Saturday, September 23, 2006

Akinola Throws Down Gauntlet

A Second Anglicanism?

The recent meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, of 18 Provinces of the Anglican Communion has for all intents and purposes established another Anglicanism. It suggests that what had heretofore been a division in Anglicanism has now become an irrevocable and irreversible split. There now appear to be two Anglicanisms.

For some time now, there had been the hope that the various actors within Anglicanism were in good faith looking for a solution to our present difficulties. The meeting in Kigali now obliterates any such hopes. The meeting finally reveals the determination and intransigence of a large group within the Church to mold the larger Communion in their image. It would seem now to matter little what the various intermediary efforts to adjudicate the differences within the Communion will conclude over the next few years. They have been pre-empted. The matter has been settled by the Rt. Reverend Peter Akinola and his colleagues from the Global South. They are establishing a new Anglicanism; others are now asked to sign on or no.

Here are the outlines of the "new Anglicanism" being espoused by the Kigali group:

++Akinola's Anglican Covenant

The Akinola/Global South alliance say that they will soon produce an Anglican Covenant, a kind of definitive statement of what Anglicanism is by their lights -- a form of a constitution, if you will, of the new Anglicanism. It will be a radically evangelical document, as they have often said, and will brook little disagreement on central issues. This alliance has been working on such a Covenant for some time, presumably as soon as the Windsor Report called for such a document.

They were at work even before the official process, prompted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, began. While the official process is slated to go on for a number of years under ++Canterbury's aegis, the document prepared by the Global South alliance is almost finished. It is quite certain the Akinola/Global South document will adhere strictly to their stated views on homosexuality ("an evil" and a "perversion," according to their statements). Further, the ordination of homosexuals to the diaconate and clergy will be be proscribed -- though the Windsor Report never suggested they should be. This and perhaps other conditions will be central to remaining in the Anglican Communion under the new Anglicanism.

The bishops speaking from Kigali have stated they will submit this material to the official Anglican Covenant Committee now chaired by the Rt. Rev. Drexel Gomez, one of the most outspoken enthusiasts of an Anglican realignment and a fervent opponent of the inclusion of gay men and lesbians in the Church. It is equally clear from the accompanying statements by the Nigerian Archbishop that their covenant will not simply be one among many suggestions offered to the official Covenant Committee. As reported in the Reuters dispatch of September 20, 2006:

"In order to put to rest this issue of homosexuality, we are working on an Anglican covenant with provisions that very clearly say what it means to be an Anglican." He further told reporters: "Who ever subscribes to this covenant must abide by it and those who are unable to subscribe to it will walk out." That is to say there is to be no discussion, alteration or compromise on this issue. Take it or leave it. In that sense it is logical to conclude that the archbishop and his colleagues are no longer participating in any inter-Anglican discussion of differences. They have now begun the process of setting up an alternative Anglicanism based on the covenant his group will soon release.

Alternative Primatial Oversight [ALPO]

The communiqué went on to discuss the issue raised by the request on the part of nine American dioceses for alternative primatial oversight. According to the process currently in place these matters and others dealing with similar conflict were to be referred to the Panel of Reference set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury. According to the communiqué this matter will now be taken up by "the Global South Steering Committee" to "develop a proposal identifying the ways by which the requested Primatial oversight can be adequately provided." The Committee will "meet with the leadership of the dioceses requesting Alternative Primatial Oversight, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Network and the ‘Windsor Dioceses’."

Why is this to be done? Because of the "slow response from the Panel of Reference." Having now bypassed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s panel, the Akinola-aligned primates have decided, we find, the Archbishop of Canterbury is now merely one of many to be consulted in the matter of primatial oversight. In fact, therefore, Archbishop Akinola and the Global South have now appointed themselves the sole arbiters of Anglican affairs. They have become an alternative Anglicanism simply bypassing Canterbury. Their actions will mean the presenting of foreign archbishops on American soil. That this would violate the canons of the Episcopal Church is of no mind. In the new Anglicanism, the decisions of Archbishop Akinola and the primates of the Global South are law.

A New Ecclesiastical Structure for the U.S.

