November 22, 2008

Reminder about the Communion

As the Duncanian coalition of former Episcopalians and never-were Episcopalians coalesces or congeals into form in a few weeks, they appear to remain hopeful that whatever they are will be recognized as a new Province of the Anglican Communion.

This is unlikely, for two reasons.

First, one would assume that to be a member of the Anglican Communion one needs to be in communion with the Church of England. That is determined, according to English Canon Law, jointly by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the two English Primates.

Second, to be listed on the schedule of Churches or Provinces that are part of the Anglican Consultative Council requires an affirmative vote of the Council and the assent of two-thirds of the Primates of the already existing member Churches or Provinces.

Both of these seem unlikely. In the first case, the Archbishop of Canterbury has already indicated his not wanting to depart from the long tradition of geographical integrity that has formed a part of Anglicanism since the Reformation. (See Article 37 of the Articles of Religion.) His personal "nightmare" as he mentioned in a speech some years ago, is having St Mary's Anglican Church across the street from St Joseph's Episcopal Church -- members of two different provinces of the Communion in the same location. (Previous rare exceptions on the basis of history, as in Europe, or because of cultural or linguistic differences, as in some Church of South India parishes functioning in the US, are anomalies -- and more important, are engaged in a cordial and mutual relationship; not the antipathy and lack of communion we are seeing develop with Duncan et alia.) Archbishop Rowan has to date steadfastly refused to recognize any of the extant bishops of this constellation, though he is of course quite willing to meet with them to talk. But it seems unlikely he will back a second province for disaffected Anglicans in North America.

Secondly, it is very unlikely two-thirds of the Primates would want to see such a development, as it would open the door for similar adventures in their own Provinces.

Of course, there will be a parcel of Primates who will go ahead and recognize the New Duncanian Thing, whatever the ACC or Canterbury and York say about it. There have long been signals from the Global Southerners that they think they can do without Canterbury, and they may soon have to see what that is like.

What such a blend of partial recognition (by some Primates but not enough to change the Constitution) and nonrecognition (of and by Canterbury) will lead to remains to be seen. My prognostication is a temporary division in the Anglican Communion As We Know It, as some, but not all, of the Globally Southern and Their Friends in Other Places create some boundaries between themselves and the rest of the Anglican Communion. Such a separation may not, in the long run, be a bad thing. One reality I've learned in parish life is that trying to keep unhappy people involved doesn't solve their unhappiness or promote the happiness and effectiveness of others.

Tobias Haller BSG


Kirkepiscatoid said...

My guess is that this will be their "out" to doing as they please, hiding behind "Well, we WANTED to join the Anglican Communion, really we did, but THEY wouldn't let us..." Sigh.

Robert said...

I can hear the chorus already. "We didn't leave the Anglican Communion, they left us."

Jan said...

Your conclusion about unhappy people in a parish is right on.

Frair John said...

I think hat we will have a fairly complicated system for a bit. Already I've had an "Anglican" co-worker tell me that +Rowan was "inconsequential" to the matter since , after I prodded her a bit, he didn't do what he was "supposed" to do. When I pointed out that this was very different from what she had said just a week before, that Canterbury was "essential" and that TEC would be out on it's ear for sure, she got very defensive.

In the end there is going to be am overflow of resentment and an even louder reinvention of themselves as they try and bend reality to their world view. After all, they've managed to get their neo_Donatim labeled "orthodoxy," so they have a precedent for this.

June Butler said...

His (Rowan's) personal "nightmare" as he mentioned in a speech some years ago, is having St Mary's Anglican Church across the street from St Joseph's Episcopal Church -- members of two different provinces of the Communion in the same location.

Tobias, you're probably correct in your assessment of the the likelihood of the separatists being admitted into the AC, but I wonder....

Some years ago, the ABC's statements on gays and lesbians were quite different from his recent statements. Could he be having different nightmares these days?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

I see your point, GM, but I think this is one area where the ABoC hasn't changed -- not that I really think he's changed all that much on gays and lesbians; it's just he's a very thoughtful guy who always lays out all the sides of an argument. Getting to know what he really thinks about something takes a good deal of digging, and looking at the overall "arc" of his world-view. And as far as the church goes, that world view tends towards a "world-church" -- a "tight" communion with a covenant. What is going on with GAFCON &c runs counter to the "real" Anglican Communion, covenant or not. You may have noticed that even the Covenant Conservatives like Ephraim Radner have been very public in their saying the GAFCON experiment is a Bad Idea.

