22 September 2007

Anglican Communion polity 101

I'm surprised by an item over at T19. Canon Kendall Harmon is a smart man, and I believe he is a person of great faith and integrity. In responding to something he saw at Walking with Integrity, he quotes this:
The AP wanted to know, "who is going to decide whether the Episcopal Church has responded to the Dar Es Salaam Communique…?" Bishop Rabb said, "it is the Primates who will have to decide that."
Kendall then says this:
I agree. The Primates asked for the Windsor Report, they received it and modified it slightly in Dromantine, and then in response to the TEC's response to Windsor and Dromantine, they issued the Tanzania Communique. Now the American House of Bishops is meeting in response to the Primates Tanzania Communique and before their September 30th deadline. So where is the Primates meeting on the Anglican Communion schedule? That would seem to be quite important--KSH.
Here's the thing. Just because the primates did something doesn't make it right. No one gave them the authority they've claimed for themselves. Though it's hard to say, since they have no constitution, it seems to me that they were -- prior to the Present Troubles -- primarily a consultative body.

The primates have requested a response from ECUSA. This was not, we are assured by +Rowan Williams some kind of threat or ultimatum. The HoB will surely offer a response. This is a courtesy. The response date was set based on a pre-existing meeting of the HoB, not the other way around.

The jurisdiction for deciding Important Anglican Things lies with +Rowan Williams and the Anglican Consultative Council. The Lambeth Conferences, by tradition, have articulated an Anglican view on topics of interest. Ultimately, they'll sort this out all. (It will soon be easier, because the Akinolites will be long gone before these groups meet.) So, it seems to me, the date of the next primates' meeting is less important than the dates of other upcoming meetings -- Lambeth, the ACC, and of course, Duncan's big party in Pittsburgh in a few days. And let us not forget, no one has elevated +Peter Akinola and his friends to the office of cardinal.

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