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ACO Secretary General says TEC _will_ pay “consequences”; TEC says really?

ACO Secretary General says TEC _will_ pay “consequences”; TEC says really?

Over the weekend the Anglican Communion Office Secretary, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, spoke of the “consequences” for The Episcopal Church in the addendum to the primates gathering communiqué.

… for a time — three years — TEC no longer represents the Anglican Communion on ecumenical or interfaith bodies; while this consequence applies to TEC as a whole, it practically involves a three-year absence of a gifted priest, ecumenist, and Bible scholar who serves on our dialogue with the World Communion of Reformed Churches. A member of TEC will not be elected to the next triennium of the Standing Committee. Current members of TEC serving on internal bodies of the Communion will not be part of decision-making on matters of doctrine and polity.

These are claims, not facts. In Appendix A of the primates communiqué they state a jumble of requirements, should nots and will nots.

… given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years TEC no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity. [emphasis added]

But the primates lack the authority to make any of this happen. So how can it happen? It depends on who has the authority to make something happen. Unless I am mistaken, neither the Secretary General nor the Archbishop of Canterbury possess that authority. By what procedure can a member of the dialogue with the World Communion of Reformed Churches be denied participation? If the Standing Committee membership is by election, what rules exist that can be deployed to target a specific province? Likewise, will a suspension of the rules be used to prevent current TEC members of internal bodies of the Communion from the full rights accorded every other member?

The Episcopal Church has made clear that it will not accede to the requests — its non-violent resistance, taken from the pages of the civil rights movement. (Ed. – I originally used the phrase civil disobedience. Civil disobedience isn’t the proper term since that implies law breaking, and if any law breaking occurs it will not be by The Episcopal Church. But civil disobedience and non-violent resistence does entail suffering consequences.)

The House of Deputies has just issued this news release. An extract:

When the cloud of confusion created by the most recent meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion had dissipated, not a great deal had changed. The Anglican Communion is still intact, the Episcopal Church is still a full member, and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, Deputy Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine, and Bishop Ian Douglas are still planning to participate fully in the Anglican Consultative Council’s (ACC) next meeting in Lusaka, Zambia in April.

Idowu-Fearon acts like the Anglican Covenant is in force. It is most definitely is not in force; it is dead. Few provinces of adopted the covenant — not the Church of England, not the Episcopal Church, not members of GAFCON just to name a few.

When the punitive section of the communiqué was leaked, Church Times spoke with the canon lawyer to the Covenant Design Group who on the punishment section of covenant draft.

Church Times reported:

THE communiqué issued by the Primates in Canterbury last week does not bind anyone, because the Primates’ meeting has no jurisdiction, a canon lawyer said this week. It represented “completely unacceptable interference” with the autonomy of the bodies to whom it had issued requirements.

“I find it utterly extraordinary,” the director of the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff University, Professor Norman Doe, said on Tuesday. “No instrument exists conferring upon the Primates’ meeting the jurisdiction to ‘require’ these things. . . Whatever they require is unenforceable.”

…. “The decision will not bind anyone — not the Episcopal Church. There is no question of that.” It was for the bodies referred to in the communiqué to determine what, if any, consequences the Episcopal Church should face, he said.

The communiqué constituted “completely unacceptable interference with the autonomy of each of these bodies as they transact their own business”. It was “absolute nonsense” to suggest that an ecumenical body such as the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), or an Anglican body such as the Anglican Consultative Council, be bound by a decision made by the Primates’ meeting.

(See our earlier post about Doe’s reaction.)

Idowu-Fearon’s statement on consequences was part of a larger address he made this weekend at a study day in the U.S. Read it all here.

ADDENDUM – From the comments:

It was quite interesting (a little infuriating) to hear this address live at Trinity Cathedral, Miami as part of a study day in advance of the seating of our bishop. My comments to the Secretary General and the other presenters at the event included that the recent action of the primates furthers the oppression and persecution of LGBT people in the Episcopal Church and in the countries from where the other primates hail… all while they wrap it in an ironic apology for the persecution of LGBT people in the churches of the Anglican Communion. There was quite a bit of pushback from diocesan clergy and lay members to the presenters as it related to the ‘consequences’ for the Episcopal Church’s stand for marriage equality. In addition to the Secreatary General, the Chair of the ACC and the Archbishop of Burundi were presenters at the study day.  I think it was important for both the presenters and the audience to hear eachother, and for that I am grateful. Overall it was an exciting, memorable weekend that included a wonderful sermon by Bishop Rowan Williams at the seating on Saturday. — Chris Cooper


The photo is from the press conference at the conclusion of the primates gathering. Idowu-Fearon is on the left. Credit: ACNS


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David Allen

Note that he is not calling for civil disobedience.

I think that after we hear or read the speech he has yet to give, that we may find that he isn’t even referring to TEC or to the Anglican Communion, but the Church Universal and the world in general.

Jeremy Bates

Disagree. This press conference is not going to be about the Platonic Church. The press wants to hear about TEC and the Communion

And Bishop Curry is going to make a silk purse here–to be very clear about why TEC was sanctioned, and why TEC won’t go back.

That’s what MLK showed us. I don’t mean to equate his task and ours, but the civil rights movement took the spitting, the dogs, the hoses, the bombs and made of them social justice.

TEC now needs to follow that example. We begin by refusing to hide our light under a bushel.

