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Canterbury’s international agenda in tatters: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 23, 2011 p 1. September 23, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Global South, Lambeth 2008, Primates Meeting 2011.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s strategy to hold together the Anglican Communion was left in tatters this week after the primates representing the Global South coalition of churches gave his leadership a vote of no confidence.

The Global South primates—representing the majority of the Anglican Communion’s members—have repudiated the course chosen by Dr. Rowan Williams for the “instruments of communion”, saying it lacked moral and theological integrity.

With the Anglican Covenant process under increasing pressure from liberals and conservatives, and his programme of dialogue around the topics dividing the church, but not addressing the divisions within the church, rejected by a majority of the Communion, Dr. Rowan Williams’ international agenda appears to have all but collapsed.

The latest blow came in a statement released after Aug 30 to Sept 10 Global South meeting in China.  While the primates said they were “wholeheartedly committed to the unity of Anglican Communion and recognize the importance of the historic See of Canterbury,” they were not pleased with what Dr. Williams’ subordinates were doing.

The instruments of communion: the Lambeth Conference, the Primates Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, “have become dysfunctional and no longer have the ecclesial and moral authority to hold the Communion together.”

The Global South primates stated it was “regrettable” that the 2008 Lambeth Conference had been “designed [so as] not to make any resolutions that would have helped to resolve the crisis facing the Communion.”

The Dublin 2011 Primates Meeting was also a failure.  It had been “planned without prior consultation with the Primates in regard to the agenda” and there had been “no commitment to follow through the recommendations of previous Primates’ Meetings.”

They noted that the call made by the 1988 and 1998 Lambeth Conferences for the Primates Meeting to “exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters” had been “completely set aside.”

The primates’ strongest criticisms, however, were reserved for the London-based Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) which it accused of bias.

The ACC, “the Anglican Communion Standing Committee, and Communion-level commissions such as the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) and the Anglican Communion Liturgical Commission no longer reflect the common mind of the churches of the Communion because many members from the Global South can no longer with good conscience attend these meetings as issues that are aggravating and tearing the fabric of the Communion are being ignored,” the primates said.

The archbishops of Southeast Asia, Uganda, Jerusalem and the Middle East, West Africa, the Southern Cone, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Myanmar (Burma), and Central Africa observed the communion had “undergone a tremendous transformation in recent decades. Today, the majority of Anglicans are found no longer in the west, but in churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are firmly committed to our historic faith and order.”

“At the same time,” the primates noted that many Anglicans in the West were “yielding to secular pressure to allow unacceptable practices in the name of human rights and equality.”

These political ideals must not trump God’s unchanging word, they argued. “Beginning with the undermining of Scriptural authority and two millennia of church tradition, the erosion of orthodoxy has gone as far as the ordination and consecration of active gay and lesbian clergy and bishops, and the development of liturgies for same-sex marriage.”

The primates Sept 9 statement said they would not be quitting the communion, however, but would focus their energies on creating a “Decade of Mission and Networking” as a “unifying vocational platform on which we realize and build up our common life and witness.”

Economic and educational ties within the Global South would be strengthened, they said, and gave their commitment to “support faithful orthodox Anglican churches and groups in the west which share our historic faith and order.”


1. George Conger writes on ‘Canterbury’s Failed Agenda’ | Kiwianglo's Blog - September 25, 2011

[…] Canterbury’s international agenda in tatters: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 23, 2011 p 1. September 23, 2011 […]

2. Peter Menkin - October 10, 2011

Grim news.

3. Peter Menkin - October 10, 2011

Now that I think about it, I’ll add a little more as a comment to your post on “Canterbury’s Failed Agenda.” I find this very disappointing, to say the least. This kind of news creates a sorrow, and I wonder what and where we as a Communion are going.

Here where I live near San Francisco, and I suspect in California itself, too, the greater Anglican Communion is thought as suspect at best. Even a kind of detractor regarding views held in this American State.

Further, the rift with the Episcopal Church has diminished the relationship considerably, for the South and even the Communion is so different in viewpoint from the Episcopal Church (USA).

I think one substantial failure of the Episcopal Church is to leave Biblical teaching and enter into to a kind of self-fufilling politics — for me, this means not centering on Christ and the Gospel. For example, where I live in Diocese of California (San Francisco), Episcopal Charities makes no mention of the Gospel in the Episcopal Way, says nothing of Christ. Its website has no Cross or even a note about being Christian. I think this is symptomatic of a kind of shrinking away from the reason to be as a Church, even as a Communion. It is a kind of shame, an attitude and sense of shame held by the Church where I live. I say this with a kind of boldness, for it is a strong thing to say people are ashamed of the Gospel and Christ–at least to proclaim it. I’m sure they would complain mightily even to mention it for discussion.

In light of what you report, it appears a more serious deficiency than at close range. Same for blessing Gay Marriage in the Church, Gay clergy who are married to Gay partners or not, and Gay Bishops. It is a curious thing to me, for I wonder, “What for…” to follow this path when it alienates so much of the Communion. Mine is a minority view where I live, so I think. Even in my own Parish.

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