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JAMAICA: Covenant Kicked Down The Road As ACC leaders Seek Not To Offend TEC

JAMAICA: Covenant Kicked Down The Road As ACC leaders Seek Not To Offend Episcopal Church
No Fourth Moratorium and No Covenant...Yet

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue in Jamaica
www.virtueonline.org
5/8/2009

CovenantConfusion reigned Friday as delegates to the Anglican Consultative Council delayed the release of the Ridley Cambridge Covenant third draft designed to hold the Anglican Communion together.

Frustrated archbishops, bishops, clergy and lay delegates, mostly from the Global South, took to microphones to express their frustration over clauses deemed hurtful to The Episcopal Church. Many of the Global South delegates believe they have been tricked by Western procedural methods designed to fudge and prevaricate on communion breaking issues. The masters of verbal sleights of hand include outgoing deputy secretary general to the ACC Bishop Geoffrey Cameron and ACC leader Kenneth Kearon.

Peru Bishop Bill Godfrey said the roots of what troubled the communion is the perceived treatment of people in North America. "We are not going to stop cross border interventions because ACC says so."

Godfrey said he spoke with TEC Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori in an effort to facilitate a listening process that would hear the voices of those who feel justice has been denied them, particularly in North America."

The proposed covenant will not be sent to the provinces until Section 4 - a moratoria on litigation - has been reconsidered by a working party which will send its findings to the Joint Standing committee of the ACC and then back to the provinces for ratification.

Some 18 amendments to resolutions, numerous votes and a plea by President Bishop Mouneer Anis of the Middle East that what was taking place was "illegal" did nothing to slow the liberal juggernaut from passing anything that might skew the ACC's overall desire to keep the most ultra-liberal American and Canadian Anglican Provinces at the Anglican Communion table.

Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the ACC, said that the Joint Standing Committee would not meet till the end of the year, but promised a speedy review of the two clauses in Section 4 that have been referred to a small working group appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury for further study. The working group is expected to take six to nine months to do its work. However, the working group has to talk with the provinces;, the provinces then go back to the working group; and, if they are satisfied, it goes to the Joint Standing Committee. Few believe this will happen any time soon.

The controversial Section 4 outlines mechanisms by which a province of the Anglican Communion could be excluded from the Communion. These include support of the blessing of same sex relationships, a moratoria on the ordination of people living in non-celibate homosexual relationships and cross provincial violations. The latter, liberal provinces find particularly egregious.

The Fourth Moratoria, written into the Dar es Salaam communiqué, was taken out by the Windsor Continuation Group, frustrating delegates who wanted it put back. By a vote of 33-30, a five-part resolution was voted on clause by clause, but no one knew, when the delegates broke for dinner, if in fact they had voted on anything at all.

The assumption was that the clauses would be voted on when the Council reconvened. It never happened. Attempts by The Episcopal Church to strip Section 4 from the covenant were defeated by a wide margin after Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and numerous others spoke against it.

Following hours of debate, and the failure to bring closure to the day's events, Jefferts Schori and her delegation were seen to smile as they left the conference room, clearly pleased that no censure of TEC had (or would ever) take place. She later took part in a video for Episcopal News Service. Suffragan Bishop Catharine Roskam, TEC clergy delegate, said she was all for conversation, but any conversation must include joyful Episcopalians both, liberal and conservative in reconstituted dioceses. "Their voices need to be heard as well," she said.

The Bishop of the Sudan The Rt. Rev. Ezekiel Kondo, rose to say that section 4 "is the most important section in the covenant. We are going to be debating this issue again. We have more important things to do. I ask you to vote against the amendments."

Egyptian Archbishop Mouneer Anis said that without section 4 "we cannot call the Covenant a Covenant. It is section 4 that makes the Covenant". If we spent 10 more years, we would still not do it differently. This is the most perfect we can get now."

"The crisis we are going through now is an individualistic spirit. This section affirms that we are a communion not an autonomous church in communion. I appeal that w vote against resolution 1 or we will be a divided communion."

Stanley Isaacs, Southeast Asia lay delegate, said resolution A should be rejected. "It will be disastrous to send to the provinces the text of the Covenant without section 4. This is a ray of hope to findin g a solution to the problem that has not only divided the Communion it has embarrassed the church in many parts of the world outside of the US. "This is defining moment for the communion that we either grab it or we don't. It does not mean that we will solve it all but our hope is in Christ and finding a just solution united in the bonds of Christ. This is not a unity of the past. This is a defining moment now."

"The St Andrews text was watered down. It was a weak provision of a measure for the solution of problems. I really hope that we will allow full text of the Covenant to go forth to the provinces," said Isaacs.

The Bishop of Iran, The Rt. Rev. Azad Marshall said, "I am deeply disappointed that section 4 might be removed. "This is the only section that brings a sense of responsibility and accountability for our churches in the Middle East."

The delegate from Brazil said, "I come from a Province that asks if we even need a covenant."

At an impromptu evening press conference with a number of orthodox archbishops, clergy and laity, a different behind the scenes picture emerged of politics and prevarication designed to appease the ACC's Western paymasters.

When asked what their opinion was of what happened, Bishop Godfrey of Peru said, "I think it was a painful and difficult time to see the draft sent to the Anglican Church belonging to the ACC. We are going to have to wait longer. Everything is in the hands of God. We didn't get what we hoped, but He is in control. We thank God that section 4 is still part of the Covenant."

