The disinvitations arrive

From the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion:

Most of you will have read the recent letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Anglican Communion on the subject of Pentecost. Part of that letter addresses the current and ongoing tensions in the Anglican Communion – these tensions cluster around the three moratoria referred to in the Windsor Report.

It was hoped to have held the gracious restraint requested on many occasions by the Instruments of Communion until the Covenant had been considered in-depth by all of the provinces. The Covenant outlines a process whereby major issues before the Communion which affect its common life can be considered properly and appropriately within the community of faith. However, the recent Episcopal election in Los Angeles has created a situation where the Archbishop has been forced to act before the Covenant has been considered by most provinces.

So the Archbishop of Canterbury has made the following proposals in his Pentecost Letter which spell out the consequences of this action:

“I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members”.

Last Thursday I sent letters to members of the Inter Anglican ecumenical dialogues who are from the Episcopal Church informing them that their membership of these dialogues has been discontinued. In doing so I want to emphasise again as I did in those letters the exceptional service of each and every person to that important work and to acknowledge without exception the enormous contribution each person has made.

I have also written to the person from the Episcopal Church who is a member of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), withdrawing that person’s membership and inviting her to serve as a Consultant to that body.

I have written to the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada to ask whether its General Synod or House of Bishops has formally adopted policies that breach the second moratorium in the Windsor Report, authorising public rites of same-sex blessing.

At the same time I have written to the Primate of the Southern Cone, whose interventions in other provinces are referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report asking him for clarification as to the current state of his interventions into other provinces.

These are the actions which flow immediately from the Archbishop’s Pentecost Letter.

Looking forward, there are two questions in this area which I would like to see addressed: One is the relationship between the actions of a bishop or of a diocese and the responsibilities of a province for those actions – this issue is referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report para 48.

Secondly, to ask the question of whether maintaining within the fellowship of one’s Provincial House of Bishops, a bishop who is exercising episcopal ministry in another province without the expressed permission of that province or the local bishop, constitutes an intervention and is therefore a breach of the third moratorium.

The Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon.

I imagine that there will be an outcry about this because the archbishop is exercising authority not universally agreed to be his, and because he seems to be excusing the many African provinces who meddled in the United States and Canada. But, you know, while I don’t like this, I can’t get too excited about it. It isn’t as though there are a lot of 5-4 Supreme Court-type votes on critical issues being conducted on these panels. The point of the work these groups do is to work toward consensus. It is hard for me to imagine that the outcome of the work of these groups is going to suddenly lurch rightward without our presence., So this is nothing more than a snub, or an attempted snub, and we can choose to shrug it off.

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19 Comments
  1. E Sinkula

    Notice how we are automatically disinvited, the Southern Cone gets to “clarify” its position. Ridiculous.

    Eric Sinkula

  2. Bonnie Spivey

    “Secondly, to ask the question of whether maintaining within the fellowship of one’s Provincial House of Bishops, a bishop who is exercising episcopal ministry in another province without the expressed permission of that province or the local bishop, constitutes an intervention and is therefore a breach of the third moratorium”

    It seems to me that he is asking the border crossers this question. If he is, that is like asking the fox, with chicken feathers still stuck in his teeth, “Did you eat the chicken?” Of course, he will say, “no.” And whatever do they mean by “local bishop”?

  3. Rod Gillis

    Two Canadian dioceses have, via synod votes and subsequent episcopal consent, put blessings for same sex marriages in place. Two other dioceses have measures in place, and “semantics” keep them just this side of things, they allow blessings, (usually of same gender couples who have been married civilly) but not a “nuptial” blessing. So, it depends which judicatory level you ask.

  4. Dan Hutchinson

    Nothing could have been done that will more unite Episcopalians than this action on the part of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  5. …the archbishop is exercising authority that is not universally agreed upon to be his….

    To say the least!

    June Butler

  6. John B. Chilton

    Yes, Eric, but the interesting thing is that the ACNA dioceses of Pittsburgh and Fort Worth have not severed their ties to the Southern Cone. I may be mistaken, but the reason, I believe is that both are still in ticklish legal fights with TEC over property, and the diocese-to-province tie to the Southern Cone is seen as a tangible benefit in the legal arguments. The ABC is saying fish or cut bait. (Still, if the punishment is banishment from committee work that’s regarded as a reward where I come from (academia).)

    On another point, as you say Jim, what about Africa? The Kearon letter implies by process of elimination that only the TEC member of the IASCUFO got notice and only the Southern Cone member might get notice.

