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Rev. Ephraim Radner reponds to Bishop Johnnson's Leter

A Response to Bishop Johnson's Pastoral Letter Concerning the AAC Memo

By The Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner
Senior Fellow, The Anglican Communion Institute

The only thing surprising about Bishop Johnson's pastoral letter is the
level of vituperative hostility; the content itself represents a consistent
ignorance about the Anglican Communion and a willful denial about ECUSA's
standing, externally and internally, with respect to its canonical
legitimacy in the eyes of both that Communion and many of our own members.

As I have noted elsewhere, the outrage over this "leaked memo" of the AAC is
either a sign of disingenuousness or of numbed consciousness. The basic
outline of this "strategy" has been public for some months, largely because
it represents the Proposal of the Primates of the Global South for
disciplining ECUSA (and New Westminster) that was presented at the October
Lambeth meeting (this proposal is available at
anglicancommunioninstitute.org). In brief, the Proposal calls for the
larger Communion, along a certain timetable, to withdraw its recognition of
those bishops who consented to Robinson's election, participated in his
consecration, or supported the local option resolutions regarding same-sex
blessings; it also calls on the Communion to maintain its recognition of
those bishops and others who opposed these measures as the legitimate
representatives of the Episcopal Church. These recognized leaders would
then be affirmed as those capable to acting by rights according the
Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

The AAC -- through its leaders and individual members, both present at
Lambeth and subsequently -- have affirmed the thrust of this Proposal.
We didn't need a publicity splash to know this.

In case Bishop Johnson and others hadn't noticed, even though the Proposal
was not officially accepted by the Primates meeting as a whole, it has been
put into place by individual Primates in their relationships with ECUSA
already, albeit in an uncoordinated fashion. The process for deciding who
is "the real Episcopal Church" is well underway; and thus far, the weight
is stacking up in favor of the AAC's contention. This is a process that
the larger Communion has set in motion quite independent of the AAC, and its
implications and outcome are tied to the center, not the periphery, of
ECUSA's leadership legitimacy.

If any of this comes as a surprise to bishops of ECUSA, it can only be
because they have once again closed their eyes to what the majority of the
Anglican Communion is actually saying, doing, and committed to being. Then
again, such willful blindness no longer strikes people in the larger
Communion as odd, since it seems to have characterized all the decisions and
actions people like Bp. Johnson claim were done "publicly and above board":
the public trashing of the Scriptures, of the historic faith and order of
the Church, of our Constitution, of the previous commitments of the General
Convention, of Communion teaching and agreements, of the bonds of our common
life -- that this constitutes "established means" of peaceableness over
against the "deceit" of those upholding the teaching and witness of our
historical faith is damning statement of Bp. Johnson's own stunted moral

In short, nothing new. The AAC is not an outlaw organization; membership
in and support of its work is not a "breaking of communion" with ECUSA; no
one should be frightened by Johnson's bluster.

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