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Gafcon issues reply to ABC’s invitation to meeting of primates

Gafcon issues reply to ABC’s invitation to meeting of primates

Key paragraph:

Consistent with this position, they [the Gafcon primates] have previously advised the Archbishop of Canterbury that they would not attend any meeting at which The Episcopal Church of the United States or the Anglican Church of Canada were represented, nor would they attend any meeting from which the Anglican Church in North America was excluded.

Read it all.

What do you make of this? Is the meeting a dead letter?

Foley Beach, the Primate of ACNA,  wrote recently,

If my fellow GAFCON Primates accept the invitation, and I am expecting that they will, then I have also pledged to attend.

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Prof Christopher Seitz

“…if Welby is inviting the ACNA primate, given the declared future orientation of his agenda, why not also invite The National Aboriginal Bishop of Canada?”

One presumes it is because ACNA is recognized by a majority of the Primates who claim to be in communion with them, whilst this is not true of, nor desired by, the NABC…though who knows, over time?

My hunch is that 85% of Anglican Communion Provinces is quite happy to receive communion from one another in spite of differences of culture (as Lonergan or McIntyre or O’Donovan or Milbank or Hauerwas or name your favorite cultural theorist might understand this), but balk at such fellowship with TEC and ACoC. This is simply a fact on the ground. Don’t shoot the messenger.

It sounds like the ABC has given the pulse of this reality and it trying to find a way to relate to TEC and the ACoC and others who believe in a national church of independent will and progressive insight.

John Schwarz

My guess would be that GAFCON will conclude it is in their interests to show up; and they will, after “prayerfully considering” their response a little longer for effect, use the invitation to an ACNA representative to “graciously” conclude that they will “reluctantly” backtrack on their prior statement and agree to go. (That is what I would do, tactically, in their place – but they do always act rationally.) They must know Justin Welby is not going to disinvite TEC and the Canadians – so there is nothing to be lost by caving on this (and they can save face, having previously made the cardinal error of making a threat which they should have known would not work, and being now stuck with a disadvantageous position). Justin sometimes is unpredictable, but I do not see Justin actually recognizing ACNA – his thing seems to be to just get everyone to the table and talking. (Good luck with that!) I would hope TEC and the Canadian Church will not “take the bait” and decline to go if ACNA is “present”. (Going to a meeting does not mean “recognizing” ACNA – that is more an ACNA-GAFCON way of thinking.) Not going would be stupid, would achieve nothing, and would essentially give GAFCON exactly what it wants…


Please post with first and last names per the commenting policy. – ed

Who ruptured the unity of the church (as warned by the Primates in 2003)? Call ACNA and other ‘schismatic’ all you want. It isn’t convincing and, in fact,makes those who lob the term around seem very small. Bill Paul

Joshua Castaño

Hi Paul, I think you have a good point that TEC made decisions that came up against the feelings of other churches in the Communion. But let’s be clear — the Communion is not a governing body with ecclesiastical authority over its members. It has been and still is an ‘federation’ or ‘association,’ of its members, all of whom are autocehphalous (to borrow a term from the Eastern Orthodox.) In that regards, the TEC didn’t ‘break’ unity as much as pushed up against a deep problem within our understanding of unity in the AC. However, in terms of schism — ACNA parishes and hierarchy did leave or refuse the authority of TEC in order to go their own way. In that regard, it was clearly schism. I have no problem using this word in truth and love.

JC Fisher

Oh, I get it: Cynthia’s response belongs down here! [And yes, I agree: Mr Harwood’s analogy is completely off-base, and offensive. We LGBT people wait for your apology, Chris H.]

Chris Harwood

Joshua, that’s like saying a husband decided that he wanted an open marriage and slept around, but the wife didn’t like it and left, so it’s really her fault the marriage fell apart, because she left. The husband didn’t ask for the divorce so it’s all her fault.

bill paul

Bill Paul. Thank you for offering in”love and charity.” But still, for me, the use of it is not descriptively adequate. Too myopic as if “the event” is their disaffiliation, without looking at full context or full drama. Also in truth and charity and not just pleading for my side, I look at ACNA (and I am in TEC) and others as realigning—a new thing, far less of a deal than TEC’s endorsement of a new (asserted, in my mind, not successfully argues) sexual ethic. I will stop there for the most part. The precipitating and provocative event far, far outdoes the response of the traditionalists.

