30 August 2010

18.2(a) a close reading

I went to the archives and dug up resolution 18 of the 1988 Lambeth Conference. I did that because of late, it has along with the Windsor Report (note: report not encyclical) and some contentious resolutions of various meetings come to be a reference document for radical conservative uber-calvinists. Most recently it shows up repeatedly in the documents emerging from the African bishops meeting that concluded this Sunday.

Leaving aside a major question: “Why do we think that particular conference was somehow prophetic?” I am interested in how it is now being miss-used.

First there is a matter of tone. The conference clearly wants some things to happen but equally knows it does not have jurisdictional authority. So it 'suggests,' 'requests' and recommends. In no way does it suggest it is an authority with the power to legislate. So the often referenced but seldom qouted section 18 2(a) says in its entirety:
Urges that encouragement be given to a developing collegial role for the Primates Meeting under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, so that the Primates Meeting is able to exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters.

Second there is the matter over which they are concerned. Not lesbians or gays, rather women. Yup the issue is the possible ordination of female bishops as a cause for “impaired communion” not a word about sexuality.

Third we can see why the current archbishop of Canterbury wanted a conference without resolutions! To say the members over-reached is to understate the case. Consider section 2(b) which is never quoted or referenced by uber-calvinists.
Recommends that in the appointment of any future Archbishop of Canterbury, the Crown Appointments Commission be asked to bring the Primates of the Communion into the process of consultation.
You cannot make this stuff up. They actually think they are so important that when the Church of England needs an archbishop, they should check with the primates first. Oh, no, they didn't. Somehow the British did not seem to see the need for Calvinist advice.

Forth, read that section 2(b) again. This is the stuff of curia. The conservatives having failed to keep women in their uber-calvinist assigned place, want to seize control of the entire communion and so think they need to help pick the archbishop. They are after not a "primus inter pares" but rather a "primus inter primus" that is, not a first among equals but rather a first among princes, selected by princes. I think we know how that works -- see "Papal Elections" in Wikipedia for a description.

Finally, I think we should understand how completely this document has been ignored.
  • Little if anything has emerged from the 'exploration' of communion recommended (18.1)
  • There is no invitation to meddling by the primates in the selection of English primates (section 18.2)
  • The last Lambeth Conference clearly was an effort not to make the conference a jurisdictional event as requested. (18.3)
  • Regional conferences open to bishops, layity and clergy are not called (section 18.4)
  • There is no authoritative guidance group for prayerbook revision (section 18.6)
Only the 'enhanced role' for the primate's meeting has had even a nod, and it is at best in contention. And as that is in the incredible, cheeky, power grabbing and over-reaching section 2, clearly those referring to it count on it not being read!

1 comment:

Christal said...

I read this post, and you highlight interesting points on how all these politics of religion are working. Can everyone agree to disagree on some issues? Isn't it the point of being Anglican-for people to have the freedom to choose what is right for them?

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