Update: Never mind. Apparently Orombi has not resigned according to a clarification from his office by Alison Barfoot (she of the Barfoot memo). See the first comment to this post.
Ugandan Archbishop Henry Orombi has resigned from the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting and Anglican Consultative Council, two of the ‘instruments of unity’ of the Anglican Communion. He never came to any of the meeting of the group. That doesn’t prevent him from having an opinion as to why the group, in his view, does not work. He is also very clear about whom to blame.
It is clear in his letter, published in full by Ruth Gledhill, that for Orombi one only meets with people one agrees with. To meet with a person with whom you disagree is to show weakness. Thus, in his own words, he did not come to New Orleans because, as he writes, “For me to participate in a meeting in New Orleans before the 30th September deadline would have violated our hard-won agreement in Dar es Salaam and would have been another case of undermining our instruments of communion.”
Furthermore, in Orombi’s view, one never converses with those who anger you. So when the Episcopal Church was going to be represented at the later meetings, he had no choice but to absent himself.
Subsequent meetings of the Joint Standing Committee have included the Primate of the Episcopal Church (TEC) and other members of TEC, who are the very ones who have pushed the Anglican Communion into this sustained crisis.
But the last straw appears to have been those pesky clergy and laypeople. While he was absent, the process changed he says. And, reading this, one would think that Orombi has suddenly become a Primate who respects the constitutional and canonical authority of other Anglican provinces.
Suddenly, though, after the 2007 Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam, the Primates no longer had a role to play in the very process they had begun. The process was mysteriously transferred to the Anglican Consultative Council and, more particularly, to the Joint Standing Committee. The Joint Standing Committee has now evolved into the “Standing Committee.” Some suggest that it is the Standing Committee “of the Anglican Communion.”
There is, however, no “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion” The Standing Committee has never been approved in its present form by the Primates Meeting or the Lambeth Conference. Rather, it was adopted by itself, with your approval and the approval of the ACC. The fact that five Primates are included in no way represents our Anglican understanding of the role of Primates as metropolitan bishops of their provinces.
Theology and teaching, Orombi thinks, only belongs to the Primates. While he finally recognizes that the Windsor Report was nothing more than a report (how long have we been saying that?) he thinks that the actions and recommendations that flow out of it can only come from the Primates and no one else.
And now suddenly he is concerned that there is insufficient input from the various synods? Suddenly, he is worried that the Anglican Communion is taking too much power to itself? Be clear: it is okay for the Communion to have central power when the Primates exercise it and only when the Primates agree with him.
Any pretensions to respect provincial authority goes out the window when he insists that the Archbishop of Canterbury convene a Primates Meeting, specifically to condemn the Episcopal Church for the upcoming consecration of the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool as Bishop Suffragan of Los Angeles, and that the Primates come down hard on the US…again. It almost as if Orombi missed what happened among the Bishops at Lambeth. Oh, right, he missed that meeting, too.
So Orombi is angry that a process he was elected to, but absented himself from has gone on without him. He is angry that it has reached conclusions in his absence that he cannot support. And he is angry that without his input the group has come to include clergy and laity, has worked within the boundaries and polities of the members churches. His absence may have been out of principle, but what good did his absence do for what he says he believes in?
With his resignation, perhaps another Primate from Africa can step up and do the hard work of dialogue, prayer and communion.