Thursday, June 23, 2005

primates to be included in acc

After discussion in three business sessions, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) voted June 22 to change its constitution to include the 37 Primates as ex officio members, thereby increasing the membership from 78 to 115.

Originally introduced at Monday's session, the action included a provision to attempt to ensure balance for clergy and lay members. Under the new configuration, laity representation would no longer be the majority of the ACC, one of the four "instruments of unity" within the Anglican Communion.

Read the whole thing here.

This seems to me to be a very encouraging move in the direction of the kind of truly catholic polity that Anglicanism has lacked since the beginning of its massive expansion beyond the confines of Great Britain. This is in the spirit of the proposals of the Windsor Report, and it is a step toward taking seriously the fact that we believe in "one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." So it seems to me anyway.


J-Tron said...

"Archbishops" and other "primates" are no more or less apostolic than any other bishops. I find their continued growth in usurpation of authority within the Communion to be quite troubling.

father wb said...

Yeah, but isn't that just because you disagree with (most of) them about sexuality stuff? I don't agree with many of them about many issues (e.g., probably justification), but the fact remains that this is a step in the right direction in terms of some kind of enforceable, pananglican, doctrinal cohesiveness -- and its the right (i.e. catholic) way to do it, namely byputting in place a mechanism for expressing the power and authority that is theirs already.

Sure, I agree that sacramentally speaking, the Primates are just bishops. But if you're going to have bishops from each province in a pananglican. doctrinal / juridical body, the Primates make sense, as there is exactly one for each province. I mean, its better (and easier) to have the Primates than, say, some random bishop. Who could more appropriately represent a province to the rest of the Church than a Primate? Isn't that (partly) what they're for?

J-Tron said...

Respectfully, my issue with this continuing elevation of primates has nothing to do with the positions that any of them take on sexuality. I disagree quite strongly with any move that would make the Archbishop of Canterbury into a pseudo-pope and he is someone I agree with quite strongly on human sexuality. I'm not concerned about how this affects the current debate. I'm concerned about the danger to the future.

You said, "But if you're going to have bishops from each province in a pananglican, doctrinal/juridical body, the primates make sense as there is exactly one for each province." First, this puts the cart about fifty miles before the horse. The ACC has nothing in its formative documents, nor in its history, to suggest that it is in any way juridical or doctrinal in nature. Now, you might not like that. Frankly, I'm not entirely sure myself what their point is. Perhaps it would be better if there was a move towards giving them a stronger influence, although I'd personally like to see doctrinal influence increased at Lambeth with administrative power increased to the ACC (at least, that's what I would have liked before this most recent decision). By making this move now, the ACC has effectively nullified its reason for existence in the first place, which was to be a cross section of all groups in ministry, including laity. Though they had no discernible or enforceable purpose before, they at least had an advantage in representation. This has now been erased.

Second, it is not true that each province has its own primate. We certainly do not have one. Sure, we have a guy who we've given the title to, but that was a superficial gesture to make our presiding bishop look more like what some other provinces have. The ECUSA presiding bishop is an executive and a cheif pastor, not a king or a "first among equals" (a term which I loathe for its philosophical emptiness, much the same way I loathe "living in tension" actually). Frankly, even in the provinces that have "primates" there is a great difference in the types of powers and responsibilities that each is saddled with.

Why shouldn't it be a "random bishop" or a rotating position? After all, in the provinces where primates hold the greatest authority they are likely to select the bishops they want to serve anyway, or to nominate themselves to the post.