No money and pressure from Celtic Anglicans influence ABC’s decision on Primates’ Meeting

By George Conger

Reactions to the US House of Bishops New Orleans statement amongst the Primates have broken along factional lines, with conservatives denouncing the statement as insubstantial and dishonest, while liberals have praised its candor and modesty.

The divergent views of the adequacy of the US response to the Primates request for clarification of American church practices towards gay bishops and blessings further complicates the Archbishop of Canterbury’s hopes of forestalling a schism within the Communion.

Straightened finances and fears of a boycott by the primates of Wales, Ireland and Scotland to an emergency primates’ meeting to discuss the American response to the primates’ Dar es Salaam communique, has led to Dr. Williams telephoning the Communion’s primates to try to find a common mind. Whether the primates’ round robin will produce an amicable resolution appears to be further hampered by the different world views of the players in Anglicanism’s great game. Aides to the Archbishop told The Church of England Newspaper during his meeting with the American bishops in New Orleans that Dr. Williams hoped to find the right combination of words that would satisfy the church’s disparate factions.

However, leaders of the Global South coalition have demanded not words, but action from the American church, and have little trust in the veracity of American promises of good behavior. Leaders of the liberal wing of the US Church and across the Communion are also divided, with some arguing that truth must not be subordinated to expediency while others hope their place within the councils of the church can be saved through the artful use of semantics.

The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Alan Harper of Armagh lauded the American response, saying the American “Bishops have gone a considerable way to meeting the reasonable demands of their critics.”

Archbishop Harper noted the “generous agreement” of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori “to put in place a plan to appoint Episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight” and stated that while the bishops had declined “participation in the ”˜Pastoral Scheme’ offered by the Primates,” they had “at least” recognized the “useful role” of the Communion in these debates. Dr. Harper stated this seemed to be a “balanced and relatively generous response in a very delicate area of inter-provincial relationships.”

Bishop David Beetge of the Highveld, the acting primate and vicar general of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, said he welcomed the decision “for the simple reason it gives us more space and time to talk to each other.”

The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Brisbane said he believed the US had “responded positively to all the requests put to them by the Primates in our Dar es Salaam communiqué.”However, he went on to damn the American Church with faint praise saying “Certainly they have responded to the substance of those requests.”

However the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen was not as sanguine. “At first reading, the statement from the TEC bishops does not seem to say anything new,” he noted. “The situation may not then be changed in any way.”

The African churches were stronger in their condemnation. “What we expected to come from them is to repent. That this is a sin in the eyes of the Lord and repentance is what me, in particular, and others expected to hear coming from this church,” Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said.

The Assistant Bishop of Kampala, David Zac Niringiye told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme Uganda believed the statement was inadequate as it was “not a change of heart”, but a temporizing solution.The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola stated the US response fell short of what was required. The primates had given the US “one final opportunity for an unequivocal assurance” that it would conform to the “to the mind and teaching of the Communion.” He said the primates were unwilling to accept further “ambiguous and misleading statements” from the US Church. “Sadly it seems that our hopes were not well founded and our pleas have once again been ignored.”

Meanwhile the Anglican Mainstream group said they were disappointed with the response because it failed to address the specific questions asked of it by the Primates’ Meeting in February, and backed the Common Cause College of Bishops. In a statement they said: “The first two points ”” on the election of non-celibate gay and lesbian bishops, and on public rites for blessing same-sex unions ”” suggest that the TEC House of Bishops has agreed not to walk further away from the rest of the Anglican Communion for the moment. “However, the TEC House of Bishops gives no indication of being prepared to turn and walk back towards us so that we may walk ahead together, and in reality same-sex blessings are continuing. “Moreover, there is no response to the Primates’ request to suspend all legal action.”

The Church Society also rejected the House of Bishops statement saying it demonstrates TEC has ”˜abandoned orthodox Christianity’.

–This article appears in the October 5, 2007 Church of England Newspaper, page 3, under a different headline


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

33 comments on “No money and pressure from Celtic Anglicans influence ABC’s decision on Primates’ Meeting

  1. Br. Michael says:

    We may very well see a split in the AC along liberal Weastern/orthodox GS lines.

  2. Brian from T19 says:

    Why not just send out a survey with a free Archbishop of Canterbury pen? The ridiculousness continues.

  3. Katherine says:

    According to the article, the Celtic church Primates are refusing to come to an emergency Primates’ meeting — presumably because they know they’d be outvoted? Here’s the split, and long before Lambeth.

  4. John Wilkins says:

    Actually, Katherine, there is no guarantee they would be “outvoted.” It might be split down the middle. There are 8 angry provinces. Some of the conservatives aren’t as angry (Korea, Japan). And the Celts, well…. Perhaps this is the gift the Southern church is giving American conservative churches.

    Better music.

    If the reasserters start using African drumming in services, I’ll be the first to admit, the reexaminers have lost the battle forever.

  5. William#2 says:

    This is what inquiring minds want to know: will there be a TEC meeting to respond to the primates response to the New Orleans HOB response to the Dar Response to the Gen Con 2006 response to the Dromantine clarification of Windsor?
    Once again to my everlasting chagrin, Brian from T19 and I agree, except we are already past ridiculous bordering on pathetic.

