Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Southern Cone's "Listening Process"

Since 1998, Anglicans have been asked to engage in a Communion-wide Listening Process.

From Lambeth 1998, Resolution 1.10:

...recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ...
From the Windsor Report:

...Finally, we recommend that the Instruments of Unity, through the Joint Standing Committee, find practical ways in which the ‘listening’ process commended by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 may be taken forward, so that greater common understanding might be obtained on the underlying issue of same gender relationships...
From the 2005 Primates' Meeting:

...In reaffirming the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 as the present position of the Anglican Communion, we pledge ourselves afresh to that resolution in its entirety, and request the Anglican Consultative Council in June 2005 to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process which has been the subject of resolutions not only at the Lambeth Conference in 1998, but in earlier Conferences as well.
In response, the Communion began to more intentionally engage in the Listening Process. Part of monitoring the process as it has unfolded in the different Provinces has included a summary of responses.

The response from the Southern Cone is quite interesting:

...The Province of the Southern Cone believes that both homosexual and heterosexual persons must be extended the best of pastoral care and mercy.

The Province is small with few resources and does not have the time to do all things and has needed to set its own priorities and agendas rather than ones that seem to have been manufactured for them.

The Province has “heard the cries of members of the Communion who have been pastorally abused by those who foist a sexual political agenda upon them.”

The Province formulated a position at the request of the Theological Commission in 2001 but this was not addressed at following ACC meetings. The Province feels the response was deliberately side stepped...
Never mind Lambeth 1.10, the Windsor Report or the Primates. We don't have time for such manufactured agendas. We don't have time to hear the cries of those abused by church sponsored bigotry. However, we do have the time for those who agree with our point of view. And, from this one-sided listening process, we have come to the conclusion that they are the real victims of abuse.

Nice, eh? This is the same Province whose current Primate and House of Bishops have decided on their own that it is time to expand into North America, even though their own Constitution and Canons does not allow for such an expansion. They have no support from Canterbury for this invasion. They have ignored warnings from the leadership of the Annglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church that this invasion must stop.

The Southern Cone has no respect for Canterbury, the Primates, statements from Lambeth or the Windsor Report. Their intention is to continue to claim congregations and Dioceses that belong to other Provinces. Beyond that, it appears that they are also determined to import their own personal biases into North America.

Someone needs to stop this invasion. Since formal methods appear to have failed, maybe it is time for grassroots efforts to be considered?

Regarding the response to the Listening Process in other places, Christopher Webber has provided us with an insightful summary; Un-common Communion. Although I think some of his conclusions are accurate, they are not very encouraging:

...Amid the chaos and confusion, what can be heard? As one interested listener, what I hear first of all is the incredible diversity of the voices and the improbability that Anglicans will arrive at a common mind anytime soon...
However, I must agree with Christopher that this does not mean that the Listening Process is lacking of any value:

...One can hope that the Lambeth bishops did not expect in 1998 that a consensus would have emerged by 2008. Nor, it seems, will 10 more years be likely to bring us all to the same page. But if we listen carefully, we may come to a better understanding of each other and a greater ability to work together in our global village. We may even hear the Holy Spirit at work to do more than we humanly could have expected in ways beyond our imagining...
If this Process is to result in a better understanding, everyone, including the Southern Cone, needs to participate.


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