AM on Advent Letter - 5th Critique

12/01/2008 22:38

Finally, AM protest that

instead of calling the Primates, who are representative leaders of their provinces to meet to consider TEC’s response to Dar-es-Salaam, the Archbishop has himself decided not to meet them and has substituted a hand-picked team of supposed specialists to determine the future life of the Communion in all its representative bodies. He is acting alone in this.

Once again I find myself both in much sympathy with AM but also ultimately unconvinced by their critique.I too believe it would have been best if all the Primates met to evaluate TEC’s response. However, it cannot be denied that there were clearly serious problems – financial, logistical, political - with that way forward. Indeed, a case can be made that to call such a meeting at this time would have been to put on this Instrument more pressure than it could be expected to bear and be action damaging to the Communion.It is ultimately the Archbishop’s decision whether to call an emergency meeting and he clearly took advice from the Primates about whether this was needed. The consultation with the Primates showed limited support for this way forward. Apparently only 3 of the 26 Primates who replied requested such a meeting! For the Archbishop to call an unscheduled meeting when there was such limited demand would probably be irresponsible, especially if, as claimed, several primates were very hostile to the idea. [See comments below for more on this point]

The proposed alternative is one AM describes as the creation of a “hand-picked team of supposed specialists to determine the future life of the Communion in all its representative bodies”. In addition to its rather cynical tone, this description seriously distorts the role of that group according to the letter.

It is not some separate “hand-picked team” doing its own thing but a group who will work ‘in close collaboration with the primates, the Joint Standing Committee, the Covenant Design Group and the Lambeth Conference Design Group’. The reason it is needed is because, far from “acting alone in this”, the Archbishop wishes to work collegially on ‘the unanswered questions arising from the inconclusive evaluation of the primates to New Orleans’. Although clearly different, there are parallels in this way forward with Windsor’s proposed Council of Advice (paras 111 and 112). There is nothing at all to suggest that it will “determine the future life of the Communion”, it will simply “take certain issues forward to Lambeth”. Far from determining the future life “in all its representative bodies” it is, as noted, working closely with those bodies and “will feed in to the discussions at Lambeth about Anglican identity and the Covenant process” - a sign, once again, of the importance of attending Lambeth and supporting and shaping the Covenant process.

Finally, rather than being an initiative originating with Lambeth or ACO this idea appears to be based on the suggestion from one Primate and province that (as stated in the summary of responses to the Archbishop) ‘a representative group comprising the leadership from the four Instruments of Communion convenes to explore ways and means of resolving the present difficulties associated with full Windsor compliance across the Communion’.The wisdom and language (‘full Windsor compliance’) of such a suggestion suggest that it originates with an orthodox, Global South province and primate. It would therefore be interesting to know if AM sought the advice of their Primatial Advisor as to whether criticism of this proposal was wise.


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