Loyalty and Obsession in the Anglican Communion

Loyalty and Obsession

by the Revd Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of Human Sexuality Group on General Synod

Giles Goddard

As I reflect on the forthcoming Primates’ Meeting two words sound loudly in my head; loyalty and obsession.  I can’t imagine that there is any Anglican, anywhere, who does not recognise the Anglican Communion as flawed and imperfect – but the vast majority of us hang on in there, speaking and preaching and attempting to live out the Gospel despite years and years of frustration and, often, harsh and cruel exclusion.

Because we believe in the possibility of redemption, and we understand that all institutions need to constantly renew themselves in order to flourish. Faithful and loyal Anglicans, spending most of our time working in the vineyard, trying to get on with those around us doing the same.

But it seems to me that conservative evangelicals in the C of E and the Anglican Communion are wrapped in an obsession that has affected their entire relationship with the C of E and the Anglican Communion.  In a statement issued by AMiE after the consecration of Andy Lines, the group said:

“A new generation of Anglican church leaders is being identified, trained and sent out to share the good news of Jesus and bring people together in new local churches. These churches and their ministers require the support and example of missionary bishops who themselves both proclaim and defend the Gospel, and will encourage others to do the same.”

It’s sad. There’s a clear implication that the thousands of Christians working hard and faithfully within the Church of England to witness to the gospel –  including many loyal, faithful conservative evangelicals – are in some sense tainted, their ministry undermined by the very fact of their association with those who believe the gospel calls us to welcome LGBTI people.

It sets up a false dichotomy between ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘inclusion,’ diminishing the Christian call to preach the love of God to, as Desmond Tutu says, ‘all, all, ALL!’, and has fundamentally distracted the C of E from its core mission for decades.

However, the obsession seems to ride a coach and horses through attempts to live and love and learn together. We see it in the behaviour of the primates who have decided to absent themselves from next week’s meeting and set up alternative structures.

We see it in the behaviour of Church of England bishops – particularly the diocesan bishop of Blackburn, recently returned from the GAFCON meeting in Egypt –  who have welcomed the arrival of an AMiE bishop in England. We see it in the behaviour of conservative evangelicals like Jane Patterson who sit on the CNC and at the same time act as trustees for AMiE- affiliated churches. It’s so counterproductive.

I was asked by the Archbishops to be a consultant to the group of bishops charged with putting together a Teaching Document on Human Sexuality. I know that there is a some scepticism about the usefulness of the proposed document. Long grass and fudge has been much in evidence in the comments.

But I am clear that this document has the potential to be a game changer, if  it’s produced with care and carefulness. At the moment we have nothing, within our core documents, which expresses inclusive theology as part of the Anglican deposit of faith. We have not yet formally acknowledged that it is possible to be a loyal and faithful Anglican and at the same time allow the love of God to flow wherever it will.

I have a Muslim friend who, recently, told me how impressed he was by the speed the Church of England changes. Really? I said, doesn’t feel like that to me. But he had a point; things don’t happen overnight.

It’s the loyalty and faithfulness of those of us who seek to help the Church of England to grow into its own fullness of being which enable change to happen. The resistance to change make the process more painful, and distorts the generosity and beauty of the gospel. I wish conservatives would stop obsessing and, instead, work for the growth of the whole body of Christ in all its glorious diversity. I pray for the Primates meeting next week.

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Here we have a ray of hope for a more inclusive Church – at least in the Church of England – as the Revd Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of Human Sexuality Group on General Synod, speaks of the hopes and fears around the forthcoming Anglican Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury this October.

 His reference to the likelihood of a GAFCON absence from the Primates’ Meeting, hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, draws our attention to the fact that there is already a radical split between the ultra-Conservatives in the Anglican Communion (mainly from the Global South) and those of us who would like to be part of a Church that included ‘all sorts and conditions’ of people, including those of the LGBTI community who are already part of the Church and are waiting for that Gospel ethos of acceptance – as fellow sinners – in the world of the Church.

Canon Giles is hopeful of a ‘game change‘ within the theology and praxis of the  Anglican ‘Deposit of Faith’, that will ensure that gay people and others who are ‘different’, will no longer be excluded from the Body of Christ that is charged with the pastoral care and redemption of all humanity – regardless of their race, gender class or sexual orientation. 