    Yet, ENS pointed out there are two other members that might be affected

    http://www.episcopal-life.org/79425_122562_ENG_HTM.htm

    “Williams recommends that affected members serving on the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order should revert to consultant status. The Rev. Katherine Grieb, an Episcopal priest and professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary, serves on that commission. Other members who are likely to be affected by Williams’ suggestion are the Venerable Dapo Asaju of Nigeria, the Rev. Edison Muhindo Kalengyo of Uganda and Bishop Tito Zavala of Chile, Southern Cone, all of whom hail from provinces that are currently involved in cross-border interventions in the United States.”

    CANA and Nigeria say they no longer have formal ties. (Recall the use of the word “formally” in the ABC Pentecost letter.)

    Can the same can be said of the Church of Uganda?

    http://www.diohs.org/

    “Welcome to the Diocese of the Holy Spirit web site. Our Diocese is a non-geographic, transitional diocese. We offer a home within the Anglican Church in North America for churches—particularly those that have been under the Church of Uganda—located where a regional diocese has not yet been organized.”

  7. Well, it appears that we now have an answer, or at least a partial answer, to the question of what “formally” means. I think that having so narrowly applied the consequences of all the actions that have divided the Communion, when so many have participated, can only seriously undermine trust in Canterbury, not only in the Anglican provinces in North America, but throughout the Communion.

    Marshall Scott

  8. www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1505362

    Does this strike anyone else as a bunch of self-important prigs in purple pajamas making nasty faces at each other, while people all over the U.S. and elsewhere look for food, water, shelter, education, and the good news of Christ risen? Good grief.

    Mike Lockaby

  9. Ormonde Plater

    It’s more than a snub. it’s a formal breach of communion. We should should take this action very seriously and consider how to react.

  10. EH Culver

    The ABC “proposes” and the Secretary General, acting on the orders of the ABC, then “disposes?” One supposes.

    However, the well considered response of +KJS to the ABC’s Pentecost letter should have left no doubt in his mind that TEC was not going to roll over and submit. I’m sure that TEC stands ready to respond to this latest power play.

  11. Christopher L. Webber

    We have a Pope!

    There were no tendrils of smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, so far as I know, but I awoke this morning to discover that the Anglican Communion now has a Pope. He speaks and it is done. Surprise!

    The Archbishop of Canterbury had sent a letter out several weeks ago on the subject of Pentecost. Pentecost, he reminded us, was the occasion on which the Holy Spirit overcame the divisions of language and understanding. The Archbishop’s letter, however, had to do with solidifying divisions. He took note of the fact that the “Instruments of Communion” had requested gracious restraint in relation to the issues that divide us until the member churches of the Anglican Communion could act on the proposed Covenant. There was, in other words, a request, not an order, for restraint, not abstinence.

    Nevertheless, the Archbishop proposed (note that word) that those churches that had not been sufficiently restrained in relation to the issues that divide us should no longer be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. How, he asked, could persons not in agreement represent the Communion? One might have thought that a Communion embracing diverse viewpoints would need to be represented by individuals with diverse views, but that seems not to have been the Archbishop’s understanding of Anglicanism. The member churches had not yet spoken as to the Covenant, but the Archbishop would enforce it anyway. He was “forced to act,” he said, because the member churches had not yet acted. “Agree with me quickly,” he said in effect, “or I will have to act for you.” Included in this proposal, said the Archbishop were not only The Episcopal Church but other churches also and not only in North America.

    That was alarming enough, but today we have learned that what the Archbishop proposes, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion disposes. A letter has been sent by the SG to the members of The Episcopal Church representing the Anglican Communion in ecumenical discussions thanking them for their past contributions but informing them that they will no longer serve in that capacity. They may continue to be consultants but their membership has been “discontinued.” They were not appointed by the Archbishop, but he seems to feel that he can, nevertheless, discontinue their membership.

    The Archbishop had not indicted The Episcopal Church alone for its waywardness but other churches as well and specifically not only in North America. The Secretary General has, therefore, written to the Church of Canada and the Province of the Southern Cone inquiring whether they would like to be disciplined as well. No time limit was suggested for their response but the SG does not seem to like to wait so they had better hurry. One might have thought from the Archbishop’s letter that he was also concerned about certain African provinces and dioceses, but these have not engaged the SG’s attention.

