Friday, June 18, 2010

Actions Have Consequences

Over at Preludium, Mark Harris posted the questions the Executive Council was going to pose to Kenneth Kearon, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. I was grateful to see the questions. And I’ve been grateful for the subsequent reports about the conversation.

One commenter, who calls himself “Sam,” made this comment:
Sounds like a bunch of whining to me.

Why can't our members on EC understand that ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES? They are all like George W. thinking that they can act with impunity and have no international consequences.
I intended to post my response at Mark’s page, but it was too long. So I post it here.

Sam, I readily recognize that actions have consequences. I’ve known that since I was a toddler, when my parents had authority over me.

Since you mention George W., let me suggest this: When GWBush invaded Iraq, he should have been brought up on war crimes charges by the international community. There are systems and mechanisms for that, agreed upon by the nations of the world. They should have sanctioned him and the U.S. They had the right, the authority, and the mechanisms to do so.

But what +Rowan/Lambeth/Kearon are doing have no such justification.

KJS was elected by the North and South American primates to serve on the Joint Standing Committee. Rowan has no authority or right to ask her to resign, as he did. Only the Primates of South and North America have that power. Rowan was acting as a scofflaw … just as GWBush did … and just as the Anglican primates of Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and the Southern Cone have done. Lawless. Completely lawless. Acting by fiat, and hoping we will kowtow to their lawlessness.

If you have done any reading in the Anglican blogosphere, you know that many other bishops from the Episcopal Church in the U.S. have functioned in England with full vestments and mitres – including both male and female – for a very long time. Rowan’s sanctions against our Presiding Bishop were petulant. Long before this recent visit, +KJS had already submitted her papers for a prior visit, and she had been allowed to wear all the vestments of her office. In requesting papers again, Rowan may have been violating the procedures of the Church of England. In PaperGate and MitreGate, he was at least violating the precedents of his own church.

Yes, actions have consequences. If they are applied equally, I have no problem. +Rowan is not doing so. For whatever bizarre reasons, +Rowan and Kearon are coming out with “all guns blasting” against the Episcopal Church in the U.S., while giving a pass to the moratorium-violators in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and the Southern Cone. Very strange.

In the weird brain of Rowan Williams, actions have consequences only when it comes to the Episcopal Church (U.S.).

Further, +Rowan is well aware that he has gay/lesbian priests in the Church of England. In fact, he celebrated Eucharist with them several months ago. He also knows that same-sex blessings are occurring throughout the Church of England. And his Church of England is in full communion with a European church that has a lesbian bishop. Apparently he has no problem with that.

If he wants to apply “actions have consequences” equally, then he needs to sideline the Church of England in exactly the same way he is trying to sideline the Episcopal Church (U.S.). Or do “actions have consequences” only when Rowan is flexing his muscles against the U.S. church?

Actions have consequences, but only within the scope of powers that have been granted. Clearly, Rowan is trying to exercise power that has not been granted to him. Not one province of the Anglican Communion has granted to him the papal powers that he is trying to enforce. There is no document/statement/synod/do-hickey that has empowered him to intervene in the internal workings of Anglican provinces … and yet he and Kearon are trying to do so.

Do you think the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) would tolerate such interference for one red-hot moment? I dare say not. Nor should we.

Many of us – including Mark, me, and a gazillion others – continue to assert that the Anglican Communion is a fellowship of autonomous churches bound together by the Book of Common Prayer, the ancient creeds, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, and by bonds of affection. We are not a worldwide “church” – no matter how aggressively +Rowan and Canon Kearon seem to be trying to shape our Anglican Communion into a papal curia.

Rowan is not the boss of Nigeria. He is not the boss of Rwanda. And he is not the boss of the Episcopal Church (U.S.). He is only the boss of the Church of England. That rest of us are Christian friends and equals, who need to remain in fellowship and dialogue. In fact, I would argue, we need to engage in ever deeper fellowship and dialogue, so that we can model to the world the way that Christians who disagree should engage with each other. That is what my diocese is doing with the Christians in Sudan.

+Rowan had better prepare for the fact that his actions have consequences … as many people in the pews of the Church of England look more to Katharine Jefferts Schori than to Rowan Williams for spiritual leadership in the 21st century.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If he's going to pull the "actions have consequences" card, I think it's prudent to point out that there is a difference between natural and unnatural consequences. Natural consequences are things that happen naturally - like having some people be upset with you after you did something they didn't like.

Unnatural consequences take some active work on someone's part and are typically poorly related to the behavior you seek to change - like being instructed not to wear a mitre or declaring excommunication. And guess what - those actions have consequences too.

6/18/2010 11:28 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

My reaction to Sam's comment at Mark's blog was that TEC would not have bothered taking actions unless it hoped for consequences - consequences like inclusion of the whole people of God in all phases of ministry, making our baptismal covenant a reality in the life and witness of our church, and opening doors and windows for a new outpouring of the Spirit in our time. Without a hope like that I think we would have given up long ago.

I doubt we thought everyone would be happy with our decisions and actions. I expect the patriarchy to fight tooth and nail until it finally dies, probably a few generations after my lifetime.

Meanwhile, it is pure codswallop to pretend TEC did not expect consequences of many kinds, including the pursed-lipped "tut tut" comments so often hurled in Mark's direction.