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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ABC ‘Looking Forward’ to Primates Meeting

Archbishop Justin excited by prospect of “extraordinary” Primates’ Meeting

Posted on: September 20, 2017 3:52 PM

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in an ACNS video looking ahead to the October 2017 Primates’ Meeting.
Photo Credit: ACNS

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been speaking of his excitement at the prospect of next month’s Primates’ Meeting. Archbishop Justin has invited primates and moderators from around the Anglican Communion to Canterbury for the meeting, which runs 2 – 6 October. The gathering gives Anglican leaders an opportunity to discuss major issues within their provinces, broader topics affecting the whole Communion and more general global matters.

“I am greatly looking forward to the Primates meeting,” the archbishop told ACNS. “It’s an extraordinary feeling to have the leaders of all the provinces gathering together to pray, to encourage one another, to weep with one another, to celebrate with one another.”

The final agenda will be agreed by the primates themselves at the beginning of the meeting. But it is expected to include sessions on mission and evangelism; reconciliation and peace-building; climate change and environment; and migration and human trafficking.

This is the first time that the primates have met since their meeting and gathering in January 2016. In a video for ACNS, Archbishop Justin described that as “one of the most memorable weeks of my life”, saying that it had been “demanding and extraordinary”.

The key thing that had emerged, he said, was the unanimous vote from those present to “walk together” even though that might be at a slight distance. A Task Group, set up after the last primates’ gathering to examine a range of issues including the restoration of relationships and the rebuilding of trust within the Communion, will present a preliminary report to next month’s meeting.

Archbishop Justin spoke of there being an “energy in the room” when issues such as evangelism, the environment, war and peace and refugees had been discussed in 2016. He said he’d emerged from one meeting saying “this is why the Communion’ exists.”

Sixteen new primates have taken office since the last meeting. One of them, Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo, will be representing the newly-created province of Sudan. Archbishop Justin the presence of the new primates was particularly exciting. “There will be a whole lot of fresh energy and fresh excitement – and, no doubt, some tough questions … I think that’s going to be fabulous.”

A small number of primates have indicated that they won’t be attending, for a variety of reasons.

“We will miss those who are not there,” Archbishop Justin said, “miss them very much.”

The archbishop urged the Communion around the world to pray for the meeting – that the primates would be caught by the Spirit, would find unity in Christ and be able to walk onwards together.

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“We will miss those who are not there,” Archbishop Justin said, “miss them very much.” – Archbishop Justin Welby, of the upcoming A.C. Primates’ Meeting.

Having, though, already said:  “It’s an extraordinary feeling to have the leaders of all the provinces gathering together to pray, to encourage one another, to weep with one another, to celebrate with one another” – one imagines that the ABC’s excitement might be less evident when the Primates actually meet – minus those of the conservative GAFCON contingent who do not turn up to the meetings.

Whatever reasons other defaulters might give for their absence – apart from those who genuinely have good pastoral (non-political) reasons for their absence – the Chair of GAFCON, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of All Nigeria, has already declared that he will not be there, on account of the ACC’s refusal to exclude TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada because of their stance on Same-Sex Marriage and other gender and sexuality issues.

It is not yet known who else will not be there, but after the recent statement of affirmation of the GAFCON Primates made by the Global South Primates for their leadership in the Communion (presumably away from the traditional leadership role of the archbishop of Canterbury – having already set up their very own ‘GAFCON Primates Council’); it could be that other Global South Primates might be among those absent from the AC Primates’ Meeting at Canterbury this October.

Let’s all hope that those who actually do meet together at Canterbury in October, will have more cause for celebrating than weeping. And if the GAFCON Primates insist on excluding themselves from the meeting, perhaps it will be easier for those who are present to celebrate their commonality on the issue of Unity in Diversity, which has long been a specifically Anglican charism, more in tune with the Gospel imperative than institutional sexism and homophobia.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

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Communion Sec.Gen. calls GAFCON ‘Divisive’.

Primates meeting: Tensions build as GAFCON hits back at ‘inaccurate and misleading’ Archbishop’s statement

Two senior Nigerian bishops are at the heart of a fraught build-up to a meeting of global Anglican heads next month.

Primates, or leaders of the 39 provinces around the world, will gather for six days in Canterbury in October to discuss, among other topics, their disagreements over the Church’s approach to homosexuality and transgender people.

