Friday, January 15, 2016

(with update)

A faustian bargain may be defined as an agreement in which a person abandons his spiritual values or moral principles in order to gain worldly benefits. I think that is what we got yesterday. The Archbishop of Canterbury bargained away the soul of the Anglican Communion in order to keep the form of the Anglican Communion.

The Deal

The Primates' Statement, 14 January 2016, is a list of eight points. It was adopted by majority vote of the primates present.

1-The Episcopal Church is to be excluded for three years from representing the AC in ecumenical and interfaith bodies, being appointed or elected to standing committees, and from decision making on doctrine and policy in AC bodies.

2-Creation of a Task Group "with the intention of restoration of relationship."

3-The majority of the provinces of AC recognize marriage as between a man and a woman.

1-That the Episcopal Church was expelled from the AC.

2-That the Episcopal Church repent of its sins.

3-What is to happen after the three year imposed term; and how long the Task Group is to function.

4-Declaration that the AC adopted heterosexual marriage only.

The Background of the Canterbury Gathering

---In 1976 the Episcopal Church took up equal rights for homosexuals in the Church as its fourth great reform movement in the post-Second World War age.

---Gradually rights were extended to homosexuals. By 1997 TEC had adopted virtual equality for homosexuals.

---Ultra-conservatives in TEC refused to accept TEC's pro-homosexual reforms.

---In 1997-98, American ultra-conservatives led by the American Anglican Council and Ekklesia joined equatorial African Anglican primates to organize a rejection of homosexual rights in the church.

---In 1998, the above coalition pushed through the Lambeth Conference a statement condemning homosexual behavior.

---In 2003, TEC affirmed a non-celibate homosexual man as a bishop. A diocese in Canada earlier adopted a blessing of same-sex unions. The Ultra-conservative/African alliance started a twelve year campaign to punish or remove TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada from the AC.

---In the Windsor Report of 2004, the AC primates asked for a voluntary moratorium on the ordination of homosexuals and the blessings of same-sex unions.

---In the Dromontine statement of 2005, AC primates asked TEC and ACC to withdraw voluntarily from participating in AC until 2008.

---In July of 2008, on the eve of the Lambeth Conference, Third World bishops formed GAFCON as a conservative (i.e. anti-homosexual) Anglican union. This, in effect split the AC into First World and Third World parts with the majority in the latter.

---In 2009 the Anglican Church in North America was created to present an anti-homosexual replacement church for TEC. It was supported by GAFCON and Global South which recognized ACNA's archbishop as the only legitimate Anglican primate in the U.S.

---After a temporary pause, TEC continued its pro-homosexual movement. In 2010, a second openly homosexual person was consecrated a bishop in TEC.

---In 2012 TEC adopted liturgy for blessing of same-sex unions.

---In 2015 TEC adopted same-sex marriage in the church.

---In view of impending failure of the presumptive Lambeth Conference of 2018, ABC called a "gathering" of the primates in Canterbury on 11 January 2016, to salvage some semblance of a Communion. In recognition of the power of the Third World primates, ABC invited their anti-TEC proxy, the archbishop of ACNA to the meeting.

The Gathering

The ABC refused to call the assembly an official meeting of the primates (one of the 4 "Instruments of Communion" of AC). He used the non-constitutional term "gathering."

37 primates attended (the 92 year old primate of New Zealand was absent). The archbishop of ACNA attended the gathering but apparently was not allowed to vote since he was not a primate of the AC.

On the second day (Tues.), Primate Ntagali of Uganda, moved that TEC be asked to leave the gathering, in effect expelled from AC. His motion failed whereupon he bolted the meeting sending a letter to his church. This showed that the majority of primates were not in favor of expelling TEC from AC, a disappointment to the hard right. Ntagali was the only primate to walk out of the gathering.

According to the ENS report, on the third day (Wed.), a motion was made to ask TEC to withdraw from the AC for three years. This failed by a vote of 15 to 20 (a shift of three votes would have carried this motion). Again, this proved that a majority of primates opposed expelling TEC from AC.

The result on Wed. was a "compromise" statement in which TEC was allowed to stay in AC but was declared in error, chastised and given a limited punishment for what the majority judged as its sin of promoting rights for homosexuals. (There cannot be a person left in the world who thinks this fight is not about homosexuality.)

According to the ENS report, just before the Wednesday vote, TEC's primate, Michael Curry, gave an eloquent and moving speech to the assembly. It was an address for the ages. Read long excepts at . I would have given almost anything to have been present to hear it. If anyone has any doubt about why he was chosen as presiding bishop, that should be banished. He is God's gift to TEC. It is not possible that anyone could have represented all of us Americans better.


Here are some of my thoughts about the gathering. I am writing this before the Fri. press conference, so I reserve the right to change my mind.

