Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean writes Rowan Williams

I believe that I have been patient and hopeful that our co-operation and listening, our reasoning and brotherly concern would have brought transformation. However it is now abundantly clear to me and to my people that the Episcopal Church has no intention of honouring any of the commitments it has made whether that be in terms of ”˜moratoriums’ or ”˜gracious restraint’. It is to my mind hell bent on a course that is in radical disobedience to the counsels of God in Holy Scripture. You have yourself been amazingly patient with TEC, we as Primates have made our position abundantly clear on occasions without number, some of us going so far as to declare broken or impaired communion with both the TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. This it seems has been to no avail, as the recent letter to the Primates from the Presiding Bishop of TEC makes clear that a deliberate course has been irrevocably chosen by that church. In it is stated that the intention to proceed with the consecration of a second person living in an actively homosexual partnered relationship and thereby to disregard the mind of the rest of the Communion is “”¦not the decision of one person, or a small group of people. It represents the mind of a majority of elected leaders in The Episcopal Church, lay, clergy, and bishops, who have carefully considered the opinions and feelings of other members of the Anglican Communion as well as the decades-long conversations within this Church.”

Consequently, I feel constrained by my conscience to uphold my duty as shepherd of the flock and to forthwith suspend all communication both verbal and sacramental with both the TEC and the ACC ”“ their Primates, bishops and clergy until such time as they reverse their theological innovations, and show a commitment to abide by the decisions of the Lambeth Conference. This suspension of communion would not include those bishops and clergy who have distanced themselves from the direction of the TEC (such as the Communion Partners group).

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Anglican Province of the Indian Ocean, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury

28 comments on “Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean writes Rowan Williams

  1. Loren+ says:

    This is even more dramatic than Abp Anis and Abp Orombi. Will there be another letter to Canterbury before next week’s gathering in Singapore?

  2. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Who knows, Loren? But this letter will be hard to beat.

    There are lots of strong, marvelous lines in this admirable letter.

    I loved the dig about TEC being [b]”hellbent”[/b] on taking a course “that is in radical disobedience to the counsels of God in Holy Scripture.” So true, and undeniable now.

    [i]”Consequently, I fell constrained by my conscience to uphold my duty as shepherd of the flock and to forthwith suspend all communication both verbal and sacramental with both TEC and the AC(o)C…”[/i] Absolutely justified and necessary.

    And not least I relished his line, “If over 80% of Anglicans live in the global south, why is this not reflected in communion structures?” Hmmm. Why indeed??

    Given the very prominent role of ++Ian Ernest in planning and helping lead Lambeth 2008, this move by a widely respected GS primate is very signficant. It’s all quite welcome and encouraging.

    It’s heartening to see such influential, esteemed primates as ++Mouneer Anis and now ++Ian Ernest getting sick of playing along with ++RW’s futile little games and instead calling for real change in the AC system and the imposition of real discipline.

    Next week’s meeting in Singapore seems to be looking more and more interesting and important day by day.

    David Handy+

  3. magnolia says:

    impressive. i hope this has some sort of effect on RW.

  4. flaanglican says:

    You gotta love this backhanded compliment: “You have yourself been amazingly patient with TEC.”

  5. Ad Orientem says:

    A bishop acting like… a bishop? Whoda thunk?

    I would like to nominate him for the first annual St Athanasius Award. Said award to be conferred on those bishops who are willing to not only call out heresy by name but also to uphold the admonition of scripture as also the immemorial discipline of the church catholic which absolutely forbids communio in sacris with heretics.

    ICXC NIKA
    John

  6. LumenChristie says:

    I must admit that I am quite surprised that so few people have responded to this posting, or the letters of the GAFCon Primates and Arhbp Orombi.

    Are people tired out? Jaded? Lacking or losing hope? Do these missives contain info we just don’t want to hear? Do we just have nothing much left to say?

    The reality is that things are not looking particularly good for the Covenant right now. Perhaps people don’t want to speculate on that.

    But it seems to me that a lot of people around the Communion have been putting all their eggs in a very fragile basket.

    Where [i]can[/i] we go from here, and what means will get us there? I am very hopeful about the FCA. There will be a faithful way to be Anglican Christians, if we have the courage and faith to do what is necessary.

    But the lack of engagement here with these response to TEC’s current stance is rather surprising to me.

    Any thoughts?

  7. dwstroudmd+ says:

    I expect the Covenant to work as well for EcUSA/TEc as every other intervention out of the globally-northern post-enlightenment colonialist Canterbury dominated and manipulated “interventional” Anglican Communion. I should get excited?

    On the other hand, there is faint hope that the Global South may be forcing the solution that has been evident on its face since FranK Griswold first lied to them, Williams first fried them, and EcUSA/TEc denied error.

    But I will believe that solution has occurred when it occurs, not before.

  8. Henry Greville says:

    There it is: The end of the Anglican Communion as was for over two centuries, because now there are few left who want to come to the party.

  9. Loren+ says:

    #6 Quite possibly because we can feel that the center of gravity has moved from the US or the West to elsewhere. It is harder to comment when watching the action over there somewhere than when having a front row seat. As we voted in Central Florida in January, the TEC leadership is in the process of walking apart from those still in TEC who hold a biblical, historic faith. Thus the division is done even though we are legally still connected (and thus there are still battles ahead). The center of the action has moved from hear to “somewhere there”.
    Most of our readers I guess do not really know where Abp Ian Ernest stands–and so miss the surprise of this man who months ago was questioned for being too moderate. As he writes 80% of the Communion is in the Global South and increasingly they can respond to us as the little group over there, and focus on the big things happening in Asia.
    New Wineskins Conference on Global Missions last week was a glimpse, a powerful glimpse, of what God is doing from Nigeria to Myanmar. Absolutely mind-boggling, uplifting and inspiring. One bishop talked about being used by God to grow one parish into one diocese into one province of more than 10 dioceses!!! Another speaker shared advances being made in India. Then there were those who spoke honestly of the hard work that is not glamarous and yet is testimony of God’s faithfulness to the least. And most of us are unaware. We need an education!

  10. seitz says:

    #6–Just check out SF to see that interest is by no means waning. T19 is always a little more conservative about quick posting, and yesterday was Kendall’s big day anyway.
    I’d say we are moving into the most interesting and most decisive period for the Anglican Communion we have ever been in. +Ian Ernest, +Orombi, +Mouneer, and their GS colleagues are indicating that TEC’s status in the AC is not just in doubt, but also that measures will have to be taken if they are to continue working as Primates in the Instruments. +Chew is hosting a major event next week in Singapore. CP and ACNA will both be present. Glasspool consent has been a strong vote and the PB has stood behind it. We will soon see what the larger communion will look like. On the ‘liberal blogs’ there seems to be greater awareness that the Covenant is a bad idea and that it is time to go it alone, with others, in a TEC-led Federation. More than ever before, the GS Primates understand the reality on the ground inside North America, and the various conservative responses.

  11. Cennydd says:

    I think that the signs are becoming increasigly clear that, if they see themselves losing their so far overweening influence over the Communion, Schori and Company will lead TEC and their friends in the ACofC and elsewhere away from the rest of us to form a federation……a ‘communion’ of sorts…….of their own.

  12. LumenChristie says:

    # 10. Thanks for the insights, Christopher.

    At the last 3 GenCons of TEC there were vivid visual clues pointing exactly to your conclusion. 15 — 18 international flags backed the platform of podiums, and much was made of the idea that we (TEC) are an [i][b]international[/b][/i] Church. Deputies have been warned never to refer to TEC as a [i]national[/i] church. And many indicators have been sprinkled all through the proceedings emphasizing the network of relationships and missions that TEC has independent of the AC. TEC has been carefully painting itself as just such a federation as you indicate.

    Last summer an informal poll was taken among the Deputies, and a shockingly small number of them (can’t remember exactly at the moment) had any idea what the Anglican Communion even is.

