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WHAT NEXT? - by John H. Rodgers

What Next? Appreciations and concerns regarding the Primates Communiqué and the Process that it urges

By John H. Rodgers

Part One: Appreciations

There is much in the Primates Communiqué for which we must be thankful.

As for the "requesting language" we need to remind ourselves that the Primates Council has no direct jurisdiction over the Provinces of the Anglican Communion, They do have moral authority and particularly when they are speaking in accord with the last Lambeth Conference.

These are the main things for which we should be particularly thankful:

1.The refusal during the meeting to have a joint communion service which would have denied the seriousness of the matters before them and the present state of broken communion already in existence

2. The matter of ECUSA's and the Anglican Church of Canada's permission of sexual practice at odds with Scripture and the last Lambeth Conference's Resolution 1:10 was taken with "utter seriousness". The Primates also stated that such behavior by the two Provinces has hampered the mission and witness of the Anglican Communion

3. The request to ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada to withdraw their representatives from the ACC for the present period lasting until the next Lambeth Conference in 2008

4. The request that ECUSA and Anglican Church of Canada meet with the ACC in June to justify their actions regarding human sexuality so at odds with the Lambeth Conference Resolution 1:10 5. The clear and renewed commitment to the Lambeth Resolution 1:10 with its declaration that same sex blessings are incompatible with Holy Scripture 6. The request for a moratorium on liturgies for same sex blessings (presumably with the assumptions that no such blessings would be carried out without an official liturgy) and of the consecration of anyone engaged in sexual intimacy outside of marriage

Part Two: Weaknesses

There are some parts of the Communiqué that seem theologically weak or inadequate. These are:

1. The vision of the Anglican Communion as reflecting the unity and diversity of the persons of the Trinity without pointing out that the Persons of the Trinity are of one mind and therefore the Anglican Communion would need to be of One Faith to be a true reflection of the Trinity

(This gives the impression that the Apostolic Faith as Anglicans have understood it is not essential to the unity of the Communion.)

2. The Lambeth Quadrilateral is referred to but it is not made clear that the Quad is a minimalist statement designed to guide Anglicans in ecumenical discussions and practice. It was never designed to serve as an adequate statement of the Anglican understanding of the Catholic Faith 3. Homoerotic behavior is never referred to as sin or contrary to the "Word of God written" in the Communiqué (This lack is particularly important in light of the express statement in the Communiqué that persons of homosexual orientation are children of God. This was asserted without making it clear that such a phrase in Scripture refers only to repentant believers. The impression is given that sin is treated with less seriousness than Scripture treats it. It is true that one might deduce a call to repentance for persons actively engaged in homosexual behavior, from the Primates reaffirmation of Lambeth Resolution 1:10. It would have been far better to have made that explicit.)

Part Three: Danger Points in the Process

In the process that is envisioned in the Communiqué there are some danger points at which the process might be redirected in ways the Primates do not intend. All involved in the process need to be aware of these points and take appropriate action to see that such a hijacking does not happen. These points are as follows:

1. The requirement for ECUSA and Anglican Church of Canada to justify their action to the ACC in June.(Given the composition of the ACC it would be wise to be certain that the justifications made by the two bodies be made public and copies sent to all of the Primates.)

2. The panel of reference to be appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to adjudicate difficult situations for orthodox clergy and congregations with their diocesan bishops

(This seems to assume that revisionist bishops will wait for such a panel to be established and to begin its work. Indications are that such is not the case. It would be wise for the Archbishop of Canterbury to immediately ask all bishops in such a situation not to proceed with depositions and to wait until the panel can begin its work with the congregations and their bishops and give the clergy and congregations cover until the "present unpleasantness" is past.) 3. The activation of the listening process to persons of homosexual orientation envisioned in Lambeth Resolution 1:10

(The process envisioned in Resolution 1:10 was a pastoral listening to improve the pastoral care to persons of homosexual orientation, done to learn how we can best serve them as repentant believers. It was not meant to be a new venue to once again argue the pros and cons of the homosexual agenda. On that issue Resolution 1:10 had clearly spoken. It is important that homosexual activist groups not be given false encouragement by an erroneous understanding of this listening process. Its true purpose should be clearly stated.) 4. In asking the two Provinces to respond to the questions of paragraph 8 of the Windsor Report by their respective appropriate institutions

(It should be made clear that the next meeting of the appropriate institutions should make a clear and timely response. For example, for ECUSA the 2006 General Convention is the one time that a final response can be made before the next Lambeth Conference. Should a response from the General Convention not be forthcoming or vague or unsatisfactory by not evidencing repentance, it should then be made clear by the Archbishop of Canterbury in conjunction with the Primates at their next meeting that ECUSA would not be welcome at the next Lambeth Conference)

(Should that prove to be the case, as it likely will, it would then be necessary for the Primates to help an equitable and charitable separation take place in ECUSA and to oversee the formation of the faithful ECUSA, which would in essence be a Province of the Anglican Communion in North America or the United States of America, depending on the final situation with the Anglican Church of Canada. This Province would include all faithful Anglicans that were willing to be members, thereby ending in principle the alphabet soup that we presently have.)

The Rt. Rev. John H. Rodgers is Missionary Bishop of The Anglican Mission in America.

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