A Descent into Irrelevance


A.S. Haley writes:

The documents posted at the close of the recent Primates’ Meeting in Dublin tell the story. The takeover of the Instruments of Communion by ECUSA, aided and abetted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, is now complete. Anything of substance was carefully avoided at Lambeth 2008; the proposed Covenant itself was derailed at ACC-14 in Jamaica, and then carefully defanged by the newly reorganized Standing Committee; and now the Primates’ Meeting has let itself descend into irrelevance — with the primates of the churches having most of the Anglican Communion’s membership absenting themselves, and refusing to prop up the pretense of normalcy any longer.

Look at how the remaining primates now view themselves and their function. Their statement of purpose could as well have been written by the Presiding Bishop’s staff at 815 Second Avenue:

We endeavour to accomplish our work through:
‐ prayer
‐ fellowship
‐ study and reflection
‐ caring for one another as Primates and offering mutual support
‐ taking counsel with one another and with the Archbishop of Canterbury
‐ relationship building at regular meetings
‐ being spiritually aware
‐ being collegial
‐ being consultative
‐ acknowledging diversity and giving space for difference
‐ being open to the prophetic Spirit
‐ exercising authority in a way that emerges from consensus‐building and mutual discernment leading to persuasive wisdom

“Acknowledging diversity and giving space for difference” is tailor-made for ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada. What a difference just four years can make! At the conclusion of the Primates’ Meeting at Dar es Salaam in 2007 the primates adopted a statement which said in part:

The response of The Episcopal Church to the requests made at Dromantine has not persuaded this meeting that we are yet in a position to recognise that The Episcopal Church has mended its broken relationships.

. . .
In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church

1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and

2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134);

unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).

There is not a word in any of the statements released from Dublin today about the commitment that ECUSA’s House of Bishops was supposed to make, and which bishops such as +Bruno, +Shaw and the Presiding Bishop herself have so deliberately flouted ever since — along with the General Convention of the whole Church. It is abundantly clear, based on the statements from Dublin, that the Primates who gathered there are not going to follow through with their commitments at Dromantine and Dar es Salaam. So ECUSA has prevailed, and will have its way.

My quotation from the Dublin statement left off the last paragraph, which constituted the icing on the cake. In it, the Dublin primates also committed to “work through . . . the Standing Committee.” The Standing Committe received its own statement of purposes, which includes the following:

o Care for the life and spirit of the Primates Meeting
between meetings

o Acts as a consultative council for ABC:

* Has possibility to speak on behalf of the Primates Meeting
* Pastoral role

o Sustain and strengthen relationships among all Primates
and connect with other Instruments of the Communion

o Help to shape the Primates Meetings

o Ongoing bridge building role between Primates Meeting
and the regions

So the circle is now complete. The Dublin primates have agreed to work through the Standing Committee, which will “help to shape” their meetings in the future, and build bridges to unspecified “regions” in the meantime. Doubtless the Standing Committee will have its work cut out for it, as they say.

The Anglican Communion Office promises to tell us who was elected to membership on the Standing Committee just as soon as all the non-attending primates have been notified first.

This is one Anglican who will not be holding his breath.

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