    However, the interesting part of this is that, unlike Deputies, the HoBs showed a real interest in the AC. Perhaps it is more than just Tea with the Queen every 10 years. Bishops are less enthused about surrendering the relationships.

    The only reason I have heard the TEC PB give to encourage people to stay in the AC is: “We will have the opportunity to keep the dialogue (on sexuality) going so that we can win them over to our way of thinking.” This argument did not seem to gain a whole lot of traction.

    The million dollar question now is: “If the ABC is finally forced by the Global South to choose between them and TEC once and for all, what will he do?

    That question will be moot if TEC does decide to walk away on its own. The annoying part of this is that we have to wait until at least 2012 to find out, and even then it is not unlikely that the TEC GenCon will simply try to make an ineffectual show of remaining in TEC without committing, but also without officially cutting the ties. What we are all supposed to do in the face of that, I can’t imagine.

    And Alice said: “Curioser and curioser.”

  13. LumenChristie says:

    Personally, I would be glad to see TEC thrown out of the AC so that faithfully orthodox Anglicans can get on with it without all the unending drama.

  14. Ross says:

    I tried to post this earlier, but the site ate my comment. Hopefully that won’t happen this time.

    The ABC has been consistently pushing a strategy — the Covenant — whereby TEC/ACoC will be invited to either conform (more or less) to majority Communion opinion on certain matters, or — since nobody expects that to happen — to select themselves out of the new Covenanted-Communion track by virtue of not signing on to it.

    Meanwhile, the GAFCON/FCA provinces have been making it increasingly clear that their strategy is, not to withdraw formally from the Communion, but simply to ignore the current Instruments as irrelevant; instead, they will more and more focus their attention on their own structures, e.g., their own Primates’ Meeting. The recent letters make it clear that Canterbury is welcome to run and catch up if it wants to, but on their terms, not Williams’.

    An interesting future to contemplate is if both strategies succeed: TEC declines to sign the Covenant, but so do the FCA provinces. (Quite possibly, in this scenario, they would draft and sign a Covenant that pleases them better; one that vests power in the Primates’ Meeting rather than in the Standing Committee.) That would leave the ABC rather forlornly holding on to the “official” Covenant all by himself.

  15. Rob Eaton+ says:

    I am honored to be in communion with Archbishop Ernest and the Province of the Indian Ocean.
    It will be appropriate to send along a letter of appreciation to him.

  16. Br. Michael says:

    I guess I am jaded. What is going to happen is going to happen and I don’t see much that will affect my church one way or the other. I am in an orthodox church in a liberal diocese, we are left alone. My church is content to stay in this safe zone. I see nothing that the AC does will effect us one way or the other. I say this based on the fact that so far the AC has done nothing and I don’t expect the covenant to do anything. They might be nice in theory, but as a practical matter they are irrelevant. Pretty much everything that can be said has been said and I have lost interest in the same old speculation.

    Now what I am watching is whether the Prayer Book is revised because that will have an effect.

  17. hereistand says:

    I agree with Seitz # 10 and Cennydd #11. The letters from ++Orombi, ++Anis, ++Ernest point to a choice for ++Rowan between an AC with the Global South or an AC with TEC. If LumenChristie #12 is correct, then the TEC to which your liberal bishop belongs may presently be part of a new Federation which is out of communion with and no longer recognized by the FCA Global South Provinces.

  18. hereistand says:

    Comment #17 was in response to Br. Michael’s Comment #16

  19. Br. Michael says:

    17, and my jaded reply is, “So what?”. The AC is an abstraction, it has no meaning. It has done nothing and will do nothing at the parish level. And I can’t see the diocese cutting the parishes loose.

  20. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #19 The Anglican Communion is a huge blessing to many people all over the world. At its best it connects people from different countries and cultures in a communion of common belief and worship which can support the otherwise isolated and persecuted in Sudan, Myanmar, Pakistan and other places. It can be a source of mutual enrichment and friendship, education and witness and an aid to spritual growth. I regard it as a huge privilege to belong to it and a gift of God to us all, and to the world, and that is in spite of the manifest shortcomings of some of its provinces and leadership.

