The Archbishop of Canterbury says that the churches within the Communion who ordain gay bishops, bless same-sex unions and cross provincial boundaries should excuse themselves from certain ecumenical and Communion activities but instead serve as "consultants."
Just who is he talking about? And what does this mean in life of the Church in real terms?
Mark Harris did some research and came up with a list of who this punishment would affect.
Here is a list of those on the Anglican Communion Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order. Those highlighted in [bold type] would be reduced to consultant status (whatever that means) under the moratoria rule the Archbishop speaks of in his letter.The Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate of Burundi and Chair of CommissionThe Rt Revd Dr Georges Titre Ande, CongoThe Ven. Professor Dapo Asaju, NigeriaThe Revd Canon Professor Paul Avis, EnglandThe Rt Revd Philip D Baji, TanzaniaThe Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut, World Council of ChurchesThe Rt Revd Howard Gregory, West IndiesThe Revd Dr Katherine Grieb, Episcopal Church (USA)The Revd Canon Clement Janda, SudanThe Revd Sarah Rowland Jones, Southern AfricaThe Revd Dr Edison Muhindo Kalengyo, UgandaThe Rt Revd Victoria Matthews, Aotearoa, New Zealand and PolynesiaThe Revd Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen, EnglandThe Revd Dr Simon Oliver, Wales/EnglandThe Rt Revd Professor Stephen Pickard, AustraliaDr Andrew Pierce, IrelandThe Revd Canon Dr Michael Nai Chiu Poon, South East AsiaThe Revd Dr Jeremiah Guen Seok Yang, KoreaThe Rt Revd Tito Zavala, Bishop of Chile, Southern ConeThe Revd Joanna Udal, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Anglican Communion AffairsThe Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Director for Unity, Faith and OrderMr Neil Vigers, of the Anglican Communion Office.
I am not sure of the status of SE Asia and Tanzania. I am sure this will be further corrected.
There are some unanswered questions about this approach.
While Williams acknowledges that churches that have worked against the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada and others, might take some comfort in this decision he cautions them not to cheer too loudly. Given the level of the rhetoric emanating from these quarters as well as from those who have left the Episcopal Church, it is hard to imagine how conservative groups will not view this move anything but too little discipline coming too late,
The Archbishop recognizes that this affects neither the Anglican Consultative Council nor the Primates Meeting, which are governed by constitutions that define membership, although he thinks that these groups should consider the possibility of different rules. So does that mean that he will propose some rule changes the next time they meet, or does he think the prospect of yet another round of negotiations will entice Primates who have threatened to stay away to change their minds?
Williams does not address the situation of the Church of England where same sex unions are legal but where the church have neither officially sanctioned such rites nor disciplines of the clergy who perform them. Neither does he address the reality in his own church where gay clergy are allowed to live in civil partnerships but may not perform public rites of blessings. Apparently, only churches that openly address the pastoral care of LGBT persons are asked to step aside.
While the ABC specifically names the ordination of Mary Glasspool as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles and reminds us of his appearance before General Convention in 2009, he does not name the border-crossing provinces or define whether provinces that crossed borders in the past but have given over those former Episcopal congregations to ACNA will also be asked to withdraw from these kinds of gatherings.
The Archbishop expresses the hope that differing parties would remain in dialogue and pray for one another. Except for being asked to leave the room and consult (we assume that means don't speak unless addressed), and the vague hope that the Covenant process might define things better, there is no mechanism suggested as how this might take place.
Archbishop Williams has drawn two pictures of the Pentecost church that are difficult to reconcile. On the one hand, he reminds us of the church that was drawn together by the power of the Holy Spirit and spoke to the whole world in many tongues. On the other hand, we have the church of the muted voice, whose pace is established by the comfort-level of the most cautious members of the body and where the Spirit only speaks what is agreeable to all. He paints a picture of a church that is defined by what it is not, what it will not do, and where it will not go.