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‘Learn to live with difference’ says Communion General Secretary

‘Learn to live with difference’ says Communion General Secretary

In an address to the General Body of the Church in Wales, the general secretary of the Anglican Communion Office, the Most Rev. Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon said,

There are differences and there will always be differences [in the Anglican Communion]. We must learn, not only to understand, but to respect our differences. I want us to go back to the Anglican understanding and theology of the Church. We have lost it by not talking enough about it.

The problem I see in the Anglican Communion today is that those on the right and on the left want to impose on those in the centre. But those on the right and those on the left must learn to live together with a good understanding of our differences.

Read more in Highlights of the General Body of the Church in Wales September 2015, page 5 [PDF].

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for a “gathering” of the Primates. The Presiding Bishop-elect of The Episcopal Church has accepted the invitation. Primates in GAFCON have reiterated that they will not attend a “meeting” of the Primates in which the heads of the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church are present.

The Church of England Newspaper has Gafcon unconvinced by plans for Primates’ Gathering:

Sources say that Archbishop Welby reached out to the Global South group, Archbishop Mouneer Anis of the Middle East, Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean, Bolly Lapok of SE Asia, Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi — to help get this off the ground. They are said to have come on board before the invitation was issued publicly. It is their understanding the first order of business will be a discussion of what to do about the [American] Episcopal Church. …

Gafcon and ACNA people have told us they find it highly significant that the invitation is for a gathering of Primates. In other words this is not being called a Primates’ Meeting (one of the instruments of unity) but is something else. This is very important because some Churches cannot attend meetings of the instruments of communion if the Episcopal Church will be in attendance, according to decisions taken by their Churches. However, they can attend gatherings – for example, the Archbishop of Nigeria attended the installation of Justin Welby and participated in the informal gathering of primates that followed — but he would not attend a “Primates’ Meeting”.

Idowu-Fearon in his address to the Church in Wales drew on the ecclesiology of Robert Hooker. As reported in Church Times (gated):

Early Anglican theologians, he said, such as Richard Hooker, spoke of the visible Church, and the invisible Church. “To summarise: in the visible Church, to which we all belong, . . . there will always be
liars. There will always be hypocrites. And only God can decide who is in the invisible Church.

“What I hear, what I see within our Communion today, is that, even within the visible Church, we are beginning to decide who is qualified to be in the invisible Church. Anglicans must look back to our ecclesiology for the theology of the Church.”

Photo credit Church in Wales

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Jeremy Bates

"It certainly feeds the fears of people who are already dealing with phobias…"

Or preys on other people's fears.

If anyone in South Carolina ever paid Dr. Seitz much attention, the recent oral argument before the South Carolina Supreme Court is likely causing them to rue and regret this.

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Prof Christopher Seitz

What kind of drive-by ad hominem is this, please, that is allowed?

ACI was not involved in any legal work in SC.

Mr Bates is grasping at straws.

ACI was involved in Illinois and in TX.

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prof christopher seitz

The New TEC is a TEC that creates Title IV powers for a PB that the Constitution does not give. That calls the logic of the BCP marriage rite 'gender-neutral-able'. That says the Constitution is whatever the most recent iteration of GC says it is (obviating the need for one). That declares on behalf of others their 'abandonment.' That says 'all bishops entitled to vote' now means 'all those present.' That creates resolutions like 054 that are incoherent (a position with which the left concurs).

'On the ground' in TEC is now a fully moving target.

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prof christopher seitz

Yes, I get that over objections of even the parliamentarian, this was the novel interpretation. That does not make it correct -- except of course in the new TEC.

But take that minor point out, there is still the failure of roll-call.

All that aside, the days we are facing in TEC are as I describe and here I believe even your own Chilton agrees.

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Jeremy Bates

"Except in the new TEC."

Oh, please. As a matter of parliamentary law, a legislative body may overrule the decision of the chair or the parliamentarian.

This is called appealing from the decision of the chair. It is a standard procedure.

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Prof Christopher Seitz

Read Article X of TEC Constitution.

Paragraph one clearly speaks of all entitled to vote and then stipulates except for retired Bishops (when it comes to a second reading).

For a first reading, this stipulation is not to be found. So 'all bishops entitled to vote' means just that.

You cannot just override the constitution because you want to do that. And that is the entire point of having a parliamentarian. And a constitution.

This is Roberts Rules 101. Basic. Elementary. Everywhere agreed.