  21. MichaelA says:

    A powerful and godly letter. It should be passed on to as many people as possible.

  22. seitz says:

    You have given strong testimony, PM, and an equally strong testimony to the power of Christ in places we all need Him, and a reminder to TEC that this is anglican christianity at its very best in Christ. This is why Communion matters. Not to ‘win’ an inside TEC battle, but so that the ‘least of these’ can benefit from resources those committed to anglican christianity are free in Christ to give, and in return, to learn from those who receive the power of Jesus Christ in tough circumstances. So that we might be enriched from ‘the least of these.’

  23. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #22 Amen Professor Seitz

  24. art says:

    Yes; it is possible to view GSE4’s timing as increasingly providential. But I’d like to toss another possible hat into the ring.

    GAFCON and/or FCA is only a subset of GStoSEs. Michael Poon’s paper, “The Anglican Communion as Communion of Churches: on the historic significance of the Anglican Covenant”, is hardly an insignificant kite fluttering in the breeze at this time – especially since Archbishop Chew is both host to GSE4 and was a member of the Covenant Working Group. After all, what ecclesiology [i]will[/i] the new AC, after the dust has settled, actually embody? We will still need some form of structures to help facilitate the very things for which the AC is justly an expression of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, things which the likes of Pageantmaster (and others) has already mentioned (#20).

    And so, I cannot quite see it as Ross (#14) puts it; while certainly he presents some real scenarios, there are further twists and permutations still possible, I fancy. Although he is absolutely right in that the Shekinah has well and truly shifted its centre of gravity among the constituent members of the AC and is found radiating healing and salvation and wonderful human responses in righteousness and justice in places that simply do not feature in most westerners’ parochial imaginations … As K Latourette might have put it some years ago: the tide is quite simply ebbing in the West, while being in full flow in the Majority World! Hallelujah!!

    May those of us who are now still in the West rejoice with these our new-born brothers and sisters and find ways of strengthening their desire to grow up into Christ Jesus in ways that are “staggering” (to us!) indeed. Langham Partnerships is one way for example known to me, just as SOMA continues to thrive. And I am sure others will be able to cite other useful channels of grace and truth … So may next week in Singapore hear indeed the Lion Roar from Zion!!

  25. Br. Michael says:

    20, yes I know. And I didn’t say otherwise. But my question and point remains unanswered. The AC has no relevance for an orthodox parish in a revisionist diocese. It has great relevance to you because you can interact with it. For me it is an abstraction. TEC’s status in the AC will have no effect on us one way or the other. And even if it did can a parish stay in good standing in the AC while its diocese does not? Are we not yoked to our diocesan bishop? And so far the AC and the ABC has, or cannot, offer us a way out.

    And my comment was in response to 6 in any event. This is why I admit to being jaded.

  26. Rob Eaton+ says:

    I’ll just say it as simply as possible:
    Whether visible or invisible, the Anglican Communion does have relevance for an orthodox parish in a revisionist diocese.

  27. hereistand says:

    #25 Br. Michael

    I’ve been reading the extensive comments over on Stand Firm for the past several days on the thread there related to Archbishop Ernest’s letter. As Seitz #10 responded to your comment #6, there is plenty of commenting going on there.

    To hopefully your address your point:

    1 – The ABC is now in a bind and many of the comments on SF are expecting that the lead will be coming from the gathered GS Primates in Singapore next week..

    2 – I acknowledge your point that “so far the AC and the ABC has [not], or cannot, offer … a way out”.

    3 – From the SF comments, it seems clear that the ACNA is being recognized by the GS Primates as the de facto Anglican body in the US.

    4 – A number of the SF comments indicate distrust that any REAL action will be forthcoming because there have been so many hopes in the past without meaningful results.

    5 – No one on SF is expecting ++Rowan to be decisive.

    6 – But many of us are hopeful now about the GSE4 meeting in Singapore and a clear message from the GS Primates to orthodox Anglicans. Archbishop Ernest’s letter contributed mightily to this hope.

    [Comment edited by Elf]

  28. Br. Michael says:

    I’ll just wait and see.