Anglican Communion Institute: Dublin Post-Mortem

Against this background, what is most remarkable about the Dublin meeting is that its working document on the Primates’ Meeting cites only the preliminary remarks of Archbishop [Donald] Coggan, but makes no mention whatsoever of the subsequent work done to implement those remarks by the Lambeth Conferences and the Covenant in specifying the role of the Primates’ Meeting, work that by now has been accepted by all the Instruments of Communion. As far as one can discern, this established understanding played no role at all in the deliberations at Dublin. While one might try to parse the provisions of the Dublin document to align it to greater or lesser extent with the accepted precedents, the simple fact is that those other sources were not acknowledged, were not quoted and were not even the subject of obvious paraphrase. Those meeting in Dublin staked no claim to continuity with the past, ignoring the will of the most authoritative of the Instruments of Communion””the Lambeth Conference of Bishops.

For all these reasons, the group of Primates who met in Dublin cannot be recognized as acting in accord with the accepted Communion understanding of the Primates’ Meeting as an Instrument of Communion. This Instrument thus joins the others as now being dysfunctional and lacking in communion credibility. The role of the Lambeth Conference as an Instrument of Communion is to “express episcopal collegiality worldwide.” But in 2008, when the bishops of most Anglicans “worldwide” were not present, it could not perform this function. It accomplished little of substance and is now regarded throughout much of the Communion as a symbol of futility. Similarly, the Anglican Consultative Council has been re-structured legally so that it is no longer recognizable as the Instrument defined in the Covenant or in past Anglican documents. The role of the Archbishop of Canterbury as an Instrument of Communion is to function as “a primacy of honor and respect among the college of bishops,” as “a focus and means of unity,” and the one who “gathers” the Lambeth Conference and Primates’ Meetings. Whatever may be said about the cause of the disintegration, it is incontrovertible empirically that Canterbury has been unable to perform this function over the last three years. The Communion thus finds itself with no working Instrument that has been able to perform its necessary function, follow its rules, and garner credible acceptance from the majority of the Communion.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Global South Churches & Primates, Instruments of Unity, Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Windsor Report / Process

22 comments on “Anglican Communion Institute: Dublin Post-Mortem

  1. AnglicanFirst says:

    “… the group of Primates who met in Dublin cannot be recognized as acting in accord with the accepted Communion understanding of the Primates’ Meeting as an Instrument of Communion. This Instrument thus joins the others as now being dysfunctional and lacking in communion credibility. ”

    The phrase “cannot be recognized” is extremely strong language for those accustomed to Anglican gentle-speech. Yet, it is a starkly accurate descriptive phrase that sums up well the relevance of the just-adjourned Dublin primates’ meeting.

    Well Ms. Presiding-Bishop-of-the-ECUSA-General-Convention, how do you feel about your impact on the Anglican Communion?

    Is weakening the Anglican Communion through revisionist chicanery part of the revisionist plan of ECUSA’s leadership?

  2. Old Guy says:

    As some one who was born and raised an Anglican/Episcopalian, I can’t imagine anything more depressing than the current state of the Anglican Grouping. I keeping going back to my Bible, with the feeling that I ought to stay away from the blogs–at least for a while. But here I am.

    The really radical idea is what would happen if all the Primates had met with Jesus. (Arguably, no Christian meeting ought to be held without the seat of honor empty, until Jesus returns. It helps remind us who should be calling the shots.) I don’t think Jesus ever missed an opportunity to flog “his” religious leaders. Even poor Nicodemus took a pretty good beating, just in private. John 3.

    I have no idea what Jesus would say to them, but it is fun to give it some thought. Maybe the liberal Anglicans are like Samaritans–they seem to believe in God, but not in a way recognizable to a Jew. If so, what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman was, “You Samaritans know so little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.” John 4.

    As for the conservative Anglicans, if they were smart, they would start squirming in their seats and try to lay low. I guess he would say something about taking the beam out of your own eye before you try to take the mote out of a friend’s eye. Matt 7. Or maybe he would just beat them up like he beat up Peter, when Peter went off on a tangent or tried to put his will before God’s will.

    As for non-Christians, both on the right and the left, who want to use the Anglican Grouping for their own secular purposes, he probably would not say anything. He never really talked about the Roman occupation of the Holy Land (except maybe when he was talking to Pilate). If the liberals or the conservatives wanted to talk about the secular Anglicans, I think Jesus would dismiss it with, “Don’t give what is holy to unholy people. Don’t give pearls to swine. They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.” Matt 7

    Lord, forgive me . . . but that would have been a Dublin worth reading about! Especially for a laity out of the line of fire.

