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Questions over ACC letter on the Southern Cone raised: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 22, 2010 October 21, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Uncategorized.

Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council has withdrawn the Bishop of Chile’s invitation to serve on the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (UFO), citing the province’s violation of the moratorium on crossing provincial boundaries.

However, the Oct 14 press release issued by Canon Kenneth Kearon has left Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina “flummoxed.”

In an interview taped on Oct 18 with Anglican TV, the primate of the Southern Cone said he was nonplussed by the assertions made in the secretary general’s press release, as it was “untrue” and “unjust” to say he had not responded to the ACC.

In his press release, Canon Kearon cited Archbishop Rowan Williams’ Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion.  The May 28 letter stated that the members of those provinces that have “formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion” on gay bishops, blessings and the violation of provincial boundaries “should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged.”

Members of the UFO committee from these provinces, Dr. Williams said, “should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members.”

On June 7, Canon Kearon announced that five American participants on the Ecumenical dialogue commissions had been informed that “their membership of these dialogues has been discontinued,” while the sole American member of the UFO committee was downgraded to consultant status.

The ACC Secretary General also stated he had written to Archbishop Fred Hiltz asking whether Canada has “formally adopted policies that breach the second moratorium in the Windsor Report, authorising public rites of same-sex blessing,” and to Bishop Venables “asking him for clarification as to the current state of his interventions into other provinces.”

In his Oct 14 press release, Canon Kearon said “I have not received a response” to this request for “clarification” from the Southern Cone.

Canon Kearon’s claim, however, is at odds with Bishop Venables’ memory, as he reports having had two telephone conversations with Canon Kearon and one with Dr. Williams about this issue.

Bishop Venables further stated that he told Dr. Williams and Canon Kearon in the three conversations that he could not give a definitive answer to Canon Kearon’s letter until after the meeting of the Southern Cone standing committee.

A spokesman for the ACC confirmed that Canon Kearon had indeed “followed up with two phone calls” his June letter to Bishop Venables.  However, the secretary general had “received no clarification as to the current state of his interventions by mid July as requested,” ACC spokesman Jan Butter said.

He added that Canon Kearon was “not made aware of the bishop’s intention to bring the issue before his House of Bishops or Provincial Synod,” but was now “delighted” to learn “that he will be doing so.”

Asked if Dr. Williams had spoken to Bishop Venables about these issues, a spokesman for Dr. Williams told CEN on Oct 18 the Argentine bishop “has not, as requested, confirmed his province’s position in respect of interventions. Confirmation is still awaited.”

The fracas over Canon Kearon’s June letter is not the first breakdown in communications between the ACC and the Southern Cone, as Bishop Venables told Anglican.TV he never received a copy of the revised Anglican Consultative Council constitution that was to have been distributed to the provinces before it was adopted this summer.

One senior Global South leader told CEN he was troubled by the implication that Canon Kearon could make demands upon the primates and the provinces.  The ACC secretary general has “no authority” to dictate to the communion, he observed.

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