  6. AnglicanFirst says:

    There is a need for some perspective when discussing the Scottish Episcopal Church and giving its Celtic(?) voice ‘weight’ in the affairs of the the Anglican Communion.

    According to the SEC Primus, the SEC only has 43,000 members. How does that compare to the growing and vibrant Anglican churches outside of the industrial nations?

    What avout the other Celtic(?) churches, Ireland and Wales? How do their numbers compare with the other churches of the Anglican Communion?

  7. AnglicanFirst says:

    As a further comment, I’d like to say that the votes of national churches with small numbers and/or weak average Sunday attendance have small spiritual/moral/political ‘weight’ in the discussions of the Angtlican Communion.

    The very fact that they have not been able to evangelize and build their numbers or to increase their ASAs speaks loudly of their lackluster commitment to the Anglican expression of “the Faith once given.”

  8. anglicanhopeful says:

    Remember it’s not about the numbers – either here or in Scotland. The Reasserters in TECUSA are a miniscule, but vocal minority funded by a couple of reclusive millionaires who own newspapers. Some have even put the number of rebels at less than 3 dozen parishes. 95% of TEC is ‘vibrant and healthy’ according to Presiding Bishop Schori (she has a degree in science). When the reasserters leave without their property and recombine into hundreds of irrelevant splinter groups meeting in VFW halls, the TEC will be a more focused church, living into the deep satisfaction of fulfilling the United Nations’ millenium development goals, and growing the rolls by attracting those who don’t normally like churches but who are instinctively welcomed by the beautiful architecture & choral music.

  9. Philip Snyder says:

    Why not host a conference call with all the primates? The cost is significantly less than the airfare and hotel costs – even if the conference runs several hours.

    Phil Snyder

  10. yohanelejos says:

    Re: John Wilkins, I can say that the Japanese church is by no means conservative — though full membership is about 50,000. Korea is more unclear.

  11. Mick says:

    Oh, so now it’s size that counts is it? A large Church has more authority than a small Church. The big boys can push the small ones around? There’s a word for that in the schoolyard. The fact that some Churches are large because they’re in a large country, and vice versa, doesn’t come into it? Well, that rules out Southern Cone for a start doesn’t it? And who decides how much weight a Church’s voice should carry based on analysis of their size? Anglican polity is that all Primates have an equal voice. End of story.
    (Oh, and sorry to disabuse you, but the Church of Ireland [400,000], in the more ‘liberal’ Republic at least, IS a growing Church according to the last two government censuses [2002, 2006]; currently the largest it has been since 1936).

  12. RoyIII says:

    #8 just made the best summation I ever read! LOL ! The breakdown has got to be along financial lines. I wonder what the percentages really are in the US, reappraiser to reasserter. There’s no way to tell I guess. I think there would have been a split long ago, world-wide, if it were not for money and property. Cynical, but that’s human nature IMHO.

  13. William S says:

    Re: Anglicanfirst (No.6)
    The Church in Wales figures are:

    Easter 2007: 68,878 (decreasing on average by 2617 p.a. 2000-2006)*

    ASA (over 18) 2006: 39,512 (decreasing on average by 1027 p.a. 2000-2006)

    Electoral Roll 2006: 68,382 (decreasing on average by 2215 p.a. 2000-2006)

    *Easter 2006 & 2007 both recorded increases on the previous years, but this was from a remarkable low in 2005

  14. Craig Goodrich says:

    #8 looks forward to TEC as a “more focused” church.

    Fair enough. Focused down to a point; a point has no dimension. One cannot help but notice how well-focused the dioceses of e.g. Newark and Pennsylvania [Philadelphia] are; how many churches have they closed in the last few years?

  15. Vincent Coles says:

    The SEC has been promoting homosexuality for a long time now, and has undergone catastrophic decline in that time. Fortunately the present Primus is probably the last gasp of the Holloway era, and retirement will take its course. But the damage has been done, and the SEC will take centuries to recover.

    Meanwhile it is ridiculous for a church with less than 150 stipendiary clergy to be dictating doctrine to the rest of the Communion, especially one that cannot even sustain its own seminary. The whole province is smaller than a typical English diocese, and would probably do better if dissolved and replaced with a Diocese of Scotland. At least we would only have to fund one bishop.

  16. Mick says:

    #15 [i]”Meanwhile it is ridiculous for a church with less than 150 stipendiary clergy to be dictating doctrine to the rest of the Communion”[/i]

    Well, following your logic, +Mouneer Anis had no right to address the TEC HoB and ‘dictate doctrine’. After all, his Church (Jerusalem and the Middle-East) has only 35,000 members. And +Gregory Venables (Southern Cone) might as well shut up altogether.

  17. Connecticutian says:

    Mick, you have good points there (hiding ‘neath the sarcasm.) Numbers count, but they’re only one of many factors. But please bear in mind that we in the States are constantly hearing two things from our leadership:
    – it’s only a tiny fraction of dissidents, they’re not important.
    – TEC’s is a “democratic” polity, and the “majority” has spoken

    Make that three things: “Those who refuse to sit at table with us are the schismatics”.

