Skip to comments.++Greg Venables: Behind the Lines at Dromantine
Posted on 03/24/2005 12:49:33 PM PST by sionnsar
The sad and much publicised process of the breakdown of the Anglican Communion has been worked through slowly and painfully in many venues across the Communion but nowhere more poignantly than in the Primates Meetings of recent years. It is critical therefore that the rest of the church and the public be aware of what has been said and done in these gatherings.
The communiqués and pastoral letters which have been carefully prepared over recent years are clear. The language, as would be expected, is cautious, graceful and measured. Such carefully crafted documents merit careful study and consideration but their basic tone and content is unmistakable: The same-sex agenda, most notably of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada, represents a departure from Biblical faith and established Anglican teaching.
Interestingly, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison of Canada has made it clear in his recent statements that the Communion is indeed broken. A dramatic demonstration of this, he said, possibly confusingly cause with effect, was the joint refusal of what he counted as 14, (that is 40 per cent of the primates present), to share at the Lords Table at the recent meeting in Northern Ireland.
Archbishop Yong Ping Chung of Southeast Asia referred to this in a pastoral letter to his diocese and province, all these polite and gracious words could not hide the plain reality that there is severe impairment and fractured relationship in our Anglican Communion. Throughout the week, the Primates prayed and worshipped together in Morning and Evening Prayers. The Chaplain of the Archbishop of Armagh celebrated the Eucharist for those who needed it. But this Eucharist was not regarded as part of the official and corporate worship of this Primates Meeting because many Primates needed to honour the decision of their own Provinces which have broken/fractured Communion with ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada. These Primates could not share the Eucharist with the Primates of ECUSA and Anglican Church of Canada.
Even though Archbishop Rowan himself presided at the final service on Friday, a group of us had already told him with pain and sadness that we would not be able to take part.
The Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria in their March 11 meeting echoed the serious nature of the situation: The Church commends the Anglican Primates Meeting for standing up for Orthodoxy in Christian faith and morals by asking ECUSA and the Church in Canada to withdraw from Anglican Communion Meetings, which we interpret to mean the suspension of ECUSA and the Church in Canada over their stance on human sexuality, praying that this action will bring genuine repentance on the side of the erring Churches.
A noteworthy factor in our sessions in Northern Ireland was Archbishop Rowans constructive approach to the meeting. Deeply significant was the time dedicated to retreat, prayer and reflection, his insistence that we own the agenda and a style which was more comprehensible and acceptable to those not accustomed to agenda-driven Western-style encounters.
The brokenness and division within our Anglican community is neither north-south nor based on cultural differences. It is not comparable to the debate over the ordination of women and it cannot be resolved by an attempt at synthesis. At its root is the whole question of the authority of scripture and centuries of understanding of what comprises sinful/immoral behaviour. The Dromantine meeting was clear in its reaffirmation of the historical, biblical and Anglican position on human sexuality. Any suggestion that ongoing conversations or discussions could represent a reversal of that position would be misinformed.
Many Primates are very concerned, moreover, about reports of alleged harassment of orthodox clergy and parishes by liberal bishops in the USA and Canada. We have had word of numerous and specific cases. The discussions in Ireland openly recognised that the brokenness of the communion is also manifest by many of us feeling it necessary to provide protection and oversight in ECUSA and Canada. We are holding back on new cross-boundary initiatives, not because we have changed our minds about their necessity, but in order to give the Anglican Communion authorities, who have been given responsibility through the Panel of Reference, the opportunity to show that they mean business. If they fail, we will not.
The Most Rev. Gregory Venables is Primate of the Southern Cone; this article appears in todays Church of England Newspaper
In clarifying the "behind the scenes" stuff at Dromantine, I think we can probably see the Primates setting the stage for a response to the recent HOB statement.
First, he's made it very clear that lines were drawn at Dromantine, despite the HOB's "Bishops' Covenant" bafflegab about "conversation," and such.
Next, I suspect we'll see the Primates come out with a direct response to it. It would not surprise me to see that the substance of their response was along the same lines as the Anglican Communion Institute's response, which pretty much shreds the HOB statement.
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