  3. BrianInDioSpfd says:

    [blockquote]Dublin primates meeting marks an ‘end to the communion as we know it’: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 4, 2011 p 1[/blockquote]

    The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, otherwise known as The Episcopal Church (which name is hereby recognized as also designating the Church), is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. [/blockquote]

    I guess that means that The Episcopal Church no longer exists in any meaningful sense. Makes the heart sad.

  4. Hursley says:

    At some point, very soon, it will finally come as a relief to 815 (along with their co-religionists) to proclaim their “liberation” from anything remotely like an Anglican Communion. The drums of 1789 will be beaten, and the Episcopal New Thing will be announced. Even the parasitic apparatchiks who now control nearly every node of TEC must be growing tired of this charade.

  5. Brian from T19 says:

    With apologies to Mark Twain, the reports of the Anglican Communion’s death are greatly exaggerated.

  6. Cennydd13 says:

    Maybe so, Brian, but TEC isn’t doing so hot these days; they’re pretty sick, despite all their claims to the contrary.

  7. Old Guy says:

    From my tiny perspective, I think the whole Communion is gasping. And it makes me very sad.

    There is an Episcopal Church where I live. (I left the TEC long time ago.) I was just reading the local church’s history. It started off as Prayer Book services in peoples homes for many years. After about 30 years, finally built its current building (after several moves). I think the current TEC leadership is very savvy in their knowledge that it is far easier to destroy a church than to build one–let alone a whole diocese of churches.

    Now, many decades later, the local church seems to be struggling to survive, while both AMiA and ACNA try to reach into the area. From my limited knowledge, the ACNA is better differentiated from the TEC, than the AMiA. I feel strongly (maybe I am wrong) that much of the TEC has drifted out of the faith, but what prevents any new version from following the same path–other than the grace of God, of course. Lots and lots of people gave a lot of themselves, in faith, over many years, to build the local church. It is impossible not to honor what they did, no matter where the TEC is now. If there is weeping in heaven, those people must be weeping now.

    So much of what is happening now seems to track what the Prophets wrote about. I believe that the wrath of God is as real as His infinite love for each of us (I think that keeps me within orthodoxy). In the depths of that despair of the Prophets–far, far worse than what we have now–there is still some breath-taking hope and beauty.

    I guess part of the meaning of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, to me, is that there is nothing that man, at his worse, can break, that God can’t fix and make even better. Amen.

  8. Topper says:

    “We call on the Primates representing the vast preponderance of Anglicans, together with their colleagues, to take up the charge of seeing to the furtherance of the Communion and we pledge our prayers to that end.”

    Do I understand that correctly? The “Primates representing the vast preponderance of Anglicans” are presumably those Primates who did not attend the Dublin meeting, i.e., the GAFCONers, and their close associates.

    Are the folks at ACI really suggesting that leadership should be assumed by the GAFCON group? That, in my opinion, is an excellent suggestion, but for ACI it seems an amazing turn around!!

  9. Brian from T19 says:

    Are the folks at ACI really suggesting that leadership should be assumed by the GAFCON group? That, in my opinion, is an excellent suggestion, but for ACI it seems an amazing turn around!!

    I am pretty sure that has been the ACI position all along – not specifically GAFCON, but those who want to covenant together and represent a majority of the Communion should be able to represent the Communion.

  10. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    This is a very thorough analysis of the way in which the Dublin meeting was misused to emasculate the one remaining Instrument in which the views of provinces were discussed and decisions were made, in accordance with the powers granted to it formally over many years, to deal with governance and issues in the Communion as ACI point out.

    I have been trying to work out what it is about the conduct of this meeting which has most disturbed me and produced such a strong reaction: whether it is the sea of white faces among the organisers; the faces of two members at least of the Anglican Church of Canada in the organisers; the dominance of small white liberal provinces in the entire setup and its propaganda; the psychotic manipulation and secrecy orchestrated by the ABC; or whether it is the pretence that the Primates were in charge of the meeting when they clearly were not.

    Those are all factors, but I think the thing which has upset, and insensed me it that, rather like Jamaica, Primates whose first language may not be English and who are unused to Western manipulation of meetings came at considerable cost and effort to themselves from far provinces trusting in the Archbishop, only to have that trust outrageously abused to believe that with their discussion of this and that, that they were impacting various international issues, when the real agenda of the Archbishop and his regime, was to secure by subterfuge and process, the emasculation of this Instrument for the future, its demotion to something serving him alone, and the enhancement of his position and schemes.

