Rebuff for Episcopal Green Light

13 October 2007 - Print Version

By George Conger

THE NEW Orleans statement of the US House of Bishops has ‘clarified all outstanding questions’ posed by the Primates to the American Church, a report prepared by the Primates/ACC Joint Standing Committee (JSC) has found.

However, the 19-page report has been dismissed as dishonest by US conservatives, and its conclusions rejected by the African churches. Observers note the clumsy attempt of the JSC to usurp the prerogatives of the Primates, and to become a de facto fifth ‘instrument of unity,’ has served to worsen the already bitter climate within the Communion.

The Primates had asked the US Church to clarify the statement of its 2006 General Convention that it would not permit the election of more gay bishops or authorise gay blessings, that an autonomous scheme for pastoral oversight be given to traditionalists, and that the lawsuits against breakaway conservative parishes would cease.

At their March meeting the US bishops invited Dr Williams and the members of the Primates Standing Committee to meet with them face-to-face to avert a blow up. Over the summer this invitation was enlarged by the ACC staff to include itself and the ACC standing committee. In New Orleans the US Bishops pledged ‘as a body’ to ‘exercise restraint’ in electing gay bishops, pledged not to authorise ‘public rites’ of same-sex blessings, and agreed to delegated pastoral oversight for traditionalists under the supervision of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. It declined to address the issue of lawsuits, and chastised Global South Primates for violating their jurisdictions in providing support for traditionalist congregations.

The JSC concluded that this response satisfied the Primates’ requests and added the US was correct in citing the ‘ancient councils of the Church’ in protesting border crossings. The Primates were hypocrites in demanding the US church refrain from implementing gay bishops and blessings while they permitted the border crossings to go on. “[W]e do not see how certain Primates can in good conscience call upon The Episcopal Church to meet the recommendations of the Windsor Report while they find reasons to exempt themselves from paying regard to them.

“We recommend that the Archbishop remind them of their own words and undertakings,” the report said.

Crafted in a late night session on Sept 24 by Bishop Jefferts Schori and the JSC, the statement was adopted with amendments by the bishops on Sept 25. Critics of the report charge it is disingenuous of the ACC to give an independent endorsement of a report that it helped write, and question the US Presiding Bishop’s role as defendant, judge and jury in the process.

Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda called the report ‘severely compromised, and the gross conflicts of interest it represents utterly undermine its credibility.’ He said the Primates did not envision the ACC inserting itself in the process while the US was ‘considering our requests. Yet, members of the [JSC] met with Presiding Bishop Schori in the course of the preparation of their House of Bishops’ statement in order to suggest certain words, which, if included in the statement, would assure endorsement by the [JSC].

‘Presiding Bishop Schori’s participation in the evaluation of the response requested of her province is a gross conflict of interest. We wonder why she did not recuse herself.’ Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt, a member of the JSC delegation in New Orleans repudiated the report saying the US had given an inadequate response. “Instead they used ambiguous language and contradicted themselves within their own response,” he said.

The African archbishops also questioned the integrity of the JSC report, stating last Friday that: “On first reading we find it to be unsatisfactory. The assurances made are without credibility and its preparation is severely compromised by numerous conflicts of interest. The report itself appears to be a determined effort to find a way for the full inclusion of The Episcopal Church with no attempt at discipline or change from their prior position.”

The JSC report will be forwarded to all of the members of the Anglican Consultative Council and the primates for consideration. Archbishop Rowan Williams has asked for their responses by the end of October.

—This article appears on page 8 of today’s edition of the Church of England Newspaper

12 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Father Ron Smith Says:

    Archbishop Orombi’s accusation of complicity on the part of the ACC Standing Committee’s in its report on ECUSA’s response to the Tanzania Communique, is just one more piece of evidence of Global South’s determination to undermine the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ACC.

    To believe that the Primates have some sort of pre-eminence over the other two Instruments of Unity in the world-wide Anglican Communion is to mistake the Anglican process of government.

    Also, to accuse the Standing Committee of acting in an underhand way with ECUSA’s Bishops is to impugn their integrity. This is no small matter, as the ACC is the most representative of the Anglican Intruments of Unity, representing as it does the interests of bishops, clergy and laity.
    To think that the Primates alone have precedence over the other 2 Instruments is to think that the interests of laity and clergy are of no real consequence in Anglican Church government.

  2. Rick Arllen Says:

    I am now certain that Father Ron Smith is really Father Guido Sarducci, late of Saturday Night Live. Father Ron certainly comes across with all the credibility and spiritual authority Father Guido exuded. However, just in case Father Ron isn’t really Father Guido, I know I would certainly prefer Father Guido over Father Ron if I had to choose between the two for spiritual guidance. And what an unholy choice that would be!

  3. Robert Thomas+ Says:

    Somehow, I don’t think Jesus response to those with whom me might disagree would be a person attack on their character.

  4. Rick Arllen Says:

    Father Guido - No personal attack at all. Merely an observation gleaned from your expressed theological positions. All quite in line with Father Guido’s theological grounding and belief set. The more I hear from you the more convinced I am that you, indeed, are Father Guido Sarducci. You certainly aren’t a genuine Anglican priest.

