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Anglican Covenant Design Group lawyer: Primates can’t require

Anglican Covenant Design Group lawyer: Primates can’t require

Church Times reports:

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.

About Norman Doe:

He was a member of the Legal Advisory Commission of the Church of England, and deputy chancellor, Diocese of Manchester.  A member of the European Consortium for Church and State Research (President in 2010), and the Colloquium of Anglican and Roman Catholic Canon Lawyers, he was a consultant on canon law to the Primates of the Anglican Communion and member of the Lambeth Commission (2003-2004,Windsor Report  (2004).  He also served on the Anglican Communion Covenant Design Group and was consultant to the Anglican Communion Network of Legal Advisers.  Since 1999 he has been an associate professor at the University of Paris, and was docente invitato Pontifical University of St Thomas (Angelicum), Rome, in 2009.  With Centre colleagues, he established the Interfaith Legal Advisers Network (2007) and the Law and Religion Scholars Network (2008).

He made five presentations on canon law and covenant at the Lambeth Conference 2008.

Emphasis added.


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Susan Forsburg

It is of interest that around the same time as the Primates’ meeting story broke, the British press picked up and discussed a survey showing a record decline in people in the UK who identify with the C of E (corresponding with a drastic decline in ASA). Andrew Brown, writing in the Guardian, points out that this corresponds with an entrenched purist view in the institutional C of E that counters the acceptance in the broader British culture.

He concludes,
“at the same time as people have been growing less religious, the Church of England has been growing more religious: more exclusive, more of a club for self-conscious believers, prouder of being out of step with the people it once served.

Only last week, Justin Welby was boasting to the other leaders of Anglican churches that the Church of England had secured exemptions from equalities legislation – and then complaining that he operated in an “anti-Christian culture”. What does he expect, when the church he leads systematically violates the moral intuitions of most of its own natural constituency?”


Jerald Liko

I dunno, maybe we could put away the daggers and the lawyers with daggers and find in this situation an opportunity for humbleness in pursuit of a greater cause?

Given the various info that has leaked since the conference, it seems likely that these sanctions represent the conservative primates’ last gasp at maintaining their take on the Gospel – i.e., all the votes they could get for the harshest measure the Communion’s most conservative body would consider.

If that’s the case, we’re getting LGBT equality on marriage and ministry in exchange for what amounts to a few turn in the Time-Out Corner.

If a little loss of pride and a (legally) voluntary break in representation is all it takes to secure a best-case outcome (gay marriage plus the continued existence of the communion), I say we take our meager “punishment” with joy in our hearts. It’s a gamble, but the payoff is significant for everyone except ideological purists.

Jeremy Bates

Jerald, you may be right. But it really remains to be seen — it depends on what steps toward marriage equality other provinces take over the next three years, and whether they show a willingness to end up in the time-out corner with TEC.

So the struggle within the Communion continues.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Uganda walked out when his effort to exclude Bishop Curry failed. We’ll see what the arch-conservative wing may do, outside the Communion.

David Allen

You’re right, I have no patience for folks who object to my life in the church. I moved on from their archaic beliefs and opinions long ago.

BTW, Tracy that was your fourth comment for today in this story.

Cynthia Katsarelis

Amen, David. Good Lord. People who don’t “toe the LGBTQ line.” It hardly gets more nasty that that. Why these people feel empowered to judge…

Yep. Time to move on from the hate.

I have to say that reading all this hateful stuff on EpiscopalCafe has given me much more gratitude to the church for it’s prophetic stand. I didn’t fully appreciate that the work happened in the face of this sort of hate and that the hate was still around. I am humbled by the discernment and saintly perseverance of those who’ve come before. TEC has decided it is worth the cost to bear Witness to the Incarnation who came to bring Good News to All God’s Children, everywhere.

Cynthia Katsarelis

Yes, it is, Tracy. And I’m a lucky person to have a personal relationship with Jesus. As do plenty of my LGBTQ sisters and brothers. This is the befuddling part of this onslaught of self-righteous exclusionary positions. We are “there,” and Jesus is “there” with us. It’s silly of you or anyone to say otherwise. NEWSFLASH: Jesus really did come for everybody. EVERYBODY.

