Thinking Anglicans

A Statement from the Anglican Communion’s secretary-general

The following statement was issued by the Anglican Communion Office this afternoon.

The Anglican Communion Office has released this statement in response to recent comments on events leading up to the Anglican Consultative Council meeting, ACC-16.

  1. Statements circulating about a failure to follow up on the decisions of the January 2016 Primates meeting at best give a false impression. The terms of the Primates decision about The Episcopal Church (TEC) have been followed through as far as is possible and legal. To say otherwise is misleading and wrong.
  2. The Archbishop of Canterbury has fulfilled his responsibilities and asked those members of interfaith or ecumenical bodies who are from TEC and whose appointment he controls, to stand down, and they have done so. In addition, as required, he has appointed a Task Group with representatives from across the communion.
  3. Archbishop Justin has refused to engage in any public response to statements and speculation by any party in advance of the ACC, having maintained personal and private contact with the Primates since their meeting. It has always been his intention to speak directly and in person to the ACC members, respecting their role and responsibilities.
  4. A TEC representative whose attendance at the ACC Standing Committee has been commented on as breaching the decision of the Primates, was elected to the Standing Committee several years before the Primates’ meeting. As the Standing Committee is a Trustee body under English law, they cannot be removed without legal cause, and neither the Primates nor the ABC, nor indeed the ACC, can override the law.
  5. Under the Constitution of the ACC, no-one who is a recognised delegate from a member Province can be prevented from being nominated to the Standing Committee. However during their first day in session, Archbishop Justin presented a report to the ACC of the Primates meeting. As promised he requested the ACC to work with the Primates for the welfare of the whole Communion.
  6. He said “As Archbishop of Canterbury (a separate Instrument) I have acted on the Primates’ decision in those areas for which I have responsibility. It is both my and the Primates’ desire, hope and prayer that the Anglican Consultative Council should also share in working through the consequences of our impaired relationships.”
  7. There have also been suggestions of criminal action including forgery and corruption in which the Archbishop of Canterbury and Anglican Communion Office staff have been mentioned.
  8. It is the practice of the ACO to book the flights and cover the costs for all delegates attending ACC meetings, though some choose to cover their own costs. To imply that on this occasion this established practice is corrupt is disingenuous. Tickets were arranged well before any indications of non attendance by a small number of Provinces.
  9. The unsubstantiated public allegations of forgery against the members of the Kenyan delegation are scurrilous and untrue and are made in a manner against all biblical principles of appropriate behaviour.

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon,
The secretary general of the Anglican Communion

Madeleine Davies writes about the statement and its background for the Church Times: Secretary-general defends ACC against its critics.

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Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
5 years ago

Allegations of forgery and corruption? See how these Christians love one another.

Father Ron Smith
5 years ago

So much for the pro-GAFCON and pro-ACNA wbe-sites that have published such scurrilous material. They must be really desperate to maintain their offensive against the Anglican understanding of ‘Unity in Diversity’

Father Ron Smith
5 years ago

Good to read Madeleine Davies’ report on this odd situation. It should help to kill nasty rumours put out by ‘Anglican Ink’ and like pro-Gafcon websites.

Only one problem, Madeleine describes Archbishop Josiah as ‘secretary general of the ACC’, whereas, he is actually Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion.

Davis Mac-Iyalla
Davis Mac-Iyalla
5 years ago

African Archbishops /Bishops and their allies have been making unsubstantiated public allegations against LGBT Africans for a long time; sadly leaders of the Anglican Communion don’t want to notice that.
What has happened to the travel arrangements and flight tickets booked for the Nigeria delegates? Not the Archbishop, but the other delegates?
A Church that uses force and threats against their members is clearly promoting unbiblical principle.

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

“…a Trustee body under English law, they cannot be removed without legal cause.”

As previously noted, the lawyers have been at work; the words “law” or “legal” appearing frequently in this terse release. Things sound brittle.

Kate
Kate
5 years ago

Agree with cseitz. I think the ACC leadership is happy though that they have legal independence.

Jim Naughton
Jim Naughton
5 years ago

What interest me about this statement is the indirect admission that Bishop Mouneer Anis, a member of the Standing Committee, is boycotting the meeting because the Communion did not take action that, as a member of the Standing Committee, he should have known was against English law. I don’t know if that is cynicism or incompetence, but neither is a characteristic that one looks for on board of directors.

Jeremy
Jeremy
5 years ago

cseitz said, “the lawyers have been at work; the words ‘law’ or ‘legal’ appearing frequently in this terse release.”

Such a pity that registered charities must abide by English law.

Marshall Scott
5 years ago

Brother Seitz, brittle perhaps; but certainly clear. We should all appreciate that there would be considerations rising from the decision to incorporate the Anglican Communion Office.

This, too, in relation to any allegations of fraud: perhaps those introducing the word weren’t thinking in criminal terms, but the word does have those aspects. Archbishop Idowu-Fearon seems mostly to be “covering all the bases.” Beyond that, I’m working to apply Occam’s Razor.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
5 years ago

M’thinks trouble in Denmark (aka Kenya). Seems to be a vote of no confidence in their Archbishop. Always dangerous to be engaged with foreign affairs (away from Nairobi in the bush) when pressing home affairs should be consuming your attention. He has been wrong-footed by his Bishop of Nairobi. The post ACC-16 showdown will be interesting, but by then it will be academic. Is there a glint of common sense prevailing in some of these GAFCON provinces?

S Cooper
S Cooper
5 years ago

I’m not excited by this pyrrhic legal ‘victory’ …. What has been won? Nothing much. Welby won’t want to do without the support of a moderate like mouneer. It’s just a matter of time before the Primates impose their will – based on numbers. This is all a waste of time for liberals

Tim
Tim
5 years ago

Is the appearance of each of two words twice in a statement of this length (three of the four in one sentence in which they are practically unavoidable) really unnaturally frequent? Surely a tiny exaggeration, or have I missed something?

Father Ron Smith
5 years ago

” Is there a glint of common sense prevailing in some of these GAFCON provinces?” – Anthony Archer –

I think Anthony could be right – not amongst the Primates – who have their dignity to consider – but maybe among the Rank and File of the G. Provinces.

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

An international ecclesial gathering which needs to conform to the civil laws of one region.

Sounds like an eccentric ‘international erastianism.’

As for Kenya, the story is slowly emerging and it does not sound salutary in any manner.

BTW, there is nothing to be put down to difficulty with English, as +Josiah lives in London and uses English as his daily language, and has done for years. But this letter does sound intent to satisfy legal demands.

S Cooper
S Cooper
5 years ago

Mr Archer – the Kenyan view will be that western cash bought off a few people… Think they won’t be replaced quickly, think welby now doesn’t mind losing the GS?

Kate
Kate
5 years ago

“An international ecclesial gathering which needs to conform to the civil laws of one region.

Sounds like an eccentric ‘international erastianism.'”

Since there are assets involved the civil law of one country or other must apply to establish ownership. As it happens, English law of trusts seems like a very sensible choice.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is another instrument of communion and he is also quite obviously subject to English law.

Cynthia
Cynthia
5 years ago

Call me pollyanna, but I think Archbishop +Josiah is growing in wisdom and spirit. On the Episcopal News Services, there is an article about +Josiah lifting up TEC as an example of walking together. That certainly marks a better understanding of what TEC actually did (allows marriage to happen, doesn’t force anyone to participate, except bishops who have to make provisions). That’s a pretty interesting evolution for TEC, from “problem province” to “model for walking together.” The Anglican Communion Women wrote a statement that they intended to continue walking together with all their sisters, whatever the primates may do. So… Read more »

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Mr Gillis.