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon is the former Bishop of Kaduna in Nigeria.

A number of conservatives have either announced their refusal to attend or are considering doing so with the most prominent figure to snub the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation so far being the Archbishop of Nigeria.

Responding to the revelation the arch-conservative Nicholas Okoh will boycott the conference in protest over a perceived liberal drift on sexuality, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said he was ‘reneging’ on a promise.

‘At their [last] meeting in January 2016 the primates agreed to walk together,’ said Idowu-Fearon.

‘However, the door remains open and he would be very welcome to attend next month’s primates’ meeting.’

Now GAFCON, a worldwide traditionalist grouping of which Okoh is the chair, has hit back. A spokesman told Christian Today Idowu-Fearon’s statement was ‘not only provocative, it was also inaccurate and misleading’.

The body, which claims to represent millions of Anglicans in the poorer and more socially conservative global south, says the commitment to ‘walk together’ made at the last primates meeting in January 2016 was conditional on The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the USA being barred from representing the Anglican Church on decision-making bodies.

Conservative archbishops in Africa, South America, and South Asia insist this did not happen. In a communiqué released last week they said: ‘While we expressed a desire to walk together as a Communion, this was contingent upon our decisions regarding The Episcopal Church being respected and upheld.

‘Unfortunately, this agreement was not enforced and The Episcopal Church has been allowed to take part in decision-making regarding “matters pertaining to polity and doctrine”. They have also represented us in ecumenical meetings. This has led to a further breakdown of trust and confidence.’

Idowu-Fearon, as secretary general of the Anglican Communion, has the responsibility of holding the diverse spectrum together. He holds conservative views on sexuality himself but has not hidden his frustrations at compatriots such as Okoh who he says are ‘divisive’.

In an interview with the Church of Ireland Gazette last December, he said the prominence of sexuality as an issue among African church leaders is because of influence by American conservatives.

‘The very strong minority conservatives, not in the UK but in America, they have found a footing amongst some of the leaders in Africa,’ he said. ‘They are the ones that sort of pumped this thing into the leaders, and the leaders decided to make it an African thing. It is not an African thing. There are homo­sexuals everywhere — even in my diocese.’

He added: ‘There is no diocese on the contin­ent of Africa where everybody subscribes to the same position.’

Openly criticising his fellow African leaders, he said the Church there ‘lacks what I would call effective leader­ship’ and bishops ‘do not see them­selves as leading the way Christ leads his Church. Rather the African church leader sees himself in the light of the traditional rulers: those with absolute authority. There is no consultation.

He said he had told Okoh previously ‘our effectiveness is in remaining partici­pating in all that is going on’ and is bold in his assessment that GAFCON is ‘not a movement of the Holy Spirit because it is divisive’.

The (Anglican Communion)  primates will meet from October 2-6 in Canterbury.

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There can be little doubt that Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon – a former leader of the Anglican Church in Nigeria and now the Secretary-General of the worldwide Anglican Communion – believes that the issues of gender and sexuality presently dividing the Global South Churches from the rest of the Communion need not lead to the culture of intentional schism that seems to preoccupy the GAFCON leaders. Commenting on a recent statement issued by the GAFCON Primates, the article – by journalist Harry Farley –  has this to say:

“Conservative archbishops in Africa, South America, and South Asia insist this (The  structured exclusion of The U.S.Episcopal Church from participation in the governance of the Anglican Communion) did not happen. In a communiqué released last week they said: ‘While we expressed a desire to walk together as a Communion, this was contingent upon our decisions regarding The Episcopal Church being respected and upheld. Unfortunately, this agreement was not enforced and The Episcopal Church has been allowed to take part in decision-making regarding “matters pertaining to polity and doctrine”. They have also represented us in ecumenical meetings. This has led to a further breakdown of trust and confidence”.

This stand-off, by the Primates of the GAFCON group in the Global South, has now led to their Chairman, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, stating categorically that he will not be present at the Meeting of Anglican Primates in Canterbury, England in October. Whether this will mean the absence of the other GAFCON Primates is yet to be seen. However, if the majority of them are missing from the Primates’ Meeting, this will cause the other Primates of the Anglican Communion to re-assess what it means to be a part of the Communion’s link with Canterbury as the Founding See, and the ABC as ‘Primus-inter-pares” – the title traditionally held by the reigning Archbishop of Canterbury.