David Allen

It’s not a press conference, it’s a speech at a luncheon at the Press Club. And the title is Is there room enough for all? The Church’s role in creating an Inclusive World. That sounds generic enough in my book.

But we shall see come Monday. I’m sure David S will cover this as one of his stories. The comment period is about to auto-close on this story.

Tracy Lawrence

In the context of this thread/discussion, I am posting part of the Press Release on PB Curry’s upcoming address to the National Press Club in D.C.

I am reflecting on his quote below, and how it relates to all that is going on with TEC and the Anglican Communion. We have been blessed with a leader who is an awesome Godly man, a Bible scholar, and also African American.

Who could be better equipped to engage in a dialogue about how to go forward in communion with Anglicans from the Global South, many of whom are African like Anglican Communion Office Secretary, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon?

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry will discuss Is there room enough for all? The Church’s role in creating an Inclusive World at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Monday, February 8 beginning at 10 Eastern.

“One of the most important statements of our time was given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he said we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or we will perish together as fools – the choice is ours: chaos or community,” Presiding Bishop Curry said. “He was right when he said that in the late 1960s and the sentiment is even more profoundly true now. We must learn to live together even in the midst of intense disagreement and profound diversity. We will either create beloved community or a horrific catastrophe. Religious faith must be a positive force toward that end – and that is what Jesus of Nazareth came to show us.”


I am encouraged by these words and PB Curry’s focus on community. I agree with him that as difficult as it is to move forward in unity, it is critical. Note that he is not calling for civil disobedience. He is beginning a dialogue about “beloved community,” which is central to the “Jesus Movement.”

Jeremy Bates

But the release mentions MLK, past master of civil disobedience within community. In fact desegregation was all about uniting two communities.

Bishop Curry probably won’t use the phrase “civil disobedience.” But outside Canterbury Cathedral he already said that TEC should “claim the high calling” of prophesying justice.

Part of advocating for justice is resisting injustice–such as the rotten fruit of the primates’ gathering.

David Allen

I don’t equate gender, race and sexual orientation. These are all different issues with different dimensions.

Sadly that is your uneducated response as a way to dismiss us. They are all aspects of being human. I have no more control over my sexual or gender orientation than I do my race.

As for everything that has happened in the last forty years, right now we have to deal with the present and go forward in the best way possible for all; not just some.

The last 40 years is how we arrived at where we are today. What we owe you is kindness and respect as fellow human beings and as fellow Christians. Period. We owe you nothing with regard to your point of view regarding the issues. We have heard the Spirit and we are moving on. Just as the early Church did with regard to the Spirit’s teaching regarding gentiles becoming Christians. The Spirit spoke, the Jerusalem Council listened and responded and that was the end of the issue. There weren’t dissident congregations established where gentile men continued to be required to be circumcised to appease those who believed that should be a requirement.

Sadly, you seem to think that you can dismiss the movement towards marriage equality over the last 40 years as something that wasn’t what the Church was supposed to have been going about. That it wasn’t what the Church was called to do. Just as there were those who felt the Church wasted a lot of time fighting slavery, segregation, patriarchy and mysogyny. Every step of the way during this movement has been the Church ministering to those in need. The Church was ministering to my needs. The Church was ministering to my late partner’s needs (we never got to marry.) The Church was ministering to Cynthia’s needs. The Church was ministering to the needs of all the GLBTQ baptized. The Church was about the Jesus movement this past 40 years.

Mark Kozielec

Amen, David, Amen…

Cynthia Katsarelis

We agree with getting on with the Jesus Work of the Jesus Movement. That’s terrific!

Tracy Lawrence

Okay. Yes, well we have discussed a lot of this before. I don’t equate gender, race and sexual orientation. These are all different issues with different dimensions. As for everything that has happened in the last forty years, right now we have to deal with the present and go forward in the best way possible for all; not just some. Regarding percentages within TEC who resoundingly endorse Same Sex Marriage, you cite one poll. My parish is in Massachusetts, which is one of the most liberal Dioceses in the country, and we are split pretty evenly. Finally, and as I said, I completely understand your point of view on marriage. I just don’t embrace it fully. It is not what I believe and it is not what I am teaching my children. So, I wouldn’t count on all the people who don’t agree with you “dying out.” I think what is dying out, is the 60’s. The TEC Bishops who were on the vanguard of the Progressive movement are older Baby Boomers and they are en masse reaching retirement age. We will have a lot of new leadership stepping forward and it is hard to say at this point what that will bring. I do, however, hope it brings more communion and harmony and some healing. We have had enough fighting, division and strife. It’s time to get on with the “Jesus movement,” as PB Curry calls it. There is a lot of suffering out there and many people who are worse off than we are in the U.S. I think it would be great if we, as a church body, could focus less on our internal politics and direct our energies more externally, on helping people who are in need, at home and abroad. That is really what Jesus calls us to do. That is love.

Carolyn Peet

Tracy, I greatly admire your effort to engage these topics in this particular forum. Your words are good and true. Unfortunately, it may be a great waste of bandwidth. But good on you for trying!

Prof. Christopher Seitz

Thank you for your effort. I am afraid that the new BCP being prepared will nail down the new TEC’s direction and that will be that. As the clergy leave or retire who want to retain traditional marriage, their replacements will be fully on board. The real challenge for TEC will be keeping from falling below 500K ASA.

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