Canterbury responds to HOB action

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From the website of the Archbishop of Canterbury:

The Archbishop of Canterbury today expressed deep concern about the stress for the Anglican Communion following the US Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops’ resolution to change the definition of marriage in the canons so that any reference to marriage as between a man and a woman is removed.

While recognising the prerogative of The Episcopal Church to address issues appropriate to its own context, Archbishop Justin Welby said that its decision will cause distress for some and have ramifications for the Anglican Communion as a whole, as well as for its ecumenical and interfaith relationships.

At a time of such suffering around the world, he stated that this was a moment for the church to be looking outwards. We continue to mourn with all those who are grieving loved ones and caring for the injured from the terrorist attacks in Sousse, Kuwait and Lyons, and from the racist attacks in Charleston.

He urges prayer for the life of the Anglican Communion; for a space for the strengthening of the interdependent relationships between provinces, so that in the face of diversity and disagreement, Anglicans may be a force for peace and seek to respond to the Lord Jesus’ prayer that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17: 21).

The resolutions are now in the hands of the House of Deputies for amendment or adoption.

Posted by Rosalind Hughes

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Jim Frodge
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Jim Frodge

I am not too surprised by the statement from Canterbury. There are some 80 million persons in the Anglican Communion with only about 2 million of them being Episcopalian. The Archbishop obviously needs to listen closely to the voices of the majority. I am trying to politely say that there may well be a certain amount of "politics" in this statement.

We should obviously expect some form of negative response from the communion over the recent actions by the General Convention. A few people are speculating that Canterbury will give in to the conservative elements outside the Episcopal church and recognize ACNA as a province within the communion. This would certainly appease the conservatives and provide some quasi-legitimacy to the cross border raiding that has been happening for years.

There are people on this site who know more about the workings of the communion than I. Would recognizing ACNA as a province be something that could be done and what effects would that have on TEC?

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Jon White
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Jon White

Theoretically, the Archbishop of Canterbury could decide to recognize ACNA instead (that's all "membership" really hangs on) but it seems unlikely - also for political reasons. It could complicate the ability of TEC to work in partnership w/Communion churches for Mission, and make it harder for a handful of clergy to move between churches. But I don't think it would significantly or materially affect how TEC goes about its business or does it work of mission. Still, I personally wouldn't want us to sever our traditional ties to Canterbury and our Communion partners

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June Butler
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TEC would save $750,000 this year that will go to the Anglican Communion Office, if ACNA replaced us. Still, I would not want us to sever ties with Canterbury and the AC on our own initiative.

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John Chilton
Editor
John Chilton

Membership (no quotes) lies with Anglican Consultative Council, Jon, not the ABC. There is a procedure to follow. ACNA has not applied. And I don't know of a procedure for taking away membership.

That's one of the things that annoys Gafcon et al. -- the want the ABCs to use their authority, meanwhile the ABCs past and present have rightly said they don't have it.

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David Allen
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David Allen

John, I believe that if you research it a bit, that additionally the Church of England maintains a list of provinces with which the ABC is in communion, and so also the CoE, apart from the ACC. It would be a sticky wicket to be out of communion with an Instrument of Communion and his church and yet maintained on the rolls of the ACC.

Bro David

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Jeremy Bates
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Jeremy Bates

If the Archbishop of Canterbury, the CofE, or the ACC were to recognize another "province" within the territory of The Episcopal Church, then they will have no logical argument against another such province in England itself.

The conservatives seem to want an Anglican alternative in England to the CofE.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

I'm choosing to read Justin's statement through rose colored glasses. I live and worship in England part-time, if I choose to parse his words with the British English slant, it might look devastating. As is, my two main responses are:
1. To my knowledge he has never shown "deep concern" for LGBTQ people in Africa (particularly Uganda and Nigeria) whose human rights are violated by the state and who suffer hate crimes in the street (certain "newspapers" famously out gay activists, some of whom have been killed).
2. We share the wish for an outward focus to promote peace and healing in the world. So I say let's jump in that boat together.

Having said the bit about "outward focus," however, Justin's own synod meeting in York is not exactly jam-packed with agenda items of outward focus.

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June Butler
Guest

Thank you, Cynthia. Well said.

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Scott Wesley
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The ABC's statement is interesting - and perhaps it is more important in what it does not say. He notes that the actions of TEC have broader implications, which is hardly revelation; and that for some it will cause distress, again clearly the case. But unless there is much stronger language somewhere I have not found, it really does not reprimand TEC or even particularly criticize the action taken. But the more passionate part is the call to turn to real and serious issues in the world. Perhaps I'm looking through particularly rosy glasses, but it feels to me as though he said something like - enough said about TEC, lets talk about mission. I, frankly, would support that notion. Its not that I think the movement toward equality is not extremely important - it is. And its not that I think the process is almost finished - its not. But more will be accomplished if we work together where we are together. I would love to hear the ABC harshly condemn the virulent and deadly homophobia in parts of the Anglican Communion. But, sadly, if he did I think it would further harden certain hearts. I find with this statement, the more I read it, the more I appreciate it.