The gathering allowed the Third World to define a moral imperative to be enforced in the whole AC: homosexual behavior is immoral. Therefore, TEC must be punished for promoting this kind of immorality. This means what TEC has done for equal rights for homosexuals is wrong. If it is wrong, it must be corrected. The majority decided that its view alone is right and the minority must be punished for refusing to adhere to the moral imperative of the  majority.

The gathering and its statement have altered the institutional structure of the Anglican Communion. This was not an official meeting of the primates which is one of the four "Instruments of Communion." The gathering had no legal right to make any statement that is binding on the AC. By allowing an informal gathering of primates to rule over one province and to impose sanctions on it changes the nature of the AC. This has never occurred before. It sets the precedence that informal gatherings of the primates in the future can make any judgment for any reason on any issue against any one province of the AC. This is installing a process in which rigid ideology can be imposed on constituent churches of the AC with the consequence of punishment. Under this process, a province could easily be expelled in the future for any reason. It is simply done by majority vote of the primates. This is a vehicle for enforcing uniformity over a system of independent churches. It is a dangerous precedence. It is fundamentally foreign to the historical nature of Anglicanism which is characterized by toleration, reason, tradition, and common liturgy rather than exclusive ideology. Thus, the ABC has given up the historic soul of Anglicanism for the sake of continuation of some form of unified structure. In short, substance was overthrown for form.

This gathering and statement validate the shift in the balance of power in the AC from the First World to the Third. This shift has been going on for at least twelve years in the wake of the homosexuality issue. Global South brought together 23 of the 38 provinces of the AC. GAFCON, created in 2008, galvanized the Third World into a shadow government of the AC and a direct threat to the continuation of the old AC. The meeting this week only confirms the reality that the Third World primates now dominate the AC.

The precedence has been set that any decision can be imposed on all 38 provinces by a majority vote of the primates. The decision can be enforced by threat of expulsion from the AC. This is a recipe for disaster.

The meeting and decision this week also set the principle that the AC can impose policies beyond the dogma and doctrine of Christianity on its constituent members. Homosexuality is a social issue. It is not a matter of the dogma and doctrine of the church. It was never mentioned in the four gospels, never a word about it from our Lord. Church fathers throughout the centuries have all but ignored it. Homosexuality did not become an issue in the church until the late twentieth century. The Canterbury statement is imposing a social policy as if it were a religious policy and trying to do so on all parts of the AC.

In the meeting/statement, western democracy surrendered to Third World fundamentalism. The AC is now dominated by Global South/GAFCON. If they can do this to TEC, they can do virtually anything to any church of the AC.

I suspect that the meeting/statement of this week is more about the future than the past. In fact, equal rights for homosexuals is sweeping the contemporary world. Freedom for homosexuals and same-sex marriage is the new social norm in the First World and even in parts of the Third World. In the last dozen years, many countries have moved to marriage for same-sex couples. In the Anglican Communion, nine provinces may well be following the path of TEC on the issue of homosexuality: England, Scotland, Ireland, South India, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Canada, and Southern Africa. Every one of these has shown definite signs of moving toward equal rights for homosexuals in the church. It may well be that this week's statement and its punishment of TEC is mainly a shot across the bow of these and other Anglican churches that may be thinking of reforms for homosexuals. If this is the case, it is absurd. The democratic progress of history will most certainly not be stopped by majority votes of Anglican bishops.

What does all this mean for the future? My first question is: What happens after the three year "time out"? I read the statement as implying that TEC has three years to revoke its pro-homosexual policies or it will be ejected from AC. It may not mean that, but that is surely how it sounds to me. If GAFCON thinks TEC is going to revoke anything they are living in never-never land.

My next question is: What is this "Task Group" all about? This was almost completely undefined in the statement.

My biggest concern is the precedence this has set for the future. What is to keep the majority of primates from making any decision, or throwing any province out of the AC? Nothing.

The ball is now in the court of the First World primates. Will they accept the new de facto government of the AC? Will they allow the Third World to govern their actions? Power has shifted to GAFCON/Global South. Exactly what this means for the AC remains to be seen, but I fear it cannot be good.

So, the ABC made a last-ditch effort to "save" the AC. He saved the form but lost the substance.

UPDATE, Jan. 15, p.m.:

---Presiding Bishop Curry said he told the primates in Canterbury that TEC will not reverse its reforms for homosexuals. Since then, he has reiterated the point that TEC has no intention of changing any policy on homosexuality.

---At the news conference today, ABC Welby apologized to homosexuals on behalf of the church.

---Welby announced the next Lambeth Conference will be in 2020. ).

---Gay Jennings, the president of the TEC House of Deputies, is a member of the Anglican Consultative Council, one of the 4 Anglican Communion "Instruments of Communion" in which the Americans will be restricted under the Jan. 14 statement. The statement bans TEC from participating in decision making on doctrine and policy. Jennings says she is going to the ACC meeting in Zambia in April "to participate fully." Jennings also said TEC would continue its policies on homosexuality without change  ( ).