Paul Garrett

Whoever the voices are behind this GAFCON communiqué the tone strikes me as somewhat similar to the Wicked Tenants (Mark 12:1-12 etc.) and not just in the way they have treated the communion. In many of these province’s their people are literally being killed and these “Primates” have aided and abetted their governments’ enacting “kill the gays” legislation or allowing that reality even without legislation. If instead of wasting time on the “covenant” (which was never going to fly) if both the prior and current ABC’s simply said if you want to be recognized as by Canterbury as part of the AC then affirm the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As it is I personally think it is high time to open the door and let GAFCON go its own way and let others (like the ELCA perhaps) be invited in. If the GAFCON won’t come to the banquet beat the byways for those that will.

Cynthia Katsarelis

Chris, that is a terribly offensive analogy. The liberation of LGBTQ Children of God is NOT analogous to an adulterous marriage.

It’s much simpler. Human Rights Abusers who happen to be Archbishops DEMAND that the rest of the communion also be human rights abusers. In this reality, the best analogy is a wife beater who who won’t make nice with others until they are also wife beaters.

For those who are not active human rights abusers but disagree with the discernment of TEC and Canada, the wife beater analogy doesn’t hold as well. But if they are threatening schism, that’s there problem. There has never been a central authority and they are just pretending that there’s one in order to grab power to oppress others.

JC Fisher

Cynthia, is something missing here? What you seem to be responding to (by someone named “Chris”), is not what is immediately above your post (which is by Paul Garrett). Clarification would be appreciated.

Joshua Castaño

It’s GAFCON’s attempt at a hostile takeover — and to force the AC to fully acknowledge ACNA (probably to eventually force TEC out.) But let’s be honest — ACNA is schismatic. And while some argue that the numbers indicate legitimacy (as regards GAFCON’s portion of the AC), we see that case is sorely lacking in the United States where TEC is still overwhelmingly larger than ACNA. But really, the numbers don’t matter. Another important thing to think about is — maybe its time to end the AC altogether?

Philip Snyder

I have a question. During the Civil War, was Virginia or West Virginia more “schismatic?” Virginia left the union to pursue it’s own ideas, yet West Virginia (several counties in Virginia) left Virginia to remain with the Union.

While I am not part of ACNA and don’t believe it is the best way forward, I see where it is coming from. In terms of numbers in the Anglican Commuion, ACNA is in communion with more of the Anglican Communion that TEC is. One could argue that TEC, through its innovations in the faith and practice, is the real schismatic group.

Many people will say that heresy is better than schism. I reject this dichotomy. Heresy brings schism. Heresy IS schism.

Cynthia Katsarelis

Well said, John Schwarz!

John Schwarz

“Heresy” ONLY “brings schism” (and only “is schism”) for those who believe that slavish adherence to traditional “doctrine” (doctrine envisioned as necessarily “unchanging”) is more important than loving and respecting and caring for one another unconditionally – (as I think someone we supposedly all call “Christ” told us, a couple thousand years ago, was the most important thing!).

“Persons” are ultimately more important than “doctrine” – and a lot more important than worrying about “innovations in the faith and practice” (a point that Pope Francis is currently trying to slowly bring to consciousness within the Catholic Church right now – to much resistance). What is of fundamental “value” in “being church together” is building up, maintaining and cherishing relationships. And this implies acceptance and respect for those whom we are in relationship with – and for the differences they may (in good faith) have with us – including doctrinal ones. “Unity” does not require “uniformity” (even in matters of “faith and practice”) – but, on the contrary, actually grows in the fertile soil of diversity.

It is the stubborn insistence of church-people like ACNA and GAFCON and their “my way or the highway” attitude which leads to “schism”. It is the attitude of, e.g., refusing to attend a meeting if someone who “doesn’t agree with us” attends, of calling those other people “heretics”, of refusing to share in the eucharistic fellowship of the “Lord’s Table” with them, etc, etc. This has consistently been the “Way” of ACNA and GAFCON – and never (to date) of TEC. Not one time did TEC (or the Canadians) ever try to insist that other churches in the Global South “accept” or implement any “innovations” in their own churches and cultural contexts. Not once did TEC ever do anything which interfered, in any actual way, with the ability of those US churches which ultimately became ACNA to follow their own “vision” of Christianity – or which would have required them to “accept” any “innovations” in their own congregations. (“Hurt feelings” – over differences in doctrine and practice, and over not being permitted to impose their own “ways” on others who disagree with them – do not count!)

In almost any context (except in cases of oppression and abuse), when one side in a relationship refuses to have anything to do with the other, it is ALWAYS the former that is “responsible” (or “to blame”) for the “break-up”. And, if there is indeed currently a “problem” with the Anglican Communion, that is entirely the responsibility of GAFCON and ACNA.

Ann Fontaine

Where do you find the information that ACNA is in communion with more of Anglican Communion than TEC? There are very few provinces that are not in communion with us and even among them – there are dioceses and bishops that work together with TEC all the time.

Joshua Castaño

Your comment might make one think this was VOL.

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