Thinking Anglicans

Two views of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme had an excellent segment on the recent conference, by Gavin Drake. Available as a podcast from this page. The segment starts about 4 minutes into the programme.

Here’s the BBC blurb:

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, meeting in London, say they’ll offer alternative spiritual leadership to dissaffected members of the Church of England. They also want an alternative to the Archbishop of Canterbury as chairman of the Anglican primates meeting. Is this a way of keeping the Anglican communion together or splitting it asunder?

Paul Bagshaw has written an analysis on his blog, at Reading the FoCA tea leaves. He concludes the article thus:

…Therefore there will be no schism in the sense of one organization separating itself out from another on a certain day, followed immediately by either or both bodies setting up new structures and legal identities.

Instead there will be a steady continued tearing of the fabric as distinct ecclesial units (parishes, dioceses and provinces as well as individuals) align themselves explicitly with the FoCA. The legalities will depend on the law of each country (property and pensions being governed by secular law) and on the ecclesiastical structure of each Church.

I anticipate that the FoCA churches will thrive, purposeful and enthusiastic for at least the medium-term foreseeable future. It will thus be self-legitimating.

On the other hand I guess the remaining churches will flounder for a while before accepting the reality that there will be no accommodation between the two Anglican entities. Then they too will revise their own relationships, structures and communications and will settle into the new geography of Anglicanism where, in most places, there will be one dominant Anglican Church and a minority owing allegiance to its mirror image.

I don’t think who is appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury will make much difference to this process – except, perhaps, to the timing.

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John
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John

We fight our fights, and it is certainly very important that we do, and that ‘the good’ prevails. On the other hand, one is struck – not constantly but periodically – that groups such as FoCA (how sonically resonant is that?) don’t really, ultimately want to tear the thing apart.

John B. Chilton
Guest

Bagshaw writes, inaccurately (a strong word, meant only to mean precision matters): “The legalities will depend on the law of each country (property and pensions being governed by secular law) and on the ecclesiastical structure of each Church.”

At least in the United States, although property issues are settled by secular law the courts have consistently relied on the ecclesiastical structure of The Episcopal Church in their rulings. Specifically, we are a hierarchical church and property is held in trust. It does not belong to the parish. The same has held for dioceses in cases thus far settled (e.g., Pittsburgh).

Daniel Berry, NYC
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Daniel Berry, NYC

I can’t get over it. I just can’t get over how many people are working so many ways to exclude us queers. Just amazing.

Fr John Harris-White
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Fr John Harris-White

Jesus wept over Jerusalem, how he must today weep,over us. He tells us in todays gospel reading; He is the Way , the Truth and the Life. The gospel message for all his children, regardless of gender, and sexual orientation or race. Yet the pharisees of today seek to divide His church with their narrow minded thinking, and lack of Grace. Dear George vi used to call us to days of prayer during the dark days of the war. The one thing the ABC today could do, is to call the whole Anglican Communion to a day od prayer, penitence,… Read more »

ettu
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ettu

My simplistic brain always felt that the Nicene Creed was confessional enough. It is interesting that a group has decided to add to it – a bit presumptuous of them in my opinion

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“we are a hierarchical church and property is held in trust” — so holds +Jack Iker. At issue is the precise *character* of hierarchy (is the Diocesan the authority or something called a ‘national church’?). The TX Supreme Court is weighing this very issue at present. It will probably make a decision in the latter months of this year.

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

y’know, I thought “confessional” was a way of expressing belief that Anglicans had decided we could do without–much as we did with the papacy. Obviously, it’s meant here to exclude. Hasn’t there been enough of that?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Dr. Seitz:

Since the vast majority of dioceses in the Episcopal Church were created by action (in one way or another) of the national church in General Convention (only a relative handful predate the first GC), and since every diocesan vows to adhere to the canons of the national church upon his consecration, I fail to see any question in the matter at all.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

This is why it will be good to have the TX Supreme Court review the matter. To say that Dioceses are received into a voluntary association of course says nothing about what courts look for in ‘supremacy.’