    That is truly disturbing, and I think when they realise how they have been played by him, it will backfire on him and his position even more than it already has.

    Like the ACI, I hope that the GS and other Primates now put aside their differences, including those who insist that the GAFCON way is the only way, to work together to fill the gaping hole in governance in the third largest body of Christians in the world.

    May God forgive Rowan Williams.

  11. driver8 says:

    I am pretty sure that has been the ACI position all along – not specifically GAFCON, but those who want to covenant together and represent a majority of the Communion should be able to represent the Communion.

    I think this is in fact mistaken, nevertheless:

    1. I note TEC [i]prides[/i] itself on its famous democratic polity. I believe that involves arguing for the virtues majority rule in discerning the work of the Holy Spirit.

    2. When TEC and the COE provided the largest groupings of bishops at Lambeth Conferences (that is from 1867 – 1978) there seemed no theological problem with discerning the views of the Communion by majority vote. I’m not sure what to make of the fact that only when black African bishops acted together as the largest grouping of Anglican bishops, did majority voting (in fact voting at all) become problematic.

    3. Majority voting is apparently still theologically acceptable on the ACC, though co-ordinating the vote correctly can occasionally be an embarrassingly chaotic business.

  12. AnglicanFirst says:

    “1. I note TEC prides itself on its famous democratic polity. I believe that involves arguing for the virtues majority rule in discerning the work of the Holy Spirit.”

    It is fallacious to presume that a majority vote by mortals automatically and without question produces a decision that reflects the ‘mind’ of the Holy Spirit on any given issue.

    Totally fallacious and presumptuous.

    A straightforward and honest reading of Scripture reveals that the majority has often acted against the will of the Holy Spirit.
    Jesus, the prophets and the Apostles were usually ‘lone voices’ that challenged ‘the spirit of an age.’

    Those revisionists claiming to be guided by the Holy Spirit may be putting their own Salvation on the line through false cliams regarding the Holy Spirit. Particularly when their claims support sinful relationships, behavior and beliefs that have been proscribed by Scripture.

  13. Larry Morse says:

    Is it broken? I hope so. About time. Now maybe we can get on with forming a new provinces which preach the gospel, sing the beautiful hymns, an all the good stuff while the others gnash their teeth in the Dublin dark. To hell wid ’em, I say. Let them try the needle’s eye all by themselves. Larry

  14. Sarah says:

    RE: “the reports of the Anglican Communion’s death are greatly exaggerated.”

    I agree with this. It all depends on how one defines the Anglican Communion. If one defines it as “that organization which encompasses those provinces in Communion with the see of Canterbury and consisting of three other ‘instruments'” than that’s certainly true.

    And even if one defines it as “those provinces in Communion with the see of Canterbury and who also recognize one another’s orders and that each preaches the Gospel” then we have only around 3 “communions” within that Communion.

    RE: “Are the folks at ACI really suggesting that leadership should be assumed by the GAFCON group?”

    Not that I can see. After all, the GAFCON Anglican Communion Primates are six, and the ones who didn’t attend the meeting were 13. So at this point the non-attending non-Gafcon Primates outnumber the GAFCON Primates.

    I can’t speak for the ACI — but I’d guess that a good leadership group would be folks like Mouneer and Chew and then certainly some from the Gafcon group of Primates as well.

  15. MichaelA says:

    Good sentiments all.

    A quibble: Sooner or later, we have to clarify our use of the phrase “Gafcon Primates”. Gafcon was a conference (as the name suggests) that took place at Jerusalem at a particular point in time (May 2008). 7 primates are believed to have attended it, although the complete list of attendees has never been released. Some of the primates who did attend have since retired. I am not suggesting that they did not have the full support of their provinces at the time (clearly they did), but I am trying to point out the incongruity of using an expression that relates to a conference that occurred almost three years ago to describe current officers, many of whom are no longer the same people.

    Each year it is likely that more of the primates who were at Gafcon will retire. In a couple of years, likely every one of them will have been replaced – are we still going to refer to Gafcon primates then?

    Obviously there is no problem with using the expression in an historical sense – its just when we use it to describe the current politics of the Communion that I think it falls down.

