March 1, 2012

Time Off for Good Behavior

The rules by which the reign of terror of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is conducted became clearer today with the release of a story from Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS). The two members of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) who arbitrarily had been reduced to consultant status have now been reinstated as regular members, making whole a major cog in Canterbury’s propaganda machine.

The rules, as is now crystal clear, are that: (1) crossing the Archbishop will be punished, the lack of authority to do so notwithstanding; (2) individuals will be punished for the perceived infractions of their churches; and (3) rehabilitation can be achieved through extraordinary acts of penance that advance the Archbishop’s despotic agenda.

Background

 

In his 2010 Pentecost letter, Rowan Williams wrote
And when a province through its formal decision-making bodies or its House of Bishops as a body declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard (as noted in my letter to the Communion last year after the General Convention of TEC) to see how members of that province can be placed in positions where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole. ;This affects both our ecumenical dialogues, where our partners (as they often say to us) need to know who it is they are talking to, and our internal faith-and-order related groups.

I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members. This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice. It does not alter what has been said earlier by the Primates’ Meeting about the nature of the moratoria: the request for restraint does not necessarily imply that the issues involved are of equal weight but recognises that they are ‘central factors placing strains on our common life’, in the words of the Primates in 2007. Particular provinces will be contacted about the outworking of this in the near future.
The Pentecost threats were soon carried out. Episcopal News Service reported June 7, 2010, that the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, had written to a number of Episcopalians serving on Anglican bodies informing them that their membership had been discontinued.
According to ENS,
Butter [Jan Butter, communications director for the Anglican Communion] told ENS that the Anglican Communion’s secretary general, in consultation with the archbishop of Canterbury, appoints members to the ecumenical commissions and to IASCUFO. “He therefore can ask people to stand down,” he said.
ENS noted further that
The Rev. Katherine Grieb, an Episcopal priest and professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary, was the IASCUFO member who has been invited to serve as a consultant.
The snub of Professor Grieb was especially notable, as she had been a member of the Covenant Design Group, which was charged with drafting an Anglican covenant.

On October 1, 2010, Kearon reduced another prominent IASCUFO member to consultant status. Anglican Communion News Service noted that Bishop of Chile Tito Zavala, of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, also had been demoted. Kearon explained that
“At that time [when the Archbishop of Canterbury sent his Pentecost letter] I wrote to the Primate of the Southern Cone, whose interventions in other provinces are referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report asking him for clarification as to the current state of his interventions into other provinces. I have not received a response.

“Consequently, I have written to the person from the Province of the Southern Cone who is a member of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), Bishop Tito Zavala, withdrawing his membership and inviting him to serve as a Consultant to that body.”
Zavala has subsequently become the Southern Cone primate. Today’s announcement that both he and Professor Grieb are once again members in good standing of the IASCUFO comes after some interesting developments.

Analysis


In November, according to George Conger, the Southern Cone endorsed the Anglican Covenant. Conger’s story for Anglican Ink, also includes this:
Today’s Southern Cone statement noted that it had been “in response to these novel practices” of doctrine and discipline that the “Southern Cone had held churches in North America under its wing for some time while the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) was formed.”

However, the “province has not maintained jurisdiction over any local churches there for over a year.  As a result, all so called ‘border crossings’ by any provincial members ceased (as of October, 2010) even though the Southern Cone still remains in impaired communion with US and Canadian Provinces,” the communiqué [of December 20, 2011] said.
There is, of course, some irony (or dissembling) here. The Southern Cone’s first overseas adventure involved taking under its wing, the schismatic Bishop of Recife (Brazil), Edward Robinson Cavalcanti, and as much of his diocese as he could manage to bring with him into the Southern Cone. Although deposed by the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil, Cavalcanti and his diocese—now a rival of the corresponding diocese of the Brazilian church—have remained a part of the Southern Cone. (Adding to the weirdness of this story, Cavalcanti was murdered, apparently by his adopted son, on Sunday.)

Anyway, the Southern Cone has accepted the Anglican Covenant and finessed the matter of its border crossings, apparently good enough behavior to rehabilitate Bishop Zavala.

Professor Grieb cannot thank her church for playing nice with the Anglican powers that be, but she has lent her credibility to one of the three pro-Covenant videos released February 22, 2012, by the IASCUFO. In particular, her’s is the final segment in a video supposedly describing “the sections of the Covenant.” In fact, she seems to be selling the Covenant to Episcopalians, noting—rather improbably, I thought—that “there are many progressives [in The Episcopal Church] who are also interested in endorsing the Anglican Communion Covenant.” Grieb then proceeds to suggest that her church can continue ordaining women, moving forward with the blessing of same-sex unions, and consecrating gay and lesbian bishops without fear if the church adopts the Covenant. We have been asked to sign the Covenant as we are, she asserts, “and everybody knows where we’ve been and what we stand for.” (The video is on YouTube. Grieb’s segment begins 6 minutes and 44 seconds into it.)

Grieb’s remarks have nothing to do with “the sections of the Covenant,” of course, and yes, everybody does know where The Episcopal Church is headed, and many are eager to have the Covenant in place so that The Episcopal Church can be punished for it. Grieb has done her part to promote the Covenant and deserves to be returned to her position with the Anglican Communion propaganda apparatus.

Can anyone really believe that, given the disinformation and manipulation orchestrated by Rowan Williams and his minions in order to put the Anglican Covenant into effect, the Anglican Communion will not become even more totalitarian if its member churches are naïve enough to buy into the Archbishop’s Covenant project?



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