The “born again” part is telling me that you are not Anglican. We believe in the sacrament of Baptism where we are marked as Christ’s own forever. Without “getting” the sacrament of Baptism, it would be hard for you follow what flows from that.

Tracy Lawrence

Good night Cynthia and David. Maybe tomorrow we can talk about what it means to be ‘saved’ and to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We call that ‘born again’ and it is a beautiful thing 🙂

Tracy Lawrence

David: Because I have a “journalistic” background does not mean I don’t have my own opinions. I am posting here as a TEC member. My points of view are not extremely conservative or extremely liberal. I think they are more middle of the road. Your comments are usually snarky and you don’t have much patience for those who don’t toe the LGBT line. I don’t agree with you on everything, but I respect that you have your own point of view.

Kurt: I didn’t say the law suits were directly related to deposition, but in may cases the property suits were. You might want to skip over to the thread on Foley Beach and pensions and read that. There is a lot of discussion about how people were deposed and some there definitely feel they were “kicked out” and treated very badly. As I said, not everyone sees it like you do. Yours is just one of the versions I have seen online. I guess yours is the ‘New York’ perspective and that’s fine.

Helen Kromm

“My points of view are not extremely conservative or extremely liberal. I think they are more middle of the road.”

Middle of the road? What road would that be?

JC Fisher


Jeremy Bates

Ah, a Trump supporter. Well, Trump certainly tries to project authority and certainty. Like calls to like, I guess.

Jean Lall

Interesting ‘dog-whistle’ language here, Tracy — “I guess yours is the ‘New York’ perspective and that’s fine” — picking up on Ted Cruz’s attempt to slam Donald Trump? — But this is not so much a New York perspective as a reality-based one. Kurt knows that clergy who left the Episcopal Church (sometimes trying to take parish or diocesan buildings and other assets with them) were indeed deposed (the formal mechanism for recognizing the fact that someone has resigned or otherwise departed). Some of those who left felt ill-treated as a result of this inevitable outcome. This does not change the fact that their actions initiated the process.

Journalistic training should equip a person to investigate the range of opinions on an issue and then assess the relative merits of the evidence and the arguments supporting them. It is a dodge to tell someone “Yours is just one of the versions I have seen online” as though all viewpoints ought to be taken as equally valid.

Perhaps the ultimate avoidance tactic is to change the subject by way of coded theological language: “. . .what it means to be ‘saved’ and to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We call that ‘born again’ and it is a beautiful thing.” Who is “we”? And how does this comment relate to the topic of this thread?

Tracy Lawrence

I think the definition of “abandon communion” can be used very broadly and in many cases this was applied to clergy who did not agree with what was happening politically in TEC. I would say the $60 million dollars spent on lawsuits is a pretty good indicator of how contentious this Chapter of TEC’s history has been. None of these folks, BTW, would agree with your characterization of what happened to them or with the numbers you are citing. I have a journalistic background. I try to look at all sides and discern the facts. You have your version and those who are now ACNA have theirs. I guess you can say people who don’t see it all your way are “misinformed”, but not everyone is going to fully embrace your perspective. And some who are very informed are going to completely disagree with it.

Prof Christopher Seitz

And with major losses in Texas, Springfield, and SC.

I believe we have good reason to pray that +Curry will be a new PB and will bring this to a halt.

Kurt Hill

Perhaps the abandon communion aspect can be used very broadly. But one has to leave to have it applied, i.e., “resign” from TEC, either formally, or by attempting to take their parish “out of The Episcopal Church” and affiliate with another denomination (e.g, ACNA). Even here in liberal New York City, I know a number of people–including clergy–who have disagreements with what is happening in TEC. They remain loyal Episcopalians, and no one has attempted to depose them because of their beliefs. It’s when clergy engage in *actions* (such as attempting to steal properties for another denomination, etc.) that they can be deposed for abandonment. I don’t know who you have been talking to, but the lawsuits have to do with property issues, not deposition. Much of the money for the litigation comes from insurance policies (including the insurance policy taken out years ago in South Carolina) by the Church. ACNA probably has larger “out-of-pocket” legal expenses than TEC.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

David Allen

I have a journalistic background. I try to look at all sides and discern the facts.

I would never have suspected that claim as so much of what you post here over and over these last few days is strictly from the Kool Aide of the conservative talking points.

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