    A group was formed after Gafcon called the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) and this is sometimes what people mean by “Gafcon Primates”. But even in this sense the latter expression is not accurate – Last I looked, eight provinces of the Anglican Communion were members of the FCA. That indicates that at least one AC province whose primate was not at Gafcon is now a member of the FCA. In addition, ACNA is a member, which is not on the ACC’s register of provinces (to the extent anyone cares about that any more) and even its supporters do not yet call it a province (although it is clearly intended to be so, one day).

    And before anyone asks, the secretary of the ACA, Peter Jensen, is an archbishop and a metropolitan, but not a primate!

    Sorry to be so nitpicky, but sometimes we need to sit back and take stock of what we mean by an expression.

  16. MichaelA says:

    In April 2010, primates and bishops from 23 Anglican Provinces met in Singapore (known as the “Global South to South Encounter). At the end they subscribed to a Communique, of which I set out the relevant text below. None of the provinces have ever resiled from this statement.

    It puts the non-attendance of the 15 primates at Dublin into perspective. This is the more so as the Primate of Burundi (who did attend) specifically made the point at Dublin that a decision by a Global south province to attend the Dublin meeting did not mean derogation from the position they had already publicly adopted.

    It should therefore be clear that a great deal more than 15 primates consider TEC to be apostate, and do not intend to co-operate with the ABC’s open tolerance of liberalism.
    [blockquote] Extract from Global South to South Encounter communique, April 2010
    “16. In contrast, we continue to grieve over the life of The Episcopal Church USA (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada and all those churches that have rejected the Way of the Lord as expressed in Holy Scripture. The recent action of TEC in the election and intended consecration of Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, as a bishop in Los Angeles, has demonstrated, yet again, a total disregard for the mind of the Communion. These churches continue in their defiance as they set themselves on a course that contradicts the plain teaching of the Holy Scriptures on matters so fundamental that they affect the very salvation of those involved. Such actions violate the integrity of the Gospel, the Communion and our Christian witness to the rest of the world. In the face of this we dare not remain silent and must respond with appropriate action.
    17. We uphold the courageous actions taken by Archbishops Mouneer Anis (Jerusalem and the Middle East), Henry Orombi (Uganda) and Ian Ernest (Indian Ocean) and are encouraged by their decision not to participate in meetings of the various Instruments of Communion at which representatives of The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada are present. We understand their actions to be in protest of the failure to correct the ongoing crisis situation.
    18. Some of our Provinces are already in a state of broken and impaired Communion with The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada. Their continued refusal to honor the many requests1 made of them by the various meetings of the Primates throughout the Windsor Process have brought discredit to our witness and we urge the Archbishop of Canterbury to implement the recommended actions. In light of the above, this Fourth South-to-South Encounter encourages our various Provinces to reconsider their communion relationships with The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada until it becomes clear that there is genuine repentance.
    19. We were pleased to welcome two Communion Partner bishops from The Episcopal Church USA (TEC) and acknowledge that with them there are many within TEC who do not accept their church’s innovations. We assure them of our loving and prayerful support. We are grateful that the recently formed Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is a faithful expression of Anglicanism. We welcomed them as partners in the Gospel and our hope is that all provinces will be in full communion with the clergy and people of the ACNA and the Communion Partners.
    20. For many generations Anglicans have lived together with a shared understanding of our common faith; indeed among our great gifts has been the Book of Common Prayer that has provided a foundation for our common life. In recent years the peace of our Communion has been deeply wounded by those who continue to claim the name Anglican but who pursue an agenda of their own desire in opposition to historic norms of faith, teaching and practice. This has led to a number of developments including the GAFCON meeting that took place in Jerusalem in June 2008. 2
    21. Global South leaders have been in the forefront of the development of the ‘Anglican Covenant’ that seeks to articulate the essential elements of our faith together with means by which we might exercise meaningful and loving discipline for those who depart from the ‘faith once for all delivered to the saints.’ We are currently reviewing the proposed Covenant to find ways to strengthen it in order for it to fulfill its purpose. For example, we believe that all those who adopt the Covenant must be in compliance with Lambeth 1.10. Meanwhile we recognize that the Primates Meeting, being responsible for Faith and Order, should be the body to oversee the Covenant in its implementation, not the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.
    22. Over the last 20 years we have been distracted by conflicts and controversies that have kept us from effectively fulfilling the Great Commission. While we have been so distracted, Christian heritage, identity and influence has continued to decline in the West. We believe that there is a need to review the entire Anglican Communion structure; especially the Instruments of Communion and the Anglican Communion office; in order to achieve an authentic expression of the current reality of our Anglican Communion.” [/blockquote]

  17. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #16 Hi MichaelA
    Perhaps as long as they continue to refer to themselves as the Gafcon Primates’ Council, that is what we should call them?

