January 7, 2010

Communion Transparency, Take 4

Let me begin by saying that, when I wrote “Communion Transparency, Take 3” this morning, I did not expect to write a post with the title of this one. What changed my mind was a story by George Conger over at Religious Intelligence. Although “Anglican body backs blocking of lesbian bishop” is not really about the organizational structure (such as it is) of the Anglican Communion, Conger, commenting belatedly on the December 8, 2009, communiqué from the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith, and Order, made the following helpful, if gratuitous remarks:
The formal communiqué also makes reference to the “Anglican Communion Office” and the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion” two legally non-existent bodies. Under Archbishop George Carey, attempts by the staff of the Anglican Consultative Council to operate under the name of the “Anglican Communion Office” were discouraged.

Under Archbishop Rowan Williams the ACC staff have taken on the working name of “Anglican Communion Office”, but as the review of the finances of Lambeth 2008 noted, this was not its legal identity, but a nickname.

The communiqué’s statement that the new commission will report to a hitherto unknown body called the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion” refers to the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, a staffer said.
Clearly, Conger has not been talking to Canon Kenneth Kearon. I suspect he is technically correct, however, about the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion,” though that name (perhaps without the “of the Anglican Communion” tag) may soon become official. (See “Communion Transparency, Take 3.”)

I was completely taken aback by Conger’s remark about “Anglican Communion Office,” however, yet I have little reason to doubt what he said about the (fictional?) entity. Nevertheless, at the bottom of the home page of the Anglican Communion Web site, we find (today, anyway):
Editors Note:

Following the Lambeth Conference of 2008 there have been a number of changes in the administration of the Anglican Communion Office, including the work of communications department. Initial enquires from the press should now be directed for the present to David Craig
Office +44 207 313 3928.
Mobile +44 07535 946 362.
Whereas this note suggests the reality of the Anglican Communion Office, the last line on the page implies that it is not a legal entity that can hold a copyright:
Published by the Anglican Communion Office © 2010 Anglican Consultative Council
Oddly, however, on the page titled “Help Pages - Copyrights & Disclaimers,” permission seekers are referred to
Copyright Manager,
Anglican Communion Office ,
St Andrew’s House,
16 Tavistock Crescent,
London W11 1AP
Tel: +44 (0)20 7313 3900;
Fax: +44 (0)20 7313 3999;
Making matters even more confusing, Ruth Gledhill, in a Religious Intelligence story posted 14 minutes after Conger’s story, uses “Anglican Communion Office” without irony, apology, or explanation.

So, is there an official entity called the “Anglican Communion Office”? Damned if I know, but I suspect not. Most likely, the use of “Anglican Communion Office” is yet another strategy of those trying to convince the naïve that the Anglican Communion is (or should be) more than it actually is.

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