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Commentary on Archbishop of Canterbury’s reflections following the Anglican Consultative Council meeting

Commentary on Archbishop of Canterbury’s reflections following the Anglican Consultative Council meeting

The Anglican Consultative Council met for a marathon voting session on April 18th, as part of ACC 2016. Many hoped that the votes and comments made during the forum would provide clarity for Anglicans and Episcopalians worldwide on disagreements around the acceptance of people married to partners of the same sex. As previously reported, the group declined to take up for a vote a request that they ‘welcome’ the statement from the primates’ gathering calling for consequences for TEC.

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, even addressed human sexuality issues, stating that he wouldn’t skirt around them any longer. Despite statements on clarity, however, responses have highlighted the lack of clarity in his follow-up reflections on ACC 2016.

Thinking Anglicans has links to the reflection and a scathing critique by Tom Ferguson, the “Crusty Old Dean”. The comments on the post provide further critique and analysis. Commentators see the Archbishop as spinning and twisting words to stay on the good sides of TEC and the detractors.

One commentator (also active on the Café) notes that this is timed just before a vote in Canada on ceremonies for same-sex couples. He also notes that Welby, enmeshed in the situation, is unlikely to provide effective conflict resolution:

Given the rather positive reports about ACC-16 from other participants, perhaps it is time to find a non-invested conciliator to work with the Primates, who seem to be the hot spot for Communion conflict. Such a conciliator would need to be a non-bishop, perhaps a retired professional diplomat and lay person, someone to do shuttle diplomacy among the entrenched? All in the spirit of Ephesians, you know, to each were given gifts, some to be Primates, others diplomats and negotiators, and so forth. -Rod Gillis

Another Café commentator, Susannah Clark, parses through the fine print as it were, providing counter-points to the Archbishop. In her 7 points, she notes a confusing decision in light of the statements in the reflection:

5. “No member of TEC stood for office at the ACC elections.” So? And it’s worth noting that Alistair Dinnie, an openly gay priest planning to get married, was elected to the Standing Committee of the ACC. – Susannah Clark

A last call-out for Christopher Seitz’s comment, also familiar to the Café’s unofficial commentariat, expands on his view that the concessions TEC offers in allowing churches to not perform ceremonies for same-sex couples are temporary, and suggests that Welby is prepared to treat the TEC as only temporarily in good graces:

Knowing that this arrangement will time out shortly, and is a decoration at best, one might wonder if +Welby puts this kind of remark down simply as a marker. He surely cannot believe that a concession made for a few dioceses is expected by anyone to obtain more than a year or two. This is common knowledge. So perhaps this belongs to some kind of logic that is difficult to follow. By saying it, when it goes away, he can then declare more forcefully that TEC has gone into its own realm? – Christopher Seitz

Are you tired of the back and forth on the primates’ gathering? What do you think of the leadership of Archbishop Welby at this time? Do you think he’s become more clear on these issues or less?

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Jim Naughton

Paul, Alastair Dinnie is a lay person. Scotland, with one representative to the ACC, sent a lay person, as the ACC’s constitution suggests. Unlike a couple of other provinces that sent their primates.

Paul Powers

I asked because the main article quotes someone saying that he was an openly gay priest who hopes to marry.
Assuming that the openly gay and hopes to marry parts are correct, this indicates that Mr. Dinnie’s sexual orientation and marital plans weren’t a deal breaker for a majority on the ACC.

Susannah Clark

Yes, I must correct my earlier post at ‘Thinking Anglicans’. I wrote:

“Alistair Dinnie, an openly gay priest planning to get married, was elected to the Standing Committee of the ACC.”

Alistair is a lay representative of the Scottish Episcopal Church, not a priest, which I knew (he has a little blog at ) but I was writing too fast for my own good.

My apologies to Alistair, and for any general confusion.

Paul Powers

Is Alastair Dinnie a priest? The ACC website refers to him as “Mr,” not “Revd”.

Rod Gillis

I note that Bishop Jane Alexander (Edmonton) has been elected to the Standing Committee. It is my understanding that the Diocese of Edmonton by decision of its synod several years ago has a process for allowing the blessing of same sex civil marriages.

PS: Reprise (above) of my comment on T.A. duly noted ( :

John Chilton

Thank you for that, Rod.

So that’s noteworthy — I suppose this means the Anglican Consultative Council isn’t interested in meting out punishment.

From 2012,

Rod Gillis

And, not only that, but there is now a Canadian bishop on the Standing Committee , and other dioceses in Canada also have policies that differ with the Primates. Note the following from a recent letter to the Diocese of T.O. from their archbishop.

I’ve attached a link to the letter, just scroll down to the section, ‘Where Does This Leave the Diocese of Toronto?’

“We recognize that some of our clergy and postulants are openly partnered or in civil same-sex marriages. They are a valuable part of our clerical family. They are, or will be, available for placement in parishes that will affirm this.”

Prof. Christopher Seitz

Note the reference to *Dioceses in TEC* in my comment (see below). Your paraphrase is inaccurate: “the concessions TEC offers in allowing churches to not perform ceremonies”. I suspect you mean, ‘individual Priests’ but that was never in doubt; and that was never my point.

As written:

“It should be noted that at the same time they also decided to make provision for those who disagreed, and no diocese could be compelled to accept this change…”

Knowing that this arrangement will time out shortly, and is a decoration at best, one might wonder if +Welby puts this kind of remark down simply as a marker. He surely cannot believe that a concession made for a few dioceses is expected by anyone to obtain more than a year or two. This is common knowledge.

Ruth Meyers

Christopher, I’m puzzled by your comment that “a concession made for a few dioceses is not expected by anyone to obtain more than a year or two.” As Tobias and Jim said, General Convention didn’t set an expiration date, and I’ve seen at the last two General Conventions efforts to create space that enables dioceses to stay together even though disagreeing. I don’t see that changing quickly.

Prof. Christopher Seitz

Ruth–I think Cynthia tells you what you need to know about the pressures on the ground. “No more being empowered to oppress people, etc.” That view is difficult to square with your trust that all will be well for dioceses following GC 2018.

That, however, comes a little surprise.

More surprising is the idea that Dioceses and Bishops will not face any overriding of their canons or their (former) appeal to a BCP teaching re: marriage. I am confused as to what a ‘task force’ really means to do and whether +Curry, +Welby, and +Idowu-Fearon are, as reported, working toward the same goal.

Cynthia Katsarelis

I don’t have a crystal ball into what the task force is doing. There’s been a fair amount of confusion amongst laity about what “provisions” need to be made. There’s also a lot of anger from LGBTQI Episcopalians in those few dioceses who feel left behind. My hope is that the work will focus on best provisions for those members. I would be very angry if the diocesans got to be little popes and didn’t have to make provisions.

As it is, no priest or congregation is forced to do anything. That seems fair enough, that conservatives can follow their conscience, but are not empowered to oppress others any more. Everyone gets to do exactly what they want, except for a handful of diocesans, whose job is to uphold the rulings of General Conventions.

prof christopher seitz

1. GC meets in the summer of 2018. Hence: 2 years away. Not 3.

2. In the exchanges being referred to, +Josiah and +Welby speaker of dioceses and Bishops, not individuals. The former refers to a meeting between +Curry and +Communion Partner Bishops.

3. I do not believe there is any confusion re: “what I want” — you and others are very clear that a diocesan/Bishop ability in TEC to keep diocesan canons and retain marriage as in the present BCP is unacceptable.

4. That is what is at issue, given 2 above.

5. So what will need to be determined is a) what +Curry and the said taskforce are seeking in this respect, and b) whether what is being reported re: dioceses and bishops from +Josiah and +Welby is accurate or will prove to be what +Curry is working on and will accomplish.

I rather doubt it. But who knows? It would meet with great resistance, as your own remarks show.

prof christopher seitz

That’s great news. Hard to know how widely it is shared.

I certainly read comments here that see it as tantamount to a high crime and which assume quite strongly that Dioceses are in the wrong and they will not be allowed to continue this after the next GC. It is not fair to LGBT couples, etc.

But if you know of an arrangement whereby dioceses and Bishops will be able to retain their canons on marriage over against GC, I welcome more information.

Reports of this or that meeting are well and good. But the forces on the ground are no respecter of high-level ‘agreements’ allegedly made by PBs and Bishops.

I welcome more details from the principals.

John Chilton

It’s just false to say the canon will change in one or two years.

On this issue General Convention is the only principal that matters. And it only acts every three years — and it meets next in the summer of 2018. Until then the rules cannot be changed. Will they change at the next GC? If they aren’t changed they stay the same. I hope they do change, but that is what it is — a hope.

I’m not wishing a change in canons that would compel any ordained person to perform a marriage to which they were opposed. Rather I want any ordained person to able to perform a marriage if they wish to do so. Right now the canon says your bishop diocesan can block you from doing so.

Prof. Christopher Seitz

“…the concessions TEC offers in allowing churches to not perform ceremonies for same-sex couples” — I was specific in my comment. I was referring to Dioceses. +Welby refers to Dioceses having latitude to say No. I said that was only for a limited time and no one doubts that as of new GC, that concession will evaporate.

So the statement above has misconstrued my comment and also +Welby’s reference to Dioceses.

Prof. Christopher Seitz

Great. Just replace ‘churches’ with ‘dioceses to maintain their own canons on marriage’ and the paraphrase will be accurate.

Then the main point will not be lost: Welby referred to diocesan freedom to opt out. If he believes this, he does not understand what is common knowledge. So perhaps he is putting a marker down. That was my point.

It is lost/confused when one alters it to refer to churches/individual Priests in TEC.

Hope all is otherwise copacetic at the Café.

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