  5. Father Ron Smith Says:

    re postings 2 @ 4.

    Rick Arlen seems intent on sussing out my real identity. There is no subversive intent on my part. In fact I do happen to be an ordained priest of the Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand and also a one-time Franciscan brother.

    My sole intention on contributing to this web-site is to try to counter the impression of its readers that the Church of God has not moved on since the first century AD. The Christian Church is a living organism, and is in fact inspired by God’s Holy Spirit to bring enlightenment and true justice (mishpat) to the whole world - for which Christ died.

    I do believe that to remain static in the Faith is to have already have resiled from the hope of any further inspiration by the Holy Spirit. Jesus did say: “When the Holy Sprit comes he will lead you into all the truth - about me, about sin…”
    This implies that, as the Holy Spirit is still working in the Church, teaching us more about the prejudices that Christ had to overcome in his own lifetime, and what might really be called ‘sin’ and what might not, we need to keep vigil.

    The Church must be open to what is being revealed afresh for the mission of the Church in the world of today - in order to fulfil our calling to be co-redeemers with Christ.

    Ideas about slavery, the place of women in the Church, and human sexuality - and its relevance for loving relationships - have moved on since the publication of the King James version of the Bible. By scientific and social observation, the world has discovered the fact that some people are differently gifted in the area of sexuality and human response. However, these responses need to be respectful of other people, and not solely self-serving in their application. This applies to hetero as well as homosexuals.

    The reason I am an Anglican priest, and not a minister of any other Christian body, is that I feel the Anglican Way is more diverse and open, and therefore more charitable and Christ-bearing, than those organisations which promote hatred and division towards people who want to celebrate the greater freedom which Christ has won for all of God’s children born in God’s image and likeness in the world God loves.

    You will, I am afraid, have to find another scape-goat for your ‘Father Guido Sarcucci’ whover he is or was. Actually, I’m not too put out by being labelled a scape goat. Jesus was one such.

  6. Rick Arllen Says:

    Nice try, Father Guido. I’m not buying it.

  7. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    I was honored to meet and kiss the hands of Archbishop Orombi at his recent visit to Lexington, Kentucky. He is a true Apostle and speaks the truth. May God protect him and grant him strength.

    At the meeting I attended Archbishop Ormobi preached a moving sermon on the nature of Christian leadership. It can be read here:

  8. Gary Morrow, Dahlonega, Georgia. USA Says:

    Thank you Linsley, that was a good read.

  9. Gary Morrow, Dahlonega, Georgia. USA Says:

    I have found Father Guido Sarcucci Ron Smith’s sister Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand where there is drag queen bingo, and sexfests:

    Do you think Father Guido Sarcucci Smith is related to San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer-he did say he was a Franciscan Brother?

  10. Father Ron Smith Says:

    Gary Moron, you are certainly up to date with all the underground sexual shenanigans of depravity and there apparent location. Why don’t you come out of the closet, Gary, and let us see who you really are.

    Seriously, though, I do think you should keep your slavering under control when you try to write on a religious web-site. The Church has no use for such deviancy as you seem to cherish.

  11. Gary Morrow, Dahlonega, Georgia. USA Says:

    Father Guido Sarcucci Ron Smith’s favorite Bishops—Desmond Tutu: “God is not a Christian”

    I told you Tutu was a Socialist Liberal-why do you think he got the Socialist Liberal Nobel Peace laureate from a Socialist Country.

    Birds of a feather flock together.

  12. Father Ron Smith Says:

    Dear Gary, you really should not try to deal with things too difficult for you. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of the most gracious and dignified signs of Christ’s love in the Church today. His spirituality is something that might be just too difficult for you to understand - coming as you do from your partricular background of prejudice.

    Here is a black man of impeccable credentials in the Anglican Communion - a personal friend and colleague of one of the most highly regarded African statesmen; Nelson Mandela, whose example of loving forgiveness of his persecutors is above reproach and a unique example to all Christians.

    To misunderstand what Archbishop Desmond was saying, in the context in which he said it, is to betray, once more, your fundamentalist and literalistic approach to the written and spoken word.

    For Archbishop Desmond to state that ‘God is not a Christian’, in the context in which he said this, is equivalent to saying that ‘God is not a Muslim’ - at least, you might agree to that statement?

    What Archbsihop Desomnd was saying was that God is not limited to any humanly-constructed logo or metaphor which might restrict God to our limited human understanding of God. (“My ways are not your ways, nor my thoughts your thoughts”)

    What also needs to be borne in mind is that the Gospel tells us that ‘God so loved the WORLD (not only the CHURCH), that he gave his Only-Begotten Son, so that all who believe in him might not perish but have eternal life.’ God can never be confined within a purely human understanding of who God is. All we can say is that God, if He really is Almighty God (as the Scriptures proclaim Him) is the God of every single human being he has ever created.

    Abraham was the father of many nations - not all of whom are Christian; Jews and Muslims as well are all children of Abraham. The value of us who are privileged to have been baptized into Christ, is that we are called to be co-redeemers with Christ - not just of other Christians, but of all God’s children. “God so loved the world….”