    #17 You are right, it is well worthwhile at this time rereading:
    1. the Global South Singapore 4th Trumpet of 23rd April 2010;
    2. the Gafcon Primates’ Statement of 24th November 2010; and
    3. the CAPA Primates Communique of 29th August 2010 and Conference Statement of 3rd September 2010 from the CAPA 2nd All Africa Bishops Conference.

  18. MichaelA says:

    Hi Pageantmaster,

    True. Their web-site at time refers to the “Gafcon movement”, “Gafcon/FCA”, and “the GAFCON/FCA Primates’ Council”. So that detracts from part of my point above.

  19. jamesw says:

    To say, as does Philip Turner in Conger’s article that the “communion as we have known it is gone” does not imply that Mr. Turner is contributing to “reports of the Anglican Communion’s death”. As Sarah suggests, it all depends on what you mean by “the communion as we have known it” and what you mean by the “Anglican Communion.”

    Many people, including commentators on the conservative blogs, have identified the “Anglican Communion” with the formal structures of the Anglican Communion. I think that to do so is a mistake. Dr. Turner has correctly pointed out that the Anglican Communion as a communion is now dead, but that the Anglican Communion as a somewhat undefined group of churches still remains.

    An analogy might be made to the United States. Suppose that there was an invasion in which a foreign power came in and dismantled the US government apparatus and designated the US to be a colony of that foreign power. One could then quite legitimately say “the United States as we knew it is now dead” but that would not mean that the United States would therefor be dead. (Don’t push the analogy further then it can go).

    This ACI analysis has also correctly pointed out that the organization known as the “Anglican Communion” is no longer actually a “communion” at all, but is rather most properly characterized as a loosely knit federation of independent national or regional churches, with limited inter-church and inter-orders recognition, and no credible functioning Instruments. This is surely a change from the past.

    The “Anglican Communion” is no longer what it once was, but it is certainly not dead. I think that the ACI correctly suggests that the task is now on the orthodox members of the “Anglican Communion” to lay the groundwork for a future renewed Anglican Communion “communion”. My suggestions are as follows:
    1. Draft and sign a comprehensive Covenant, relatively close to the drafts which had come out of the earlier Covenant process, but with significant differences. The new Covenant should remain a more general document with seed descriptions of new Instruments, but should also include acceptance of a new code of canon law, where some of the more detailed issues can be nailed down.
    2. The “seed descriptions” of new Instruments contained in the new Covenant should include a Primates’ Council for all of the Covenant churches, and a representative Council of bishops, priests and laity (though one that is substantially more keyed to provincial ASA then is the current ACC).

  20. jamesw says:

    BTW – to add to my last post (#20) – I think that an overall theme should be advanced with the following points in mind:
    1. Don’t create this Covenant or the “seed Instruments” as being THE “Anglican Communion” Covenant or Instruments, because there is no authority to make such a claim. Rather, present these as being the implements of this Covenanted group only.
    2. Make a clear and symbolic break from the old, discredited Instruments. Have nothing more to do with them, but don’t formally leave the Communion.
    3. Draw clear and unmistakable parallels between the new Covenantal implements and the historic Anglican institutions – so explicitly take what was best from the Covenantal process (perhaps include Chew, Radner, etc., and use one of the earlier drafts as a beginning draft); from the Primates’ Meeting; from the ACC (but make it less colonial, less bureaucratic, more representative, etc.).

    In this way, what the message will be is a choice of what the Anglican Communion should have become vs. the manipulated, twisted, western dominated colonialist institution which the current Instruments have become.

    Then let historic/market forces and trends (i.e. the invisible hand of God) play their part.

  21. robroy says:

    The problem with the Covenant that the current Covenant is being co-opted by the revisionists. New “Standing Committee” status after the Dublin meeting has yet to be released (pending dissemination to the absented provinces), but I predict it will be more stacking towards the revisionists. The revisionist provinces will then fairly quickly approve (Mexico already has). West Indies has prematurely approved. I wonder if they will rescind when they see the treachery. After this is all exposed, many, most, or all the orthodox provinces will want nothing to do with any “Covenant”. The Jerusalem Declaration is the only game for unity.