LONDON: From My Ear to Yours. ACNA Motion Readying for Battle by Synod
By David W. Virtue in London
Recognizing The Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) will be the subject of heated debate tomorrow when members of Synod will be asked to recognize the new North American orthodox province.
Attempts are being made to shuffle the motion to one side or to kill it by a thousand cuts. Several supporters of the ACNA motion are here in London to give it visible support. A paper, filed by Dr. Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council, tracks the Episcopal Church's history of canonical abuse and the plight of Orthodox Anglicans. You can read his full report here:
Lay member Lorna Ashworth will move: "That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America." However, the House of Bishops has put forward the Bishop of Bristol, the Rt. Rev. Mike Hill, to propose an amendment that will instead ask Synod to recognize and affirm the desire of ACNA to remain in the Communion, and invite the Archbishops to report back to the Synod in 2011.
Many supporters of ACNA hope the amendment will fail. The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt. Rev Nicholas Reade, said, "I am hoping for a sign of early support for ACNA, not a report coming back to Synod by the end of 2011."
The Bishop of Lewes, the Rt. Rev Wallace Benn, said, "Lorna Ashworth's motion is entirely satisfactory. All it is expressing is a desire to be in communion, and what on earth is wrong with that? It seems to me that the House of Bishops' motion is just needlessly undermining, delaying and prevaricating."
Other supporters of ACNA have been persuaded by the amendment. The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt. Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt, said, "My name is on the original motion of Lorna Ashworth's, and I'm happy that it was and is, but I realise that it is more practical to ask the Synod to do something that it really is in a position to do. "It is not in fact the role of the Church of England to make these kind of decisions, nor is it for Synod to make these kind of decisions. Therefore, to enable the archbishops and the bishops and others to vote positively, there needs to be an amendment like that which the Bishop of Bristol will be bringing.
"It does two things. It brings the motion in line with the constitutional role and the canonical realities as to who actually makes these decisions. At the same time it is a clear and positive affirmation of the character and intentions and standpoint of the ACNA."
The move threatens to provoke tensions over the power balance between bishops and Synod. Bishop Benn said, "The archbishops and the bishops are the servants of the Church and the servants of the Synod, and it seems to me that this puts the discretion for what will and will not be done back in the hands of the archbishops, and actually it is entirely proper for the General Synod to express the mind of the Church."
The vice chair of the House of Laity, Dr Philip Giddings, said, "It would be good if Bishop Michael's amendment were added to Lorna Ashworth's motion rather than supplanting it, because it seems to me we want it all. I think it is appropriate that the archbishops should be exploring it. I hope they do so expeditiously.
"The passage of time which is needed to explore all the intricacies is tolerable provided that there has been a clear expression of intent - that we recognise that ACNA is composed of people who have been Anglicans, who are Anglicans and want to remain Anglicans. I think it would be very unfortunate if Synod were not able to express its mind on the giving of what is in effect moral support."
On BBC Radio 4, London Times Religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill said she expects the debate will be an opportunity for both sides to air their grievances, a way of letting off steam over a stream of issues that include the continued recognition and ordination of homosexual priests and the ordination of women bishops. She said the process of of recognition won't mean anything. The bishops will try and stop it.
You can listen to her report here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00qg0qm/Sunday_07_02_2010/
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams has called on ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan to apply for membership through the Anglican Consultative Council. Duncan won't because he knows what the answer would be.
The Anglo-Catholic Bishop of Fulham, John Broadhurst said on BBC "hard talk" that the Anglican Communion is over. "If you are not accountable to one another, the Anglican Communion is an Anglican dis-communion. If you have provincial autonomy with no reference to other dioceses, it is like a marriage where the two partners act independently of each other while claiming still to be married."
You can hear what he says here:
VOL will report on a press conference shortly to be held by members of Anglican Mainstream and the AAC. We will bring you a full report on this.
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