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Cynthia Katsarelis

"New TEC" is a concept that Christopher is pushing at every opportunity to undermine the Mind of the Church. It has absolutely no impact on the ground in the US, because the Mind of the Church is achieved through broad dialogue. The Church clearly can decide what constitutes a quorum, etc. I can't imagine that pulling in a few more retired bishops would have changed the result. Anyone believe that?

It may well have an impact of exacerbating the rift in International circles. It certainly feeds the fears of people who are already dealing with phobias... It would be so much nicer to see a peacemaker.

The ungracious and ungenerous attitudes towards LGBTQ people from the conservatives doesn't help either. It simply comes off as hate decorated in parliamentary and academic lingo. When the conservatives start condemning the human rights violations against LGBTQ people in Africa, I'll start to listen more empathetically.

Until then, it is clear to me that this is all about POWER, and not about the Body of Christ and our collective journey to the Promised Land.

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prof christopher seitz

The 'canon' in question is imprecise and will simply create a pastoral nightmare. I believe Mr Chilton concurred in that judgment.

At the follow-up meeting in the EDOD, the Bishop Pro Temp was asked if there was any discussion in the HOB about concrete scenarios for ssm. He said he asked the Chair if in effect they were being coerced. The answer given was 'you will make provision.'

Whatever that exchange means, it is clear that 054 is written in such a confused way that advocate for one interpretation will have to contend with challenge in the nature of the case.

My church historian side understands this for what it is. A poorly worded resolution, that needed a roll-call vote and didn't get one, and required a majority of all bishops entitled to vote (all above ground). Why did this happen? People a) want to move forward, and b) want to appear sympathetic to Bishops who are on their last legs. The '7 laggards.'

When petitions like this bother to cc 200+ Bishops and Standing Committees, I believe we ought to accept that this is the opening round in future Title IV work.

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Cynthia Katsarelis

Christopher, bishops don't have to allow marriage in their diocese for at least the next 3 years. My guess is that not too many "non marrying" bishops will be called and elected in the future. But that's a wild guess that's unsupported by data.

Speaking of data, here is the link to Integrity USA. http://www.integrityusa.org/
You probably know that Integrity is the advocacy group on behalf of LGBTQ Episcopalians. There are no competing groups that I know of. There is nothing there about a massive grassroots effort of any sort, beyond the one's achieved at GC and the general stuff of education and connecting people to affirming parishes.

Texas has been particularly cruel to LGBTQ people and the distances they have to travel are generally greater than those of say, Albany to Vermont. I'm not surprised that a grassroots effort to improve their situation is going on there.

You've already heard that no priest or parish has to do inclusive sacraments. So the only issue is if bishops get to oppress, inconvenience, and antagonize their gay flock. The answer for at least the next 3 years is clearly yes.

Personally, I believe that at least one church per diocese be invited to do the marriages, to minimize the inconvenience on travel. Bishops are not little popes. But that isn't what was passed.

I just hope that you aren't using misinformation and personal fears in circles that would exacerbate the divisions in the Anglican Communion. Is anyone providing accurate information to ++Justin and +Josiah, for example? Do they know that priests and parishes don't have to do forced marriages?

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Ann Fontaine

Professor Seitz: The House of Bishops agreed some years ago that the canon about quorum means those present and voting. Currently there are many more bishops "above ground" than was ever envisioned in the early days of TEC. But even so there is no precise interpretation of "quorum" so the House decided the meaning. If you disagree you can ask your bishops to put forth a different clarification of the meaning.

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William (Bill) Paul III

From IV.16 Para A (just before para B): "The House may, by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote" No mention of "those present" and this and other intentional breaches of canonical process were publicized at the time to which I referred.

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Bill Paul

Yes, Ann, the House did that, against the plain language of the text, without seeking to reword the canon, in the process of deposing a Bishop who did not, as required by canon, renounce the 'doctrine, discipline, worship' of TEC, but maintained the opposite, and who was inhibited without, again, the canonically required signatures of senior bishops, so that they could be expedient in the words of KJS. Only because we don't have an adjudicatory body was this allowed to happen: those voting against +Duncan ignored the constitution and canons because, well, they were the ones voting. Not just selective enforcement of canons but outright failure to follow them.

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Ann Fontaine

All the rules I see in the canons refer to "present and voting"-- can you give the citation you mention?

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Jeremy Bates

Dr. Seitz, I'm sure that as an academic and a church historian, you can readily distinguish between a grass-roots petition and a canon that actually passed both Houses at General Convention.

I get the impression that you hope to buffalo more bishops out of The Episcopal Church based on an alarmist interpretation of the facts on the ground. It won't wash.

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