Friday, March 18, 2016

UGANDA BOLTS---AGAIN, 3rd edition

Stanley Ntagali, Anglican archbishop and primate of Uganda bolted from the primates' gathering in January when he did not get his demand to expel the Episcopal Church on the second day of the meeting. He left on the evening of Tuesday, January 12, the only primate to leave at that time. None of the other GAFCON/Global South primates followed him, although many left on Thursday evening before the end of the event. Ntagali quit in a pique that the Episcopal Church was not to be punished for what he considered its false teaching (equal rights for homosexuals).

The Canterbury Communiqué of Jan. 14-15 stated that the Episcopal Church was to have "consequences" (punishment) of being removed for three years from Anglican Communion decisions on doctrine and policy. This would include the Anglican Consultative Council.

The Anglican Consultative Council is to meet in Lusaka, Zambia, 8-19 April 2016.

Ntagali has announced that Uganda will not participate in the ACC meeting in Lusaka. ( ). He is withholding Uganda's three representatives from the gathering. This will make the second time in three months that Ntagali has bolted from the Anglican Communion structure.

The Programme of the eleven day conference is available at: .

The Anglican Consultative Council is a body of around 70 members from all of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. ( ) The apportionment of representation is based on a three tier system based on the sizes of the provinces. TEC gets 3 representatives as does Uganda. The function of the ACC is to gather, discuss, and disseminate information and to advise the provinces. It is the only one of the Four Instruments of Communion of the AC that has a constitution. The constitution makes clear it is an advisory body only with no power to enforce any decision on any province of the AC. It does not made doctrine or policy. The Canterbury Communiqué said TEC was banned from making doctrine and policy. These were not part of the ACC anyway.

The representatives of TEC have indicated they will attend and participate fully in the sessions of the Anglican Consultative Council next month. Besides, the primates' have no way to enforce their "consequences." The ACC is a co-equal Instrument of Communion that the primates' have no authority to control.

As of yet, there has been no word that any other Anglican province will boycott the ACC meeting in Lusaka. Once again, Uganda is going it alone.

Uganda has had a particular beef with the Episcopal Church of late, especially since last years' General Convention passed a resolution supporting LGBT persons in Uganda, a country notorious for its harsh legal punishment of homosexual acts. See Wikipedia for LGBT Rights in Africa.

What all this suggests is that GAFCON/Global South is not nearly as cohesive as we had imagined. Only one of their primates refuses to deal with TEC. Most of the rest went along with the slap-on-the-wrist decision for TEC in the primates' gathering in January. They also very clearly rejected the idea that the Anglican Church in North America would ever replace the Episcopal Church as the officially recognized Anglican province in America or even as a parallel province. The hopes of ACNA have been dashed, probably for good. This must be a terribly bitter blow to the schismatic Americans, such as those in South Carolina, who have pinned all their hopes on rescue from foreign primates. The cavalry is not going to arrive.

Ntagali seems to be the only one who really wants to kick TEC out of the AC. Of course, as we know, the Archbishop of Canterbury has established a precedent that the primates can establish the agenda for primates' meetings and make decisions by majority vote and enforce sanctions on the provinces the majority of primates deem to be in error. This is a very dangerous precedent for the future.

For the foreseeable future anyway, the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion continue on intact. The schismatic "diocese" of South Carolina will meet this coming weekend still outside of the Anglican Communion and likely to continue there forever. The primates gathering last January and the Lusaka meeting next month are bad news for the schismatics. They have been told resoundingly by the Anglican Communion that they are not Anglicans. They can call themselves whatever they wish. It does not matter. They can bring in all the African Anglican bishops they wish. It does not matter. When the schismatics in South Carolina cut themselves off from the Episcopal Church on 15 October 2012, they cut themselves off from the Anglican Communion too. No amount of phony "oversight" schemes will matter.

2nd EDITION (Mar. 10):   The archbishop and primate of Kenya has announced he will join Uganda in boycotting the Lusaka meeting of the ACC. That makes two primates refusing to send representatives to Lusaka. The equatorial African provinces have been in the lead in the hostility to American pro-homosexual reforms. It remains to be seen how many more of the regions primates will join the anti-American boycott of ACC and place themselves outside the constituted structure of the Anglican Communion.

3rd EDITION (Mar. 18): Nicholas Okoh, the archbishop and primate of Nigeria announced on Mar. 15 that Nigeria will join Kenya and Uganda in boycotting the Lusaka meeting of the ACC (homosexuality). However, his letter bears special and close reading: . While blasting the recent primates' gathering in Canterbury, he called for "Special Status" within the Anglican Communion for anti-homosexual provinces. He did not threaten to leave the Anglican Communion. This is a significant change in tone. The earlier primate of Nigeria was a leading force in getting the Lambeth 1998 statement condemning homosexuality, in opposing the US approval of an openly gay bishop in 2003, and in the creation of an anti-homosexual rival government in the Anglican Communion in 2008 called GAFCON. Okoh's new call for special status within the traditional Anglican Communion instead of threatening to bolt from AC could be a significant softening among the traditionally strongly anti-gay provinces of the Anglican Communion. If so, this could well be an unexpected result of the January primates' gathering in Canterbury.