The communiqué then proceeds blithely to speak of their intent to set up, under their sole guidance, a parallel ecclesiastical structure in America:

"We are convinced that the time has now come to take initial steps towards the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA. We have asked the Global South Steering Committee to develop such a proposal in consultation with the appropriate instruments of unity of the Communion. We understand the serious implications of this determination. We believe that we would be failing in our apostolic witness if we do not make this provision for those who hold firmly to a commitment to historic Anglican faith.

"That traditional Anglicanism, in keeping with ancient catholic practice, has forbidden such ecclesiastical poaching is apparently of no consequence to the Akinola/Global South alliance. In their apocalyptic universe ("there is now a growing number of congregations and dioceses in the USA and Canada who believe that their Anglican identity is at risk ") such ancient practices must be forsworn. It can be bypassed because in their eyes, in the eyes of the new Anglicanism, they have determined the Episcopal Church is "apostate," giving them free rein simply to act now to replace the Episcopal Church. They will no longer wait for some process of determination in the future to rule on this matter. They will not wait for the Archbishop of Canterbury to act on behalf of the entire Communion. They are the law -- and a law unto themselves.

The rueful allusion to consultation with the Instruments of Unity is bitterly ironic. The communiqué has already announced, "At the next meeting of the Primates in February 2007 some of us will not be able to recognize Katharine Jefferts Schori as a primate at the table with us. Others will be in impaired communion with her as a representative of The Episcopal Church." The alliance arrogantly asks that some other bishop represent the Episcopal Church. Since the Primates form one of the Instruments of Unity and since the Alliance doesn’t like a particular bishop, they now arrogate to themselves the right to reshape the primatial structure to their liking. Again they have become a law unto themselves.


The matter before us is now clear. First, we must dispense with any notion that there can be some accommodation with Archbishop Akinola over the matters which divide us. He cannot be dissuaded personally, and all such Communion-wide instruments to adjudicate the dispute are now of no use whatsoever. The archbishop has simply created his own Anglicanism and announced it to the rest of us. By his edict, the remainder of Anglicans must either sign on or not.

Second, for those who do not wish to be a part of Archbishop Akinola’s new Anglicanism but still remain loyal to, and convinced of, the efficacy of the traditional Anglican way, we must now find a way to join together.

Archbishop Akinola has now thrown down the gauntlet. He has created his Anglicanism. We must now come together in ours. It is immensely sad that there be two Anglicanisms. Still, there have been other rocky periods in Church history. In time I suspect this too will pass. In some indeterminate future moment, reason will once more prevail, and unity will once more be established. In the meantime we call upon all Anglicans of good will, who love the Church as it has been, to join now and uphold the faith.


Anonymous J.C. Fisher said...

"In order to put to rest this issue of homosexuality, we are working on an Anglican covenant with provisions that very clearly say what it means to be an Anglican." [++Akinola] further told reporters: "Who ever subscribes to this covenant must abide by it and those who are unable to subscribe to it will walk out."

To me, it doesn't matter if they were "putting to rest this issue of homosexuality" by saying (I joke. I kid.) "every Anglican must turn gay" . . . the mere fact of "provisions that very clearly say what it means to be an Anglican" is oxymoronic to any faith REMOTELY "Anglican"!


9/23/2006 7:49 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I call it Akinolism NOT Anglicanism. There is still only one Anglican ethos and it is not what Peter Akinola et al espouse.

9/23/2006 10:36 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

I would call it pseudoanglicanism, not Anglicanism.

9/24/2006 6:38 AM  
Anonymous KJ said...

How naive does one have to be to think they can leave "the issue of homosexuality" behind? It's not an issue; it's people. And for those people we will pray and be a light to the truth that spirituality and sexuality does not need to create a division of faith or people.

9/24/2006 10:15 AM  
Blogger Phil S. said...

Okay, I totally get that many of you are seeing red right now. God knows it is hard to feel dictated to and I can see feeling this way with the Kigali communique. I also get why it is helpful to personalize this situation and that Akinola (whose views are rather too extreme for my taste) make a convenient person to hang the blame for the current situation.

Yet, I think this is a mistake. The actual Kigali communique is more moderate that I had looked for. It hasn't actually made the break that many feared. It has threatened that it might be coming. It has left the door open for the Covenant process to work itself out.

I'm not sure that Archbishop Akinola got what he wanted at Kigali. I think the Communion may have just dodged another bullet and bought a few more months to try to work out this mess.


