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The ABC: It Will Grieve Him, but He Will Act
Stand Firm ^ | 9/19/2006 | Matt Kennedy

Posted on 09/19/2006 5:55:58 PM PDT by sionnsar

My guess is that if things had panned out as he had hoped, then the meeting in Texas would be concerned primarily with working out some of the details agreed upon in New York. By February, a workable plan would have been in place for the amicable separation of compliant and non-compliant Episcopalians. This would have provided a good deal of momentum to the ABC heading into the primates meeting where he would have been able to argue that 815’s willingness to work out an agreement with Windsor compliant leaders should at the very least, represent a mitigating factor when considering the actions of GC2006.

As we head into possibly the most important week in the history of the Episcopal Church since the 75th General Convention, all eyes turn toward Camp Allen Texas and the meeting of Windsor-compliant bishops. There will be many articles and reports published here and elsewhere revealing and analyzing what takes place.

As a way of setting a context for this event I thought it might be a good idea to look briefly this morning toward Canterbury. In the past I have written a great deal about the Archbishop and made some fairly risky predictions regarding his Communion actions subsequent to a failed convention.

I was asked recently whether I had revised or rethought any of my pre-convention perceptions of the man or predictions of his actions.

To make a long answer short: no.

What has been the key, in my opinion, to understanding ++Rowan Williams in the past remains the key to understanding him now.

Before all else he seeks to safeguard what he sees as the conciliar nature of the Anglican Communion. He does not so much make decisions for the Communion as he facilitates conciliar decision-making and then upholds the decisions made--and in so doing he serves (or sees himself to be serving) as a focal point (or instrument) of unity.

This means that Rowan Williams is something of a double-edged sword. Presently the mind of the Communion with regard to human sexuality and the authority of the scriptures is essentially orthodox as the decisions of Lambeth 1.10, the Windsor Report, and the Dromantine Communiqué make manifest.

For that reason, though he strives for and seeks unity, at the end of the day Rowan Williams will make essentially orthodox decisions in order to uphold Communion teaching and keep the majority of the Communion provinces intact.

However, we should beware. Were the collective mind of the Communion to change, Rowan Williams would likely believe it his duty to change as well.

His primary commitment is, again, to his particular understanding of catholic conciliarity not necessarily to classic Christian orthodoxy as we might understand it.

This basic commitment undergirds everything the Archbishop does and recognition of it has been at the heart of my analysis of the Archbishop from the beginning.

Most recently I have made 2 arguments regarding the ABC’s actions subsequent to GC2006

1.The covenant creation process and the process of assessing TEC’s role in the communion are two separate and distinct mechanisms. While both mechanisms originated with the Windsor Report, they are not one in the same.

2. The process of assessing TEC’s place and role in the communion is governed not by the Windsor Report alone but by the Windsor Report as altered and amended by the primates and the ABC at Dromantine.

This morning I will add a third argument:

3. If no unifying compromise or resolution is reached before February, the ABC will ultimately fall on the side of communion discipline. Non-compliant bishops will not be invited to Lambeth nor will they take part in the process of covenant creation.

All three arguments, but especially the third, rest on the ABC’s overarching commitments described above.

In his most recent communication with the primates the Archbishop of Canterbury has added a great deal of weight to all three these arguments.

The following section of that communication (a letter) largely confirms the first two:

In the months that have passed since the June meeting of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, a great deal of public and private comment has been circulating, and many meetings have been organised to consider the impact of the Convention’s decisions. I am deeply grateful to those of you who have already let me know your initial reactions and those of your Provinces to the actions of the Convention, and I hope that others will be able to communicate their responses in the period between now and February.

I write now not only to thank you for this, but to remind you of the process currently going forward in the Communion to help all of us weigh and interpret Convention’s work. You will recall that the Joint Standing Committee appointed a small group of representatives from its number (two Primates and two laypeople, along with staff support) to assist me in preparing an initial response. Now that the Episcopal Church has had opportunity for detailed consideration of the requests from the Primates at Dromantine last year, based on the Windsor Report, it is important that we develop a unified and coherent response as a Communion to the situation as it is developing.
Notice that:

1. These two paragraphs are concerned specifically with the primate’s consideration of “the impact of the Convention’s decisions” and the process by which the primate’s will “weigh and interpret” those decisions.

2. The ABC calls for a “unified and coherent response as a Communion” to the actions of the 75th General Convention.

3. The ABC understands that the 75th General Convention was not called into a conversation or dialogue regarding the nuances and meanings of the Windsor Report, but to offer a “detailed consideration of the requests from the Primates at Dromantine…”

It is difficult (nearly impossible) to see how the ABC could make the above points if, indeed, he was intent on folding the Communion response to General Convention into a 9 year Covenant creation process. Indeed, this letter is a clear indication that there is a distinct consideration of the convention underway governed by the primatial requests articulated in the Dromantine Communique and that this consideration will yield a direct, distinct and specific response.

As a kibitzer on the HoBD list, I find the dismay from revisionist posters at the possibility of the Episcopal Church being labeled “non-Windsor Compliant” and the APO dioceses labeled and considered “compliant” fascinating.

Many have taken to calling the APO dioceses “Windsor Convenient” meaning that they uphold the convenient sections of the Windsor Report and ignore the difficult ones, like the call for the cessation of border crossings

The source of the dismay and my fascination is the revisionists own willful disregard for and ignorance of the Dromantine Communique.

The revisionist spin after the release of the Windsor report was that the Windsor Report is “just a report” and therefore non-binding.