Egyptian Archbishop Mouneer Anis described the process as "manipulation" because, he said, "we deliberated for a long (time) about section 4. "It was like a shock to bring those two main clauses of the same resolution and put it in the resolution. We want to hold on to it and make it part of the resolution. It was not right what happened, it was absolutely wrong. We decided we did not want this resolution. It led to a lot of confusion." It was deliberate, he said.

The archbishop then ripped the make-up of the Council. "It is unfair to appoint people from three different provinces who are known to reject the covenant - NZ, the U.S. and Scotland. The crisis in the communion is due to distrust."

Nigerian Bishop Ikechi Nwosu described himself as frustrated. "I felt terribly bad. We have been away from the table because of this kind of thing. In the morning it was one thing but by the evening it had all been changed. Efforts were put into lobbying so paragraph 4 would be thrown away. So people saw it as a waste of time, so no document without paragraph 4. The owners of this covenant are the provinces. If this is the beginning of the end of the communion then so be it."

The lay delegate from Nigeria, Abraham Yisa, registrar of the Church of Nigeria said, "I am not surprised at the outcome of what happened today. Having been engaged with the TEC over the years, I know what they are capable of. The agenda of TEC was to prevent this covenant from being passed. TEC wants to be allowed to continue the litigation. They are throwing out clergy to retain the property. They don't want a Covenant because it will impact on their autonomy and their constitutions and canons. They want no accountability. They want to delay the Covenant for as long as possible so they can continue with same sex marriages and gay ordinations. The American church will continue to do what she wants to do without fear of retribution or accountability from the ACC."

Abraham Okouru clergy representative from Nigeria to the ACC, described what happened as "most unfortunate". The ACC "came with its mind made up, and talk of a healing process will not work. The covenant is going to bring healing to the existent wound. They (TEC) don't want that. They want to create more problems. I think it is Satanic. Before the healing can come it requires the intervention of God. Nothing will stop the Church of Nigeria doing the purposes of God."

One delegate from Uganda described what was taking place as nothing short of "demonic possession."

"We must not fight evil with evil. We need to overcome evil with good. The Anglican Communion will come through in the end. We don't have a job to be sore at people," said Godfrey.

When VOL asked if this kind of duplicity made GAFCON a reality, Abraham Isa said yes. "Absolutely. It is a vindication."

Godfrey said that GAFCON is not trying to split the Anglican Communion. "It is trying to witness about what we all believe and what we are about. It is always important to say the thing Gospel bears witness to. GAFCON has tried to express that with absolute clarity. We must bear witness as to what the Anglican Communion has always believed. We must not allow ourselves to be diverted."

"People must be of one mind. What I saw (today) is that we were not of one mind and spirit." As one Uganda delegate observed, "The ACC is on the wrong side of God."

Expostulating even further, Abraham Yisa, said he was very angry about what happened. "It is very childish to go back to square one again. This event cost 300,000 pounds ($457,000) and then the chair (John Paterson) asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to intervene with a working group. Now we hear this for the first time. The chair was taking direction from the ABC. It was not proper, equitable or fair. The chairman deferred to the ABC. If he really believed that, why was the ACC meeting necessary at all? Why spend all this money. Just let the ABC decide it at Lambeth Palace. It is a trying period for the church."

Earlier, Dr. Williams said he hoped that the mediated covenant and pastoral forum model would resolve the impasse in the communion.

The following is the text of the resolution under consideration when the session abruptly ended. The ACC:

a) thanks the Covenant Design Group for their faithfulness and responsiveness in producing the drafts for an Anglican Communion Covenant and, in particular for the Ridley Cambridge Draft submitted to this meeting;

b) recognizes that an Anglican Communion Covenant may provide an effective means to strengthen and promote our common life as a Communion;

c) asks the Archbishop of Canterbury, in consultation with the Secretary General, to appoint a small working group to consider and consult with the Provinces on Section 4 and its possible revision, and to report to the next meeting of the Joint Standing Committee;

d) asks the Joint Standing Committee, at that meeting, to approve a final form of Section 4;

e) asks the Secretary General to send the revised Ridley Cambridge draft, at that time, only to the member Churches of the Anglican Consultative Council for consideration and decision on acceptance or adoption by them;

f) asks those member Churches to report to ACC-15 on the progress made in the processes of response to, and acceptance or adoption of, the Covenant.

Defeated Resolution A: Status of Section 4 The ACC: a) resolves that section 4 of the Ridley Cambridge Draft be detached from the Ridley Cambridge Draft for further consideration and work;

b) asks the Archbishop of Canterbury, in consultation with the Secretary General, to appoint a small working group to consider and consult with the Provinces on Section 4 and its possible revision, and to report to the next meeting of the Joint Standing Committee;

c) resolves that the reconsidered Section 4 may, at the request of the JSC, be offered for adoption as an addendum to the Covenant text. Resolution B, pre-amendment: Resolution B: Draft Resolution on the Covenant The ACC: a) thanks the Covenant Design Group for their faithfulness and responsiveness in producing the drafts for an Anglican Communion Covenant and, in particular for the Ridley Cambridge Draft submitted to this meeting;

b) recognizes that an Anglican Communion Covenant may provide an effective means to strengthen and promote our common life as a Communion;

c) asks the Secretary General to send the Ridley Cambridge draft, at this time, only to the member Churches of the Anglican Consultative Council for consideration and decision on acceptance or adoption by them; d) asks those member Churches to report to ACC-15 on the progress made in the processes of response to, and acceptance or adoption of, the Covenant Note that Resolution B: "asks the Secretary General to send the Ridley Cambridge draft, at this time, only to the member Churches of the Anglican Consultative Council," thus closing the ACNA loophole. In the Covenant debate the fourth moratoria on Litigation was not included and affirmed.

END

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