Monday, July 04, 2005

Update on the Anglican Consultative Council

Simon Sarmiento offers a good summation here. As he points out, regardless of how many times the conservatives repeat the spin, this was a defeat for them. Instead of getting the North Americans banned from all leadership positions within the Anglican Communion, the resolution was amended to include the two bodies under the direct authority of the ACC. The resolution affirmed that which already existed; nothing more. The North American delegations had already voluntarily withdrawn from the ACC, and the ACC does not meet again until after Lambeth 2008.

The other interesting thing to note is that this weakened resolution, which changed nothing, only got 30 votes. Since the Global South had 33 votes, it appears that they were the only ones who voted for it, and at least 3 of their delegation either abstained or voted against it. So much for the claim that the majority of the Communion seeks to punish the North Americans.

Susan Russell, one of the presenters for the Episcopal Church at the ACC meeting in Nottingham, debunks the Conservative spin quite well;

1. On June 22nd the ACC passed two resolutions. In the first, they voted to accept the voluntary withdrawal of the US and Canadian delegates from official representation. As both of these provinces had already voted to do just that and the ACC doesn't even meet again until after Lambeth 2008, the truth is: it was a meaningless and repetitive vote.

2. “Listening” was the focus of a second resolution that included the call for the Anglican Communion to listen to the experience of homosexual persons. This affirmation re-engages a commitment to listen made at the Lambeth Conference 1998 -- a commitment that up until now has been sadly ignored. The truth is: the overwhelming endorsement of this radical new commitment by voting representatives from every Province in the Communion is an extraordinarily hopeful sign for ECUSA, the Communion and the Gospel.

3. The vote on the first resolution was extremely close (30-28 with 4 abstentions) and if the US and Canada had been allowed to vote it would not, in fact, have passed. The second resolution passed unanimously. This totally debunks the fiction that the US reactionaries are promoting that it is “North America against the world.” The truth is: half of the world supported us and the other half has committed to listen to us.
Meanwhile, David Virtue gets an "exclusive" interview with Archbishop Bernard Malango, Primate of Central Africa. Keep in mind that Virtue is not highly regarded even in Conservative circles. He is an angry man who is the most mean-spirited Episcopalian I have ever read. So, we cannot put too much weight to anything he reports, including supposed interviews. But, in the off chance that there is any truth in it, it is worth at least noting that the Archbishop stated that the Global South will form their own Communion before the next Lambeth, with their headquarters set up in Alexandria, Egypt.

David Anderson, President of the American Anglican Council, denounced Virtue's interview, and took a few personal shots as well. Virtue responded of course;

...What irks Anderson and others of his kind is that they have lost the power to change anything. The power has moved to the Global South and the AAC is a succubus, drawing from the spiritual life blood of the south because he and the AAC have none in themselves. The AAC is a parasitic organization.
Mark Harris wonders if this little exchange among the conservative factions isn't an example of the Chapman plan unfolding on schedule, with the AAC becoming less, to allow the Network to become more.

Personally, I think the Global South is fed up with all the North Americans, liberal and conservative, and they are going to go their own way. Statements such as the recent one out of Kenya suggests that they are now making even more bold ultimatums, because they are ready to bolt. If Rowan invites the North Americans to Lambeth, they're going to split off.

So, what do we do? We press on, recognizing that these are challenging times for the Church. Inclusive Church offers a good definition of this challenge;

...The Anglican Church has made a unique contribution to Christian witness. We have always been Catholic and Reformed, standing between the extreme certainties which caused such terror and suffering in the Reformation era. We are commtted to maintaining the value of that inheritance. We are not surprised when something that has so much within it that works for good and redemption is under attack.

But this Church that we love is now under threat. The Gospel of broad and generous inclusion is being undermined by a dangerously monochrome interpretation of scripture.

The loss of our voice; the change in our ecclesiology; the equating of our Anglican tradition with other hard-line, protestant, or neo-conservative churches would be a serious and permanent diminishing of Christian witness to the world...
The ACC also passed a resolution regarding Israel which has caused some controversy. It seems some folks want to believe the illusion that the Israelis are the good guys, and the Palestinians are the bad guys, in all cases. That Christians would even suggest that the Israelis also have blood on their hands is blasphemy to those who pour over their interpretations of the Revelation to John. But I think this issue is best left for another day.

In honor of today being Independence Day, I'll end with a quote from Judge Learned Hand, shamelessly stolen from Susan Russell;

What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few; as we have learned to our sorrow.
-The Spirit of Liberty
, (1944) p. 190.

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