The three equatorial Anglican provinces of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda that have announced a boycott of the upcoming Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka are all notorious for their harsh legal treatment of homosexual acts. See Wikipedia, "LGBT Rights in Africa" ( ). In southern Nigeria: 14 years imprisonment. In northern Nigeria: death penalty for men, whipping and imprisonment for women. In Kenya: 14 years imprisonment. In Uganda: 14 years imprisonment for men, 7 for women.

Okoh has been conspicuously active against rights for homosexuals. In 2011, he called for Nigeria to quit the United Nations: . See also the scathing condemnation in The Guardian, "Bishop Okoh's War on Homosexuality," .  

As of now, 35 of the 38 Anglican provinces will be participating in next month's Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka, Zambia (Central Africa). If 35 do show up, this will be a significant defeat for the anti-homosexual rights faction in the Anglican Communion. It will also show the decline of the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration that tried to create a parallel government in the Anglican Communion called GAFCON and its allied group, Global South. GAFCON and Global South tried to split up the old Anglican Communion into two separate groups on the issue of homosexuality. The fact that Nigeria, arguably the most important province of that movement, is now signaling it will stay in the traditional Anglican Communion is a significant indication that the 2008 effort to break up the AC has run out its course in failure. Another sign that this is the case is that the primates' gathering in Canterbury last January flatly rejected the pretensions of the Anglican Church in North America, the anti-TEC proxy of GAFCON/Global South in the U.S. GAFCON/Global South recognized ACNA as the replacement church for TEC. The primates flatly rejected this notion. They said any application of ACNA to join AC would have to go through the Anglican Consultative Council. At the same time, with Foley Beach looking on, the primates recommended that the ACC not admit ACNA. This was the death knell of ACNA's chance of joining the AC. The primates' rejection of ACNA and Okoh's signal that he will not leave AC indicate the collapse if not death of the post-1998 anti-homosexual movement in the Anglican Communion led by the equatorial African provinces. They are now down to three hard-liners. Their influence is severely diminished. This may well mean that the traditional Anglican Communion has survived its own schism of 2008 as the hard-liners' allies are mostly backing away. The best the anti-homosexual faction could come up with two months ago in the primates' gathering was a slap on the wrist for TEC.

Perhaps this is why DSC has abandoned its go-it-alone track of the last 3 and 1/2 years. The foreign anti-homosexual faction on which they were counting has greatly declined. The only logical choice left for the independent DSC is to join the pretend province called the Anglican Church in North America. ACNA is not part of the Anglican Communion. It is an independent Christian church. It is not a province of anything, but it is a larger organization in the US that can give the schismatic DSC the only stability reasonably available. DSC is going to need all the help it can get if the courts rule against them and before DSC eventually returns home to the Episcopal Church.

My observation is that the issue of homosexuality is declining in American culture. Last year's Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in the U.S. and the Episcopal Church's acceptance of the same formed a turning point in which the institutions of the U.S. caught up with American society's changing cultural values. In the last few decades, American society moved from condemnation of homosexuality as immoral to acceptance of it as amoral, that is, inherently neither good nor bad, just another expression of sexuality. The most remarkable thing about last years' monumental events was the almost complete lack of backlash. 

As we have seen, the independent Diocese of South Carolina has suffered a significant decline since the schism of 2012. It lost a quarter of its communicants in the first two years. Given its anti-homosexual stance, it will see more of the same as society moves ever onward in the normalization of life for homosexuals. Acceptance of homosexuality is part of the great democratization of human rights in America, and indeed the world, after the victory of democracy in the twentieth century. ACNA and the independent DSC are both a backlash against the natural flow of history. Backlashes tend to be temporary reactions that melt away in time. Perhaps the recent events in the Anglican Communion are beginning to show just how out of the mainstream they are, even in a worldwide religion with a strong current of social conservatism. It may well be that the Anglican Communion, as the Supreme Court and TEC, has moved beyond the crisis over homosexuality into a new acceptance, however uneasy it may be, of our cultural differences. If this is true, it means classical Anglicanism has survived after all. The anti-homosexual factions' attempt to replace it with a self-proclaimed narrow and intolerant "orthodoxy" has failed. The early and ingenious Anglican divines who sculpted a great religion of reason, differences, and toleration would be proud.