Clearly, the Communion Secretary General, himself a former Nigerian Anglican Church Leader, believes that the Statement of the GAFCON Primates risks proving to be a step too far for the health of the Anglican Communion.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Rhetorical Question (Peter Jensen) ‘Is GAFCON Divisive?’

Is Gafcon divisive?

Peter Jensen

The suggestion that Gafcon is a divisive movement, and in particular aimed at breaking up the Anglican Communion, is one I hear from time to time.

It’s heartbreaking to hear it because it is untrue and it is an indication of the power of gossip.

I never tire of telling the story of the meeting of Primates at the end of the Jerusalem Conference 2008.  I was asked by the chairman to become the secretary to the movement.

Before answering, I asked the Primates, ‘Is it the aim of Gafcon to break away from the Anglican Communion? Are we setting up a new Communion?’

The reply was an instant, unanimous and resounding ‘No!’  Just as well, as I would not have had any further role in Gafcon had the answer been anything else.

We are committed to the Anglican Communion, we are committed to its spiritual vitality, to its commitment to the word of God and the preaching of the gospel and the sheer goodness of our fellowship in the Lord.

It is for that very reason, however, that we have taken the steps, scripturally mandated, to call those who have separated themselves from us by false teaching back to repentance and back into fellowship with us.

The problem is that fellowship is catching. You can catch goodness from fellowship – a good model of holiness, a shared concern, the deep prayers for each other, material help. But we can also catch spiritual diseases from each other – pride, idolatry, false teaching, for example. Fellowship is powerful.

When we knowingly have fellowship with those whose teaching endangers the gospel itself, we are in danger of catching the same disease and at the least endorsing it and putting others at risk.

They may choose to move away from us, but our task is to call them to repentance and to renewed fellowship in the truth of God’s Word.

To label this ‘divisive’, bearing in mind that it is a response to a deeply divisive prior action, is tragically misleading. Gafcon’s motivation is not to divide or to ‘grab power’, but to help ensure that the Church is preaching the truth for the sake of souls.

Be assured: Gafcon is not divisive. It stands for the renewal of our Communion according to the word of God and for the glory of Christ.

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Former Australian Archibshop Peter Jensen: “I never tire of telling the story of the meeting of Primates at the end of the Jerusalem Conference 2008.  I was asked by the chairman to become the secretary to the movement”.

And just why was this retired Australian Archbishop asked by the Chairman (of GAFCON) to be the secretary of the movement? Could it possibly be because Peter Jensen was one of the prime movers of the organisation which eventually became responsible for the cult of intentional schism within certain Churches of the Anglican Communion, and was then- on his retirement as Archbishop of Sydney – in a position to oversee its eventual breakup strategy?

Methinks Jensen ‘protesteth too much’, on this issue of the divisive nature of the GAFCON organisation – of which he was one of the prime movers – even before the gathering of conservative bishops, clergy and laity at the first GAFCON meeting. His origins in the Australian Diocese of Sydney – well-known in the worldwide Anglican Communion to be the home of classical Protestant Anglicanism,  based on a conservative Sola Scriptura ethos –  placed him in the unique position of an influential Western spokesperson for the negative attitudes towards  sex and gender issues currently being addressed by Churches of the Anglican Communion.

Believing that he – and GAFCON – are the ones in the right on these important issues of human justice and credibility has led him into defending GAFCON’s activities in sponsoring schismatic ‘churches’ in North America and the U.K. (ACNA, AMIE, and other quasi-Anglican sodalities) that are now posing a real threat to the unity of the Anglican Community. Jensen has only himself to blame for the current division, and the threat of further divisiveness to come.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

 

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Catholics and Same-Sex Marriage?

Catholic Church Will Change Views on Same-Sex Marriage

  • Latest News

Same-sex marriage and the Catholic church’s views on it are likely to change, says US Democratic Vice-presidential candidate and devout Catholic, Tim Kaine.

His comments were made on Saturday at the US annual national dinner for the Human Rights Campaign.

“My support for marriage equality now — my full, complete, unconditional support for marriage equality — is at odds with the current doctrine of the church that I still attend.

