Church of England Newspaper: Three questions for the USA

By George Conger

THE ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury has set three questions for the American Church to answer at this week’s meeting of the US House of Bishops in New Orleans. Failure to pass the test, which will be graded by the primates of the Anglican Communion, may result in the de facto expulsion of the Episcopal
Church from the Anglican Communion. While no legal mechanism exists to expel a member church from the Communion, should the Episcopal Church deign not to comply with the unanimous request of the Primates, the current structure of the Communion would not likely stand the stress, and crack up.

The US House of Bishops will be asked:

1. To clarify the meaning and intent of the Episcopal Church’s 2006 General Convention resolution B033, which pledged the bishops to refrain from consenting to the election of bishops whose ”˜manner of life’ would pose a challenge to the Communion,

2. To clarify their stance on the blessing of same-sex unions. While the Prayer Book does not permit the practice, several dioceses had authorised rites for the blessing of gay unions as a ”˜pastoral’ measure, and

3. To explain its views on a proposed Anglican Covenant. While the final Covenant document has not been drafted, should the American Church refuse to consider endorsing any pan-Anglican agreement, it would render the exercise moot.

The US Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, is expected to reintroduce proposals for a ”˜primatial vicar’ who would exercise metropolitan authority on her behalf for conservatives. The proposal was first made Last November, but conservatives rejected it, saying the proposal lacked any guarantees or accountability.

The Presiding Bishop is understood to have canvassed a number of bishops about the primatial vicar plan, including one participant in the Camp Allen meetings of moderate and conservative bishops and had been given conflicting advice as to the suitability of her proposal. Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker told The Church of England Newspaper any plan that kept his diocese under the authority of Bishop Schori was a non-starter.

From the left, a group of five bishops has prepared a 98-page paper that rejects the primates’ pastoral scheme. They argue that the plans violated the Episcopal Church’s polity. But one of the purported authors of that document, Upper South Carolina Bishop Dorsey Henderson, disassociated himself from it, saying
the bishops had a duty to guard the faith and unity of the Church.

“I believe bishops have authority and responsibility to act quite apart from General Convention, and you need look no further than the catechism in The Book of Common Prayer from where my views derive,” he said.

–This article appears in the Church of England Newspaper, September 21,2007 edition, on page one


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

27 comments on “Church of England Newspaper: Three questions for the USA

  1. DonGander says:

    “To clarify the meaning and intent… ”

    Wrong question. The ABC will find some reason for hope and the whole excercise will count for nothing.

    I remember 30 years ago when the US courts were attempting to legally define pornograghy. They decided that as long as there was some socially redeeming material included (aspect) that it was not pornography.

    It seems the ABC is taking the same approach. If he finds any redeeming aspect in the US HOB, he will declare success in saving the communion. Meanwhile, the acid of TEC will continue to eat away at the Church.

  2. NancyNH says:

    I agree with Don Gander. It certainly looks to me as if the ABC is looking for loopholes, and TEC is expert at creating loopholes, real or imagined. Don’t be surprised if the ABC contends TEC has “complied.”

  3. hyacinth says:

    As far as loopholes, given my reading of Bishop Henderson’s statement and this report by Conger, I am venturing to say that I suspect the HOB may fudge in the following fashion.

    As TEC has promulgated the idea that the polity of TEC makes any unilateral action by the bishops meaningless, however, recognizing that as Henderson has noted, bishops have unique duties to uphold the faith (which is not in the purview of any other TEC body), I can see the bishops assenting to the requests of the Global South Primates in order to comply. However, TEC will respond by stating that it does not recognize the validity of the bishops’ actions and will not submit to such dictums given TEC’s polity. In this manner, the bishops have responded positively to the Primates, however, TEC will dismiss the Bishops’ statement and we will have gotten nowhere. It will essentially drag things out as the Global South will have to rethink how to respond to a Province where the bishops have “officially” taken a position which is essentially rendered null and void by the church’s polity. I see it as a loophole which has a high probability of becoming reality. TEC doesn’t want to walk away and this approach is the best and likely loophole TEC will use. Any thoughts?

  4. Nikolaus says:

    NancyNH, I’ve never expected anything else myself.