6/18/2010 11:48 PM  
Blogger MadPriest said...

Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral

No. I don't know about other provinces, but nobody in the Church of England is subject to whatever the above is. In order to be ordained I had to recognise the Nicene and Apostles' Creed and the 39 Articles as part of our doctrine (although without a specific hermeneutic). As the 39 Articles are an English thing and the Creeds are a universal thing, at the end of the day the only things that bind us together are our voluntary bonds of affection.

... as many people in the pews of the Church of England look more to Katharine Jefferts Schori than to Rowan Williams for spiritual leadership in the 21st century.

As I've said many times before (copyright MadPriest):

Ich bin ein Episcopalian!

If I knew how to do it I would get the tee shirts printed now.

6/19/2010 11:27 AM  
Blogger Pfalz prophet said...

The Anglican Communion is the last vestige of British colonialism, the only thing, besides the sacred tradition of male dominance, the provinces have in commmon. It must be particularly galling to the ABC that bishops in TEC are elected, not appointed, implying that the unwashed masses make the decisions in this renegade province. Is the British mind still smarting over Cornwallis' defeat?

++Rowan faces schism wherever he looks. Something like 40% of his own clergy could bolt if he no longer required CofE bishops to have penises. Nigeria, Rwanda and the Southern Cone would form their own "Anglican" Communion if he attempted to impose sanctions on them, and theirs would be a lot larger and more hierarchical than the herd of cats that they would leave Rowan with. In male culture, size does matter, after all!

Compound that with the widespread conventional wisdom that being gay is "shameful," that gays aren't really manly, and you have the perfect recipe for cross-border raids and episcopal tantrums.

Don't you love Mark Harris' reporting of the questions posed to Canon Kearon? Dear Lord, I love TEC more with each passing year.

6/19/2010 12:18 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Mad One you will be disappointed in us I fear. Much of the TEC complaint against Nigeria, CANA, ACNA, Southern Cone, R'wanda inter alia is border crossings / incursions. I think it very unlikely that we will agree to take English clergy or congregations into the Convocation of Europe.

In fact it would probably mean a major mess in another sense as the bishop for the convocation is not only a fairly conservative evangelical sort, he is a francophone.

You all are just going to have to sort out your own issues probably without TEC. We are not likely to be the safe haven. Heck our brave National Council could not even manage to re-direct some of our funding. And the stewardship question remains unanswered. Not a lot of bravery there.


6/19/2010 2:16 PM  
Blogger Caminante said...

Terminology - it is not the 'National' Council but the 'Executive Council.' TEC is not just in the US; it is in sixteen countries.

From a canonical point of view, I am not sure EC would have the authority to yank funding to the AC office because it is a line item in the budget passed by General Convention. EC oversees the administration of the budget but does not change items within it.

(Anticipating complaints that EC changed the 2006-2009 budget with the reorganisation in 2007, nothing in the budget passed at GC 2006 disappeared.)

6/19/2010 8:45 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

8th Sacrament, I don't agree with your categories. But I do agree with your conclusion: Rowan and Kaeron need to recognize their actions, too, have consequences. We shall she what they are.

6/19/2010 9:58 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Amen, Paul! ... and thanks for taking the time to wander over here.

6/19/2010 9:59 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

MadPriest, I am grateful for your visit.

Perhaps you CoE priests have to pledge allegiance to the 39Articles, but our Statesonian priests most assuredly do not. (Although the conservatives here wish they had to!) There is much in the 39 Articles to which no Anglican could ascribe.

I referenced the Chicago-Lambeth Quad simply because it is the most basic statement of what we believe is creedal. And, of course, there's nothing there about marriage or who puts one's bits into another's.

I am only one of the wee bloggers who are objecting to Rowan's attempt to make himself an Anglican Pope.

You wrote: "... at the end of the day the only things that bind us together are our voluntary bonds of affection."
I am sure that my diocese would be in companionship with yours. And my diocese is in companionship with one in Sudan. We may differ. But we remain in fellowship. For the life of me, I do not understand why Rowan is trying to make it all about some test of orthodoxy that he has crafted. We have friends all over the world. Rowan cannot stop that. And the links we bloggers have just makes those links stronger.

As to "Ich bin ein Episcopalian!" -- I give deep thanks, MadPriest. While Cantaur seeks to distance us, I am grateful for your friendship.

6/19/2010 10:10 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

That's a different perspective, Pfalz Prophet. I wonder how many would be with us.

6/19/2010 10:13 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I'm not so sure, JimB. If Rowan continues on his current trajectory, then perhaps there will be other expressions of
Anglicanism in England.

Mind you, I hope not. I hope we can all remain together.

But if Rowan proceeds along his current course -- enacting the Windor Report as a whipping post and aligning himself with the GAFCON crowd -- then he may force the mainstream Anglicans into another stream. And that stream would include Statesonians, many Brits, and many others.

We shall see how far +Rowan wants to push this.

6/19/2010 10:17 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Caminante, I think you all did a marvelous job.

That said, I remain conflicted about our funding of the Anglican Communion Office. Given that Rowan and Kearon have kicked us out of some offices, I want to kick back in some way ... and kick back HARD! On the other hand, I do not believe in using money as a weapon. I stand with you folks on the Executive Council.

6/19/2010 10:21 PM  

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