Friday, October 06, 2006

a letter from +pittsburgh

This is indeed a hopeful sign. The wait is indeed frustrating and painful. The need is indeed urgent -- as I have realized quite clearly in the last couple of months. And this underscores my frustration with actions such as those of Christ Church, Plano (much as I love them). . . . as well as my frustration with inaction to prevent this kind of thing by bishops such as +Dallas (much as I love him). The orthodox (and semi-orthodox) are indeed their own worst enemies. Notwithstanding the letter below, I remain pessimistic about the ability of Network-types to hold together in the US. I am also pessimistic, by the way, of the ability of the Communion to hold together. But all things are possible with God. And if the "Anglican Experiment" does not end in failure, as it looks like it well might, it will once again vindicate the providence of a God concerned with the affairs of men. As though such vindication were necessary. Still, it helps to be reminded. May Anglicans be so reminded, and soon. And in the meantime, all you orthodox (and semi-orthodox), I urge you: be patient, patient, patient, zealous for righteousness, and at peace:

"But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come. . . . But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you WAIT FOR THESE, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace."

(2 Peter 3.8ff, passim)

Here's +Pittsburgh's letter:

6th October, A.D. 2006
Feast of William Tyndale

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May the grace and peace of Christ Jesus be multiplied to you, and to all who call upon Him as Savior of the world and who serve Him as Lord of all the ages.

I wrote to you back in June expressing my conviction that a new day was dawning for all of us who understand ourselves to be faithful and orthodox Anglicans whether within the Episcopal Church or gone out from it. Three months have passed since I last wrote, and the evidence bearing out that conviction grows daily.

Seven Network Dioceses appealed for Alternative Primatial Relationship in July. The Archbishop of Canterbury responded in August, intervening (in classical Anglican fashion) by asking the principals to sit down together to see if some “American path forward” might be found. In September, that mediation took place in New York without achieving resolution. Shortly thereafter, the leaders of 20 Anglican Provinces (out of 38 total Provinces and representing some 70 percent of the world’s active Anglicans) met, promising that Alternative Primatial Oversight would be provided, and that the Global South Steering Committee would work both with the leadership of the whole Communion and with Network leadership to work out the substance of such provision. Meetings to carry this pledge forward will begin within weeks. An eighth Network diocese, having joined the Appeal of the other seven, will be part of that deliberation.

One of the things the four Network bishops meeting in New York (representing the seven, now eight, appellant dioceses, and meeting with the Presiding Bishop and Presiding Bishop-elect at Canterbury’s request) refused to do was to negotiate a settlement that did not provide for all of the Network congregations in non-Network dioceses. The Global South Primates meeting in September also signaled their concern for the most vulnerable in the U.S. situation. From Kigali, the Global South Primates wrote the following words: “We are convinced that the time now has come to take initial steps toward the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA. ” For all those “gone out” or “put out,” this gives shape to the longed-for day. For the Network deans and for the clergy and congregations of the Network’s International Conference, this is an urgent concern and answer to prayer.

In September, Network Bishops met with a wider coalition of Windsor Bishops. This was a most encouraging meeting. Recognizing the local contexts in which we bishops serve, there was agreement that each of us would continue the hallmarks of our present differentiated leadership (whether Network or non-Network). At the same time, there was consensus about our common commitment to the Windsor Report and our assessment that the Episcopal Church had by no means made adequate response. Further, to state together our understanding that acceptance of the spirit and the substance of the Windsor Report was the only way for dioceses of the Episcopal Church to go forward in the Anglican Communion was a significant achievement, as was our readiness to express the regret that Report called for. The Network has been ten dioceses standing together, and we will continue to stand as we have done. Nevertheless, having twenty or, God-willing, thirty dioceses standing together as Windsor diocese!
committed to live within Anglican Communion boundaries and under an emerging Anglican Communion Covenant, should be a great sign of hopefulness for us all.