Or avoided these arrangements altogether. I thought the point obvious. The ACC wasn’t previously so rostered. An international legal arrangement — what on earth for?

cryptogram
cryptogram
5 years ago

As I have pointed out in the past, it is useful to remember that the Archbishop of Kenya’s Officer for Anglican Communion Affairs is an English priest not (apparently) in good standing with the CofE, having been minister in charge of an AMiE church plant, after a split with the diocese of Worcester. Such a filter might well colour the view taken in Nairobi.

Paul Waddington
Paul Waddington
5 years ago

I think that the very fact of putting out such a tetchy statement indicates that there are argumentative undercurrents at work. The ABC has done very well to keep the majority together so far, but I predict stormy seas (or sees) ahead.

The fact is that, by turning up, the US people have completely defied the meeting of primates, as they have done in the past and show every sign of doing in the future.

Jeremy
Jeremy
5 years ago

Being organised as a nonprofit may have economic advantages.

The fact that the ACC is a registered charity in one jurisdiction may lead to tax advantages in other jurisdictions.

Christopher Seitz
Christopher Seitz
5 years ago

Referenced in the actual (lawyer-ese) statement from +Josiah is the idea that ecclesial leaders cannot be removed because of civil statute considerations. If people think that is a good principle, they are free to hold that view. The Tractarian movement–following ancient principle–weighed in against this kind of arrangement. Just within the CofE alone. Leaving aside how this might work within an international ecclesial polity. Mr Gillis, I live in France and serve a parish in the Church of England. Your references to US politics seem gratuitous if directed to me. I am also directing dissertations in the University of Toronto… Read more »

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

“If it means” that ecclesial decisions cannot happen without threat of civil action or constraint…even for those provinces that have no legal standing or status in the UK, then that is a “typical, practical, prudent, responsible arrangement” so far as you are concerned.

I disagree. I imagine other provinces feel the same.

S Cooper
S Cooper
5 years ago

Before we crack open the pink champagne, please note that what has happened is the ACC got in line & is not challenging the Primates …. Not even TEC has made the slightest challenge. So, let’s rejoice – the Primates get their way with TEC restraint (again) in order to stay in a big club with the GS….who pays the price??

Cynthia
Cynthia
5 years ago

“The fact is that, by turning up, the US people have completely defied the meeting of primates, as they have done in the past and show every sign of doing in the future.” In fact, the ACC chair, Bishop Tengatenga told us in TEC that it was our “right and responsibility” to be there. He also went on to say that the primates had no authority to determine or enforce “consequences.” Of course, he’s right. Each province is governed by it’s own processes. There is absolutely no central body with any governing authority whatsoever over other provinces. And very recently,… Read more »

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

“a charitable company will have to follow its own stated rules”

Makes sense.

But is the Communion a ‘charitable company’? Well of course not.

Now stating the obvious.

“..which is to the benefit of all.”

A preposterous statement. Even mores so, reflexively declared in this manner.

Are you now purporting to speak for ‘the benefit of all’ from the perspective of a tiny Canadian niche?

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Mr Gillis. I think you simply struggle to listen. 1. I do not think having ecclesial bodies beholden to civil constraint is a good idea. 2. I also do not think it is fair for those ecclesial bodies that used to think the ACC was chiefly an ecclesial body, and not one in which the laws of one region were appealed to in argument regarding appointments to this and that. That isn’t a last word. It is the first word and only word being stated here! Enjoy your corner of Canada. I am here very infrequently. That is, assuming Toronto… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
5 years ago

“The Anglican Covenant failed, thanks be to God. Thanks to Tengatenga’s integrity (and likely others), there will be no de facto Anglican Covenant.” – Cynthia –

Sadly, Cynthia, if you look at the latest news, you will find that the secretary-General of the Anglican Communion – present at ACC16 – has actually raised the spectre of a possible new attempt at ‘Covenant’.

Cynthia
Cynthia
5 years ago

“Sadly, Cynthia, if you look at the latest news, you will find that the secretary-General of the Anglican Communion – present at ACC16 – has actually raised the spectre of a possible new attempt at ‘Covenant’.”

