Only a little bit of dust has settled after yesterday's storm through Anglicanland, following what turns out to be a partial release, "Addendum A," of the ultimate communique of the Primates 2016 meeting/gathering. Part of that dust settling is a comment I read - somewhere - that, in the end, a sober reflection concludes, TEC has been sanctioned for being out of step in doctrinal innovation, not for pioneering new gospel obligations or implementing justice for the hitherto marginalized LGBT community and so forth.
Critically and crucially, we must take on board the full text of the final communique, here.
There we find, for instance, an important missing piece from Addendum A,
"The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.
The Primates recognise that the Christian church and within it the Anglican Communion have often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused deep hurt. Where this has happened they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God's love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression."
We also find the first signs on the horizon of "when" the next Lambeth Conference will be,
"The Primates supported the Archbishop of Canterbury in his proposal to call a Lambeth Conference in 2020."
And there is a "map" for future Primates' Meetings:
"The Primates agreed to meet again in 2017 and 2019."
The question of the status of ACNA and of ++Foley Beach as its Archbishop/Primate is on the minds of many observers. Within the communique itself we read this:
"The consideration of the required application for admission to membership of the Communion of the Anglican Church of North America was recognised as properly belonging to the Anglican Consultative Council. The Primates recognise that such an application, were it to come forward, would raise significant questions of polity and jurisdiction."
Of course, as some I am reading are observing, if that application came up in the next three years, TEC could not vote on it as a question of polity!
There is a superb interview of ++Beach by David Virtue here.
Church Times notes that far from ++Beach only staying for a few days, he actually stayed the whole time and took part in voting (save for declining to vote on the resolution re TEC). If that is not recognition of the validity of ++Beach's role as an Archbishop and Primate of an Anglican province, it is hard to see what more could be offered in support, save for formal membership of ACNA in the Communion. We now have a "fact on the ground" re ACNA and that is simply this: the majority of provinces of the Communion have forced the hand of the Archbishop of Canterbury to recognise the primatial ministry of the episcopal leader of an Anglican church not formally a member of the formal Anglican Communion. This is realpolitik trumping legalities!
But questions remain about the Anglican Communion as a communion = full eucharistic participation of all members (as observed, e.g., in comments to the previous post). It would appear from the following account of ++Beach in the Virtueonline interview that the Primates' Meeting did not involve a communion service solely for the primates present, rather those who chose to went to communion services at Canterbury Cathedral:
"We did not take communion with TEC or ACoC archbishops. Canterbury Cathedral has regularly scheduled offices of Morning Prayer, Communion and Evensong. Many of the Primates attended the Offices, but I did attend Communion."
The statement also makes clear that were a primatial communion service to have been offered, there would not have been full participation. So we remain somewhat still in limbo on the question whether we are dying as a(n impaired) Communion and seeing, even if most do not recognise it as a possibility, a nascent Federation emerging and evolving from the fractures of the past decades. (So, yes, I am walking backwards a bit the wording of the title to yesterday's post!)
Nevertheless, there is much to ponder, reasons for hope, and, as always, much to pray for.
The Guardian has a perceptive editorial here, gently pointing out the ambiguities of cleverness, clarity, and concealed conflict in both the dynamics of the Primates Meeting, and how things may work out from hereon.
In further thinking, I suggest continued reflection on how a future Communion or set of communion/network arrangements might work. Comments on the post immediately below and on this post raise the question of what could be deemed a "north" and "south" split, with the "north" Anglican churches reaching out to other "catholic" churches of like minds (though the "north" in this scenario could include bits and pieces of Australasian and South Pacific Anglican churches).
George Conger has a very good paragraph summing up the outcomes of the meeting from different perspectives (in an article probing what course the meeting actually took):
"For Foley Beach the issues are salvation and fidelity to Scripture. For Michael Curry it is social justice, welcoming the outcaste, and fidelity to Scripture. For Justin Welby the issue was preserving the family – keeping up appearances so that the Communion’s life goes on “as heretofore.” For traditionalists the sanctions imposed on the Episcopal Church were too light, but a start in the right direction. For the Episcopal Church and its allies the sanctions were a disgrace to the witness of the church in a broken world. For the Archbishop of Canterbury and those in his van, they were sufficient to keep the conversation going in hopes that a solution may one day be found."