“But I think that’s going to change, too … And I think it’s going to change because my church also teaches me about a creator in the first chapter of Genesis who surveys the entire world including mankind and said it is very good, it is very good,” he said.

“Pope Francis famously said, ‘who am I to judge?’ And to that I want to add: Who am I to challenge God for the beautiful diversity of the human family?” Kaine said. “I think we’re supposed to celebrate it, not challenge it.”

Kaine’s deep Catholic faith has remained a tremendous part of his life, and when he ran for Virginia’s governor in 2005, he campaigned on opposing same-sex marriage.

Since then, he danced around the issue for several years and then ultimately publicly supported equal marriage rights for same-sex couples as Virginia’s senator in 2013.

Kaine said that while he signed an executive order soon after taking office as governor that barred discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation, as a devout Catholic “I believed that marriage was something different.

“I knew gay couples as friends, in my neighborhood. I knew them to be great neighbors. I knew them to be great parents to beautiful kids. And I saw them struggle with antiquated and even hostile adoption laws.

“But I had a difficult time reconciling that reality with what I knew to be true from the evidence of my own life, with the teachings of the faith that I had been raised in for my entire life,” he said.

Source

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Roman Catholic Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate, Tim Kaine, seems to think that his Church will – eventually – come around to the idea of Same-Sex Marriage. However, LGBTQ Catholics will probably not be holding their breath on this possibility:

“My support for marriage equality now — my full, complete, unconditional support for marriage equality — is at odds with the current doctrine of the church that I still attend. But I think that’s going to change, too … And I think it’s going to change because my church also teaches me about a creator in the first chapter of Genesis who surveys the entire world including mankind and said it is very good, it is very good,” he said.

It is interesting though, that Tim Caine once held entirely different views on this issue. However, with the passage of time, and the introduction of Same-Sex Marriage into the U.S. civil sphere, many Catholics are beginning to think differently about the possibility.

Although, in another sphere of ethical concern,  the Roman Catholic Church had held its ground on artificial contraception – not issuing any guidelines for its widespread use anywhere in the world – it must be obvious to even the most orthodox defenders of Catholic doctrine that this particular moral stricture is not being obeyed. Furthermore, there is a real concern in the most heavily-populated Third World countries that the ban on contraception is leading more and more people into a life of poverty that is not consistent with the quality of life the Church would want for its poor.

Here is an instance of a high-ranking politician in the United States of America, who is also a convinced Catholic believer in the idea that LGBTQ people are an intrinsic part of the created order and, as such, should be allowed to forge faithful monogamous relationships – in the only way to fit with their particular inbuilt sexual identity.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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FORGIVENESS – the reality of our relationship with God

This weekend, it was my turn again to preside at the 8am BCP Mass at Saint Michael & All Angels’ church, here in Christchurch. The three lessons from our Lectionary were coherent (which isn’t always the case) – each pointing to the need for us to actually experience and acknowledge God’s forgiveness of us – in order that we can be in a position to release God’s forgiveness into the lives of other people. Judgement is not ours to give but belongs to God alone. Here are my thoughts in the sermon for today:

SERMON – ORD.SUN 24 – SMAA, CHRISTCHURCH – 17 SEPTEMBER 2017

GENESIS 50: 15 – 21         ROMANS 14: 1 – 12             MATTHEW 18: 21 – 35

Today’s Lesson from the final chapter of Genesis shows how God can work through even the most difficult of circumstances to bring about the divine purpose. (I am, reminded of the words of the Easter Exultet: “O Happy Sin of Adam, that gained us to great a Saviour”) If Joseph had not been sold to the Egyptian traders by his brothers, he would never have been in a position to help them when famine threatened to destroy the people of Israel. What then happened was that, after the death of his father, Jacob, Joseph was able to forgive his brothers for selling him into slavery, thus restoring a broken relationship.

This goes to prove that, when any of us is in trouble because of what we may have done in the past to offend another person, provided we are properly penitent, we open up the way to forgiveness – not only for ourselves but for the other people we may have wronged in the process. All that is needed is for us to be willing to acknowledge our faults and to recognise our own need of forgiveness. We then need to forgive those who have wronged us!

Being human means that we have the capacity to do things that are not good, but; because God shared our humanity in the person and ministry of Jesus, God understands our fallen human nature and will forgive our sins – provided we are willing to admit to them and to accept God’s forgiveness. Of course, this also means that we must seek the forgiveness of those whom we have hurt in the process – which is what Joseph’s brothers asked of him.