  5. Biff says:

    #3, I’ll bet you’ve nailed it.

  6. Biff says:

    One can imagine the ABC feverishly working out fudge recipes in the kitchen at Lambeth Palace….
    I’m sure he’s come up with something delectable.

  7. Phil says:

    hyacinth, very interesting. If ECUSA were smart, that’s what it would do. Being True Believers, though, I wouldn’t discount the HOB telling the Primates to go to you-know-where just for the fun of it. You know, like at Camp Allen in March.

  8. Stuart Smith says:

    #3: Given what the interim deliberations by the bishops and the Executive Council of TEC have rendered, do you really think the bishops will contradict those by appearing to comply?

  9. Adam 12 says:

    I don’t think the ABC can define compliance. He always defers to the primates citing his lack of authority as a pope-like figure. I would think he is (or has made himself) something of a pawn of whatever majority in the larger communion presides at a given moment.

  10. jayanthony says:

    What about questions #4 & #5

    When will you stop the lawsuits as requested by Dar?
    What will TEC do to protect the orthodox within TEC?

  11. hyacinth says:

    The “dialogue process” sheds new light on many things (wink!). I can very readily see that after engaging in dialogue with the ABC and others, they, like Henderson (wink) have gained new insights which “compels” them to “fulfill” their duty as bishops, as painful as this may be (wink again) and comply in the language of their response knowing very well that it will carry NO WEIGHT with TEC’s governing body. I suspect they will do this because what other strategy could get them to “technically” comply with the Primates while keeping intact the TEC polity? With this approach, the Primates can not take action immediately against TEC and TEC has then bought itself more time to fudge the whole process. The longer this gets dragged out, the greater the chances that all the orthodox will read through the fudge and just walk away. I believe TEC wants to drag this out as long as possible. GC 2009 seems like a good bet.

  12. hyacinth says:

    Do you really think that the Bishops feel any compelling reason to respond to 4 and 5? Once they have answered the crucial theological issues, the other issues are moot. Essentially, by saying the Bishops stating that they have complied with 1-3, answering 4 and 5, while important to the orthodox, becomes side issues. I suspect that many of the orthodox bishops and dioceses suspect something of this kind which is why I believe that they have begun to engage in the process of disengaging. Why begin the process of disengaging if you have any serious hope that TEC will honestly comply? The orthodox have lost faith in anything TEC will do including and especially its bishops. The bishops have a higher standard to which they must measure. When they fudge, their fudging has graver implications.

  13. Rob Eaton+ says:

    My wife will be making “Anglican Fudge” this season. $10 per pound, plain fudge. $12 / lb with nuts (nuts ain’t cheap). Each order will include a text insert of an interesting tidbit from your Anglican Province of choice (“The gift that makes a statement.”). Plus shipping, ready immediately after Thanksgiving.
    Something fun. A conversation starter that could lead to an inarticulate conclusion.
    Could be our “transition” finances, whatever that may be.


  14. RalphM says:

    #13. Rob Eaton+
    Can your wife’s receipe overcome the bitter aftertaste that always seems to follow a sampling of Anglican Fudge??

  15. robroy says:

    Don’t expect a long delay for the response to the fudge making. I note that both ABp’s Orombi and Akinola are in the states. In particular, we have the following from [url=]Captain Yips[/url]
    about Akinola who will be attending a conference this weekend at Wheaton College in Illinois and the Bp of Chicago is chaffed:
    [blockquote]Let’s see here. In the nearly 20 years of the +Griswold/+Persell regime, ASA in the northern third of Illinois has fallen south of 15,000 . Something around 20% of the parishes are moribund (as defined by me: ASA under 40, plate and pledge income under $40K) – 30 of about 144. Nonetheless [the bishop writes],

    [blockquote]”We continued to be blessed by the rich diversity brought to our diocese by the gifts and talents of all our people including our most conservative members, moderates, liberals, who are straight, lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgendered,” Persell wrote. “The God who unites us and calls us together in all our diversity for mission is stronger than those who would fracture our unity in Christ. Be of good courage and cheer.”
    The Common Cause meeting will follow immediately the HOB fudge session.

  16. Rev. J says:

    How could this appear in an English Newspaper on 9/21/07 when today is only 9/19/07? Are they in some kind of time warp, or am I?