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Jeremy Bates
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Jeremy Bates

"[I]it really does not reprimand TEC or even particularly criticize the action taken."

Scott, I wouldn't be so sure. The Archbishop would have no business reprimanding TEC--that would suggest a direct line of authority when there is none. The line about "prerogative" suggests that the Archbishop has learned his lesson about meddling in another province's business, especially during its legislative convention.

Even so, according to the statement, the Archbishop--

"expressed deep concern about the stress for the Anglican Communion" and

"said that its decision will cause distress for some and have ramifications for the Anglican Communion as a whole, as well as for its ecumenical and interfaith relationships."

I don't see how one can read this as anything other than critical of TEC's decision--perhaps not on the decision's own terms, and within TEC, but certainly in terms of the decision's consequences elsewhere.

With this statement, the Archbishop is basically complaining that TEC is making his job more difficult.

Of course, Welby and Sentamu make the lives of LGBT Anglicans in England very difficult indeed.

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Sharon Moon
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I especially appreciate the following selections I have taken from: The Substance of the Argument posted by Zachary Guiliano on June 30, 2015:

....retired Bishop Gene Robinson (spoke)....of baptism as a sign of inclusion and holiness:

"We have this resolution before us because we have come to understand that indeed our baptism makes us welcome, and this is another step in that. … I think it’s time that we declare how far we’ve come and where we are at the moment and where we need to go in the future."

The House of Bishops moved for a slower (if, in the end, potentially more definitive) process of trial use leading to prayer-book revision. The bishops’ amendment to the resolution on the canons also includes the opening exhortation. If passed by the deputies, the revised canon will explicitly name the traditional “goods” of marriage: fidelity, offspring, and permanence, presented within a sacramental framework.

....Bishop of Virginia Shannon Johnston opposed to any movement that would have him “vote against the prayer book.” He noted his concern:

I agree that it is certainly true that there are many arguments for and against whether we are putting canons in conflict with the prayer book. …But I must suggest that I speak in favor of this motion. I must suggest that we cannot make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Bishop Johnston noted his support for same-sex marriage, as well as his commitment to the canons and the constitutional process, and he said the resolution “is something we can support.” In closing, he said that if he were to put something in danger, “I’d rather it be a canon than a couple.”

And now my personal comment:

When the church remains silent and unmoving and endorses a "separate and unequal" liturgy it unfortunately also reinforces the hatred that is so clearly manifest by those who DO commit violence toward gays. As a mother of a gay son my worst fear is that someday, somewhere, somehow he will be attacked.

When an atmosphere of prejudicial hatred is paired with religious zealotry it is unlikely a resolution will be reached without violence, particularly if that violence has is been permitted or promoted within legal channels. Thus we have had apartheid, the holocaust, slavery, anti-Muslim, anti-Sikh, anti-gay, anti-colonial, anti-Catholic, anti-Protestant, anti-Irish, anti-Native American, anti-African, anti-Christian and many other persecutions. Unfortunately a number of these examples were supported, tolerated and some have even been carried out by Anglicans historically. Despite Christian theology of a compassionate God and admonitions against retribution and Jesus' clear command to to return evil with love of neighbor, there is almost always extreme intolerance and evil done in God's name. Anglican born and raised John Newton's conviction about just one of these atrocities led him to pen the words to Amazing Grace that were sung by President Barack Obama in his eulogy for the Reverend Clemente Pinckney just last week. How can we continue to turn our backs? How can we?

Can the ABC's current and earlier stated concern that ECUSA's actions has or may lead to the death of Christians in radicalized Muslim majority countries remain sufficient justification to hold LGBT Christians' liturgical, marital, familial and safety needs hostage? Darkness will not drive out darkness only Light can do that.

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Randy Marks
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Randy Marks

Perhaps the Archbishop did not intend to send this message, but I found painful the juxtaposition of the discussion of our decision on marriage and the statement "At a time of such suffering around the world, he stated that this was a moment for the church to be looking outwards. We continue to mourn with all those who are grieving loved ones and caring for the injured from the terrorist attacks in Sousse, Kuwait and Lyons, and from the racist attacks in Charleston." It landed as though he thinks we are more concerned about pastoral care of my LGBTQ tribe than the violence. We are, of course, concerned about both and it's a cheap shot for him to imply otherwise.

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JC Fisher
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JC Fisher

Indeed (and thank you, Randy).

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