Anglican Consultative Council declines to go along with ‘consequences’
Decision was small part of day that saw action on many issues facing communion, world
[Episcopal News Service – Lusaka, Zambia] An April 18 Anglican Consultative Council marathon resolution-passing session saw ACC members take stands on climate change, gender justice, safe church environments, youth involvement in the communion, solidarity with persecuted people, and interfaith and ecumenical relations, among other issues.
And the council declined to endorse or take any action similar to the primates’ call in January for three years of so-called “consequences” for the Episcopal Church. The primates’ call was in response to the 78th General Convention’s decision to change canonical language that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorize two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).
The primates had said that they were “requiring” that for those three years the Episcopal Church not serve on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee, and “that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision-making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”
The ACC did pass a resolution (dubbed C34) that received the Archbishop of Canterbury’sformal report to it on the primates’ gathering and affirmed the primates’ commitment to walk together. The resolution also committed the council “to continue to seek appropriate ways for the provinces of the Anglican Communion to walk together with each other and with the primates and other Instruments of Communion.”
The resolution was passed early in the session with no debate because it was placed on the consent calendar, a new approach for the ACC that allowed for a single up-or-down vote on all of the included resolutions. Another resolution, labeled C35, began the day on the consent calendar and, as the afternoon session began, was withdrawn from consideration. It was a one-sentence statement by which the ACC would have said it “welcomes” the primates’ communique.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby told the ACC that he would be “very glad” if C35 was withdrawn because C34 “covers the issues we need to cover.”
Welby went on to say that when he had met the previous day in Harare with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, the notorious African leader had asked him about the communion’s stance on same-sex marriage. The archbishop said he told Mugabe that while Anglicans have “widely differing views … the majority opinion is that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and woman. And that the unanimous opinion of the primates’ meeting was that the criminalization of LGBTIQ people is entirely wrong.”
Welby reminded the ACC that his report to them told how the primates dealt with a number of other issues of “absolute supreme importance” and that the ACC, as well, is “deeply committed” to issues such as evangelism, to opposing religiously based violence, to the care of refugees and to the work of climate change response.
In the future, Welby said, “When I talk to people I am going to be honest. Let’s never pretend that things are other than they are. We are not entirely united on the issues around human sexuality. We have profound and important divisions among us. It’s clear what has been the majority opinion among us. It’s also very clear that, when it comes to criminalization, that we are deeply committed to combatting that in every place where we find it and not supporting those who support it.”
Unlike recent ACC meetings when members began considering resolutions early in the gathering, ACC-16 saw 45 resolutions all presented on the last full day of the April 8-19 meeting at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka.
The April 18 sessions constituted the only formal business conducted at the ACC-16 meeting, other than April 15’s election of Hong Kong Archbishop and Primate Paul Kwong as the council’s next chair. On April 18 the members also elected Church of England lay member Margaret Swinson as vice chair and five representatives to the communion’s Standing Committee.
Summaries of all resolutions passed April 18 are here.
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The House of Deputies News page is also posting stories about the meeting.
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– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
This is a very fulsome account of the decisions made at ACC16 by The Episcopal News Service (ENS) Reporter, Mary Francis Schjonberg, specifically relating to the ACC decision to decline to accept the so-called ‘consequences’ placed on TEC regarding The Episcopal Church in North America’s participation in governance issues in the Anglican Communion.
This decision had already been predicated in advance of the meeting by its Chair, Bishop Tengatenga and, later, by the Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Idowu-Fearon, and now the ACC16 meeting has confirmed it.
In the second part of this report, we learn that the Archbishop of Canterbury, ++Justin Welby, had just met with President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, relating to him the fact that the recent Anglican Primates’ Meeting had deplored the criminalisation of LGBTQI people According to the report, President Mugabe did not entirely agree with the Archbishop’s assertion. While the ABC has been accused of ‘double-mindedness’ on this issue, it cannot be denied that he was not afraid to face one of the principal African Leaders of homophobic polity – challenging him directly on the Communion’s official dissociation from such a policy.
While some conservatives within the Communion may have hoped that the ACC would go along with the outstanding recommendation of the Primates’ Meeting – in its determination to outlaw TEC from the official meetings of the ‘Instruments of Unity’ within the Communion (of which the ACC is the only one to include Lay representation) – this obviously did not happen. TEC retains membership of the ACC.
However, the decision of TEC’s leading contender for possible Chairmanship of the ACC – Bishop Ian Douglas – to not seek the post probably had an influence on the resolution of the stand-off situation, helping to ease any hurtful tension that could have been a problem for the future of the ACC.
The person elected to chair the next ACC was Hong Kong Archbishop and Primate ++Paul Kwong. The elected vice-chair was Margaret Swenson, a Lay member of the Church of England.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand