Skip to comments.Tanzania: Expectations, Promises, and the Danger of Impotence
Posted on 02/06/2007 7:00:20 PM PST by sionnsar
In recent days there has been a noticeable attempt to lower expectations for the meeting in Tanzania. Some have urged us not to expect anything dramatic from the meeting and have suggested that blogs are actively reflecting heightened and unrealistic hopes for entirely speculative outcomes.
Not this time.
There is in fact a perfectly legitimate reason for people to expect significant decisions and dramatic happenings at Tanzania.
It is (or perhaps was) in fact, entirely reasonable for people to hope for: 1. the discipline of the Episcopal Church and 2. the initial steps toward the establishment/recognition/legitimization of a separate structure for orthodox Anglicans in North America.
These two hopes have not been excited by the blogs or irresponsible journalists. These hopes are founded on the published words and promises of the primates themselves.
First, the primates, all of them, identified the 75th General Convention as the venue for The Episcopal Church to make her official response to the requests articulated in the Windsor Report as accepted by the primates at Dromantine. Here is the specific section of the Dromantine Communique wherein this time-frame is established:
Within the ambit of the issues discussed in the Windsor Report and in order to recognise the integrity of all parties, we request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference. During that same period we request that both churches respond through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion. (DC para 14)
Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart. We would much rather not speculate on actions that might need to be taken if, after acceptance by the primates, our recommendations are not implemented. However, we note that there are, in any human dispute, courses that may be followed: processes of mediation and arbitration; non-invitation to relevant representative bodies and meetings; invitation, but to observer status only; and, as an absolute last resort, withdrawal from membership. We earnestly hope that none of these will prove necessary. Our aim throughout has been to work not for division but for healing and restoration. The real challenge of the gospel is whether we live deeply enough in the love of Christ, and care sufficiently for our joint work to bring that love to the world, that we will make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4.3). As the primates stated in 2000, to turn from one another would be to turn away from the Cross, and indeed from serving the world which God loves and for which Jesus Christ died. (WR 157)
Whilst there remains a very real question about whether the North American churches are willing to accept the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted elsewhere in the Communion, the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is obscured, and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered (DC 12)
we request that both churches respond through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion. (DC 14)
It is not yet clear how far the resolutions passed this week and today represent the adoption by the Episcopal Church of all the proposals set out in the Windsor Report. The wider Communion will therefore need to reflect carefully on the significance of what has been decided before we respond more fully. I am grateful that the JSC of the primates and ACC has already appointed a small working group to assist this process of reflection and to advise me on these matters in the months leading up to the next primates Meeting. (from his initial response to the actions of the 75th General Convention)
This meeting will be, of course, an important and difficult and important encounter, with several moments of discernment and decision to be faced, and a good deal of work to be done on our hopes for the Lambeth Conference, and on the nature and shape of the Covenant that we hope will assist us in strengthening our unity as a Communion.
There are two points I wish to touch on briefly. The first is a reminder of what our current position actually is in relation to the Episcopal Church. This Province has agreed to withdraw its representation from certain bodies in the Communion until Lambeth 08; and the Joint Standing Committee has appointed a sub-group which has been working on a report to develop our thinking as to how we should as a meeting interpret the Episcopal Churchs response so far to the Windsor recommendations. In other words, questions remain to be considered about the Episcopal Churchs relations with other Provinces (though some Provinces have already made their position clear). I do not think it wise or just to take any action that will appear to bring that consideration and the whole process of our shared discernment to a premature end.
This is why I have decided not to withhold an invitation to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the elected Primate of the Episcopal Church to attend the forthcoming meeting...
The recent resolutions of the General Convention have not produced a complete response to the challenges of the Windsor Report, but on this specific question there is at the very least an acknowledgement of the gravity of the situation in the extremely hard work that went into shaping the wording of the final formula. (ABC's Reflection)
We are convinced that the time has now come to take initial steps towards the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA. We have asked the Global South Steering Committee to develop such a proposal in consultation with the appropriate instruments of unity of the Communion. We understand the serious implications of this determination. We believe that we would be failing in our apostolic witness if we do not make this provision for those who hold firmly to a commitment to historic Anglican faith. (Kigali 10c)
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