    So, please pardon our cynicism.

  18. Larry Morse says:

    Is there really a causal relationship betwen peddling homosexuality and the decline in numbers and money? Or is this a post hoc sort of thing? Or is it that the waffly liberal mind has so attentuated all services that congregants no longer see a purpose in going? LM

  19. azusa says:

    # 16: most Anglican ‘national churches’ are not much more than Potemkin villages. A bit like most Irish dioceses. 🙂
    Gerry Mander

  20. Vincent Coles says:

    #18 There is a causal relationship in Scotland. Decline has been rapid since the reign of Holloway and his brave new world. Why go to church to hear that kind of thing?

  21. libraryjim says:

    Larry: [i]Or is it that the waffly liberal mind has so attentuated all services that congregants no longer see a purpose in going?[/i]

    I’d say that this is the main part of it. The other issue was just the issue that brought everything else out in the open, that caused the ‘blinders’ to finally come off.

  22. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “The big boys can push the small ones around?”


    This only applies in the case of the “big boys” in the majority in leadership in ECUSA.

    Really . . . what is this communion coming to? The “pushing around” is a monopoly of ECUSA and certainly is not an option of Global South provinces. What presumption! [huff, toss head]

    And don’t anybody forget it!!!

    I hope that’s set everybody straight.

    ; > )

  23. Alasdair+ says:

    Vincent #20. Well I know all to well about ‘Tricky Dicky’ Holloway whilst he was Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus (refused permission to go to Nashotah and sent me to CDSP!!!). I thought we still had what became of Coates Hall (I am BD Aber) in a limited form?

    Is ‘Tricky Dicky’ still worshiping with the ‘Scoto-Catholic Presbies’ at St. Giles?

    Ah well I will find out in December but thank heavens I swan the Bosphorus.


  24. Jeff in Ohio says:

    A conference call does seem to be the ideal solution, but I’m betting we’ll just get a summery of the “Primate’s consensus” from the ABC. It will say nothing, very elegantly.

    Jeffrey A. Roberts

  25. Vincent Coles says:

    #23. Holloway(-) has contrived to get himself a well-paid post as Chairman of the Scottish Arts Council, having rejected the Christian faith except for funerals when he turns up in episcopal rags.

    I don’t know whether he visits churches or any other kind of establishment on Sunday mornings.

    Coates Hall is no longer a theological college and I believe the buildings were sold off on Holloway’s watch to meet some financial crisis. I think it is now St Mary’s Music School. But there are precious few ordinands remaining anyhow.

  26. Alasdair+ says:

    Oh Wow they moved the school from within the Cathedral.
    Well I know my former parish (St.Miachael’s and All Saint’s) has gone down the tubes under the new Recotr who I think is also Dean of Edinburgh so it shouldn’t be too surprising that everything else has since I left Scotland 15 years ago.

    Sad that a nation that has had a solemn league and covenant (albeit of a scarily Calivist variety) has lost any idea of the ‘faith.’

    Where does a good Anglo=Catholic go for Mass in Edinburgh now? St. Stephen’s Comely Bank?


  27. carol says:

    Pictures are worth thousands of words and show if it is really the truth we are a miniscule minority leaving the church. Check out a few of the churches in your diocese. I have in my previous diocese and the majority were down in membership, giving and ASA. The church I left, couldn’t afford to pay the priest (he was there for 13 years and came directly from seminary as an ordained deacon and was ordained as priest 3 months later) so he retired. They have lost around 40 members out of about 120 and most were the tithers. Many churches loose members and giving stays the same or increases slightly…for the reason for that check out + Matt Kennedy’s article on Standfirm

    I guess I don’t get my rose colored glasses at the same place you do. Oh by the way we don’t have any millionaires in the church I go to which left ECUSA in 2004.

  28. Mick says:

    #22 Well, you tell the small kid to stop taking stuff from the big kid’s bag and giving it to his friends to look after.

  29. Sarah1 says:

    Oh wait, Mick . . . I thought it was “the big boys” pushing “the small ones” around!

    Is it the “small kid” pushing the “big kid’s” around now?

    Which is it? ; > )

  30. Vincent Coles says:

    #26. When in Edinburgh I go to the RC Cathedral. I can’t receive but at least the liturgy and preaching are orthodox.

  31. Mick says:

    #29 Keep up. This PARTICULAR small kid has been caught sneakily trying to take what isn’t his and giving it to his friends. There’s also a name for THAT in the schoolyard!
    ; > ) (as you would say)

  32. Craig Goodrich says:

    #31 Mick, I would rather have thought that it was the big kid’s badly abused pets that were running away and had kindly been adopted by the small kids…

  33. Mick says:

    #32 Nah, you’re getting your kids mixed up. Little pet has run off to a gang of even bigger kids, who are already teaching it to sit, bark and keep quiet when ordered. Problem is, they might soon get bored with it and turn it out to fend for itself…