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GAFCON Spokesman Denied Access to Primates' Final Press Conference

GAFCON Spokesman Denied Access to Primates' Final Press Conference
South American Archbishop leaves early after advising GAFCON Primates to Stand Firm

By David W. Virtue. DD
October 8, 2017

GAFCON press officer, Canon Andy Gross was told he was not welcome at the final press conference of the Primates' meeting in Canterbury and was ushered off the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral.

In an e-mail to VOL, Canon Gross explained how a deeply seated double standard is at work in the official structures and staffing of the Anglican Communion, and this double standard is used to hamstring those members of the Anglican Communion whose theology the Anglican Communion Office does not like, while rewarding those who have torn the fabric of the Communion.

Here is the story in his words.

"At the 2016 Primates' Gathering I attended the press conference in my capacity as the GAFCON Press Officer. As I recall, at that press conference there were staffers from other provinces and organizations in the room, as well as a diverse set of journalists.

"This year I reached out to Mr. Adrian Butcher, the Anglican Communion Office Communications Director, ahead of the meeting. He came on staff with the Anglican Communion Office in the spring of 2016, and wasn't at the last meeting, but over the last year, he and I have traded a couple of cordial emails.

"Two weeks ago, I sent him an email asking for credentialing. He stated, "There will not be any communications staff from provinces in attendance. Are you planning to be in Canterbury? If so, I would very much like to meet up.

"I responded by saying, "At the 2016 gathering a number of Communications Directors were present and in attendance at the press conferences. Is there a reason that you wouldn't extend credentialing to Communications Directors again this time? I'd be glad to meet up while we are there.

"If he did not want to credential me as the GAFCON Press Officer, or the Anglican Church in North America Communications Director, he could have easily done so in my capacity as the Editor of the Apostle Magazine, or simply as a professional courtesy.

"He did not respond to my email.

"This year, when the Tuesday press conference came around, I went and was admitted as usual. As usual I stood in the back and didn't ask any questions. I looked around the room and saw The Rev. Paul Feheley there. Paul is a senior staff member of the Anglican Church of Canada and has often helped run communications at these events. In fact, he has helped run so many of them that Anglican Communion News Service reported he received an honorary doctorate for his work": http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2017/05/canadian-pioneer-of-church-communications-awarded-honorary-degree.aspx

"It is a significant conflict of interest to have the Anglican Church of Canada, a province identified by the Windsor Report for having torn the fabric of the Communion, helping to run communications for the Lambeth Conferences, Anglican Consultative Council, and Primates' Meetings, but it has been the pattern for many years.

"After the press conference was over, I stayed in the room (it was a small room), in order to say "hello" to Mr. Butcher, and see if we could find a time to meet. Unfortunately, Mr. Butcher left before I could greet him. I was instead greeted by David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Chief of Staff and Strategy, who falsely accused me of politicizing the previous night's Evensong service. An accusation that I assured him was inaccurate, and one that has since been correctly identified as such: http://archbishopcranmer.com/anglican-communion-news-service-smears-gafcon-manipulates-welby/

"On Friday, the Canterbury campus was closed. A security guard informed me that those attending the press conference were being held in a waiting room, separate from the building that was to hold the press conference, and he walked me there.

"As we walked across the cathedral grounds the Rev. Feheley came around a corner, gave me a very surprised look, and then walked briskly into the building where the press conference was being held.

"I was ushered to Diocesan House just off the campus, was given a press badge, and spent a half hour waiting with the others. When the press conference was ready to start, we were then directed back onto the grounds. As we walked, I was suddenly confronted by Mr. Drake, an Anglican Communion Office communications staff member, and told that I was not credentialed to attend. I asked him why I had not been informed previously, and asked why Paul Feheley was allowed to be present. Mr. Drake informed me that Mr. Feheley was helping to run communications. I asked how it was that The Anglican Church of Canada's communications staff could help run communications, but GAFCON'S Press Officer wasn't allowed to even listen to the press conference? Wasn't this a double standard? The question was not answered.

"I explained that I had not previously been denied access, and had tried to follow the process by corresponding the previous week with Mr. Butcher, but my email had not been returned. I then reminded Mr. Drake that I had allowed him to attend my press briefing even though he did not even attempt to follow the process for credentialing. After this professional courtesy had been extended to him, would he not return the gesture?

"He assured me he would not, and that I must leave, which I did."

IN OTHER NEWS, the Archbishop of South America, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, a GAFCON primate, told VOL that he came but left early. "I was there for a short time to support the new Primates and to say what was needed."

While both Venables and Welby are English Evangelical Anglicans, the Archbishop of South America has spent most of his life in Latin America. He served as the Primate of the Southern Cone in South America from 2001 until 2010, and once again in 2016 when the province was renamed South America. He is also diocesan bishop of Argentina.

During his time in Argentina, he became a close personal friend of then Cardinal Bergoglio (later Pope Francis.) He has steadfastly refused to tolerate Welby's stance on homosexuality, is a leading player among the GAFCON primates and adheres to a strictly Biblical worldview on homosexual behavior. He also views homosexuality as an affront to a Latino culture where traditional masculinity is an aspect of machismo culture and homosexuality is seen as an affront to manliness.


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