputes produced several documents from the Anglican Communion Network, an organization specifically set up to promote the replacement of The Episcopal Church, which works closely with those Primates who have taken it upon themselves to “fix” us. These outlined plans for the subversion of the Church from within. The last document reportedly had the phrase, “Wage guerilla warfare in The Episcopal Church,” allegedly in the hand of the Network’s Moderator, Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh.

In light of these provocations, I think our Statement was quite moderate, though some of the language sounds a bit jingoist (“liberation from colonialism” is not how most Church of England colonists saw the American Revolution). In all our resolutions, we affirmed our deep desire to remain within the Anglican Communion, while declining to participate in a scheme we had no authority to accept, a plan which would have de facto grounded the schism some long to see.

Update Saturday
Fr Jake has an article The Subversion of the Church From Within which contains links to numerous documents which relate to some of the points made in the article above.

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Laurence Roberts
Laurence Roberts
17 years ago

Very good to read the words of Pierre Whalon, putting the Dar es Salaam meeting and its statement and demands into context. Every meeting, every statment, every document has a context without which it is hard to make complete sense of it. It is so important not be left to take Dar at face value, any more than Lambeth 1.10. This now being seen, more and more, in its context of of non-democratic impostion on the gathering. The truth and moral legitemacy of any position or teaching depends on whre it can from and how it came into being. The… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
Leonardo Ricardo
17 years ago

Thanks to Simon Sarmiento for providing all this information and references / links…Laurence Roberts

Yes, Simon Sarmiento for all that you do to bring us vital news in the REAL! These last few days/daze have been revealing with all the eye popping/mind expanding discoveries!

Truth is a moral basic and being truthful and accurate beats the heck out of feardriven posturing/preaching and poaching on other peoples property…thank you!

17 years ago

First, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the rest of the Primates Standing Committee should accept to meet with the American bishops. Bishop Pierre Whalon Let’s hope Rowan Williams finds time. He might want to take two months extra study leave and reflection to think about things. As for the background, there is a simpler less specific analysis. Whether a diffuse or rationalist view of secularisation and pluralism is held, with either an impact of reduced numbers attending or evident within the churches among members (UK more the first, US more the second), some sort or response is required. One response… Read more »

Fr Joe O'Leary
Fr Joe O'Leary
17 years ago

Yes, these American bishops are startlingly eloquent and lucid and are pouring floods of light on what went wrong in Tanzania and why it went wrong. We have seen no matching eloquence and lucidity from the defenders of Tanzania, if there are any. Even if the murk could be cleared up, it would still remain true that the scandal of the Primates meeting for a week to discuss homosexuality, and failing to advert to the persecution of gays under their very noses, is a real one.

17 years ago

Let she who has ears and mind and heart and body, hear what the Spirit is saying to our churches.

Cheryl Clough
17 years ago

Fr Joe, and from reading Fr Jake’s excellent blog, these problems were going on decades ago. The core accusations might change, but the core players keep being aligned along the same lines, with the same tactics. After seeing the comment the other day about adopting the millenium goals to buy votes, I wonder if they have moderated down on women to buy votes? Any one who thinks that the repression of women would be turned back by these people is naive. If they succeed in repressing GLBTs, they will then turn their attention on their next targets. e.g. women or… Read more »

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