The CAPA Primates Respond to the JSC Statement on the Response of
The Episcopal Church House of Bishops Meeting in New Orleans
The Convocation of Anglican Primates in Africa have responded to the report of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Anglican Primates or the JSC. The pertinent paragraphs are below.
4. While meeting in Mauritius we received a copy of the report of the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council. 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.
My comment: This is a clear signal these leaders from the Global South who now represent the majority view in the communion will no longer accept artfully contrived language as a solution to the chaos in the Anglican World. They are wanting a demonstration of a good will in meaningful actions.
5. We are convinced that what is at stake in this crisis is the very nature of Anglicanism – to understand it simply in terms of the need for greater inclusivity in the face of changing sexual ethics is a grave mistake. It is not just about sexuality but also about the nature of Christ, the truth of the Gospel and the authority of the Bible. We see a trend that seems to ignore the careful balance of reformed catholicity and missionary endeavor that is our true heritage and replace it with a religion of cultural conformity that offers no transforming power and no eternal hope.
My comment: This statement refuses to accept the position of the TEC and others in the West that the substance of the church’s faith and order is not compromised in the current disputes which are narrowly about pastoral accommodation to evolving views of the nature of same-sex attraction. The ball is in the court of the innovators to prove that this is not so and protestations that no formularies are being changed are inadequate.
6. In our considered opinion, however, there is a possible way forward. The Anglican Communion Covenant is the one way for us to uphold our common heritage of faith while at the same time holding each one of us accountable to those teachings that have defined our life together and also guide us into the future. We therefore propose the following actions:
My comment: This is a reaffirmation of the Windsor Report and a restrained response to the chaos which the actions of TEC has created. The way forward is not by means of some part of the church “throwing out” some other part but by means of a church wide reassertion of that which is essential to its apostolic witness and the opportunity for local churches to define themselves in or out of the Anglican Communion. This is the only way forward I can see and the only one which has been endorsed by the instruments of unity. There is real restraint here by CAPA for they go the extra mile and give all who will including the TEC the chance to determine to join the covenant and opt into the Anglican Communion. TEC would of course have to give assurances and conform its behavior in ways which are inconceivable. It seems clear that there is an anti covenant consensus in TEC.
a. Call a special session of the Primates Meeting. We believe that meeting together is essential if we are prayerfully to allow the Holy Spirit to work through our interactions and bring us to a common mind. We would need to:
i. Review the actual response made by The Episcopal Church – both their words and their actions.
ii. Finalize the Covenant proposal and set a timetable for ratification by individual provinces.
My comment: The cost of these endless meetings is to be regretted but this does seem a practical and necessary proposal for moving the covenant process forward.
b. Postpone current plans for the Lambeth Conference. We recognize that such an action will be costly, however, we believe that the alternative – a divided conference with several provinces unable to participate and hundreds of bishops absent would be much more costly to our life and witness. It would bring an end to the Communion, as we know it. Postponement will accomplish the following:
i. Allow the current tensions to subside and leave room for the hard work of reconciliation that must be done.
ii. Ensure that those invited to the Lambeth Conference have already endorsed the Covenant and so can come together as witness to our common faith.
My comment: This is meet and right. The ABC has been committed to a vision of getting as many people around the table as possible at the next Lambeth in the hopes of some new understanding emerging. That is a vain hope. If Lambeth is held as the ABC currently envisions it will be primarily a Western affair and be the visible expression of a broken and diminished communion. It will be a very bitter pill to swallow for the ABC but he should now accede to this suggestion by CAPA. A Lambeth that is called on the basis of acceptance of an Anglican Covenant will be able to draw American bishops including perhaps some still in The Episcopal Church. Such a conference could be indeed an instrument of unity. A conference called on any other basis will be a pointless exercise in disunity and will draw far fewer bishops from across the Anglican world than a conference drawn on the basis of Windsor compliance and Covenant endorsement. It is now clear that only a Lambeth drawn on the basis of a common covenant can be a truly inclusive and world wide Anglican conference.
7. We make these proposals in good faith believing that they provide an opportunity for us to reunite the Communion consistent with our common heritage and give us a way forward. We also stand ready to work with the various instruments of the Communion to ensure their success.
My comment: This is a cautious and gracious statement indicating continuing respect for the office of the ABC and the hope that he will yet use his office for the greater good of the whole communion and a signal of willingness to follow the leadership of the ABC in bringing to reality an Anglican Covenant and the mending of the tear in the fabric of the communion. It is also a signal that there is still patience with the Anglican Consultative Council in spite of its consistently disappointing behavior in the crisis. I can easily imagine more radical reactions from the frustrated bishops of the Global South. There is a real spirit of walking the extra mile here.
8. We are very much aware of the plight of faithful Anglicans in North America during these difficult times. We assure them of our prayers, support and full recognition until the underlying concerns are fully resolved.
This is reassurance that CAPA bishops will continue to provide pastoral oversight for American congregations and dioceses but there is a signal that this is an interim arrangement and a signal that the ad hoc and emergency arrangements need to be regularized in a common North American jurisdiction and which looks forward to an end to these ad hoc arrangements by different African bishops.