Voice and Vote for Foley Beach this week

Archbishop Beach given voice and vote but declined to participate in the TEC vote as a matter of conscience

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s media officers have scheduled a press conference for Friday at 3:00 PM at the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge, and are expected to give an official account of the meeting along with any resolutions adopted by the gathering.

A final business session has been scheduled for Friday morning, but a number of primates have stated they will not be returning for the final day as the major issue before the meeting has been settled — disciplining the Episcopal Church.

Items that were predicted to have been on the agenda were never brought forward, sources tell Anglican Ink. The status of the Anglican Church in North America remains unresolved, as it was never brought before the meeting for discussion. However, Archbishop Foley Beach was given voice and vote throughout the gathering. However, he declined to participate in the vote on sanctioning the Episcopal Church, his aides tell us, as he believed that would have been improper.

Global warming, child protection, the Mediterranean migrant crisis did not come before the meeting as formal topics for debate and action, though concerns of individual primates were shared during prayer. Predictions the primates would rethink the ecclesiology of the Anglican Communion also were not met, as no discussion of reforming the church into a Federation of churches was held.

In an email to Anglican Ink, syndicated columnist Terry Mattingly observed that the reports released so far about the meeting seem to follow the traditional pattern of the “Africans pray, the Americans pay, and the English write the resolutions.” Few appear happy with the outcome. Some conservative activists had hoped the GAFCON call to discipline the Episcopal Church would have taken the form of an expulsion, or an anathema. This did not occur. Liberal commentators have taken to the web arguing the primates do not have the authority to take the actions they did — or have issued bellicose statements defending church-rights and condemning outside agitators.

Canadian Bishop Charlie Masters of the Anglican Church in North America, who was on the sidelines of the meeting and prepared to address the primates on the situation in that country as Bishop Robert Duncan of the Episcopal Church did in Dar es Salaam in 2007, was never called to speak — and the primates did not discuss Canada after Archbishop Fred Hiltz said that while dioceses may have taken action on same-sex marriage, the church’s General Synod had yet to act.

The GAFCON primates will also have to ask themselves whether the sanctions taken against the Episcopal Church meet the criteria for establishing “godly order” within the Communion — and whether this first step is sufficient for a resumption of relations, or if a final resolution is required.

Winners among the participants include Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who made it clear to his compatriots that his personal views were of no legal consequence — the General Convention of the Episcopal Church spoke for the Episcopal Church. He could not bind the church on its behalf — in 2007 Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori agreed to the final communique of the Dar es Salaam primates meeting, which called for discipline of the Episcopal Church, though she had no authority to do so.

Sources also report the GAFCON and Global South groups gained ground and membership during the meeting — winning over archbishops who had hitherto been uncommitted or who had balked at taking action against the Episcopal Church. Whether they will be able to maintain the two-thirds coalition remains to be seen.

And, Justin Welby came out a winner — in parts. While his attempt to impose a management culture mindset on the meeting was resented — bitterly by some — there are significant consequences for the Church of England in the agreement. Anglican.TV commentator the Rev Peter Ould noted the suspension of the Episcopal Church for adopting rites for same-sex marriage, would have a knock on effect on any legislation brought before General Synod. If the Episcopal Church was being disciplined for permitting same-sex marriage rites by the Anglican Communion, would it be possible for the Church of England to do so also?

The meeting continues.

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