But the release of the Communiqué transformed certain aspects of the report (like the moratoria on same sex blessings and the election, consent and consecration of non-celibate homosexual bishops) into Communion mandates complete with deadlines and requirements. One aspect of the Windsor Report that was not made into a mandate was the section on border crossings. The Report forbade them altogether. The Communiqué permitted them so long as they were not initiated or encouraged by non-jurisdictional primates or bishops.

Faced with this unfortunate turn of events, revisionists chose simply to ignore the Communique altogether and proceed as if the Windsor Report remained “just a report” that equally condemned border crossings and same sex blessings and consecrations of non-celibate homosexuals.

The problem is that they believed their own spin.

Thus, presently many HoBD commenters are truly dismayed at what they see as Canterbury’s “double standard” in holding TEC and Canada accountable for non-compliance while not holding accountable the APO dioceses and provinces in cross-jurisdictional relationships.

While this is fun to watch, the question does arise: exactly what standard does the ABC understand to be the Communion standard? Is he complicit with the revisionist spin or does he see the Communique’s adaptation and transformation of the Windsor Report as the measure.

At this point it is important to highlight another section from the ABC’s letter:
It is clear that the Communion as a whole remains committed to the teaching on human sexuality expressed in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, and also that the recommendations of the Windsor Report have been widely accepted as a basis for any progress in resolving the tensions that trouble us. As a Communion, we need to move forward on the basis of this twofold recognition….It is also clear that the Episcopal Church has taken very seriously the recommendations of the Windsor Report; but the resolutions of General Convention still represent what can only be called a mixed response to the Dromantine requests. The advisory group has spent much time in examining these resolutions in great detail, and its sense is that although some aspects of these requests have been fully dealt with, there remain some that have not. This obviously poses some very challenging questions for our February meeting and its discernment of the best way forward.
Notice that the ABC:

1. Reiterates and affirms Lambeth 1.10 as the Communion teaching on human sexuality.
2. Upholds Dromantine as the primary articulation of that standard.
3. Explicitly indicates that the actions of the 75th General Convention will be measured by the Dromantine Communique.
4. Has appointed an advisory committee to measure TEC’s response to Dromantine and that committee has found the Convention’s response incomplete.
5. Expects some form of specific response to result from the meeting in February.

Regardless of his personal sympathies, Rowan Williams realizes that time is short. February looms on the horizon.

By now, having received initial responses from the primates and his own advisory committee, he likely knows that a majority of the primates favor some form of reduced status for the Episcopal Church and likely, some form of alternative oversight for compliant dioceses and parishes in TEC.

If nothing changes, the Archbishop knows that he will have no choice but to agree with and support such discipline.

All this means that if you are wondering about the Archbishop’s role and purpose with regard to the meetings in Texas and New York, I don’t think it is too difficult to sort out.

1. With regard to the New York meeting: He hoped to work out a cooperative agreement on oversight before the primates seek to impose one from the outside.
2. With regard to the Texas meeting: He hopes to gather as many Windsor compliant bishops as possible (notice, by the way, the surprising emphasis on the Dromantine Communique in the Camp Allen invitation requirements) in order to, first, signal the gravity of the situation to 815 and, second, to provide a ready made basis for some provincial arrangement. No doubt Canterbury had hoped the number of bishops in Navasota would be a bit higher than it reportedly is.

That the ABC is involved in both meetings has been widely reported, but I don’t know that anyone has articulated clear purpose or intent behind his involvement.

My guess is that if things had panned out as he had hoped, then the meeting in Texas would be concerned primarily with working out some of the details agreed upon in New York. By February, a workable plan would have been in place for the amicable separation of compliant and non-compliant Episcopalians.

This would have provided a good deal of momentum to the ABC heading into the primates meeting where he would have been able to argue that 815’s willingness to work out an agreement with Windsor compliant leaders should at the very least, represent a mitigating factor when considering the actions of GC2006.

The failure of the New York meeting has now made any agreement or compromise prior to February highly unlikely.

It also places the ABC in the difficult position with regard to the primates meeting in February.

Given his principles, it is my belief, that there is little or no wiggle room left. The ABC has no other honorable choice but to support the decision of the primates in February which will likely mean the reduction of TEC’s Communion status and a shorter guest list to Lambeth08. This will no doubt grieve him deeply.

But he will do it. The leaders of the Episcopal Church have left him no other choice.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 09/19/2006 5:55:59 PM PDT by sionnsar
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2 posted on 09/19/2006 5:56:29 PM PDT by sionnsar (††|Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
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To: sionnsar

I received this response from another Priest I know about the article aand I think it bears repeating:

"When I think about the ABC I often recall that England is an Island and they have had 1000 years to learn to live with each other. And some times the decision making process doesn't go quickly. Cromwell in, King out; Cromwell dead, a monarch back for good, though clearly subordinate to parliament. Henry VIII made the church in England the Church of England, then it went back to Rome with Bloody Mary, then finally became a clearly independent church under Elizabeth. I don't think the ABC is inclined to move quickly; the mother church, his church, has resolved matters slowly. I'm concerned that the Primates in Africa now will want to move more quickly that ABC will and they will split even the Orthodox Anglicans in the process."

3 posted on 09/21/2006 7:18:37 PM PDT by Gman (AMiA Priest.)
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To: Gman

Perhaps, but think how quickly TEC moved. THAT's where the split is originating.

4 posted on 09/22/2006 7:25:03 AM PDT by sionnsar (††|Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
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To: sionnsar


5 posted on 09/22/2006 8:01:59 AM PDT by Gman (AMiA Priest.)
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