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

October 12, 2006

Kigali Count Out or Handwriting on the Wall

So the Kigali conference of the Global South has managed to muster at most 20 primates (probably less) apparently willing to tell the Episcopal Church where to get off. Now, as I've noted before, the number actually needed to expel the Episcopal Church (or the Church of Canada) from the Anglican Communion is 26: a two-thirds majority of the 38 primates being required to amend the membership schedule of the Anglican Consultative Council. Even of those less than twenty a few might develop cold feet when it actually comes to a vote.

So, not having the votes, they are resorting to bluster and threats. They will absent themselves from the next Primates' Meeting unless by some feat of ecclesiastical legerdemain a rump-or-shadow Primate for disaffected Americans is sent along with the real Primate of the Episcopal Church (by then) ++Katharine Jefferts Schori. Given his past reluctance to do such irregular things, I cannot imagine +++Rowan will provide for this. So the way is paved for a grand salon de refusées consisting mostly of those who would refuse to sit in the same room with the real Primate of TEC. The door is set to open for a grand departure.

Meanwhile, shifting alliance and allegiance in the AMiA and ACN, as well as questions of "who really speaks for the Global South in the US" have begun to trickle onto the blogosphere, and members of the Windsor Report drafting team check in with their assessment of how well (or not) TEC did in "compliance" with the suggestions, recommendations, and urgings of the Windsor Report. (I'm sorry, but "Windsor Compliance" always makes me think of Mrs. Wallace Simpson and the abdication of a British monarch...)

So we continue to live in interesting times. What will the Global South's failure to muster sufficient support for its agenda lead to? What will the splintering of the American dissenter movement produce, or fail to produce? Has enough rope been provided?

&mdash Tobias Haller

October 1, 2006

If wishes was horses...

There is an old saying, "If wishes was horses beggars would ride." I take it that needs no further elaboration.

Lately, however, I'm beginning to think more along lines of, "If wishes was Communion Anglicans would have one." I say this because I'm feeling a disengagement from reality taking hold on the whole discussion. I would dignify much of this imaginary chatter with the term "paper tiger" were it not for the fact that so much of it isn't even on paper these days, but circulating in the ether of the blogosphere. Speculation is rife, as the cliché so neatly puts it. Just establishing "facts on the ground" is difficult as rumors are reported by the "journalists" du jour. Canons are ignored while various folks attribute "authority" to the latest opinions of a majority at a non-legislative conference (that's Lambeth to those who don't get the allusion, or illusion). Judgments of heresy and apostasy are tossed about like confetti at a street festival, by people poorly equipped and clearly unqualified to make such judgments. A "Global South" conference convenes and issues a statement apparently approved by those attending, and then at least two of those attending say "No way." Then it becomes questionable as to who even attended, let alone assented, as charges go back and forth, and Southern Africa is given something to Chew on. And who from Jerusalem actually attended — as press accounts differ? What, after all, has Jerusalem to do with Kigali, let alone Athens?

The point is, friends, I begin to wonder what is real any more. We seem more and more to be making it up as we go along. I've said before that we already have a real Anglican Communion Covenant in the Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council — but no one ever seems to acknowledge this even exists as a way forward out of our issues. Instead, fictive authorities are confected out of strong desires; various groups coalesce and then evaporate, leaving behind the vapor of speculation in the air while trumpeting big steps forward — as if wishing could make it so.

I am reminded of Monty Python's block of flats built by hypnosis: as long as all of the residents continue to believe in the existence of their building, it will stand; once they begin to doubt, down it comes. I would have thought the Anglican Communion, as affectionate and fellowshippy as it is, was still built of sterner stuff than sheer wishfulness. But certainly the "New Communion" promised by the Global South is as much a product of the hypnotic repetition of half-truths as any of the Big Lies with which the last century was marred.

&mdash Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG