Sunday, May 6, 2007

Thoughts on CANA

As most Episcopal readers of this blog know, yesterday the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, came to the United States to install Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns as a new missionary Bishop of the Nigerian Church for several U.S. Congregations. Minns had previously been rector of the Tauro Church in Virginia, which was one of several churches to leave the Episcopal Church earlier this year.

This was extraordinary. Anglican bishops are not permitted to install bishops outside their own territory. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church requested that this not be done, as did the Archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Akinola went ahead anyway.

What does this mean. Mad Priest thinks that this forces a choice on the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Anglican Communion:


Archbishop Rowan Williams now has to make a choice. Does he wish to continue to placate, at any cost, the man who wishes to rule the Anglican Communion in a way that Rowan knows he must not do himself, because he does not have that authority and because he is a Christian man? Or will Rowan choose to now move closer to those who may have, in exasperation, grumbled about him, but who have never once thought of blackmailing the Church or attacking it's structure and integrity?

If Rowan does not choose the second option, and quickly, then TEC must, of their own accord, move away from both Williams and Akinola. In fact, if Katharine was to announce the split tomorrow, whilst everyone is looking at the photographs of a foreign man insulting their presiding bishop and dictating the policy of the American Church, I don't think the numbers that would leave would be that high.

Today, the schismatics are celebrating.


It is unclear how this will all play out. There may be more churches--and perhaps a handful of dioceses--that leave the Episcopal Church, but the divisions within these churches makes unlikely that all will join CANA. In the end, I suspect that the Episcopal Church largely remains intact. The real schism will be worldwide--and in the Church of England in particular. The Church of England is much more divided on the relevant issues than the Episcopal church, and by forcing the Archbishop of Canterbury to make a choice, Akinola may well force difficult decision throughout the Church of England.

8 comments:

Ned said...

"Anglican bishops are not permitted to install bishops outside their own territory. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church requested that this not be done, as did the Archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Akinola went ahead anyway."

Anglican bishops were not allowed to ordain actively gay persons as bishops either but they have!

Chuck Blanchard said...

Ned:

Thanks for commenting. I understand where you are coming from but another way to look at the situation is this:

The Windsor Report made requests of both TEC and the other Primates. The TEC was asked that it not ordain another gay Bishop. The TEC has not done so, and as I understand CG2006, the House of Bishops have made plain that a majority of the HoB will not do so until there is further dialogue within the Anglican Communion.

But Windsor also requested that other Primates stop the teritorial intrustions. The actions this weekend--even after the specific request by Rowan Williams--was in violation of this request.

So, who is more Windsor complaint: the Archbishop of Nigeria or TEC. To me, it is clear--the TEC.

My hope is that by September the TEC and the Anglican Communion can develop some acceptable alernative arrangement for those orthodox dioceses and congregations that feel they need one. The HoB's actions were not the last word. Sadly, the actions this weekend make this less, not more likely.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chuck,

Nice blog!

I'm afraid that if we are going to judge "Windsor Compliance" ECUSA bishops were also asked by the Report to not approve same-sex blessings. Many of them have done so, and more continuing. So in regards to Windsor Compliance, TEC is most certainly not at all in compliance.

So much so, that the recently released Tanzania Communique asked for two commitments to moratoria by TEC, since their response to the Windsor Report was not clear: a commitment by all the bishops not to bless same sex unions, and not to consent to the consecration of any bishop engaged in a non-celibate same sex relationship. This is supposed to be done by September 30.

In addition, the Communique made quite clear what was already clear in the Windsor Report -- that there was no "moral equivalence" between "boundary crossings" and the actions of ECUSA and Canada. The latter are the presenting and schismatic issues confronting the Communion.

Finally the communique asked for the Pastoral Council and other "structures of pastoral care" in order for there to be no need of further boundary crossings. But sadly, the HOB rejected that option.

I've enjoyed what I've read so far on other topics -- and couldn't help but enter in on one of the few that I know something about!! ; > )

Chuck Blanchard said...

Anonymous:

I think I know who you are--and if you are indeed who I think you are, thank you for your kind words on your blog!

From my laymen's perspective, I see a real effort by many liberal Bishops in the TEC to stay within the Communion. My own Bishop, for example, does not allow same sex blessings, and no Bishop that I am aware of has actually approved such a rite--they merely tolerate priests who have done their own rites. And while the HoB disagreed with the PV approach, this is not the last word, and I am hopeful that some alternative acceptable arrangment can still be worked out. My fear, however, is that last weekend's events in Virginia will make that much more difficult.

Anonymous said...

FYI, "merely tolerating" priests who have "done their own rites" is part of what has the rest of the Communion so upset.

Also, the Communique out of Dar es Salaam asked that we hold off on taking property disputes to court, but in several cases where departing parishes and their respective dioceses had reached agreements whereby the parishes could purchase their property from the diocese, TEC (by way of Mr. Beers) has refused to allow it -- and thus forced the parties into court.

I’m not sure I have seen much “real effort by many liberal Bishops … to stay within the Communion.” Perhaps you and I have a different understanding of the phrase “real effort,” but it seems to me that real effort requires actually doing something. All I have seen are the politician-perfected non-apology apologies (along the lines of the HoB’s post-Windsor ‘gee, we’re sorry you’re upset’) and the occasional statement which sounds respectful but doesn’t even hint at the possibility of compromise, let alone repentance or reversal. Of the bishops who consented to Gene Robinson’s election, I don’t know of any who have said they genuinely regretted it, and I doubt any of them have gone any further than TEC in trying to comply with the requests of the Windsor Report. But again, perhaps you and I use “real effort” to mean different things. Can you explain what you mean by it, or give examples of such efforts?

I don’t know that I agree with you that the Church of England is "much more divided" on these issues than TEC. I don't know of many retired English bishops who have just converted to the Roman Catholic Church (as the retired bishop of Albany has done), nor do I know of many English priests or bishops who have transferred to African dioceses (as so many have done here), nor do I know of many English parishes which have left the Church of England en masse (as has occurred in many places in the US). Not only that, but I can tell you that the clergy and bishops I know -- and there are a great many of them, spread across several dioceses all over the country, and occupying various points along the spectrum -- are deeply concerned about the state of TEC. For those who actually care when people leave the Church (as opposed to those who say, somewhat smugly, that the Church will be stronger without them), this is all very distressing.

As for me, it pains me to see people leaving TEC after they have spent their entire adult lives as priests and devoted decades to the Church, and it pains me to see all of this conflict within parishes, as well as within and between dioceses. It angers me when some people allow their anger to get the better of them and write nasty letters or blog posts (I don’t mean you!). You wouldn’t believe the nasty, rude letters the bishops have been receiving since the 2003 General Convention (the liberals are too liberal for some, but not enough for others, while the conservatives are too conservative for some, but not enough for others – they get it from every side, all the time.) +KJS’s repeated assertions to the contrary, the dissenters do not represent just a tiny minority, and the conflict is causing pain and damage all over the place. It breaks my heart to see it.

Chuck Blanchard said...

Anon:

Thanks for commenting. Let me say that I too am deeply saddened and concerned by what is happening in TEC. It pains me to see priests and Bishops (and guys in the pew like me) leave the TEC. On eof my wife's closest friends (whose child is my God Daughter) owrships at Fall Church. I understand the pain of division.

I would like to see a TEC in which both reaserter and reappraiser (or whatever term we use) can take communion together, will listen to each other, and will accept that we have a church that has room for both. I understand that this may mean some mechanism such as a PV.

To explain my comment about liberal bishops. My reference was to GC2006 in which even liberal Bishops voted for a resolution that I, at least, interpreted as putting a moritorium on new gay Bishops. And I mean the actions of my own Bishop (Smith of Arizona) who has taken heat for not permitting any same sex blessings and for immediately supporting the Communique's requests of the TEC. (He has backed off the PV for polity reasons, but I think he genuinely want to work to find a way to keep the TEC intact).

Anonymous said...

I wonder why Saint Athanasius didn't 'run away' when the arians were in charge of the church.

Maybe it is called faithfulness to Jesus Christ and HIS Church.

Chuck Blanchard said...

anonymous:

I love the point--I think that the Church will be strongest in doing Jesus Christs' mission (which, after all is the point of the exercise) if we keeep focused on that mission.