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CANTERBURY: ACNA Archbishop says Primatial Meeting was Step Forward

CANTERBURY: ACNA Archbishop says Primatial Meeting was Step Forward
TEC is now formally sanctioned, it is no longer voluntary
Archbishop Welby says he will hold TEC accountable based on final communique

An exclusive interview with Archbishop Foley Beach

By David W. Virtue in Canterbury
January 15, 2016

VOL: How do you view what happened this week, Archbishop?

BEACH: I think it is a very positive step forward. We did not go far enough. Considering the years and years of opposition we have faced in Canada and the United States, we finally made some progress.

VOL: Please define progress.

BEACH: It is very clear that the Episcopal Church is now sanctioned and it is not voluntary which is different from other gatherings.

VOL: Point No. 8 reads as follows. "We have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ." Do you think he can be trusted to uphold this?

BEACH: Yes I do. He is holding the Episcopal Church accountable and when they meet at General Convention in three years, they will have to make a decision about what they will do. Archbishop Welby has appointed a Task Force to enforce this and it is our belief that the GAFCON Primates will continue to hold him accountable and at that time.

VOL: Were you disappointed that you were not recognized as a full archbishop in the Anglican Communion?

BEACH: I am already recognized as a fellow Primate as declared at my investiture by the Primates of GAFCON and the Global South. The Archbishop of Canterbury treated me with the respect of a Primate throughout the whole meeting. This was not the forum for me to be recognized by the official structures of the Anglican Communion. I was treated as a Primate by my fellow Primates.

VOL: How influential was Canon David Porter, the archbishop's personal Director of Reconciliation in these discussions?

BEACH: He was in the background. We only saw him when possible conflict was beginning to emerge. He was very good at listening and implementing our concerns.

VOL: Explain the process.

BEACH: The process was fair and above board and the Archbishop of Canterbury treated everyone with respect and fairness.

VOL: Was there ever a time you felt manipulated?

BEACH: There were a couple of times when during parts of the process some felt manipulated which is not surprising when you have 36 different cultures in the room who are used to leading their own process in their own Provinces. That was rare though. The meeting was conducted in English and there translators for French, Spanish and Korean Primates.

Archbishop Welby tried to get everyone engaged. Archbishop Idowu-Fearon of the Anglican Communion Office was in the background in his constitutional role as Secretary General but he had no leadership role in the Primates Meeting.

VOL: Why did the other primates not walk out when Ugandan Primate Stanley Ntagali walked out on Tuesday?

BEACH: Some background is important here. There were 36 Primates present (not 38) and 21 were new and as a result hardly anyone new each other. So coming in and ramming one's agenda down one's throat was not going to happen. As the week went on, GAFCON and Global South felt they needed to stay and confront the issues. Under the canons and constitution of the Province of Uganda, Archbishop Ntagali is forbidden from attending any meeting where the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are present until they implement Biblical change. By coming, he was putting himself out on a limb. Archbishop Stanley is such a Godly man and has such a tender conscience, by Tuesday he felt that he could not risk violating his own canons and dishonoring his people. No other GAFCON Province has that written into their governance nor is it as direct as Nigeria and Kenya. It was a bigger impact for the GAFCON Primates to stay because no decisions had been rendered.

The call to TEC and the ACoC to repentance and reconciliation would not have been possible if the GAFCON and Global South Primates were not present for the Primates Meeting. No decision had been made as of yet, but the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada needed to hear what we had to say. As there were 21 new archbishops, many of whom were not acquainted with the issues, for us to not be there to speak prophetically into the process, would have let TEC off the hook.

VOL: Do you trust the ABC will stand by No. 7 and go ahead with the sanctions.

BEACH: The violation of the Marriage canon in direct violation of the Anglican Communion will not be swept under the rug. The Archbishop of Canterbury stood up and gave his word that he would enforce No. 7. In 3 years after TEC's next General Convention, it will be revisited again.

VOL: Did Presiding Bishop Michael Curry agree to voluntarily withdraw?

BEACH: Curry said there is no way he would voluntarily withdraw TEC from participating in the structures of the Anglican Communion. He would not voluntarily withdraw despite the prohibitions of the Dar es Salaam accord. Curry flatly refused to voluntarily withdraw.

VOL: Do you believe the ABC will follow through and be stuck in some committee or task force and buried, you know Anglican fudge.

BEACH: What was clear is that the Primates would revisit it in three years. For next three years TEC cannot attend ARCIC meetings or any ecumenical gathering.

VOL: Were any other issues discussed?

BEACH: The agenda we talked about did briefly discuss pollution, the eco systems and flooding destroying lives and this was participated in by the Global South. We talked about refugees and evangelism, we talked about religiously motivated persecution of our people. And this was led by many of the GAFCON and Global South Primates.

VOL: Did you and the GAFCON primates ever feel like you were outcasts?

BEACH: No, we were treated with the utmost respect and GAFCON being united with the Global South we built new and deepened relationships among the archbishops. GAFCON was not separated from Global South. Egyptian Archbishop Mouneer Anis was instrumental in leading the way in presenting a united front among us.

VOL: What was the bottom line on this meeting?

BEACH: The message has been sent out that you cannot continue to do business as usual and for now the Archbishop of Canterbury has succeeded in keeping the communion together. Everything was centered in prayer.

VOL: What was your take on Presiding Bishop Curry? What was his demeanor?

BEACH: He seemed joyful and friendly but you could tell he was pained and disappointed.

VOL: Were there two chapels?

BEACH: They were offered but we did not avail ourselves of them. We did not take communion with TEC or ACoC archbishops. Canterbury Cathedral has regularly scheduled offices of Morning Prayer, Communion and Evensong. Many of the Primates attended the Offices, but I did not attend Communion.

VOL: Thank you Archbishop.

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