Thursday, July 29, 2010

Standing Committee Regrets Consecrations of Robinson and Glasspool

Some of the news from the AngComStCmt meeting of special interest to this blog:

"Progress of the Covenant
Canon Barnett-Cowan reported that the Anglican Church of Mexico was the first Province to adopt the Covenant. Other Provinces had reported on the process they had adopted and there was much appreciation for the depth of seriousness with which the Covenant was being considered.
There was a further discussion about the role of the Standing Committee with respect to the Covenant which noted that the decision-making bodies with respect to the Covenant were the Instruments of the Communion.
Legal advice on the Covenant
Following a request from the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia the Committee received legal advice from the ACC's legal adviser Revd Canon John Rees on the scope of Clause 4.2.8 of the Covenant and then requested that it be sent to the General Secretary of The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia." (Full day's report here).

Some news of special interest to me and my current role:

"Theological Education in the Anglican Communion
Two major pieces of work for the Working Party on Theological Education in the Anglican Communion over the coming year will be an international consultation for theological college Principals, and the production of a web-based course on Anglicanism. The Principals consultation is aimed particularly at Principals who work in isolated situations. It plans to offer encouragement, support, and sharing of insights about curricula and the spirituality of ministerial formation. The web-based course on Anglicanism will be based on the already available 'Signposts statement' (a concise expression of 'The Anglican Way' published by TEAC in 2007) Members of the Standing Committee acknowledged the importance of theological education in helping to share the life and well-being of the Communion."

Then some more news about covenant/moratoria/governance of the Communion:

"Further discussion on moratoria breach
As agreed, the Committee revisited Saturday's discussion. Dato' Stanley Isaacs delivered a frank and passionate presentation about the distress felt by some parts of the Communion about The Episcopal Church's decision to breach one of the moratoria. He concluded by proposing that rights to participate in discussions of matters of faith and order at the Standing Committee and the ACC be withdrawn from The Episcopal Church.
In the subsequent discussion Archbishop Philip Aspinall reiterated that the Standing Committee did not have the power to undertake such an action. He reminded the Committee that the Covenant had been drawn up to address just these kinds of points of disagreement. It was also stated that the Standing Committee did not have all the powers of the ACC, especially when it came to the Membership Schedule.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori questioned why the proposal was singling out The Episcopal Church. Bishop Ian Douglas stressed he was present in his role as an elected representative of the ACC, not a member of The Episcopal Church and he desired to always be responsible to the Council. He thanked Dato' Stanley Isaacs for attending the Standing Committee meeting despite his [Isaacs'] feelings about recent events in the Communion. He said that having other elected representatives present who represented a genuine segment of the ACC helped him [Bp Douglas] to be a better member. He added that he missed having Bp Azad's voice at the meeting.
Dr Tony Fitchett agreed that the Committee needed as full a range of views as possible. "I'm conscious I'm not here representing my province," he said. "I'm here because I was appointed by the ACC. My accountability is not to my Province. I expect to continue to serve on the [Standing Committee] even if my Province were ever to be unacceptable to other churches because of its actions."
After what Canon Elizabeth Paver described as "the time, prayer and space necessary for everyone to be heard on this matter" the Standing Committee agreed a resolution that it: "regrets ongoing breaches of the three moratoria that continue to strain the life of the Anglican Communion; regrets the consequential resignations of members of the Standing Committee which diminish our common life and work on behalf of the ACC and the Primates' Meeting; recognises that the ACC and the Primates' Meeting are the appropriate bodies to consider these matters further."" [Full day's report here].

Um. Wonder what the voting was on that resolution. Did +Douglas and Fitchett, both vocally identifying themselves as representing ACC, not their own provinces, vote for a motion which expressed regret for the consecrations of +Gene Robinson and +Mary Glasspool? (Yes, the motion included other things, including other moratoria, but read these words carefully, "regrets ongoing breaches of the three moratoria that continue to strain the life of the Anglican Communion." One of those moratoria is the consecration of bishops in same-sex partnerships. Ergo ...).

Still good to see that the Standing Committee, even in its present diminished form, can vote for a motion mildly (but inconsequentially) critical of TEC.

(I remain curious about the logic involved in +Ian Douglas' prominent role on the Standing Committee. Consider this: another breach of the moratoria concerns blessing of same-sex partnerships. These occur in the Diocese of Connecticutt (I recall reading at the time of +Douglas' consecration). In theory the following may have happened, consistent with +Douglas' words reported above: outside of his diocese +Douglas supports a motion critical of breaches of the moratoria in his capacity and commitment as a representative of the ACC, while inside his diocese and member church he supports breaches of the moratoria. If so, there is some interesting logic at play. And if +Douglas voted against the motion, consistent with the situation inside his diocese and member church, the question continues to be underlined for me about the logic of a system of representation within the Communion which includes moratoria-breaching persons on such an august committee, when they are excluded from other august bodies!)