General Convention as the Hierarch? So GC is suing in TX?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Then they (non-Gafcon Churches) too will revise their own relationships, structures and communications and will settle into the new geography of Anglicanism where, in most places, there will be one dominant Anglican Church and a minority owing allegiance to its mirror image” – Paul Bagshaw – In the wake of the FCA/GAFCON Meeting in London, this comment by Paul Bagshaw may indeed reflect what might seem to be the only rational process open to the remaining ‘faithful’ Provinces of the Anglican Communion (including TEC and A.C. of C.) The GAFCON/FAC self-proclaimed ‘Elect & Orthodox’, despite their faux-preference for a continuing… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Dr. Seitz:

GC is the governing body of TEC (akin, I suppose, to a legislature). The Presiding Bishop, obviously, presides in an executive capacity. All other bishops report to her (at the moment, sometimes it’s “him”). If that’s not a hierarchy, I’m confused as to what you think it might otherwise be.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

Dr Seitz, dioceses don’t create themselves, nor do bishops consecrate themselves. Pretending that they are independent entities who voluntarily associate themselves with the Episcopal Church is just that – pretending.

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

Fr Smith’s comment puts me in mind of a similarity between the GAFCON “churches” and the scene at the end of the last volume of the Chronicles of Narnia, (“The Last Battle”). The stubbornness of the dwarves prevents their being able to believe in Aslan–or even in the Good News of liberation Aslan brings to them as much as to all the other creatures of Narnia, regardless of their past, if they will only accept it. Perhaps Lewis had in mind the words of Yahweh to Isaiah at Isaiah’s commission, “…make the heart of this people fat lest they see… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Just so we’re clear about what the Texas Supreme Court is being asked to do: It’s being asked to determine federal law.

This means that if the Texas Supreme Court disagrees with how other state courts have resolved similar issues, then there’s a disagreement about federal law that the United States Supreme Court might want to resolve.

And the current U.S. Supreme Court is majority Catholic.

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
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Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

Repeating what I posted yesterday at another site, for years secessionist congregations and groupings have been fighting law suits coast to coast and have won just one, qualified, victory (apropos of nothing AMiA, the victor, is currently imploding acrimoniously). The basic principle behind the cases has been to go through the court systems, one state after another, playing the “sling it against the wall and see if it sticks” game. Hasn’t stuck so far and looks very much as though this suit, aimed at the relatively conservative Texas courts, is seen by our buddies at the ever-so-slightly-self-important Anglican Communion Institute… Read more »

Douglas Lewis
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Douglas Lewis

Mr Berry, that is as tendentious a reading of the scene as I have ever come across.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Ms O’Neill “All other bishops report to her” — it’s precisely this kind of fantasy-land thinking, frequently seen now as autopilot group-speak, that needs pruning. No, Diocesan Bishops do not ‘report’ to the Presiding Bishop. They have their own canons. They need give no money. Title IV was not received by Dallas, for example, because it was judged unconstitutional. Please just spend an afternoon reading the Constitution of TEC. Mr Dilworth. “Dr Seitz, dioceses don’t create themselves, nor do bishops consecrate themselves” — and this has what to do with an 815 hierarchy? When the dust settles on this present… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Jeremy–what you write is frankly incomprehensible. The TX Supreme Court is not doing anything but deciding whether to uphold a summary judgment. If it doesn’t the Diocese of Ft Worth will do as it wishes.