    It is interesting to remember that Archbishop Longley of Canterbury was reluctant in 1868 to invite the first assembly of Anglican Bishops to Lambeth and made it clear in doing so that they would make no decisions relating to the Communion. “I should refuse,” he wrote, “to convene any assembly which pretended to enact any canons, or affected to make any decisions binding on the Church.” We have come a long way since then. We have moved in not much over 150 years from a church moving tentatively toward communion-wide consultations to one with a presiding officer who speaks and it is done.

    Has Archbishop Williams, then, smoothed the path toward reunion with Rome? If we are to have a bishop with papal authority, why not the real thing?

  12. Ormonde, I agree that our leadership needs to make some kind of response to Rowan. He says actions have consequences. Well, that applies to him, as well. What I want to guard against is a popular outcry against actions of such little practical effect that we become participants in an ever more trivial cycle of tit for tat.

  13. Christopher, your comment is superb. I’d like to publish it on my blog in its entirety, if it’s all right with you and Jim Naughton, giving all due credit, of course.

    June Butler

  14. Dirk C. Reinken

    Perhaps a non-trivial consequence to the ABC ‘s and ACO’s actions would be to reduce our contribution to the AC budget to 1/44th of the total since the AC has “44 regional and national member churches around the globe” according to their website.

    It seems that we might be funding organs that are specifically excluding us.

  15. It may seem petty to focus on the funding, but I agree with Dirk. TEC is operating on a greatly reduced budget, and our funds could be better spent in ways other than the support of gatherings of which the ABC has preemptively taken control, gatherings which he has organized in a divisive and punitive manner.

    June Butler

  16. John B. Chilton

    Kearon says “I have written to the Primate of the Southern Cone, whose interventions in other provinces are referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report….”

    The Southern Cone is referred to in paragraphs 33 and 38.

    http://www.aco.org/commission/windsor_continuation/WCG_Report.cfm

    “33. It is in respect to the third moratorium (on interventions) that there has been the least discernable response. As noted in the JSC Report of October 2007, there has apparently been an increase in interventions since the adoption of the Windsor/Dromantine recommendations by the unanimous voice of the primates. The adoption of dioceses into the Province of the Southern Cone, inconsistent with the Constitutions both of TEC and the Southern Cone; the consecration of bishops for ministry in various forms by different Provinces and the vocal support of such initiatives by the Primates associated with the Gafcon have all taken place, apparently in contradiction of the 2005 Dromantine Statement, although in each case, the primates involved would cite a conviction that their actions were provisional, born of necessity, and reactive rather than taking the initiative. From their perspective, some of the intervening primates have indicated that they will hand back those within their care as soon as the underlying causes have been resolved.”

    “38. Twenty-three parishes under the episcopal leadership of two formerly retired Canadian Anglican bishops have sought and received membership in the Province of the Southern Cone and are now claiming membership in the newly proposed, but not recognized North American Anglican Province.”

    Look, in particular, at #33 where it states “As noted in the JSC Report of October 2007, there has apparently [favorite weasel word of mine] been an increase in interventions since the adoption of the Windsor/Dromantine recommendations by the unanimous voice of the primates.”

    and the reason for the use of “apparently” is, uh, apparently that,

    ” the consecration of bishops for ministry in various forms by different Provinces and the vocal support of such initiatives by the Primates associated with the Gafcon have all taken place, apparently in contradiction of the 2005 Dromantine Statement, although in each case, the primates involved would cite a conviction that their actions were provisional, born of necessity, and reactive rather than taking the initiative.”

    Good grief. That was apparent when the 3 moratoria were agreed. The WCG is saying that nevertheless that might be a legitimate excuse.

    Let’s just put it this way: either (1) take your medicine or (2) accept that The Episcopal Church is consecrating gay and lesbian bishops. It is doing so provisionally so as to give the rest of Anglican Communion time to catch up, but out of necessity in order to be true to our baptismal covenant. Just understand that there’s nothing about treating each person as a child of God with dignity.

  17. Aren’t consultants paid? We should attend the meetings then bill the CoE/AC for our time. We can use the funds for the missions we have been supporting for years.

  18. Jim,

    I agree. This pseudo-power move really only affects two things I can see:

    1) Dancing for the AC ecumenical relationships (particularly with the RCC.) It’s sad if they take it at all seriously.

    2) Snubbing us in TEC by offending our good-old fashioned American sense of fairness.

    I think the greatest offense is given to our individual representatives on these Anglican Communion bodies, the patronizing language about their excellent service notwithstanding.

    But for TEC, this is more of a cricket chirp than a thunder clap, a wet noodle than a whip!

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