Skip to comments.A mixed bag from the ACC
Posted on 06/29/2005 10:07:47 AM PDT by sionnsar
One and a half cheers to the Anglican Consultative Council which finished its meeting this week in Nottingham. But I have to add an almighty boo for good measure, as well.
Firstly, on the positive side, the decision to include the Primates as members of the Anglican Consultative Council is a necessary first step towards bringing some sort of coherency to the Anglican Communion and its disparate Instruments of Unity.
In recent times, liberal Anglicans have been attempting the dishonest and desperate game of playing off the instruments of unity against each other. Thus it is claimed that because the Lambeth Conference and the Primates Meeting are not truly representative of the clergy and laity, their opinions count for less than the Anglican Consultative Council. For liberals their greatest hope was that the ACC would prove to be a more liberal body than the other two. And so it would have proven had the Canadian and US delegations had full vote. There were only a couple of votes in it to secure a resolution backing the Primates encouragement to the US and Canadian Churches to withdraw their members from the ACC and its committees.
More telling in the long term is the decision of the ACC to include all the Primates. The pressure group Inclusive Church complained that it set an alarming precedent. There is a real possibility of imposed doctrinal and theological positions from a conservative grouping, said Giles Goddard of Inclusive Church.
Hang on a minute. It seems a touch bizarre to call the Primates a conservative grouping and attempt to separate the chief pastors of the Anglican Communion from the laity and clergy. The fact is that when, in future, the Primates come with a member of clergy and laity from each Province, the ACC will reflect more truly the Anglican model of decision-making that of Bishop-in-synod. If we are truly an Episcopal communion of churches then we will have far more integrity if the Archbishop of the Province sits in Synod with clergy and laity, than otherwise. In future, the ACC and Primates Meeting will be much better coordinated and unified than ever before, introducing some kind of consistency to Anglican discussions on anything from poverty, HIV/AIDS to human sexuality and women bishops.
The incoherence of the ACC was expressed in its bankrupt resolution on disinvestment from Israel. Although some calmer voices prevailed including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of St Pauls, the amended resolution still reflects an undergraduate mentality. Furthermore, it has caused untold damage to our relationships with Jews.
The resolution encourages Anglican Provinces to adopt strategies of disinvestment from companies which support the occupation of Palestinian lands or violence against innocent Israelis (presumably less innocent Israelis are not such a problem). While the resolution attempts to be balanced, it arises from a continuing context in international church affairs in which the same polarisations of the Middle East, are adopted by the churches until we also are unable to see the wood from the trees. What good does it to do either us, or the actual parties to the conflict in the Middle East, if we also adopt the pathway of Palestinian or Zionist extremism? If we condemn right-wing Christian Zionism, have we not fallen into the same trap by uncritically accepting Palestinian claims which, with all the good will in the world, are often in conflict with the facts?
The most damaging thing about this whole episode is that the Anglican Consultative Council welcomes the report of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network whose remarks about Israel are damaging and can even be interpreted as an incitement to violence. The claims in the document that Israeli actions are comparable to apartheid, the use of imagery of the holocaust to beat up Israel are frankly unacceptable.
The fact, is that this network is apparently unaware and completely unsupportive of other Anglican initiatives in recent years including the Alexandria declaration which brought together all the senior Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders to call for a religiously-inspired ceasefire and continues its meetings to this day.
After years of building up closer relationships between Christians and Jews in Britain and other countries, many of our friends in the Jewish community now feel hurt and betrayed. I hope the Church of England itself will take the first opportunity it can to kick this worrying campaign for disinvestments, boycotts and sanctions into touch for once and for all.
To be published in The Church of England Newspaper on Friday.
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