In his Letter to the Romans, Paul is urging them to be considerate to those whose faith journey is different from their own. Personal scruples are not to be criticised, because each has their own faith journey and is answerable only to God for their beliefs – as long as they are not contrary to the New Commandment of Jesus – that we should love one another as God loves us – not judging one another but supporting one another in the common Faith that we have been given by the Holy Spirit in our Baptism into the Person of Jesus. We may need to forgive others for merely being different from ourselves!

Verses 1 to 12 of Romans, chapter 14, that we heard today warn us that we are not to judge our fellow Christians. Rather, by our own quality of life, we should encourage them by showing the fruit of love that proceeds from our own faith journey – not boasting of it but sharing the benefits with others.

Forgiveness, then, is right at heart of today’s lessons from the Scriptures. First; Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers for their harsh treatment of him, in selling him to itinerant tribesmen. Secondly, we are urged not to judge another person’s practice of their Faith; And now, in Saint Matthew’s Gospel, we are warned about the problem of holding other people’s sins against them while feeling entitled to forgiveness from God for the wrongs we ourselves have committed.

On this subject, I’ll always remember the story of Mister Do-as-you-would-be-done-by at primary school, which, in our earliest years of learning, taught us children what it meant in the Lord’s Prayer when we ask our Father to ‘forgive us our sins – as we forgive those who sin against us”. This turns out to be the very best therapy if we find ourselves too ready to judge others.

As if to back up what we have already learned from the other 2 readings, we find, In the parable of the ‘unforgiving debtor’, Jesus describing the servant who threw himself on the mercy of his master and was forgiven his substantial debts. However, when it came to those who owed him money, the servant had obviously forgotten the generosity of his master and proceeded to hound his unfortunate fellow servant who owed money to him, and had him thrown into prison until the debt could be paid. This injustice could not, of course, be overlooked when it came to a final reckoning with the master when he returned.

An important point that has been made to me, is that the ‘Master’ is this case is not God but a fellow human being. God is not prone to throw a sinner into prison, for instance.

It should be plain from this story of Jesus that none of us has the right to judge another’s sins – lest we be judged for our own. Even if our lives were above reproach, this never gives us judging rights over the perceived sins of other people. Perhaps this is why Pope Francis has focused his ministry on the Love and Mercy of God – rather than on God’s Judgement. When we, as God’s children and brothers and sisters of Christ, are able to exercise the virtues of pity, love, and mercy in a world so needy of these simple gifts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then the trials and tribulations of our fellow human beings can be alleviated. This is what is involved in God’s plan of redemption, and we Christians are called to be a part of that. Jesus said: “Others will know you are my disciples by your love” – not by your criticism or harsh judgment!   As God forgives us our trespasses, so we must forgive others who sin against us.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy and Strong; have mercy upon your Church and upon all your children. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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ACNA’s Decree Vetoes Women Priests & Bishops

ACNA College of Bishops Issue Solomonic Decision on Women’s Ordination

ACNA College of Bishops Issue Solomonic Decision on Women’s Ordination

NEWS ANALYSIS

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
Sept. 10, 2017

In a decision that will not please everybody, but one that goes against the grain of progressive Anglican provinces like The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church of England, the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Australia and AOTEAROA; the Anglican Church in North America vetoed women bishops and women priests, but left open the door to those dioceses that still wish to ordain women.

“We agree that there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province. However, we continue to acknowledge that individual dioceses have constitutional authority to ordain women to the priesthood,” said the statement.

The College of Bishops unanimously agreed that women will never be consecrated as bishops in the Anglican Church in North America.

ACNA does allow women to be ordained to the Diaconate.

This decision flies in the face of a recent decision by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who oversaw the first women consecrated as bishops in the Church of England. Two weeks ago, the Anglican Church of Australia consecrated its first woman archbishop.

Internationally among the global Anglican Communion, it is a mixed bag.

There are four Anglican Communion jurisdictions that do not ordain any women to any order. They are: Central Africa, Melanesia, Papua New Guinea, and South-East Asia.

Two Anglican Communion jurisdictions do not ordain women priests. They are Nigeria and Pakistan. Most African provinces ordain women to the priesthood, with the exception of Rwanda and Nigeria.