In sum, and to try to clarify my underlying argument through this and yesterday's posts: the governance of the Anglican Communion is being exposed in our generation as at best muddly (note the way the "Standing Committee" here throws certain responsibilities to other bodies) and at worst absurd (as measured by sound organisational practice); there is significant inconsistency at work in the structure of the Communion when certain actions lead to suspension of reps of one member church from some but not all important councils/committees; it is painful to find that instigators of divisive actions seemingly have more say in the running of the Communion than those trying to represent the mind and mood of the majority of the Communion; and it is likely that lack of action on the inadequacies of the current situation will (a) further deepen the rifts in the Communion as presently organised, and (b) lead to new forms of Anglican networking and cooperation outside of, and beyond the control of the present Instruments of Unity.

In sporting parlance, we are in the process of scoring an own goal against ourselves.

If I had my way (!!) I would begin the Communion again.


Howard Pilgrim said...

Peter -"If I had my way (!!) I would begin the Communion again."

Howard - "Thanks be to God for all his abundant mercies!"

Peter Carrell said...

With one outstanding witticism, Howard, you have leapt to the front of the contenders for "ADU Comedic Commenter of 2101!!" :)

Mark Harris said...

Well...Dear Peter...I think I agree. Now, how would we begin the Communion again?

Peter Carrell said...

That is my next post, Mark, and I might just pick up cue from your lovely post about +Winston Halapua!

Bryden Black said...

Peter, you say: “(I remain curious about the logic involved ... If so, there is some interesting logic at play. ...)”

Even granting the nature of this public electronic medium, I have to congratulate you on the staggering tone of ‘English understatement’ you have employed here. Well done brother!

As a sort-of Aussie after all, I’d be calling a spade a bloody shovel at this point - or rather, something far worse! Both the context of this meeting of the SC and its (so far) published resume├ęs indeed manifest a manner of “governance”, in which I, as one somewhat versed in African styles of Machiavellian power politics let alone Nietzschean and/or Hegelian styles of thinking and praxis, simply find “trust” ebbing away as fast as the Zambezi in flood over the Vic Falls/Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders).

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, oh dear, how to choose?

Daytime TV gives us such a choice today:

Between the rock-like certainty of traditional values and faith: A Man Called Peter (remember the sermon on Ezekiel and the prophets of Baal?)

and the stirring call to launch your little ship of faith upon the stormy waters of today (money! sex! and power!) if you follow Howard's Way:

Al M.

spicksandspecks said...

I think Mr Isaacs is beginning to experience what Bishop Mouneer Anis described in his resignation letter from the SC as his presence being like a "useless cry in the wilderness" and of "no value whatsoever". Whenever anyone wants to actually try and deal with the crises confronting us, we get more of "we regret this..." and "we value that..." and "let's dialogue/indaba some more..." and "let's refer it to this other group...". What a joke!
If they really "regretted" their actions, they would throw in some other "r" words too, like "repent" (what we did was wrong) and "renounce" (we won't do it again) and "reconcile" (we will seek forgiveness from those we have wronged and repair our broken relationships).
In fact, the ACC has often frustrated or thwarted the attempts of the other instruments to deal with these crises. It has ignored decisions of the Primates' Meeting, and diluted the outcome of the Windsor Report. It is like the fruitless tree in Luke 13, where the vineyard owner waited for years for it to bear fruit, but it did not. The only effective action in these crises has come fom the ABC himself, which demonstrates that none of the other instruments are any good in a crisis. The Primates' Meeting has bark but no bite, ie moral and spiritual authority, but no operational authority. The Lambeth Conference doesn't meet often enough to deal with crises, and we all know how the last one was neutered so it couldn't speak with clarity or authority. Only the ABC and the ACC have any clout operationally, ie the powers of recognition and invitation. Yet, the ACC uses its powers to delay and prolong the crises, rather than solve them. The ABC has been guilty of that too, until recently.
Anis, Marshall, Orombi and Okrofi have voted with their feet and are investing in alternative structures. I would suggest that's where our future lies.
Andrew Reid

Kurt said...

Andrew Reid, the so-called “crisis” is a phony “crisis” manufactured by the right-wing evangelicals of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), an organization that has a very sleazy past from the Reagan era.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Tim Harris said...

Re. your interest in 'Theological Education in the Anglican Communion'. Have no doubt - beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Tim,
Thanks for the reminder about the powerful and influential Greek Anglican Church!! I had forgotten about them :)

spicksandspecks said...

Hi Kurt,
Everyone agrees we are in a crisis. The disagreement is about whether it's a good crisis (the official TEC position) or a bad crisis (the majority AC position).And it's not a "vast, right wing conspiracy" from the IRD either. The Global South and GAFCON, who are leading the charge against TEC's innovations, have nothing to do with the IRD.
Andrew Reid