(February 19, 2007, Tanzania)
At the end of the Communiqué produced after much debate, writing and editing, appears the Message that the Primates’ Meeting addressed to The Episcopal Church. The Lady Primate of the latter was present and, apparently, in agreement. The latter fact suggests that there is a real possibility that The Episcopal Church will do what is asked of it—but we must not be too optimistic for its track record in doing what it is asked by others to do is not good, as the years 2003-7 amply illustrate.
However, not only The Episcopal Church but also those congregations which have left it recently and are in various relations with overseas bishops are being asked in the Message to take action, as also the overseas bishops who presently support them. Now whether those who have left The Episcopal Church will be prepared to return to it under certain conditions is difficult to predict, as is also the attitude of what are known as “The Anglican Communion Network dioceses” (for they are not promised a new Province but are being asked to help rebuild a renewed Episcopal Church—note that Pittsburgh is having a diocesan meeting on February 24).
The Message, as we are calling it, is really “Recommendations of the Primates’ Meeting,” because, as we all know, The Episcopal Church is autonomous, and those congregations and missions and convocations which have left it are autonomous, and the Provinces who succor them are also autonomous. The Primates are asking that the autonomy of each be used in a way that expresses interdependency as well!
So what must all parties do. First of all, they must accept that The Windsor Report is the “bible” which all are to follow, and the much cited Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference of 1998 on the normalcy of marriage between a man and a woman is to be seen as the theological base-line. Secondly, all involved should work hard and charitably to bring reconciliation within the Anglican Way in the USA and globally.
What will the Primates do? They will establish a five member Pastoral Council from their membership to work with the various parties to find solutions and to resolve problems with the aim of re-uniting The Episcopal Church on the basis of The Windsor Report and Lambeth 1.10. That is, the aim is not to return to the status quo before the summer of 2003, but rather to create a changed and renewed Episcopal Church, autonomous yet interdependent.
However, there is a major request made of the House of Bishops and this is a kind of necessary preliminary to the setting up and the fruitful working of the Pastoral Council.
The Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church, 1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention; and 2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent. Further, the Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to them by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007. If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, then the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this will have immediate consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion.
Certainly the Primates supply a very large and demanding vision and task. One can think of many possible problems and pitfalls in relation to it, and one can ask a hundred questions about it. But it is not the time for such things right now, it is the time to read the Message and digest it before commenting in detail.
Here it is! Please read on. I will comment on it later after I have read it ten times and pondered it for ten hours!
The Key Recommendations of the Primates
The Primates recognize the urgency of the current situation and therefore
emphasize the need to:
a. affirm the Windsor Report (TWR) and the standard of teaching commanding respect across the Communion (most recently expressed in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference);
b. set in place a Covenant for the Anglican Communion;
c. encourage healing and reconciliation within The Episcopal Church, between The Episcopal Church and congregations alienated from it, and between The Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion;
d. respect the proper constitutional autonomy of all of the Churches of the Anglican Communion, while upholding the interdependent life and mutual responsibility of the Churches, and the responsibility of each to the Communion as a whole;
e. respond pastorally and provide for those groups alienated by recent developments in the Episcopal Church.
In order to address these foundations and apply them in the difficult situation which arises at present in The Episcopal Church, we recommend the following actions. The scheme proposed and the undertakings requested are intended to have force until the conclusion of the Covenant Process and a definitive statement of the position of The Episcopal Church with respect to the Covenant and its place within the life of the Communion, when some new provision may be required.
A Pastoral Council
a. The Primates will establish a Pastoral Council to act on behalf of the Primates in consultation with The Episcopal Church. This Council shall consist of up to five members: two nominated by the Primates, two by the Presiding Bishop, and a Primate of a Province of the Anglican Communion nominated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to chair the Council.
b. The Council will work in co-operation with The Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop and the leadership of the bishops participating in the scheme proposed below to
a. negotiate the necessary structures for pastoral care which would meet the requests of the Windsor Report (TWR, §147-155) and the Primates' requests in the Lambeth Statement of October 2003 ;
b. authorize protocols for the functioning of such a scheme, including the criteria for participation of bishops, dioceses and congregations in the scheme;
c. assure the effectiveness of the structures for pastoral care;
d. liaise with those other primates of the Anglican Communion who currently have care of parishes to seek a secure way forward for those parishes within the scheme;
e. facilitate and encourage healing and reconciliation within The Episcopal Church, between The Episcopal Church and congregations alienated from it, and between The Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion (TWR, §156);
f. advise the Presiding Bishop and the Instruments of Communion;
g. monitor the response of The Episcopal Church to the Windsor Report;
h. consider whether any of the courses of action contemplated by the Windsor Report §157 should be applied to the life of The Episcopal Church or its bishops, and, if appropriate, to recommend such action to The Episcopal Church and its institutions and to the Instruments of Communion;
i. take whatever reasonable action is needed to give effect to this scheme and report to the Primates.
