Canterbury’s international agenda in tatters: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 23, 2011 p 1. September 23, 2011
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s strategy to hold together the Anglican Communion was left in tatters this week after the primates representing the Global South coalition of churches gave his leadership a vote of no confidence.
The Global South primates—representing the majority of the Anglican Communion’s members—have repudiated the course chosen by Dr. Rowan Williams for the “instruments of communion”, saying it lacked moral and theological integrity.
With the Anglican Covenant process under increasing pressure from liberals and conservatives, and his programme of dialogue around the topics dividing the church, but not addressing the divisions within the church, rejected by a majority of the Communion, Dr. Rowan Williams’ international agenda appears to have all but collapsed.
The latest blow came in a statement released after Aug 30 to Sept 10 Global South meeting in China. While the primates said they were “wholeheartedly committed to the unity of Anglican Communion and recognize the importance of the historic See of Canterbury,” they were not pleased with what Dr. Williams’ subordinates were doing.
The instruments of communion: the Lambeth Conference, the Primates Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, “have become dysfunctional and no longer have the ecclesial and moral authority to hold the Communion together.”
The Global South primates stated it was “regrettable” that the 2008 Lambeth Conference had been “designed [so as] not to make any resolutions that would have helped to resolve the crisis facing the Communion.”
The Dublin 2011 Primates Meeting was also a failure. It had been “planned without prior consultation with the Primates in regard to the agenda” and there had been “no commitment to follow through the recommendations of previous Primates’ Meetings.”
They noted that the call made by the 1988 and 1998 Lambeth Conferences for the Primates Meeting to “exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters” had been “completely set aside.”
The primates’ strongest criticisms, however, were reserved for the London-based Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) which it accused of bias.
The ACC, “the Anglican Communion Standing Committee, and Communion-level commissions such as the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) and the Anglican Communion Liturgical Commission no longer reflect the common mind of the churches of the Communion because many members from the Global South can no longer with good conscience attend these meetings as issues that are aggravating and tearing the fabric of the Communion are being ignored,” the primates said.
The archbishops of Southeast Asia, Uganda, Jerusalem and the Middle East, West Africa, the Southern Cone, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Myanmar (Burma), and Central Africa observed the communion had “undergone a tremendous transformation in recent decades. Today, the majority of Anglicans are found no longer in the west, but in churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are firmly committed to our historic faith and order.”
“At the same time,” the primates noted that many Anglicans in the West were “yielding to secular pressure to allow unacceptable practices in the name of human rights and equality.”
These political ideals must not trump God’s unchanging word, they argued. “Beginning with the undermining of Scriptural authority and two millennia of church tradition, the erosion of orthodoxy has gone as far as the ordination and consecration of active gay and lesbian clergy and bishops, and the development of liturgies for same-sex marriage.”
The primates Sept 9 statement said they would not be quitting the communion, however, but would focus their energies on creating a “Decade of Mission and Networking” as a “unifying vocational platform on which we realize and build up our common life and witness.”
Economic and educational ties within the Global South would be strengthened, they said, and gave their commitment to “support faithful orthodox Anglican churches and groups in the west which share our historic faith and order.”
There are 2 newspapers in the U.K. that purport to issue from the viewpoint of the Church of England. One is the old-established ‘Church Times‘, which is whole-heartedly forward- looking in its coverage of news of Anglican churches around the world. The other, which goes by the title of ‘Church of England Newspaper‘ – and under whose auspices this article was written – is more properly categorised as the voice of Evangelical Piety, subscribed to generally by the more conservative reporting staff and membership of the C.of E.
George Conger, the writer of this article, is known to be an outspoken supporter of ACNA, GAFCON and the ‘Global South’ Provinces of Anglicanism, and therefore in opposition to anything that thwarts the ambitions of the Dissenters from the status quo of Anglicanism as it now presents itself.
All Anglicans would do well to read this particular article carefully, as it shows, quite clearly, the movement of the Global south Provinces away from the benign rule of the historic Province of Canterbury. Conger lambasts the Archbishop of Canterbury, for not aligning himself – and the Church of England – with the growing ‘sola-scriptura’ school of theology that has outlawed the actions of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada in opening up the Church to acknowledgement of the progress that has been made in the inclusion of Women and Gays into the ministry and life of Churches in the Communion.
No doubt, Mr Conger and his supporters in the Church of England will be supporting the establishment of the foreign leadership of the so-called “Anglican Mission in England‘, (AMiE), whose first ‘ministers’ have been ordained by the Archbishop of Kenya, in an attempt to undermine the mission of the established Church of England. This would seem to be contrary to the wishes of the Archbishops of both Canterbury and York, and to the detriment of Anglicanism in that seed-ground of the Anglican Communion.
Sedition is a seemingly harsh word to use of this latest development in the Communion, but one which might conceivably be applicable to what is going on the Mother Church in England.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand