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ORTHODOX AND REVISIONIST PRIEST DUKE IT OUT OVER ACI STATEMENT

ORTHODOX AND REVISIONIST PRIEST DUKE IT OUT OVER ACI STATEMENT

A Response to Michael Russell:

Dear Michael,

I was forwarded a note of yours from the House of Bishops/Deputies listserve (reproduced below) - at your request it seems - regarding a recent "Plea" we posted at our Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) website ("We Are At A Crossroads"). The plea apparently hit a nerve of yours, negatively speaking, for your note was filled with a long string of sarcasm and insult. Some of what you say is true enough, up to a point: the dysfunction of the Anglican Communion's "Instruments of Unity" is real; there is much misbehavior and scandal caused by leaders from around the world (including some who are the accusers of ECUSA); there is much misplaced self-righteousness; many parts of the Anglican Communion have no interest in engaging or perhaps even protecting the lives and concerns of gay people, and so on. No doubt we are complicit in some ways, since these and other sins are ones we all share. But the general thrust of your catalogue of ACI's willful misapprehensions is simply wrong, and so much so that I wonder at the prudence of your flinging about charges of "ignorance".

In general, it is not worth answering the kind of breezy dismissal of our work you shared with your colleagues and have passed on to us - other matters are at clearly at issue in your self-expression that are hard to fathom from the outside. But in this case it seems important to state again what we believe is at stake in our Plea because the disregard you evidence is precisely an element we believe is obscuring a critical challenge that we have a Christian duty to confront carefully for the sake of our common life. We cannot afford to be neglectful of these matters, whatever may be our final judgments about them. And least of all should those whose vocation is to represent the church in our councils act in such a way.

I walked out of the 2003 General Convention not in anger over listening to concerns of gay people nor in the thrall of foreign powers bent on trampling the rights of local churches to take legitimate council. I walked out because the General Convention had done something in Robinson's consent that it had no authority to do at all - not before God, not within the Church Catholic of which we claim to be a part, not according to our Prayer Book and Constitution, not according to our promises made in councils and conventions past. And in so violating these realities, General Convention set in motion a dynamic of destruction that has engulfed and weakened the Anglican Communion and our Christian witness immeasurably and to the debilitating consternation of many faithful members of our communion here and around the world. There is plenty of dysfunction to go around, of course; but ECUSA has stoked the flames of ecclesial dissolution and proved a sorry burden to the faith of many in so doing, and that is to our own particular shame and judgment.

You may not agree that any of this is so, or why it might be so. But there are many, many sober-minded Anglicans of enormous wisdom, holiness, and authority around the world who do believe it, including now, however circumspectly, the Archbishop of Canterbury himself. The ACI may be wrong, but we are not, in this context, idiosyncratic cranks. And the nature of this distinction is one our own Convention had better get its mind around quickly if we are not to throw our church over the cliff altogether.

We can certainly talk about nature of the "rule of law" in various societies, and the nature of ecclesial sanction. Indeed, we have done so at length. We can discuss the place of the full character of Lambeth I.10's recommendations. Indeed, we have done so. We can explore the concrete demands of communion as they touch upon questions of subsidiarity. This too, we have sought to do. We can attempt to confront the misbehaviors and inconsistencies of persons from all perspectives in the current turmoil. Even this we have done, however inadequately to your mind.

But the fact that the ACI has, beyond all this and most importantly of all, sought to reflect on the basic reality of ecclesial disintegration and to seek its resolution according to the measure of the Communion's only representative attempt to think it through - what has become the Windsor Report, now accepted in large (despite your inaccurate account of the matter) by three of the four Instruments of Unity as the "way forward" for the Communion - cannot either be some ignorant falling captive to anachronistic theological games, nor a submission to pride's manipulation, driven by unworthy foreign schemers. Rather, our effort has been one (and only one) attempt to be responsible Christians through the exercise of ecclesial study and reflection, within a church that has lost a common language and framework of belief. It is an intrinsically contestable task in its conclusions given our fragmented condition; but not in its motivation, form, and context.

You may choose to mock the effort. But your ridicule seems to have clouded simple judgments on your part, turning your half-truths into blunders: falsely accusing ACI of saying or not saying things (and so demonstrating a straightforward failure to read what we have written); misrepresenting and misconstruing obvious events like the ACC votes and the Primates' statements and concerns; limiting the authority of council in this church to the small ambit of General Convention itself; casting about generalities so large as to float free of any real reference.

We have not convinced you. So be it. But you have dismally failed to convince the rest of the Church. Who, in the final analysis, and using the image you adopted, is the real separatist Puritan on this large ecclesial stage, sailing off to forge the Kingdom on your own in a wilderness far apart from the oikumene's believers? General Convention can indeed weigh anchor if that is what you want. But this is not we believe is faithful to our Lord and to the promises we have made.

Thus, more than anything, your disdain - coming as it does in the midst of the discussion with your deputy colleagues -- bodes ill for the very thing we all seek: the restoration of our church's integrity before Christ and a watching and thirsting world.

With prayers that this final calling be one none of us avoids embracing with our whole heart and mind and strength.

In Christ,

Ephraim Radner
Anglican Communion Institute

From:

Michael Russell, Rector
All Souls' Point Loma
C4 San Diego 2006

To:

The Anglican Communion Institute

I am sorry you have worked so hard and yet managed to waste so much effort. In the end you continue to fail to address anything but the fiction you have crafted.

So let's be clear:

No Constitution or Canon for a world wide Anglican Communion no authority in any body outside those governed by provincial canons and constitutions.

In case you haven't noticed the so called Instruments of Unity are devouring one another. It began with the Primates' rejection of the Windsor Report's proposal to elevate the role of the +ABC, continued with their reluctance to embrace subsidiarity, and presently seems to include the Primates' desire to take over the ACC by giving each and every one of them some kind of new authority within the

ACC. But that is beside the fact. The Instruments of Unity are a fiction at best a proposal, but with no basis in consent by the constituent members of the WWAC.

You ask for submission to the Windsor Report, but once again you live in a fiction. The Windsor Report is just that, a report being sent around for reception. The Primates and some other provinces have already expressed their reservations about portions of the Windsor Report, and GC 2006 has every right and obligation to comment intelligently on what the Windsor Report proposes.

But then, we forget that the requirement for Bishops to stop poaching in other Dioceses is also part of the Windsor Report and continues to be ignored and violated by several Primates.

You also ask that we observe Lambeth 98 I.10. But you have not, to my knowledge proposed discipline for those Primates and Bishops who do not fully implement sections "c" and "d" of Lambeth I.10. In fact, as I have suggested elsewhere, in those areas where homosexuality is a criminal act the failure of Bishops and Primates to actively work to change the law simply makes sections "c" and "d" moot in their dioceses. Unless and until they can actually talk to glbt people in their areas it is a farce to believe they can be in compliance with sections "c" and "d".

All in all, for my money, you have dressed yourselves in academic gowns while promoting an analysis that ignores any dissonant facts. Like the puritans of the 16th century you collect from the Windsor Report and Lambeth I.10 those portions that you can use to batter TEC while ignoring the strictures laid upon those whom you serve. You demonstrate almost no understanding of the rule of law as it pertains to the formation of societies in general and Christian societies in particular. You have failed to identify and critique the use of threats and intimidation by the Primates and in your own submissions, and seem to approve of blatant attempts to seize power (whatever that might actually be) without any consent based international law to undergird it.

I, for one, hope you will take a long overdue and well deserved vacation. But you also need to come to grips with why I and perhaps one or two other deputies, may not choose to agree with the fictions you have woven and the calls which you have issued.

END

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