A Statement on Archbishop Beach’s Participation at Primates 2016
The Anglican Church in North America has received numerous questions regarding whether or not Archbishop Beach was “a full voting member of the Primates Meeting.” Archbishop Beach did not consider himself a full voting member of the Primates Meeting, but with the exception of voting on the consequences for the Episcopal Church, Archbishop Beach participated fully in those parts of the meeting that he chose to attend.
Prior to Primates 2016 he was informed that there may be certain times when the Primates would move into a formal meeting, and, as the Anglican Church in North America is not an official member of the Communion’s instruments, he would be asked to step out of the room. However, he was never asked to leave the meeting.
While at the meeting, he addressed the gathering and participated in various balloting measures that set the agenda, ordered the agenda, and sought to discern the way those in the room wanted to proceed. He did not vote on the consequences for The Episcopal Church.
Some have asked whether Archbishop Beach voted to approve the final Communique or the new members of the Standing Committee. Neither he nor a majority of the GAFCON Primates were present for these discussions on Friday. Although early in the week he joined the other Primates in affirming his desire to walk together, this desire was necessarily contingent upon The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada giving evidence of returning to Biblical and historical Anglican theology and morality (Amos 3:3). On Thursday evening, with the absence of repentance, restored order, and true unity, Archbishop Beach felt it necessary to withdraw from the meeting.
Archbishop Beach appreciated the gracious invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend the meeting, and was thankful to be warmly received as the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America by most of the other primates who were present. While the Anglican Church in North America is recognized and in full communion with provinces who represent the majority of Anglicans in the world, the future place of the Anglican Church in North America in relation to the formal instruments remains an open question. Archbishop Beach was encouraged to see the growing recognition of the Anglican Church in North America as a part of the Communion by many of the Primates and Provinces around the table.
The following paragraphs contained in this report demonstrate the hopes and expectations of ACNA (‘Anglican Church in North America’ – a breakaway from TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada; the official Anglican Churches in North America, on the grounds of their disaffection with their parent Churches on matters of gender and sexuality) and of their ‘Archbishop’ Foley Beach, whose presence at the recent Anglican Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury, U.K., was at the express wish of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
“Prior to Primates 2016 he was informed that there may be ce rtain times when the Primates would move into a formal meeting, and, as the Anglican Church in North America is not an official member of the Communion’s instruments, he would be asked to step out of the room. However, he was never asked to leave the meeting.
While at the meeting, he addressed the gathering and participated in various balloting measures that set the agenda, ordered the agenda, and sought to discern the way those in the room wanted to proceed. He did not vote on the consequences for The Episcopal Church.”
If this is really what took place, then it seems that Archbishop Foley was led to understand that his presence at various parts of the meeting was implicitly encouraged, rather than being thought of by the ABC as an inhibiting factor at those meetings. This does not seem to be coherent with the fact that ACNA is a schismatic body that has intentionally separated out from the 2 Churches in North America that are officially recognised by the Communion as representing them on their home ground. This seems, at the very least, to be a divisive tactic.
“He did not vote on the consequences for the Episcopal Church”. Does this then mean that; if he had chosen to, he would have been allowed to vote – on a matter deemed to bring about the exercise of disciplne against the North America Church (TEC) from which he had defected? It would seem that, like the Archbishop of Uganda – who had desired the expulsion of TEC and the A.C. of Canada from the Communion – Archbishop Foley had also hoped for TEC’s expulsion and, because that did not happen he, too, felt the need to withdraw from further participation in the meetings.
Another disquieting feature (for me) – in the current climate of intentional schismatic activity within certain provinces of the Anglican Communion – is this egregious remark:
“While the Anglican Church in North America is recognized and in full communion with provinces who represent the majority of Anglicans in the world, the future place of the Anglican Church in North America in relation to the formal instruments remains an open question.”
Such an observation obviously rates the notional numerical strength of the GAFCON Churches as being a definitive authority for ACNA’s schismatic behaviour. Maybe the saying of Jesus, which denotes a rather different understanding of numerical strength, ought to be borne in mind by Abp. Foley and his friends: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst”
Whether ACNA will be welcomed back into the Anglican Communion will be a matter to be considered by the forthcoming Anglican Consultative Council. It is not up to the Archbishop of Canterbury, alone; nor the Primates Conference; to determine the fate of schismatics with ambitions to identify and control the mission and outreach of the respective regional Churches of the Anglican Communion.
One can only pray that the sense of unity achieved at the Primates Meeting – due in no small way to the eirenic ministry, on the final day of the Meeting, of L’Arche Director, Father Jean Vanier (whose ministry to the disabled, and those on the margins of society is now recognised as an important outreach of the Church) – might have been enough to jettison the thought that intentional schismatic activity is the proper way to sort out the differences thast exist between members of the Body of Christ.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand