October 13, 2006

Panel of Reference: Still In Communion

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Panel of Reference (charged with dealing with matters of alternative oversight for dissenting parishes) has issued a report on the state of things in the Diocese of New Westminster. This report will prove to be of cold comfort to the dissenters, as it dismisses one of their central claims, i.e., that in order to remain Anglican they need to separate from the Diocese of New Westminster. Of particular note are paragraphs 21 and 25:

21. The argument that in order to remain "in full communion with the Church of England throughout the world" it is necessary for dissenting clergy and parishes to separate themselves from the diocese of New Westminster, adopting a title for their organisation which implies that they represent the Anglican Communion in New Westminster, in addition to or instead of the diocese and Bishop Ingham, can not be sustained. The Church of England itself remains in full communion with the Diocese of New Westminster and Bishop Ingham, pending resolution of the presenting issue, and therefore with all of its clergy, members and parishes, including those who dissent from its diocesan synod decision but remain in full fellowship with the Bishop and the diocese, together with the dissenting parishes unless they formally withdraw themselves from the Anglican Church in Canada. Even if this were not the case there is no evidence that communion with dissenting parishes would in fact be broken since such provinces which have declared impaired communion have made it clear that they remain in communion with those whom they regard as faithful.

25. The AS critique of SEM elaborates further on the claim, which we believe to be unsustainable in the current situation, that in order for the dissenting clergy and parishes to be in full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the "Church of England throughout the world" it is necessary for special arrangements to be made for them outside not only the Diocese of New Westminster, but outside the Anglican Church in Canada. It is factually incorrect to state (AS that "the province has been suspended from the Anglican Communion until 2008". In fact the Anglican Church of Canada was asked voluntarily to withdraw its representatives from the Anglican Consultative Council until the Lambeth Conference in 2008.

The report ends by once again tossing the ball back into the Provincial Court, where by all traditional and legal understandings it belongs.

How this will relate to the Episcopal Church remains to be seen. However, as similar claims concerning the Episcopal Church have been made by the Anglican Communion Network, and more recently and vociferously by such tangential bodies as AMiA and LEAC, one can only surmise that the Panel of Reference will similarly reject the similar claims, as they too are without foundation.

— Tobias Haller BSG

No comments: