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3058Apology Opens Remarks from Anglican Consultative Council Chairman

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  • umcornet
    Mar 6, 2006
      Apology opens remarks from Anglican Consultative Council chairman
      Paterson addresses Executive Council
      Episcopal News Service
      Monday, March 6, 2006

      [ENS, Philadelphia] John Paterson, bishop of Auckland and chair of the
      Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), told the Executive Council that
      he hopes General Convention will rigorously debate the Windsor Report
      while keeping in mind the communion that Anglicans share.

      "The Anglican Communion needs the Episcopal Church," he said. "I would
      be so bold as to say that the reverse is also true. The Episcopal
      Church needs the Anglican Communion. The ACC needs the Episcopal Church."

      Paterson, speaking to the Council's opening session March 6, also
      apologized for the ACC's decision to limit the participation of the
      Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada's delegations to the
      last ACC meeting in Nottingham, England in June 2005.

      Noting that the vote to ask the churches to voluntarily withdraw their
      members passed by two votes, Paterson said the decision "ostracized"
      the delegations.

      "I apologize and at the same time I commend your representatives for
      the manner in which they managed to somehow stay with the body that
      was treating them so badly," Paterson said.

      The delegations made presentations to the ACC during the Nottingham
      meeting answering the Windsor Report's concerns over consecration of
      Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire and the blessing of
      same-gender unions. The delegations gave up their seats and votes at
      the meeting. The ACC, which meets every three years, is the
      Communion's principal consultative and representative body.

      The full text of Paterson's remarks follows.

      Address to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church,
      Philadelphia, USA, 7 March 2006.

      I want to begin with an expression of appreciation to the Presiding
      Bishop for making it possible for me to be here in person to address
      matters relating to the Anglican Consultative Council and the
      Episcopal Church. The warmth of your welcome and the extent of your
      hospitality to me as Chair of the ACC is in marked contrast to the
      manner in which the body that I chair treated the representatives of
      the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada last June in
      Nottingham. One of the pleasures of my six year term as Primate of the
      Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, quite apart
      from the relief that that term has now ended, was to sit alongside
      Frank Griswold, as a colleague and as a friend, and to appreciate that
      here was a man of integrity, with a faith that is insightful, and a
      mind that is able to communicate that faith.

      The second word I have is one of apology.

      I was saddened personally by what took place at ACC13 in Nottingham. I
      chaired the session at which a vote was taken to �endorse the
      Primates' request that 'in order to recognise the integrity of all
      parties, the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada
      voluntarily withdraw their members from the ACC, for the period
      leading up to the next Lambeth Conference'�. Your representatives were
      not permitted to speak or to vote on that resolution. It was carried
      by two votes. The effect of it was to ostracise the American and
      Canadian representatives, who were forced to live apart and walk
      apart. I apologise and at the same time I commend your representatives
      for the manner in which they managed somehow to stay with the body
      which was treating them so badly. There was a dignity in their bearing
      in the midst of their sadness and the Episcopal Church can be quietly
      proud of your people. Nevertheless, it happened on my watch, and this
      is my personal apology.

      In my address as Chair of the ACC in Nottingham I had some fairly
      strong words to say about what I saw as happening in the Anglican
      Communion. I said those things because I happen to be one of a small
      number of people who have first-hand experience of three of the four
      so-called 'Instruments of Unity' or 'Instruments of Communion' as the
      Windsor Report has recommended they be called � namely the Lambeth
      Conference, the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative
      Council. Only the Archbishop of Canterbury has experience of all four.

      Allow me to quote from that address briefly:

      We are in fact experiencing changes in the inter-relationships of the
      Instruments of Unity as we speak. The Primates' Meeting met for years
      without making any recommendations or passing resolutions, with the
      one exception in the late 1980's expressing reservations about
      constitutional changes in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand
      and Polynesia. But that is now changing, and the 'enhanced
      responsibility' which successive Lambeth Conferences and the Inter
      Anglican Doctrinal and Theological Commission recommended is finally
      being taken on board. Yet the ACC needs to take care lest such
      enhanced responsibility on the part of one of the Instruments of Unity
      move from the art of gentle persuasion to what has been called
      'institutional coercion'. The fact that the Lambeth Commission on
      Communion was asked to report to the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose
      office is itself one of the Instruments of Unity, 'in preparation for
      the ensuing meetings of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative
      Council' yet has found that the Instrument which happened to meet
      first, has taken steps to recommend that the Instrument which was to
      meet subsequently can only meet without its full membership, is at
      least slightly premature, if not coercive and somewhat punitive. A
      body which exists by means of a constitution agreed to by all the
      member churches of the Anglican Communion, and that is required by
      that constitution to be 'consultative' cannot consult fully or
      properly if all of its members are not sitting at the same table. It
      is surely not for one Instrument of Unity to disempower another?

      My next word is one of commendation. Along with a number of others in
      the Communion, I take the view that the Episcopal Church thus far has
      been exemplary in the attention that you have given to the
      recommendations of The Windsor Report. Of course you have your General
      Convention soon, and that body will make up its own mind about these
      matters. The process of reception is moving along, and at considerable
      cost to your own ministry and mission the Episcopal Church has acted
      carefully and well. I hope that the call in The Windsor Report for all
      Provinces to exercise generosity and charity as the process gathers
      pace does not go unheeded. Those qualities are yet to be shown by some.

      Despite its partial exclusion from participation in the structures of
      the ACC, the Episcopal Church has demonstrated a quality of leadership
      in relation to Windsor that I have greatly admired. The paradox is
      that in the midst of our apparent disunity the Episcopal Church as an
      opportunity to be a living symbol of Anglican unity. You have within
      your ranks a wide cross-section of Episcopalians. Labels are
      notoriously unhelpful, but they help to identify the rich diversity of
      Anglicanism. Many in the Communion are holding out the hope that the
      Episcopal Church's ultimate response to Windsor will be an inclusive
      one, a response which both liberal and traditionalist might be able to

      Last June in Nottingham I sat and listened with growing appreciation
      to the two presentations made by representatives of the Anglican
      Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church. Both groups had gone to
      great lengths to prepare detailed presentations, within a limited time
      frame, and they were sensitive, inclusive and courteous. Both of those
      presentations are important contributions to what we have now called
      'the listening process' as mandated by Lambeth Resolution 1.10, by the
      Primates Meeting, and by a Resolution of ACC 13. An English priest has
      been employed at St Andrew's House in London, at the Anglican
      Communion Office, to facilitate that process. Many of us hold the hope
      that we have begun a conversation, not only within the Episcopal
      Church and across its differences, but a conversation which might
      invite other Provinces into dialogue and hopefully mutual understanding.

      The same is true of my own Church. Parts of the New Zealand Church
      rejoiced at the election, confirmation and consecration of Gene
      Robinson. Other parts found it very difficult to accept, and it has
      thus sharpened the debate and heightened the differences in our
      Church. We are attempting the dialogue, and as God knows, it is not
      easy. But it has to take place.

      Another important aspect of all this is the ecumenical dimension, and
      further than that, the interfaith dimension. The Anglican Consultative
      Council is charged with bringing together and facilitating the various
      ecumenical dialogues, so that our partner Churches can speak to one
      central Anglican partner rather than try to work with 43 independent
      member churches of the Anglican Communion. Little wonder, then, that
      the ACC is particularly cautious about the conduct of the listening
      process, and the manner in which the conversations proceed about human
      sexuality, out of respect for the very different views that are held
      in particular by the Roman Catholic Church, and in the wider sense by
      the Muslim world. Not that we are to be dictated to by the views and
      values of others, but if a wider consensus is ever to be reached on
      these matters, then a sensitivity to others and a respect for
      difference is going to be essential. And those are Anglican virtues
      are they not?

      I suspect that a study of the history of the Episcopal Church might
      discover much evidence of a respect for, encounter with, and an
      inclusion of, a number of issues. This church was way out in front in
      respect of the ministry of women. What is now evident is that there is
      a need for a theology of inclusion, whereby those who may differ from
      others theologically and perhaps in their ecclesiology, are still able
      to remain in the same room.

      For all its imperfections, The Windsor Report is the document before
      the Communion, with suggestions for a way ahead. I hope the General
      Convention debates it rigorously, and then generously shares its
      conclusions with the Churches of the Communion.

      The Anglican Communion needs the Episcopal Church. I would also be so
      bold as to say that the reverse is also true. The Episcopal Church
      needs the Anglican Communion. The ACC needs the Episcopal Church. I
      used to take some pride in stating that the ACC is the most
      representative body in the Anglican Communion. That suffered a body
      blow from the Primates Meeting in Ireland and from ACC 13. But let me
      conclude with what I said in Nottingham:

      The ACC gives voice and hope and strength and dignity to those 80
      million or more Anglicans who say they belong to us, and look to us to
      represent them, but who are not themselves Primates, Archbishops,
      Bishops, Priests, Deacons or ACC members. They are the laos, they are
      the people of God, and they are our people, and they are importantly
      and impressively represented in the ACC, and I believe they want us to
      stay together, to live with difference, and not have difference forced
      upon them. Many Anglicans know what it is to have been colonised, and
      have no wish to repeat that experience in a new colonising of the mind
      and heart. Let ACC-13 declare to our watching and rather anxious
      church that our Communion is indeed a living Communion, that God
      lives, that God loves, and that we can continue to worship and serve
      God from our many different perspectives, while still proudly calling
      ourselves 'Anglicans'.