9/24/2006 3:00 PM  
Blogger ... said...

It would appear that Archbishop Ndungane, who was at the Kigali conference, doesn't share your opinion, Phil.

9/24/2006 3:26 PM  
Blogger Phil S. said...

toewalker Perhaps not, although I will point out that I hadn't seen Archbishop Ndungane's clarification when I wrote what I wrote above.

I think a few points are in order here, though.

First, let's remember that South Africa has had a tendency to be more sympathetic to TEC and AC of Canada. The fact that Archbishop Ndungane is expressing a more conciliatory position shouldn't come as a surprise.

Second, part of my point in my post was that it was a mistake to personalize this as only Archbishop Akinola's doing. My point is, clearly, other primates agreed. The fact that Archbishop Ndungane thinks this communique went further than he was comfortable with doesn't change that point. Furhter, he nowhere suggests that the agenda being driven here is primarily Archbishop Akinola. Perhaps it is. I don't know. Nor do you. That was my point.

Third, I welcome Archbishop Ndungane's clarification because it applies the brakes a bit to some of the edgier parts of the Kigali communique. On the whole, I think his call for caution over how far the Kigali communique went are well taken. I hope they'll be heeded.

Lastly, what I was trying to point out is that Kigali communique hasn't quite pushed the Communion off the edge. I had feared that in the leadup to this meeting. What it certainly did was push it to the edge. I would welcome a step back from the brink, but, for now, we are on the edge and we all need to think very clearly about what we (conservatives and liberals) are going to do next. I hope and pray we all manage to do that.


9/24/2006 5:50 PM  
Anonymous David Huff said...

Phil's got a point*. I see +Akinola's name being batted about all the time (not that he doesn't deserve it), but +Orombi, +Gomez, +Venables, and their buddies in the AAC - they're all equally culpable. This isn't just the "Peter Akinola Show."

* Well, OK, I guess that wasn't exactly Phil's point :) But it's important to realize that +Akinola isn't some lone Svengali of the Anglican rightwing...

9/24/2006 8:38 PM  
Blogger Phil S. said...

Don't worry, david, I appreciate the support on this. I don't expect people on this board to like what happened at Kigali. In fact, the best I can say of it is that it wasn't as bad as I feared it might be and, because of that, Archbishop Williams and moderates in TEC have a few more months to try to work out a way to bring the temperature down in the Communion. That is faint praise, I grant you, but that is about all I'm willing to give. What I'm feeling is relief in avoiding this one particular bullet.


9/25/2006 6:05 AM  
Anonymous J.C. Fisher said...

Phil, while you're "totally getting" us right now (I'm not being facetious), can you also understand that I---an ecumenist through-and-through, always wanting to go the extra mile to GET/STAY TOGETHER---have gotten to the point where I honestly don't know anymore whether it's a good thing that it (Kigali) "hasn't actually made the break."

J.H. Newman, in his Apologia, talks about his last days as an Anglican, as a kind of lingering-unto-death. You KNOW the patient is going to die, but s/he may make the odd rally now and then.

That's the way I feel about . . . the "Pre-1998 Anglican Communion".

It was a beautiful dream: it promulgated the Quad, and gave birth to the "Faith and Order Movement" for Christian Reunion (so important to my own vocation).

...but it's going to die. It's obvious now. Whoever wrote/affirmed Kigali, has "laid down the gauntlet" (as TEM describes it): "If TEC is in any 'Anglican' gathering, we won't be."

That's the death throes you hear... :-(

9/25/2006 9:05 PM  
Blogger Phil S. said...


You may well be right. I certainly think you're right that we can't return to the pre-1998 situation. Too much has happened since. Yet, the question we have to ask ourselves is if we can move forward. In my more pessimistic moods, I'm sure we can't. In my optmistic mood, I'm willing to upgrade our chances to a snowball's chance in hell (well, it is better than no chance).

Are these the death throes of the Anglican Communion? Very possibly. Yet, I think we have to ride this out and still act like the Church. That is what I'm focusing my attention on.


9/25/2006 9:15 PM  
Blogger Larry Jay said...

I am a new Anglican and am sad to see this division happen. However, the TEC as we know it will survive.

9/26/2006 10:50 PM  

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