One Anglican Communion jurisdiction that permits the ordination women priests, but hasn’t done so yet is Burma.

Eleven Anglican Communion jurisdictions permit the consecration of women bishops, but haven’t done so are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Central America, Japan, Mexico, North India, the Philippines, Scotland, the Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Ten Anglican Communion jurisdictions that have consecrated women bishops are: Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Southern Africa, South India, the United States, Wales and Cuba.

Ten Anglican Communion jurisdictions that have priests but do not permit the consecration of women bishops are: Burundi, Hong Kong, Indian Ocean, Jerusalem & the Middle East, Kenya, Korea, Rwanda, South America, West Africa and the West Indies.

Six Anglican Communion provincial and extra-provincial jurisdictions that have woman priests, but the canonical status of the consecration of women bishops is questionable and have no bishops are: Burma, Bermuda, Ceylon, the Falkland Islands, Spain and Portugal. It could not be ascertained if the Congo has women priests. They do not have or allow women bishops.

Overall, there is little evidence, theological arguments aside, that women priests or women bishops have successfully planted churches or made churches grow.

It should be further noted that the Roman Catholic Church does not ordain women to any order as expressed in the current Code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that “Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination.” The Catholic Church teaches that this requirement is a matter of divine law and thus doctrinal. They also believe that women cannot be validly ordained as deacons.

The Orthodox Church precludes the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopacy. It is a matter of Holy Tradition, as well as a vision of ministry as something not limited to the ordained priesthood.

Alice Linsley, an American anthropologist and former Episcopal priest who renounced her orders after extensive biblical, theological and anthropological studies says the priesthood of women is informed by feminism and Process Theology, not by Scripture or sacred history.

Linsley believes the temptation is to create a designer church or to seek to reproduce the late great Episcopal Church. “No new ground can be won by facing backward. We have entered upon a great adventure as pioneers on a new frontier.”

She observed that the wreckage of women’s ordination can be seen in the same diocese that put forward Barbara Harris, the first African American female bishop; Geralyn Wolf, the first female bishop to have converted from Judaism; and Mary Glasspool, the first partnered lesbian bishop. “I knew them all…their perspectives on the priesthood were informed by feminism and Process Theology. Our paths diverged dramatically once I began to consider questions about the origin and nature of the priesthood from the perspective of anthropology.”

“Catholic Anglicans have a special role to play in the revitalization of Anglicanism worldwide. We have a responsibility to oppose feminism, process theology, reductionism, fundamentalism, and iconoclasm,” she said.

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This article, from David Virtue (proprietor of the blog ‘Virtue on line’), gives evidence of ACNA’s backward step from the Ordination of Women, by issuing this puzzling proclamation of its future ruling on the ordination of women as priests and bishops.

On the one hand, the recent meeting of the bishops of ACNA – some say there might be an exaggerated proportion of bishops to the number of clergy and laity in ACNA – has decreed that no woman will be ordained bishop or priest within its North American Province – Except in those dioceses which have already decided to ordain women! If this sounds at all odd, then it is not inconsistent with much of the theology of this schismatic organisation that grew out of the Episcopal Church in North America (TEC) – because of its acceptance of gay and lesbian clergy and bishops.

Whatever the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion makes of this declaration, there can be no doubt that it is at odds with the majority of those GAFCON Provinces (from which the formation of ACNA sprang) where women are actually accepted for ordination. It would seem that ACNA’s intention here is to align itself with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, whose constitutions forbid the ordination of women. This is a very interesting argument for ACNA to make – considering its recent intentional schismatic severance from the Anglican Communion Churches in communion with Canterbury.

Not that this would worry the leaders of ACNA who have broken the Eucharistic bond with those Canterbury-affiliated Provinces of the Anglican Communion. And as for ACNA’s backers in the GAFCON sodality, their connection with Canterbury has become more tentative than real with their determination not to take part in the Anglican Communion Instruments of Unity – the Lambeth Conference and the Meetings of Provincial Bishops of the wider Anglican Communion.

Obviously, by his championing of ACNA and its protocols, Mr. Virtue can hardly be considered to be a reliable reporter of ‘Anglican Affairs’, siding as he does with ACNA, GAFCON, and others who are active in repudiating the official Churches of the Anglican Communion.  

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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