Good RC’s are fully aware of how the polity of their church functions and how it differs from others. What is becoming clearer to judges — see recently in Illinois and in SC — is that rough-and-ready distinctions between congregational and hierarchical polity need scrutiny. What kind of hierarchy does TEC have and what does its constitution read?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Dr. Seitz: By whom is a diocesan bishop disciplined when that becomes necessary (as, for example, in my own diocese of Pennsylvania)? By the PB, acting through the appropriate committees and functions of her office. If that’s not “reporting” to the PB, then what is it? As for what “dioceses don’t create themselves, nor do bishops consecrate themselves” has to do with hierarchy–well, since the PB is the principle consecrator, I thought that was obvious. And since dioceses are created by GC, as I noted earlier, and since GC is the governing body of TEC, it is clear to me… Read more »

dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

In connection with Dr. Seitz’s comments on the Episcopal Church as “hierarchical” or not. The Tennesee Court of Appeals recently rejected the claim the TEC was not hierarchical, but a voluntary organization of equal dioceses, based on a claim by 15 or so bishops, apparently the same group appearing in Texas. The court held that they were expressing mere opinion which contradicted the the church constitution and canons, which expressly provided otherwise The opinion can be read at http://episcopaldiocesefortworth.org/holystewardshipfiles/misc%20pdfs/St.%20Andrew's%20TN%20CA%20042512.pdf and the issue mentioned above is discussed at page 24. Frankly, I’ve never understood why this group thinks it’s a good… Read more »

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
Guest
Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

Interesting link, Dr Primrose. I find it a little inconsistent that groups and individuals who have consistently assailed TEC for its failure to extirpate the heresies of Spong and others by top-down hierarchical action, now claim categorically that the church is not hierarchical.

Cseitz
Guest
Cseitz

Title IV Ms Oneill. Discipline by fellow Bishops. All equally subject. No hierarch. PB not supreme authority. Collegial discipline. Very unhierarchical. True to C and C.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

Dr Seitz, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that a single hierarch is necessary for a Church to be considered a hierarchical body under the law. It does not. For example, Presbyterians are considered as a hierarchical body (search for “Presbyterian” on the very interesting link that Dr. Primrose links to). In short, the powers of the PB don’t seem to be of much importance in this discussion.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“the powers of the PB don’t seem to be of much importance in this discussion.” How odd. Seemed to be important to Ms O’Neill. I’ll let her respond to you.

So who/what is the hierarch/hierarchy? Who has ‘standing’ to bring suit on behalf of said hierarchy and where does the C/C set that forth so a court could read it?

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
Guest
Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

Concern that there may be a Godwin’s Law corollary regarding comparison to King Lear forces me to restrain myself.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Dr. Seitz:

As one who is very protective of his own titles, please be advised that I am MISTER O’Neill, thank you.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Sorry Mr ONeill, Professor Seitz

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“So who/what is the hierarch/hierarchy? Who has ‘standing’ to bring suit on behalf of said hierarchy and where does the C/C set that forth so a court could read it?” Dr Seitz, I’m more than a little surprised that we’re having such trouble here, since everything seems to be spelled out pretty clearly in Title I of the Canons. At the top of the hierarchy is the General Convention, which is the highest governing authority in the Church. Because that body only meets once in three years, the day-to-day implementation of its policies and taking order for the Church are… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“are delegated to the Executive Council under the leadership of the Presiding Bishop” — you language is roughly correct and it shows where the slippage is. Courts look for the language of supremacy, and clarity about legal standing. At issue is whether General Convention is a) a *supreme authority* over Bishops/dioceses (you have basically presumed that; Dallas, eg, did not receive the Title IV notion of GC because it judged it unconstitutional; will it be brought under discipline by General Convention? No), b) has delegated its already highly specified kind of role to a PB in such a straightforward way,… Read more »

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
Guest
Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

Dallas’s “judging” Title IV to be unconstitutional has no more to do with its legality than do the continuing, legally exorbitant ($500,000 and counting since the consecration of Mark Lawrence) revisionist goings-on in the diocese of SC.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Reference to TEC has rather clear language revealing the Constitutional authority mandating how dioceses must operate, and that their authority to act is “declared” by the General Convention, and the first place given to the Constitution AND CANONS of the General Convention over any diocesan canons. Article V clearly states in its opening line that the formation of new dioceses requires the consent of General Convention, under conditions it alone sets by Canon. Article X sets the authority to create and amend the BCP, and enforce its use in all Dioceses, with the General Convention. Article IX gives General Convention… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest
Tobias Haller

I think I lost something at the opening of my comment. It ought to have read, “Reference to Article IV of the Constitution of TEC…”

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

What the Texas Supreme Court will need to determine is whether what is being alleged by revisionists seeking hierarchical authority for a PB/GC (a) is true, and (b) if by saying so they have had to conduct an investigation prohibited by the First Amendment. This will be an important ruling. (TN is a different case, involving a parish and not a diocese; TEC is not bringing it).

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

I find it amusing that Dr. Seitz thinks those supporting a hierarchical structure for the Episcopal Church are the “revisionists”. I suspect this would confuse the writers of the constitution and canons no end.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“if by saying so they have had to conduct an investigation prohibited by the First Amendment. This will be an important ruling.”

Not to be thick, but who’s the “they” here – the Episcopal Church or the Southern Cone folk?

Tobias Haller
Guest
Tobias Haller

I would think that reference to the Act of General Convention which ratified the formation of the Diocese of Fort Worth in 1982 would be sufficient to demonstrate the relationship between the diocese and the General Convention. The GC resolution rested on certification that the diocese in formation had complied with all requirements of the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention and of the Diocese of Dallas from which it was separating, all in accord with the Constitution of TEC. It is incorrect to refer to dioceses as “creatures” of the General Convention. But there can be no doubt… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Mr Dilworth. Read the Amicus. Who? TX Supreme Court.

Mr Haller. ‘Governed’ — and just how? When the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas voted not to receive the General Convention wisdom on Title IV, how was it governed by it? The conflation you represent (GC and C/C) is too facile. EDoD simply concluded it was governed by the Constitution and in the light of that judged the Title IV presumptions of GC null.

So, if ‘governed’ by GC, how will GC render a judgment in this instance? And probably more importantly, prosecute it?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Dr. Seitz:

I suspect that if the EDoD continues to refuse to follow GC’s interpretation of Title IV, it might find itself with a bishop under disciplinary investigation and a standing committee replaced. Both of those entities took oaths to abide by the decisions of GC.

Or, is your attitude toward these things like that of Andrew Jackson regarding Supreme Court decisions?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“We are an Episcopal Church. Not a metropolitan church or a presbyterian church.” – cseitz –

Precisely, as in Episcopal with a House of Bishops, who, under General Convention, help to govern a hierarchical Church – such as TEC. TEC is not just a collection of independent Dioceses, but a centrally-governed Episcopal Church. (i.e. ‘hierarchical’ as defined by the courts). End of story.

n.b. A.C.I. (e.g.) is NOT a Church – just a few individuals electing to speak for a Church – TEC.

Tobias Haller
Guest
Tobias Haller

Dr. Seitz, the action of the DoD in failing to endorse the Canons is a nullity. If and when someone actually does something in violation of those Canons, a charge could be brought. There is no “consent” process to endorse the revisions to the Constitution and Canons, and dioceses are bound by them even if their deputies and bishops vote against them at the session of GC, or refuse to attend. The subtitle of the Constitution and Canons — which are under the sole control and authorship of the General Convention — is “For the Government of the Protestant Episcopal… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“I suspect that if the EDoD continues to refuse to follow GC’s interpretation of Title IV, it might find itself with a bishop under disciplinary investigation and a standing committee replaced” — No, if they and erred and strayed it is obligatory that they be disciplined *right now.* That is what the new Title IV requires. Will this happen? No. Why not? a) no money — see budget for 2013-15 and its concession on this point, and b) precisely the canonical confusion of Title IV and GC as such, vis-a-vis the Constitution and Diocesan allegiance to it, c) it wouldn’t… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

Dr Seitz, can you point to an author from ECUSA’s past who supported the idea that the diocese is not subject to GC, or that diocesans could lead their dioceses out of the Church at will? And wouldn’t you expect for such ability to be at least mentioned in the C&C? Neither of those documents even hint at the power to secede, AFAICT. Personally, I find it puzzling that any bishop would think he had the right to leave at will, with or without his diocese, given the fact that bishops can’t even resign jurisdiction without the approval of the… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“the action of the DoD in failing to endorse the Canons is a nullity” — for purposes of expediency, it might make sense for you, Dilworth, O’Neill and others to appoint a spokesperson. You don’t agree amongst yourself. It isn’t a nullity in EDoD. It has full effect. “There is no consent process” — of course there is. See EDoD. It was duty bound to reject Title IV because it judged it unconstitutional. So too SC. Are you claiming that a tribunal will be appointed to make EDoD comply? When will that happen? Who will be on it? How will… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“Oaths to abide by the decisions of GC! Find that in the Constitution.”

It’s not in the Constitution, yes…but it’s in the Canons, which are–to use an analogy–the laws written under the aegis of the Constitution. If a diocese objects to a part of the Canon, its course of action–as noted by Tobias–is to make a motion at GC to revise the Canons.

Or, Dr. Seitz, do you believe the proper method to deal with an unconstitutional statute (on the secular level) is to ignore it or even to violate it?

Tobias Haller
Guest
Tobias Haller

I think it best to note some facts the truth of which is I think evident to any careful student of our polity: The Constitution gives full authority to the General Convention to create canons, and to amend the Constitution itself. There is neither a Constitutional nor Canonical diocesan consent process for the Canons of General Convention. Opinions on the unconstitutionality of a canon, made by individuals, dioceses, or anyone apart from General Convention are just that: opinions. Expressing such opinions against portions of the Canons is not in itself an Offense. If and when an actual offense is committed,… Read more »

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

At their ordination in TEC, bishops, priests, and deacons declare, “I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.” (BCP 513, 526, 538; Constitution, Article VIII). The doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church are established by General Convention. I leave to others to attempt to convincingly parse the difference between a solemn declaration and an oath.

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
Guest
Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

My, how “three guys and a website” has changed in five years. Had I made a comment along the lines of “you know about as much about the polity of TEC as I do about the history of New Zealand”, I would have been quite surprised had it passed scrutiny and been posted. Am I a little old-fashioned in expecting that those who dramatically uphold the importance of tradition would include common courtesy among those traditions?

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

If a sloppily constructed canon or resolution appears from the GC process–hardly a surprise given its enthusiasms–it is hardly the remit of canonically ordered dioceses to acknowledge such work as constitutionally ‘correct but blemished’ and then send then back to GC for review. No, the job of canonically ordered dioceses, aware of the content of the Constitution, is to accept what they can and constrain in accordance with the Constitution’s plain sense. “That some of those laws may not be well crafted — or even wrong — is not at issue. The means to correct them lies with General Convention,… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

O’Neill “If a diocese objects to a part of the Canon, its course of action–as noted by Tobias–is to make a motion at GC to revise the Canons.” No. If a canon is unconstitutional, the conclusion is that GC overreached, was sloppy, thought of its role unconstitutionally. Let GC address its own procedural sloppiness vis-a-vis the Constitution. That would also help concentrate attention on its properly constrained role. This is not a burden for Dioceses to bear. They have their own burdens in respect of the Constitution and their own sovereign role in relation to it. Perhaps you can propose… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“If a diocese objects to a part of the Canon, its course of action–as noted by Tobias–is to make a motion at GC to revise the Canons.”

No. It simply requires the GC to do its business properly.

Its ‘course of action’ is to await proper GC work, within its limited remit.

If GC cannot follow this route, Dioceses cannot receive what it proposes. They are duty bound to attend to the Constitution.