SOUTH AFRICA: Concerning Anglicanorum Coetibus and the Patrimony of the Primate in the ACA
From Right Reverend Michael Gill,
Bishop of Pretoria and Southern Africa
Anglican Church in Southern Africa
(Traditional Anglican Communion also known as Traditional Rite)
PO Box 837
Reg. No: 2005/11492
Fax to email: 086 612 9125
Fax: +27114421824 Mobile: 082 905 6510
TO: Rt Rev Daren Williams, Rt Rev Brian Marsh, Rt Rev Stephen Strawn
15th March 2011
Dear brothers in the Lord Concerning Anglicanorum Coetibus and the Patrimony of the Primate in the ACA Grace and peace be with you. I have been reading the recent opinions of some individuals on the Internet in response to the letters, both those of your Chancellors' and yourselves, and feel that it is time to write something in your defense.
I believe that what you have written has come from prayerful consideration and real concerns arising from the behaviour by some of your ACA colleagues and clergy concerning the proposed Ordinariates in the USA. I am quite certain that you have not been motivated by a divisive or dissident spirit in addressing the particular issues mentioned in your letters.
I am also aware that you all agreed to the "Patrimony of the Primate" proposal from Archbishop Falk and Archbishop Hepworth in your House of Bishops, to function under Bishop Moyer, but the application of this dubious innovation seems to have been seriously divisive.
The subsequent foundation of a 'Pro-Diocese' under Bishop Campese in the USA within the Patrimony of the Primate is particularly worrying to me as a fellow TAC Bishop Ordinary, as our TAC Concordat requires that any new Diocese go through the College of Bishops for approval and discussion.
Perhaps you were overly hasty in allowing it to be thus introduced within the ACA - or did it grow beyond your initial understanding? My brothers, it is logical that something as important as Anglicanorum Coetibus should have been fully discussed by the whole College of Bishops the moment it was released - it was that important.
The College of Bishops is, in the Primates own recent words, "the appropriate venue for forming (and challenging) the policies of our Communion". The woefully poor management of the entire current process by our Primate has led to the speculation, confusion and division you and other leaders in the TAC are currently experiencing.
Anglicanorum Coetibus was a response in part by the Roman Catholic Church to our 2007 letter; what (in any environment) would be a normal bargaining exercise. That some of our Episcopal TAC brethren have simply swallowed it, 'hook, line and sinker', is evidence both of their naivety and their desperation to be accepted.
The extension of the concept of the "Patrimony of the Primate" should most definitely have been a College of Bishops policy decision flowing from those formal discussions - and not an ad hoc arrangement by the Primate with one TAC affiliated church - as it has a universal implication to all TAC affiliated churches and therefore definitely needed the full College of Bishops approval.
To date, The College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion has neither discussed nor ratified Anglicanorum Coetibus, its contents or its implications for the Communion, and until that is done, formally and in the correct forum, it remains nothing other than a Roman Catholic document on offer to ANY interested Anglican group - it is not TAC specific.
As a document, it is both charitable and very clear - it offers a fresh route into Roman Catholicism, via personal conversion. You are in no way bound to accept it, and you are certainly not dissenting by declining or questioning it. The fact that you have been openly labeled as "dissenting" is most disappointing, especially as coming from our leader, as he has never yet deigned give any of us the opportunity to debate and/or agree to Anglicanorum Coetibus in the TAC College of Bishops forum, let alone dissent.
If you have therefore acted in accordance with your own Anglican Church of America Canons and Constitution, and have not turned from your own church's prescribed rules and regulations, you can have nothing to fear or answer to.
The TAC College of Bishops has not amended the TAC Concordat since 2007, and so in that forum you would also be above criticism, as Anglicanorum Coetibus did not yet exist in 2007. Concerning your "trial by blog", there is this to say. If ever there was an arrogant and self-opinionated community, it is the bloggers.
As I have read the many comments around Anglicanorum Coetibus, and the endless to and fro debates and fights that have followed, the most glaring omissions have been those of Christian Charity and Humility. My brothers, if these overly emotional and opinionated individuals have attacked you as "dissident", you are not to be concerned.
The fact that they show no respect for either you or your Office (despite being members of the TAC family) reveals just how devoid of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit they are. There is no recognition given to the fact that you are not prepared to act contrary to what your conscience dictates, and that you have had the courage of your conviction to confirm this in the public domain, via your Official Channels, knowing full well that you would attract negative criticism. "Trial by blog" by the Primate is another matter altogether.
As far as we in the CoB are aware, The Messenger Journal remains the official forum to disseminate TAC information. The College of Bishops has never ratified either the Anglo Catholic blog, nor Catholicusanglicanus as an official mouthpiece for the TAC, despite the Primate using both as such from time to time as it has suited him.
Much of the "correspondence" addressed to you and ostensibly copied to the TAC College of Bishops, appearing on those blogs, has never arrived in our email inboxes, nor ever been received in hard copy. The so-called recipients would therefore never even know that the letters exist.
Posting rebukes such as you have recently received, in the public domain via blogs, is politically clever, but in reality it is designed to undermine local confidence in you - a classic guerrilla tactic.
I therefore do not think that you should be overly concerned, as we will soon be able to make our voices heard in the College of Bishops. That day will bring the clarity we all desire and deserve.
Lastly, my dear brothers in the Lord's service, I give you words of encouragement from the Scriptures - I get the feeling you need it. Speaking to Joshua (Joshua 1:9), the Lord God reminds him of a great truth on the eve of his dangerous undertaking: "Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for I, the Lord, am with you wherever you go...." I do hope that what I have written has been of some assistance and encouragement to you.
You may share my views with your clergy if you so wish. This is not a time for the faint-hearted, and we have to stand together in Christ our Lord as we defend that and those He has placed under our care.
The keeping of our solemn vows of Ordination and Consecration is an area in which we dare not fail. Others may feel that they are able to jettison both their vows and the people under their care at a whim - we, in obedience to our promises to Christ our Saviour, may never do so. Your brother in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rt Rev Michael Gill
Bishop of Pretoria and Southern Africa
Anglican Church in Southern Africa
(Traditional Anglican Communion aka Traditional Rite)
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