I think that Rowan will be willing to let these provinces "walk apart" for a spell, with the hope and understanding that they well, like Bo Peep's Sheep, come home again some day. (As I recall, the Bo Peep nursery rhyme is said to have been written about some Bishop with a wayward flock, but I'm willing to stand corrected...)

I suppose some time after Dec 3 we will have a better read on all of this; but for now, I think Rowan will stay out of it and see what happens. Another thing he is always very clear on is that each Province has to be responsible for its own behavior; and I don't think he's any too happy with Nigeria and the other fractious and fracture-making provinces.

Marshall Scott said...

I also remember Canterbury at some point saying that a situation like that of the Orthodox Churches in North America (multiple overlapping jurisdictions, with variable levels of mutual recognition and respect) as something he did not want to see, although I'm having trouble finding the citation. Since he would have enough trouble with multiple jurisdictions even if they weren't in communion, I think having multiple jurisdictions that purported to be "in communion" would trouble him even more.

Anonymous said...

I am quite shocked at the viciousness of this blog toward conservative or traditional Episcopalians/Anglicans. It seems that many of the posters hold their positions to be just as "infallible" as their objectors' positions. When I was in seminary 30 plus years ago, I recall that the trademark of a liberal was their tolerance. Now I see an almost neo-fascists approach toward conservatives, traditionalists, or whatever you want to call them. I am absolutely ashamed of our liberal lack of tolerance. We try to drown out disagreeing voices with whistles. We use parlimentary procedure to our choosing in order to silence our opposition. We try to hide their posters behind our larger banners. In short we adopt all of the unhealthy strategies of the those who we opposed and make them holy because WE SAY these strategies are holy.
Yet, in our liberal midwestern diocese no one is swarming to get into the doors of congregations and we continue to lose people and monies. Why, because others are not attracted by how we live. They don't care what we say. They want to see us practice what we preach.

FrairJohn, who says they are the only one reinventing themselves, or bending their reality? They accuse us of the same thing. But we are the correct ones, right?
Robert, who says you or they are Anglican? +Rowan is reluctant at this point to take a stance on either TEC or those other dioceses. And what if +Rowan recognizes them? Then what? Or is really our responsibility, TEC's intelligentsia's, to correct Canterbury. What about the other Anglican provinces? What if they recognize them as Anglicans? What if 35 million African Anglicans leave fellowship with Canterbury? Will we debase them to?

Nonetheless, I have maintained deep friendships with people who I disagree with most profoundly and I would never think of profiling them, even when I am attacked by them, as I have seen my more enlightened liberal friends do.

So, they leave? Big, fat, deal! May God bless AND prosper them! For those of us who stay, I am willing to bet that we, the Episcopal Church, will not be able to even replace 10% of all the Episcopalians who left by 2020. We will become more and more of a clanging symbol, or a noisy gong. Why won't TEC grow, because we are too in love with our own images.

I ask any of you: Who are God's children? Us? Them? I venture that God will see all of us as children.


P.S. And if I am wrong about how pompous and uncharitable we liberals have become, I point to the moderator's assertion "of reserving the right to cite comments in other contexts".
How utterly unfair and unfaithful to the author's words. I am beginning to wonder if they might not be right after all. Maybe we are blind revisionists who see and read only what we want to. God help us be more Christ-like.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...


This is nothing other than a rant, and an unreasonable one at that. Although many of my commenters are firm in their beliefs, I don't think any of them are "vicious." And although I moderate comments, it is very, very rare for me not to post one. I think I have only decided not to post a comment three or four times since this blog began. Sometimes I will post part of a comment, but not the whole thing, but again that is usually because of an outside link, or truly over the top language -- and that goes for "liberals" as well as "conservatives."

I will address your PS, addressed at me, as you have completely missed the point, reading bad will into my policy about citing comments in other contexts. This had nothing to do, as you seem to think, with a desire to twist people's words. (Most conservatives with whom I engage, including Matt Kennedy and Kendall Harmon, at least respect my fairness and levelheadedness even if they disagree with me strongly, as I with them.

However, just so you know, I have that policy about citing comments because I do write in other fora than this blog, and I may wish to quote a comment from this blog in that other context. I am sensitive to copyright issues, and want to make it clear that by commenting here a commenter gives me the right to quote them. So there is nothing sinister involved in this, certainly nothing "unfair and unfaithful to the author's words"!

Meanwhile, you have misunderstood me in an extremely uncharitable way, and one contrary to my intent. I think you need to take a good long look at yourself, as an example of the very intolerance you imagine is taking place here.