Yes, I picked up on that reference in a later statement. Kind of crazy to try another one…

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
5 years ago

“1. I do not think having ecclesial bodies beholden to civil constraint is a good idea.” So, you are then opposed to the establishment of the Church of England? Also, do you then think that churches should not be required to obey all the laws of civil society? Not deduct income taxes from their employees’ pay? In the US, churches are required to file the paperwork to be charitable organizations (to be a 501(c)(3) organization under federal tax law) in order to get exemptions from state and federal taxes. Is that the kind of “civil constraint” you speak of? Would… Read more »

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

This isn’t a new attempt at a covenant. Or a new covenant document. It is statement that 11 have signed a covenant and many have not taken the matter up. And an encouragement to do so. Not voting on the covenant is not a ‘No.’ It is obvious that for some the fact that TEC said No is the end of the matter. But of course that says a lot in and of itself. +Josiah seems simply to be encouraging the process to play itself out. That is unsurprising given his role in the covenant and his keen awareness that… Read more »

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Mr O’Neil, as should be clear. 1. I am opposed to the establishment of the CofE being an establishment for the AC. The ACC isn’t some kind of civilly constrained arbiter of the AC otherwise outwith English law. 2. The CofE isn’t without its own triple locks, as agreed by Parliament. So the precedent for ecclesial affairs being conducted ecclesially is hardly odd. Civil magistrates are part and parcel of catholic life — witness Constantine demanding a fair colloquy amongst Eusebians, Arians,and the ‘Oerthodox; or the rulers who called for formal public disputations between Luther and Eck in order to… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
5 years ago

+Josiah seems simply to be encouraging the process to play itself out. That is unsurprising given his role in the covenant and his keen awareness that the AC is more than this or that single province, no matter how wealthy or influential.” Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 17 April Christopher, you seem to forget that the Church of England – ‘Mother Church’ of the Anglican Communion, and quite separately from TEC – has already turned down the Covenant. This will undoubtedly cast a dampener on any future attempts to oprganise the A.C. into being the ‘Confessional Church’ defined by F.o.C.A.… Read more »

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Ron Smith. I haven’t forgotten it. Neither has +JI-F. The AC is not the CofE or TEC.

Funny how the ACC functioned perfectly well up until 2010/11…

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
5 years ago

“Funny how the ACC functioned perfectly well up until 2010/11…”

That may well be due to luck, more than anything else. We live in litigious times, on both sides of the pond, and if the ACC had stayed as an unincorporated, unregistered charity, then all its officers would have been personally liable for any financial misdeeds. As it currently stands, anyone suing the ACC can only collect from the ACC itself, not from its officers.

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

So a (proper) concern for litigation in the financial sphere in 2011 has banked into a concern to monitor election of officers in accordance with English law (so +JI-F’s statements)? Even if adventitious, this seems to be a trajectory that could have unintended consequences for the integrity of the ACC. Then again, it may also show that it is a body of limited reach or consequence, meeting infrequently and needing to be cautious before English law parameters.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
5 years ago

“So a (proper) concern for litigation in the financial sphere in 2011 has banked into a concern to monitor election of officers in accordance with English law (so +JI-F’s statements)?”

If you wish to take advantage of the laws regarding charitable corporations as they pertain to financial obligations, you must also abide by the laws regarding election of officers. You don’t get to pick and choose which sections of the law you need to follow.

Christopher Seitz
Christopher Seitz
5 years ago

“If you wish to take advantage of the laws regarding charitable corporations as they pertain to financial obligations, you must also abide by the laws regarding election of officers.”

Or not.

The infrequently meeting ACC may end up more irrelevant if it is simply an international church body that worries itself over the laws of a single national entity.

But that seems like a desirable feature so far as you are concerned.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
5 years ago

What seems like a desirable feature to me is that the officers of the ACC not be personally liable should fiscal malfeasance occur. What seems like a desirable feature to me is that those contributing money that is handled by the ACC have assurance that there is a legal basis for their tax exemption. What seems like a desirable feature to me is that the officers of the ACC have a civil authority to answer to should anything go awry.

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

That’s a relief.

Glad you did not include how desirable it is to have international church appointments to committees needing clearance under English law.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
5 years ago

“Glad you did not include how desirable it is to have international church appointments to committees needing clearance under English law. “

Why does this bother you so? Is there any indication that an English authority would actually interfere with an appointment? Or is it just that English law, having established an empathy for LGBT rights, bothers the heck out of you?

Father Ron Smith
5 years ago

“The infrequently meeting ACC may end up more irrelevant if it is simply an international church body that worries itself over the laws of a single national entity. But that seems like a desirable feature so far as you are concerned. – cseitz – But not, Christopher, as far as YOU are concnered! I’m sorry you seem to find ACC ‘irrelevant’. But then, that would agree with your own sodality – ACI (The ‘Anglican Communion Institute’ in North America) and its allies in ACNA, wouldn’t it? Contrarily, the rest of the Communion Provinces – apart from GAFCON – seem qwuite… Read more »

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

When the dust settles, if the ACC is largely viewed as something like a UK charitable organisation; which meets very infrequently on top of that; and passes resolutions that have no effect, or are confusedly set forth so as to gain consent, it will have ceased to be anything of much consequence altogether.

One might even have the sense that +Welby and +JI-F already know this.

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

P O’Neil. You sound more worked up than I am!

I think the ACC will lose its character and significance if it is forced to think of itself as an English charitable entity. It ought to be free to make any appointments it wishes, and to decide to withdraw some.

But I am simply restating what I thought was obvious. And I am indeed glad your comment focused on money matters (who could be sued?) and not theologically substantive issues in respect of the ACC.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
5 years ago

“… if the ACC is largely viewed as something like a UK charitable organisation; which meets very infrequently on top of that; and passes resolutions that have no effect, or are confusedly set forth so as to gain consent, it will have ceased to be anything of much consequence altogether.” Ahh, now we get to the heart of Dr. Seitz’s problem. He very much would like the ACC to be the “legislative body” of a Communion that holds real power over its constituent churches, able to make them toe the line on the issues he cares about (like LGBT matters,… Read more »

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Nonsense. What a bizarre idea. The remit of the ACC is minimal. I simply don’t want it to shrink further. Tom Ferguson has at least got this much right.

It is a consultative body. That’s it. But let it make decisions within that remit without waving legalities in the air.

Why in the world anyone would think it important that an ecclesial consultative body need to worry about making appointments or withdrawing them because of a single church’s national laws is beyond me.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
4 years ago

“Why in the world anyone would think it important that an ecclesial consultative body need to worry about making appointments or withdrawing them because of a single church’s national laws is beyond me. “

Do you want the protections of corporation law? Then you have to put up with the restrictions of corporation law. And since there is no “international corporation law”–that is, no international body that can grant corporation status–you are stuck with incorporating within one nation and abiding by its law.

cseitz
cseitz
4 years ago

“Then you have to put up with …”. What a counsel of curious despair.

No, you can decide this because it suits you.

Or you can do a legal walk-around just as is necessary for fiduciary responsibility and nothing else.

This isn’t hard. Unless you like the idea of an international ecclesial gathering coming under a single nation’s legal constraints (England). How odd. Especially for a US citizen.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
4 years ago

“…you can do a legal walk-around just as is necessary for fiduciary responsibility and nothing else.”

Please indicate what “legal walk-around” you think exists that would protect the officers of the ACC from individual financial responsibility in the case of a lawsuit. Under the laws of most of constituent countries of the Anglican Communion (where any such lawsuit would be filed), the only thing that would do so is incorporation. Since you cannot incorporate under anything except the laws of a particular jurisdiction, you have to abide by all parts of the corporation law of that jurisdiction.

Father Ron Smith
4 years ago

cseitz – continuing your conversation; whose legal jurisdiction are you operating under at this time: the Church of England, TEC, the Anglican Church of Canada, ACI, ACNA, Gafcon or the Diocese of Europe? It makes me dizzy trying to track down to whom you are accountable for your theological convictions.

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