AM on Advent Letter - 3rd Critique

12/01/2008 22:40

AM also express a concern that “the Archbishop accepts that TEC should remain part of the Anglican Communion fellowship”. The obvious problem here is that there is currently no mechanism by which TEC can be removed from the Anglican Communion – hence again the importance of the covenant.

The following statements about the Archbishop’s view of TEC also appear confused. It is claimed that “because TEC is not “a monochrome body” in its current approach” the Archbishop believes that “external interventions are not justified” and it is argued that this is paradoxical. The argument here appears to be that the orthodox, by staying in TEC, create the situation which then makes external intervention on their behalf unjustified.

The problem is that the Archbishop does not hold that external interventions are unjustified because TEC is not uniform – he says ‘I understand and respect the good faith of those who have felt called to provide additional episcopal oversight in the USA’. He does raise numerous concerns about this practice but none of these is the one claimed here about TEC as a mixed body. That TEC is indeed a mixed body is rather a statement of fact which, when read alongside the parable of the wheat and the tares, warns against precipitate radical action against TEC. Once again, though, it must be recalled that the Archbishop has clearly accepted that the covenant - once agreed - may lead to distinguishing constituent and associate Anglican bodies.

AM states they “stand with these orthodox Anglicans” and criticises the Archbishop for saying that “they are clearly in fellowship with the Communion” but then not doing anything - he “offers them no protection” when “TEC not only deposes many of these orthodox pastors but also pursues them and their congregations in the courts”.

Here again the question has to be asked – “what protection in practice could the Archbishop offer?”. He has no authority to prevent TEC taking court action beyond his moral authority. He again strongly exercises this in the letter when he writes about “complex and unedifying legal wrangles in civil courts”, reiterates that “serious concerns remain about the risks of spiralling disputes before the secular courts, although the Dar-es-Salaam communiqué expressed profound disquiet on this matter, addressed to all parties” and says “I wish to pursue some professionally facilitated conversations between the leadership of The Episcopal Church and those with whom they are most in dispute, internally and externally, to see if we can generate any better level of mutual understanding”.

Furthermore, the Archbishop has not – much to the annoyance and anger of many - taken any action against those within the Communion who have offered protection to these parishes. This makes it very difficult to justify AM’s further claim that the Archbishop “regards those who have offered protection by welcoming them under their oversight as equal transgressors of appropriate Christian behaviour” and that this is “to equate emergency measures with the immoral behaviour which precipitated them”. Nothing in the letter is cited in support of this claim, probably because such a departure from the Windsor analysis is not present. The only possible line of argument I can see is in relation to the non-invitation of AMiA, CANA and other ‘missionary bishops’ to Lambeth. These consecrations, however, go beyond protection by welcoming people under existing oversight to the creation of new ministries of oversight. Even here those who have offered such radical measures – Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda - have not be regarded as equal transgressors along with Gene Robinson as they have been invited to Lambeth, although paradoxically they may refuse to attend. The rationale for this non-invitation is not some calculus of “equal transgression” or “moral equivalence”. It is that the conference is a meeting of bishops of the Communion and they – like Gene Robinson – have been consecrated against the counsel of the Instruments and – in line with Windsor para 110 – their full voting membership of the Conference is perceived to be an undesirable status” which “would militate against the greater unity of the Communion”.


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