For all in the Network, the last three years have been monumentally challenging, but, as I said in June, the new day is dawning. The contours are not fully clear, but the fearful night is passing. The Global South Primates, writing from Kigali, acknowledged the role the Network has played. The Network remains the domestic key to what is ahead. Your prayers, your participation, and your support remain as crucial as ever they have been.

We have hung together, and thus have not been hanged separately. By God’s grace this will continue. Local needs dictate different courses through the troubles. It has been this way since the defining actions in August and November of 2003. Fear not! The Lord is sovereign and is Savior. Orthodox and faithful Anglicans can be divided from one another only if we allow it to be so. The present separations are temporary. When midday comes, the Lord will have put it all back together in the way He intends, if we will but not get in the way.

“Be watchful. Stand firm in your faith. Be courageous. Be strong. Let everything you do be done in love.” (I Cor.16:13-14)

Faithfully in Christ,

+ Bob Pittsburgh

The Rt. Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan
Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network


wyclif said...

Why, praytell, are you frustrated with
Christ Church, Plano? Because they didn't polish brass on a sinking ship?

This kind of talk is what I find frustrating about the AC. A common belief seems to be a form of Elizabethanism taken to the nth degree: schism is worse than heresy. One gets the impression that the unforgivable sin is shaking the dust off one's feet. We get the impresssion that we must never, ever leave, no matter how damnable the heresy eating away our faith becomes.

The price of unity is a unified faith. That hasn't been present in Anglicanism for some time now.

father wb said...


If a unified faith "hasn't been present in Anglicanism for some time now" then why is Christ Church still Anglican? If people really believe that, then they should go over to Rome (or something).

I would understand Christ Church's actions if they were in the diocese of Connecticut, or the San Diego, or any other of a hundred dioceses. But they're not. They're in the diocese of Dallas, where the bishop has supported and protected and encouraged the orthodox. And who is himself one of them.

It seems to me that the best hope (maybe the ONLY hope) for a coherent expression of orthodox Anglicanism in North America is in banding together. Christ Church has seriously endangered the orthodox witness of this diocese, and (thereby) of the Network.

wyclif said...

Christ Church has seriously endangered the orthodox witness of this diocese, and (thereby) of the Network.

One more thing: The Network really doesn't offer much hope for us here. They've rejected just enough of the Episcopal religion to make it possible for people in TEC to transfer if they want. But the Network, tellingly, still advocates the aberrant and liturgically suspect 1979 BCP.

Also, they still push WO and are the same folks who have been since the 70's. And all on the flimsiest speculative theology.

Actually, Christ Church, just by merit of leaving, has done a great deal to preserve her Anglican witness. It wasn't an easy decision, and I don't think that leaving was something that they wanted to countenance.

But after all, TEC refuses to discipline herself, so what is a faithful orthodox parish to do?

The hallmark of the TEC is that it will never discipline aberrant Bishops or their novel theologies.

father wb said...


I agree with you about the Network being a flimsy hope. But I still think it is the best hope. And I agree with you about the 1979 BCP. But the only thing I have heard out of the Network about ANY BCP is their endorsement of 1662 in the Common Cause theological statement, and in their own theological thing which says "...Scripture’s meaning is rightly discerned in addition through the theological ordering of our common historic formularies, including the sixteenth and seventeenth century authorized Books of Common Prayer..."

I'm not aware of their having said anything (good or bad) about 1979.

And with regard to Women's Ordination: again, I agree. But to work with integrity toward a coherent, and orthodox (or semi-orthodox) Anglicanism, means to abide with the fact that nearly half of the Communion now "ordains" women. And, I would note, that Christ Church Plano accepts the ministry of "ordained" women. If you can't stand being in communion with people who "ordain" women, then you've got to leave Anglicanism.

We should be standing against ECUSA, sure. But our basis for standing against ECUSA must be ECUSA's departure from the standards of the Communion. And we have to be honest about what those standards actually are. And the Network, from what I can tell, is a pretty good representative of pan-Communion doctrinal and moral standards -- even if those standards are not precisely my own. Its better, for the sake of ecclesial coherence, to work within the framework of the Network, than for the sake of real or imagined doctrinal purity, to go off bishop shopping on one's own.