A Pastoral Scheme
a. We recognize that there are individuals, congregations and clergy, who in the current situation, feel unable to accept the direct ministry of their bishop or of the Presiding Bishop, and some of whom have sought the oversight of other jurisdictions.
b. We have received representations from a number of bishops of The Episcopal Church who have expressed a commitment to a number of principles set out in two recent letters . We recognize that these bishops are taking those actions which they believe necessary to sustain full communion with the Anglican Communion.
c. We acknowledge and welcome the initiative of the Presiding Bishop to consent to appoint a Primatial Vicar.
On this basis, the Primates recommend that structures for pastoral care be established in conjunction with the Pastoral Council, to enable such individuals, congregations and clergy to exercise their ministries and congregational life within The Episcopal Church, and that
a. the Pastoral Council and the Presiding Bishop invite the bishops expressing a commitment to "the Camp Allen principles" , or as otherwise determined by the Pastoral Council, to participate in the pastoral scheme ;
b. in consultation with the Council and with the consent of the Presiding Bishop, those bishops who are part of the scheme will nominate a Primatial Vicar, who shall be responsible to the Council;
c. the Presiding Bishop in consultation with the Pastoral Council will delegate specific powers and duties to the Primatial Vicar.
Once this scheme of pastoral care is recognized to be fully operational, the Primates undertake to end all interventions. Congregations or parishes in current arrangements will negotiate their place within the structures of pastoral oversight set out above.
We believe that such a scheme is robust enough to function and provide sufficient space for those who are unable to accept the direct ministry of their bishop or the Presiding Bishop to have a secure place within The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion until such time as the Covenant Process is complete. At that time, other provisions may become necessary.
Although there are particular difficulties associated with AMiA and CANA, the Pastoral Council should negotiate with them and the Primates currently ministering to them to find a place for them within these provisions. We believe that with goodwill this may be possible.
On Clarifying the Response to Windsor
The Primates recognize the seriousness with which The Episcopal Church addressed the requests of the Windsor Report put to it by the Primates at their Dromantine Meeting. They value and accept the apology and the request for forgiveness made . While they appreciate the actions of the 75th General Convention which offer some affirmation of the Windsor Report and its recommendations, they deeply regret a lack of clarity about certain of those responses.
In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and
2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134); unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf. TWR, §134).
The Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to the Primates by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007. If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion.
On property disputes
The Primates urge the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation. We also urge both parties to give assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from The Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny the use of that property to those congregations.
"The Camp Allen Principles"
The commitments expressed in the letter of 22nd September 2006 were:
a. an acceptance of Lambeth 1998 Res. I.10 as expressing, on its given topic, the mind of the Communion to which we subject our own teaching and discipline;
b. an acceptance of the Windsor Report, as interpreted by the Primates at Dromantine, as outlining the Communion's "way forward" for our own church's reconciliation and witness within the Communion;
c. a personal acceptance by each of us of the particular recommendations made by the Windsor Report to ECUSA, and a pledge to comply with them;
d. a clear sense that General Convention 2006 did not adequately respond to the requests made of ECUSA by the Communion through the Windsor Report;
e. a clear belief that we faithfully represent ECUSA in accordance with this church's Constitution and Canons, as properly interpreted by the Scripture and our historic faith and discipline;
f. a desire to provide a common witness through which faithful Anglican Episcopalians committed to our Communion life might join together for the renewal of our church and the furtherance of the mission of Christ Jesus.
The principles expressed in the letter of 11th January 2007 were:
1. It is our hope that you will explicitly recognize that we are in full communion with you in order to maintain the integrity of our ministries within our dioceses and the larger Church.
2. We are prepared, among other things, to work with the Primates and with others in our American context to make provision for the varying needs of individuals, congregations, dioceses and clergy to continue to exercise their ministries as the Covenant process unfolds. This includes the needs of those seeking primatial ministry from outside the United States, those dioceses and parishes unable to accept the ordination of women, and congregations which sense they can no longer be inside the Episcopal Church.
3. We are prepared to offer oversight, with the agreement of the local bishop, of congregations in dioceses whose bishops are not fully supportive of Communion teaching and discipline.
4. We are prepared to offer oversight to congregations who are currently under foreign jurisdictions in consultation with the bishops and Primates involved.
5. Finally, we respectfully request that the Primates address the issue of congregations within our dioceses seeking oversight in foreign jurisdictions. We are Communion-committed bishops and find the option of turning to foreign oversight presents anomalies which weaken our own
diocesan families and places strains on the Communion as a whole.
1. Whilst we reaffirm the teaching of successive Lambeth Conferences that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own, we call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of
Canterbury on behalf of the Primates (Lambeth, October 2003)
2. Namely, a letter of 22nd September 2006 to the Archbishop of Canterbury and a further letter of 11th 2007 to the Primates setting out a number of commitments and proposals. These commitments and principles are colloquially known as "the Camp Allen principles". (see Appendix One)
3. As set out in Appendix One.
4. Resolved, That the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, mindful of "the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ" (Windsor Report, paragraph 134), express its regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 and the consequences which followed; offer its sincerest apology to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion; and ask forgiveness as we seek to live into deeper levels of communion one with another. The Communion Sub-Group added the comment: "These words were not lightly offered, and should not be lightly received."
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon MA., D.Phil (Oxford)