Monday, August 30, 2010

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road to the south

The CAPA meeting in Africa is over and various statements have been issued (see here, here, and here). One of the communiques is from the Primates of CAPA: their communique is now published courtesy David Virtue. Relating to the Communion I note, in particular, these paragraphs (with my italics):

"4. We were very happy and appreciated that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams, accepted our invitation to attend the 2nd All Africa Bishop's Conference. We were encouraged by his word to us. We also appreciated the opportunity to engage face-to-face with him in an atmosphere of love and respect. We shared our hearts openly and with transparency, and we have come to understand the difficulties and the pressures he is facing. He also came to understand our position and how our mission is threatened by actions which have continued in certain provinces in the Communion. We therefore commit ourselves to continuously support and pray for him and for the future of our beloved Communion.

5. We were very saddened with the recent actions of The Episcopal Church in America who went ahead and consecrated Mary Glasspool last May 2010, in spite of the call for a moratorium(1) and all the warnings from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion and the 4th Encounter of the Global South.

This was a clear departure from the standard teaching of the Anglican Communion as stated in Lambeth Resolution 1.10. We are also concerned about similar progressive developments in Canada and in the U.K.

6. Being aware of the reluctance of those Instruments of Communion to follow through the recommendations of the Windsor Report(2) and taken by the Primates Meetings in Dromantine(3) and Dar es Salaam(4) we see the way ahead as follows:

A. In order to keep the ethos and tradition of the Anglican Communion in a credible way, it is obligatory of all Provinces to observe the agreed decisions and recommendations of the Windsor Report and the various communiqu├ęs of the past three Primates Meetings, especially Dar es Salaam in 2007. We as Primates of CAPA and the Global South are committed to honor such recommendations.

B. We are committed to meet more regularly as Global South Primates and take our responsibilities in regard to issues of Faith and Order.(5)

C. We will give special attention to sound theological education as we want to ensure that the future generations stand firm on the Word of God and faithfully follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

D. We are committed to network with orthodox Anglicans around the world, including Communion Partners in the USA and the Anglican Church in North America, in holistic mission and evangelism. Our aim is to advance the Kingdom of God especially in unreached areas." [End of citation].

Nothing new or unexpected here, save for one interesting detail re "the UK" being brought unambiguously into the ambit of concern, but an underlining of the following facts relevant to the future of the Communion:

First, a large section (a majority?) of the Communion's bishops continues to define 'orthodox Anglican' in terms which excludes most of TEC, possibly Canada, and now, possibly, the Anglican churches of the United Kingdom. Machinations on the Standing Committee of the AC will change nothing in this understanding.

Secondly, there is a reiteration of where orthodox Anglicanism is to be found in North America: 'the Communion partners in the USA and the Anglican Church in North America.' Again, a large section, if not a majority of the Communion views as thoroughly Anglican those whom TEC now views as thoroughly not Anglican enough to be part of the Communion. Is it merely a matter of time before the inclusion of ACNA in the 'beloved Communion' will come to a vote? Are the Global South primates biding their time: when they are sure of a majority on the matter in the relevant forum will they force this issue forward? (Admittedly the situation is complex: as David Virtue and others observe, two (Southern Africa, Central Africa) of twelve provinces represented at CAPA have dissociated themselves from an 'anti-TEC to the point of excluding them, pro-ACNA to the point of replacing TEC' line - see here - but this raises certain questions. Is the CAPA Primates Communique essentially also a Global South Primates' communique? (Global South is a much larger grouping than CAPA). What would the voting be if the motions were (a) include ACNA as a member alongside TEC? (b) include ACNA as a member, but exclude TEC as a member? The dissociating statement suggests any motion along the lines of (b) would fail, but (I suggest) leaves open the question of success for (a).

Thirdly, if nothing changes in the way the Communion does its business on 'Faith and Order', a sizeable section of the Communion will simply continue to meet, and 'more regularly', to do this business. Indeed, on this matter it will be 'the Global South primates' who take their 'responsibilities' seriously, that is, a larger section of the Communion than simply the African primates.

In the end it looks like the Communion will conform to the lead of the Global South or the Global South will evolve into the largest organised grouping of Anglicans around the globe.

Two roads are diverging in the wood, the thicket of Anglican controversy. Which one will churches such as my own travel along?

Incidentally, the conference was not all about Communion issues. Jan Butter tells us that the most pressing concerns addressed were human concerns in a continent full of troubling challenges.


Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,

On your second point about recognition of ACNA, the issue is which forum will do the recognising? In the AC, recognition is split between the different instruments. The Primates' Meeting and Lambeth Conference meet at the invitation of the ABC, so his personal decision about recognition of ACNA or de-recognition of TEC matters greatly. The ACC, as we have all learnt in recent times in excruciating detail, has a Scehdule of Membership which can only be changed by majority agreement of the ACC, and then a 2/3 assent by the current Primates.

Another factor is that recognition in the AC often happens from the ground up, ie on a diocese by diocese basis. For example, even though ACNA has no official recognition on a communion wide basis, a number of dioceses have declared that they are "in communion" with ACNA, and recognise them as faithful Anglicans. As I remember, the Global South communique said something to this effect.

So, the recognition question is a bit murky. I certainly can't see the ACC agreeing to recognise them. I don't think the ABC is ready to recognise them either. As with other issues, the "alternative structures" (Global South and/or GAFCON) will have to make the running.

Andrew Reid

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrew,
I agree that ACNA's admission to the Communion is a 'murky' prospect when faced with the complex question of 'how might this happen, given the mixed up nature of Communion structures?'

I think it is less murky if we envisage a rising pressure from an increasing number of member churches, their bishops and primates. Suppose for example prior to the next Lambeth it becomes clear that a whole lot of bishops will only come if ACNA bishops also come ...

But I think ACNA's progress on this matter is stymied by their stated aim to replace TEC. I cannot see that cutting any ice at all with those in the Communion who do not wish to see TEC expelled from the Communion.

Brother David said...

ACNA has also been pointed in the direction of the process for applying for admission to the ACC. ACNA appears to not be interested in the process. ACNA appears to want to just be admitted without having to do any process.

If you read things on the ACNA website ACNA acts as if it is a done deal, proclaiming itself the newest province of the AC, proclaiming Robert Duncan as the newest primate in the AC. I think that behavior even offends folks who might otherwise be inclined to accept ACNA on other terms.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,
I can never quite understand how ACNA thinks an undiplomatic approach will succeed in its quest for full membership of the Communion!

Brother David said...

WOW! On that point Father, we agree!

Kurt said...

Quite frankly, if certain guidelines were met, I wouldn’t have any problem with the ACNA, Reformed Episcopal Church, Anglican Episcopal Church, United Episcopal Church, etc. being Associate Members of the Anglican Communion. I would consider a proper basis as allowing members of TEC to receive Holy Communion in their churches (members of the Continuing Anglican denominations are already permitted to receive the Blessed Sacrament in Episcopal parishes). If they were to agree to this basic Table Fellowship, that would be enough for me. Unfortunately, most of these sects can’t even go that far in extending Christian fellowship to us.

Kurt Hill
In sweltering (96F/35.5C) Brooklyn, NY