The right wing blinks first

Updated with the low-key statement of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Mouneer Anis, Primate of Egypt has resigned from the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council, and urged others to do the same.

His resignation coincides with the release of a typically verbose missive from the Anglican Communion Institute in which the four guys with a Web site urge the following:

But since there is no body currently recognized, either by the Instruments or the Churches of the Communion, as authorized to exercise the responsibilities of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion in coordinating the implementation of the Covenant, we think it is necessary and appropriate for the covenanting Churches themselves to fulfill this task initially by convening a provisional committee drawn from the Primates and ACC representatives of Churches that adopt the Covenant to coordinate the implementation of the Covenant within the Churches and dioceses wishing to participate.

Anyone who watched Archbishop Anis be led around by British and American handlers at the Lambeth Conference, saw him read statements they had prepared for them, and watched them prompt him when he forgot his lines, knows that he does nothing without coordinating with the Western right. So what we’ve got here is a concerted effort to undermine not just the Covenant process, but the quasi-governing structures of the Anglican Communion by a right wing party that has begun to fear that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada will never be punished for treating gay and lesbian Christians like human beings. Hence, their desperation.

Many Episcopalians have been critical of the Covenant, but they’ve never advocated anything as radical as what Anis and the ACI have called for tonight.

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Category : The Lead

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  1. Eric Funston

    This is appalling. A pure “power grab” with no justification whatsoever.

  2. Peter Pearson

    Is he suggesting that the primates take matters into their own hands? Wow.

  3. tgflux

    The word is…coup.

    JC Fisher

  4. Archbishop Anis seems to suggest that TEC not be allowed to sign the Covenant.

  5. Archbishop Anis seems to suggest that TEC not be allowed to sign the Covenant. Can you see how the Covenant will not solve anything? The disagreements will not go away. The members of the AC will either work through their problems, or they won’t, Covenant or no Covenant.

    June Butler

  6. From the very beginning, the ACI and their like-minded friends have operated this way. If you cannot get what you want from the structure you are in, create a new one and drive around it.

    Having failed to get their way through the General Convention, they declare that the Episcopal Church is somehow beholden to the entire Anglican Communion. They say this, rewriting history as they go, even though the first bishops of the first Lambeth Conferences specifically warned against such a notion.

    Then when the Anglican Consultative Council was insufficiently punitive, they get the Primates Council to assume authority it was never granted.

    They take a “report” (called Windsor) and turn it into a blue print for a re-design of the Anglican Communion with the emphasis on punishment and enforcement.

    When one of their parishes or dioceses don’t like the decisions of their Province, they convince other Primates from other jurisdictions to intervene calling it a rescue mission, even as those same Primates would never allow such a thing on their own turf.

    They encourage the creation of an alternative province and when it becomes clear that it will not (and cannot) take over the Anglican franchise in the US, they abandon it.

    And now that the Anglican Covenant, which they themselves clamored for and rammed through processes that they themselves subverted is going to have to be vetted and approved by the very councils and synods that they have driven around, they declare the process broken and propose an entirely new structure and process more to their liking.

    Every time they have reached a constitutional or legislative impasse, their solution is to create a new structure tailor-made to assure the outcome they want. Now even the distorted, biased, and bloated processes of their own design cannot get the job done. Once more they want to change the rules to get a result they can rely on.

    The Covenant is a solution in search of a problem. It is a structural and political solution to a theological problem. As such, the more we try to make it work the more artificial it becomes.

    The Covenant is a failure because it is a fake solution to a real problem. It claims to be about unity and common life, when it is all about (despite the protestations of Archbishop Williams on YouTube) punishment and exclusion. The only outcome the ACI, Annis and the rest want is punishment and ultimate exclusion of the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada and anyone else they don’t like from a purified Anglican Communion.

    Even if they succeed, and these latest statements prove that they won’t, the Covenant will not solve the fundemental theological challenge of the ekklesia. We Christians are called to live in unity, and we have been promised that we will share in the Oneness that Christ shares with God and with us. The problem is that we Christians have a hard time living into the unity we have already been given. Communion is not a document or covenant to be enforced, it is a grace to be accepted and discipline to be lived. To live in Communion requires risk, faith and above all humility.

    What the ACI and Annis propose is sheer arrogance. They cannot get what they want so they have invented yet another false scheme to get their way. If we haven’t learned from the so-called Windsor “process” and the whole flawed Covenant process, we should learn it now: no amount of fake structuralism can do what Christ has already promised…to make us one.

    Andrew Gerns

  7. Michael Russell

    I agree with Andrew’s remarks. What is also notable about the ACI is that they simply refuse to allow process to, well, process. The notion that the Provinces will take appropriate time to review and consider the Covenant document is just to slow for them.

    All of those in the existing structures of the WWAC who have sought to accommodate or support the never ending ACI “new ideas” should now note that having proposed that the Instruments of Unity should be such instruments, then now declare them all ineffective and want some other new structure entirely. They have once again paid back those who worked with them with a poke int he eye.

    Any move they make to try and seize the mantle of world wide Anglicanism will bring far more fallout on them than these naifs expect.

  8. A process comment: I doubt most Episcopalians can entirely follow Jim’s reasoning here; I can’t. That tells me this topic needs a longer treatment than this cri de coeur – though I get loud and clear he considers Anis a lackey of “four guys with a website.”

    Too much has been left unsaid. Break it down for me, Jim, I need some explanatory journalism here.

  9. This seems to me less an effort to derail the Covenant process as to redirect it, so as to prevent the Episcopal Church from being able to sign. It becomes a race to the bottom – the bottom line, that is. Those who sign fastest would have the first opportunities to become leaders of this new, unaccountable entity.

    In fact the covenant draft we have, as much as we might dislike it, does specify who is responsibe for implementation – that is, if we mean observing who can sign on and whether they follow their individual appropriate constitutional processes. That is overseen by the ACC, which controls the “invitation list,” an which makes sure processes are observed. Other “implementation,” if by that we mean managing the dispute processes in the contested (and widely detested) Section 4 is indeed under the management of the Standing Committee.

    So, the ACI are incorrect, and certainly impatient. The structures are there. They just aren’t fast enough, and not being fast enough, don’t apply enough pressure – at least, not enough for ACI.

    Marshall Scott

  10. Apparently there is consternation about this item in other quarters. It seems that treating a man like a sock puppet is okay, but pointing out that a man is being treated like a sock puppet is bad form.

  11. tgflux

    Lemme guess. For saying this, Jim,

    Anyone who watched Archbishop Anis be led around by British and American handlers at the Lambeth Conference, saw him read statements they had prepared for them, and watched them prompt him when he forgot his lines, knows that he does nothing without coordinating with the Western right.

    …the (all-white) funders/instigators of This Mess are calling you a “racist.”


    JC Fisher

    [Outstanding summation, Andrew G!]

  12. Jim, the folks over there are doing a number on you, for sure.

    June Butler (aka “a known raving revisionist” and “banned as a troll”).

  13. John B. Chilton

    The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis … told The Living Church that discussions at the committee’s meeting in December 2009 are what prompted his resignation from the committee. “I had been in communication before the meeting that I needed to discuss the participation of the Episcopal Church on the standing committee. I found some resistance to this,” said Bishop Mouneer ….“When it comes to who will sign and adopt the Covenant, there is exclusiveness,” he said.

    In short, he wanted what the ABC says is a non-juridical covenant to be used punitively against the Episcopal Church, and he wanted those who have left the communion to be included without going through the established process for being recognized as part of the communion.

  14. Vern Sheldon

    Yet another sock puppet for the far right wing reactionary branch of the ACom folds. And not a really good choice by reports.

    Do we really want to enter in to this “Covenant”?

    Methinks we would do well without it.

  15. GillianC

    Mr. Naughton,

    I’d just like to clear up the intention of your comment about Archbishop Anis regarding his “handlers”.

    Did you mean that:

    1) The Archbishop is incapable of making his own decisions and having his own views?

    2) The Archbishop is unwilling to take a stand on the power of his own convictions, and has to rely on others?

    3) There are other circumstances that lead you to believe that he is merely a “sock-puppet” (to borrow an unfortunate phrase from one of the other commenters), and cannot function without handlers.

    I don’t think that your comment was racially motivated, but it is disturbing nonetheless. Can you clear this up?


    Gillian Forrest

  16. Ms. Forrest,

    Thanks for your comment. The answer to all of your questions Is no. That Archbishop Anis coordinates his major statements about the Communion with the western right is something I think even the western right would acknowledge. There’s no shame in that. Allies work with allies.

    Unfortunately, for both the archbishop and his western allies, their attempts to put words in his mouth have been so transparent as to undercut his effectiveness, and, on at least two important occasions (the Joint Standing Committee’s meeting with the House of Bishops in New Orleans, and his meeting with reporters at the Lambeth Conference) make him look foolish. I don’t know why he allows himself to be used in this way, and I don’t know why his allies don’t see that this diminishes both his effectiveness and his dignity.

  17. GillianC

    I appreciate your answer – on first (and second and third) reading it seemed that you were saying that the Archbishop was only moving under the influence of others, which is decidedly different from what I know of the man.

    Thanks again.

  18. You’re welcome. I had originally posted a response that seemed likely to provide a pretext for further manufactured outrage, but enough.

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