  17. Sherri says:

    Rob+ is there a mailing list for ordering Anglican Fudge?

  18. Mathematicus says:

    #16, is not possible that the paper is a weekly, and this is from an advance copy?
    My problem with the story is that I think I am remembering correctly that is was not the conservatives who first rejected the idea of a primatial vicar. Instead, was it not it was the “liberals” at a TEC HOB meeting earlier this year, claiming it that it would violate Episcopal polity? I could be wrong; I have been many times.

  19. Publius says:

    I am not optimistic. On the other hand, the run up to this meeting is different than that before GC 2006 and Dar. Before those meetings the ABC’s colleagues (e.g. Bps. of Durham and Wichester, etc.) warned TEC to comply with what the Communion was asking for. Note that there are no similar warnings now. Also note well that, in the run up to GC 2006 and Dar, notwithstanding the tough warnings and rumors about what the ABC would do in response to another provocation by TEC, in fact the ABC did the opposite. At Dar, for instance, the ABC endorsed the subgroup report’s preposterous conclusion that TEC had complied with the Windsor/Dromantine requirements.

    By contrast, there is almost complete silence in the run up to New Orleans. What does all this mean?

  20. Marcia says:

    ABC’s #3 is not a current issue. Jayanthony #10 lists the two other questions that must be answered this week. PV/PC and lawsuits are crucial questions. With Dr. Williams’ successor in Wales rejecting the covenant concept, HoB cannot make a wrong answer on that question. It is just a time-waster.

  21. Rob Eaton+ says:

    This is the kind of Anglican Fudge that makes you feel like it makes sense — and you want more of the same. And since none of the pieces are cut exactly alike, it is easy to justify that another one is going to be different than the first. To h*** with the consequences….!


  22. Rob Eaton+ says:

    God bless you, my dear.
    I have to make sure my lovely wife is on board with this candy-venture. But with her in real estate as it is now, and who knows what happens with me after the end of the year, I’ll bet she’d be happy to expand her normal pre-Advent baking (with certain individuals providing free labor).
    In anticipation, I’ve created a new email address:


  23. Ross says:

    #18 Mathematicus says:

    My problem with the story is that I think I am remembering correctly that is was not the conservatives who first rejected the idea of a primatial vicar. Instead, was it not it was the “liberals” at a TEC HOB meeting earlier this year, claiming it that it would violate Episcopal polity? I could be wrong; I have been many times.

    There has been more than one “Primatial Vicar” proposal. ++KJS floated one a while back — well before DES, as I recall — and it was roundly rejected by reasserters because the PV would have been under the Presiding Bishop.

    The DES Communique had a different version of the PV scheme; that was the one that the HOB rejected in March as being a violation of TEC polity.

  24. cssadmirer says:

    The CEN print edition has to be ready by midweek in order to be printed in a timely way. It comes out every Friday, hence the date.
    Last time I checked they had email subscriptions but only for people in the UK.

  25. Daniel Lozier says:

    I don’t believe the Primates will allow the ABC to declare TEC has complied. It was THEIR requirements, not his. Therefore, whatever comes out of this meeting, it will be the combined Primates that will determine if TEC has complied by the 30 Sept deadline. HOWEVER, what the ABC says about TEC’s compliance will speak volumes to the Primates as to what role he will hold in the future of the Communion.

  26. w.w. says:

    There is absolutely no chance the House of Bishops will “clarify” specifically that TEC’s non-celibate gays, lesbians, et al are included among those whose “manner of life” would disqualify them from being bishops. Period.

    They didn’t do it in Columbus, they won’t do it in New Orleans.

    Why don’t they just state in no uncertain terms where they stand instead of trying to foist off the most tasteless fudge yet on the Anglican Communion? Let Bp Chane draft their response. THAT would clear the air.


  27. William#2 says:

    I was at a Men’s Bible Study today and we were reading about the stoning of Stephen. I guess if he had compromised he wouldn’t have been stoned. Proclaiming the Gospel was more important to him than life; well, it was life. So New Orleans is simply meaningless folks, even if the politicians who claim to be apostolic leaders parse words like lawyers and cut a deal.