Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Lies of Justin Welby; or, rather "Alternative Facts"

Hey, friends in the Church of England:  it's Crusty here in the USA.  Normally, COD tries not to get involved in the internal workings of other member churches of the Anglican Communion, in part because he's spent most of his adult life listening to people who know little to nothing about how The Episcopal Church actually functions and works lecture us.  (BTW Crusty has also called out the shocking ignorance of many in the Episcopal Church as to how other provinces of the Communion function, to be sure this goes both ways.)

However, gven what happened at the General Synod of the Church of England, thought I might offer you all a little advice, given our own experiences.  But before we do, let's recap for readers in Crustyland:

The House of Bishops of the Church of England engaged in some extensive three-year "listening" sessions around issues of same sex marriage, and produced a report to be sent to its General Synod
ACNS photo of bishops presenting report to Synod.

(which, like the Council of Trent, always seems to be in session.  Crusty can barely deal with General Convention once every three years, he has no idea how the C of E handles this multiple times a year).  The General Synod did not pass a "take note" resolution in the clergy order, which, more or less, means the Synod chose not to receive the report.  This has caused no small amount of kerfuffle, with multiple knickers being twisted, and many at sixes and sevens at things going so pear shaped at the refusal to table this motion (Crusty promises to stop the English idioms here).  The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a letter outlining a way forward, which will include *more* listening with bishops, establishment of a Pastoral Oversight Group to work with dioceses on what is permissible under current guidelines, and proposing a debate at the next Synod of human sexuality.


Take it from your Episcopal Church colleagues -- don't be fooled, friends.  The current Archbishop has shown a consistent pattern of weaponizing listening processes to create extra-juridical and exrta-canonical disciplinary procedures accountable to no one, and his willingness to outright obfuscate and lie.  Let's recap:

1)  In January 2016, the Archbishop hosted what was billed as an informal gathering of primates, not an official primates meeting.  It came up with a series of "consequences", voluntarily accepted by The Episcopal Church.  Shortly afterwards, the Archbishop began consistently referring to this as a Primates Meeting, and that it had established a disciplinary process to be used in the future for any provinces which would change their marriage canons.  What began as an informal gathering where the Episcopal Church accepted consequences is now a Primates Meeting that has set up a process that can be used to threaten other provinces.

2)  Archbishop Justin violated the territorial integrity of the Scottish Episcopal Church (The Church of England has no parishes or presence on the Scottish side of the borer) by pushing through an ecumenical agreement with the Church of Scotland without much consultation or involvement from the Scottish Episcopal Church, prompting some revealing responses by the Scottish Episcopal Church's Primus (seriously, click on the link, the Primus throw some serious church shade).  The response from the Church of England has been, in addition to showing a lack of collegiality and consultation, largely to ignore the fact that the Church of England committed a boundary crossing violation (hey, remember the Windsor Report?).

3)  The Archbishop also presented his own alternative facts with regard to the Anglican Consultative
All negative blogs are FAKE blogs! SAD!
Council meeting in April  The ACC rejected consideration of a resolution which would have received the full report of the January, 2016 primates gathering, adopting instead a resolution naming the report and stating it had received it.  After the ACC adjourned, the Archbishop released his own statement, where he had the unbelievable gall to state, unequivocably: "By receiving my report, which incorporated the Primates’ Communique, the ACC accepted these consequences entirely." This is at worst an outright lie to deceive or at best a disingenuous obfuscation.

4)  Not content with this, the Anglican Communion New Service went on to state that no Episcopalians voted on any matters related to doctrine or polity at ACC-16, as part of the ACC's implementation of the sanctions against the Episcopal Church..   The Episcopal Church members
responded by stating they voted on all matters before the ACC, which forced the ACNS/Ministry of Truth change the lie to spin: "This article was updated on 2 February to make clear that no formal votes were held on issues of doctrine and polity at ACC-16. None was necessary because all such matters were agreed by consensus." Crusty feels the need to note that consensus is a form of voting.  Archbishop Humpty Dumpty lives!

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

So I hate to break it to you, Church of England friends -- this isn't over.  The Archbishop has shown his willingness to use listening processes as Trojan horses for substituting heavy-handed discipline, to subvert structures and supplant it with extra-canonical forms of governance, and simply to ignore, lie, and obfuscate any objections in the process of creating his alternative realities.  The Anglican Communion Covenant was not
Who had the bigger installation crowd, Rowan or Justin? Ask ACNS.
approved according to the polity of the Church of England; he simply tried to get the prohibition on same sex marriage through his Listening Process.  Had the Synod voted to note the report, one could bet it would have been spun as endorsement of all its implications by the Church of England.

So don't be fooled by the change of tone and the promises in the Archbishops' letter.  Whatever process he is setting up, he'll subvert it, just as he has done with the Episcopal Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Consultative Council, to push through what he wants, and then bend reality and fact to support those actions.  In his recent address to General Synod, Archbishop Justin gave some warnings about President Trump and the rise of right wing movements in Europe.  Yet Justin has shown a willingness to ignore democratic structures and bend reality to shape his own intentions.  Despite his condemnation of Trump, Justin should look himself in the mirror and see some disturbing parallels.  But please, for God's sake, let's hope Justin doesn't start tweeting at 5 o'clock in the morning.  That's about the only thing that can make this worse.

11 comments:

  1. Not the lay order but the clergy order...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Corrected and updated. Thanks, Simon, a case of the fingers flying too fast on the keyboard.

      Delete
  2. The bishop's report morphed into a declaration in Welby's subsequent letter to the primates, one reason synod's rejection was important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I missed that, Phil (can I call you Phil?). Wow from what you've said and others have emailed me this is worse than I initially thought.

      Delete
    2. The Episcopal Church should voluntarily withdraw from the Anglican Communion until such time as it returns to being a voluntary association of churches meeting for consultation only. Our church has enough challenges on its place already.

      Delete
  3. Regarding the January 2016 gathering of Primates, Welby touts the communique "from the primates" also includes words about homophobia, etc. But by the time that language was added many primates made sure they were no longer there. He's been called on that lie by both sides of the marriage equality division in the communion.

    For those taking the communique and Welby's characterization at face value, this disinformation was swallowed whole.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lesson hard learned after a decade or two of being a season subscriber to "As The Anglican World Turns" is take nothing at face value. Ever. Seriously.

      Delete
  4. Is this post part of COD's continuing "histrionics" about how Abp Welby's "thuggery knows no bounds?" (http://crustyoldean.blogspot.co.uk/2016_04_01_archive.html)

    A few thoughts, Tom:

    (1) When a group of Anglican primates gathers, decides it wants to "walk together," but recognizes the need for some changed relationships to make that possible -- does it really matter whether the meeting was billed initially as an informal one? Your interpretation assumes that Abp Welby is some master schemer, who planned on that result from the beginning and cunningly manipulated people into an informal meeting that then made a formal decision. Meanwhile, all of the reports from the meeting itself show that the assembled primates themselves decided the agenda to discuss and weigh in on the strained relationships in the Communion. For him to refuse to reflect that really would have been an example of overbearing leadership.

    (2) The SEC was originally part of the discussion of the Columba report. It withdrew, then released later public statements of an aggrieved character, as if it were totally blindsided. Moreover, the Columba declaration was not some private effort of Abp Welby. It had been (and has been) decided on by General Synod. Do try to get the facts straight, when you're assaulting someone's character in public.

    (3) I think you're over interpreting what was an ambiguous meeting, from which people took away multiple different interpretations: this point is clear if you speak to multiple people from different provinces who were there on the ground, rather than simply repeat verbatim the talking points of either the Episcopal delegation or Abp Welby.

    (4) I don't disagree with you here about the lack of clarity, though I note that even before the ACC, Abp Welby made the point that the primates' "consequences" had been followed through to the extent that it was possible. More to say about that: it would take too much time.

    Also, on the current issue: Abp Welby isn't some dictator deciding CofE policy without consultation. The dispute here has to do with the entire House of Bishops and its consensus that doctrinal change is out of the question. And, given the power they have over liturgical and doctrinal definition in the CofE, there's not much that can be done once they've said that -- beyond pressure on them.

    Moreover, the situation in Synod was quite complex. 17% of Synod simply didn't vote or even record an abstention on the "take note" report. Out of the remain 83% of Synod, the motion was narrowly defeated in one house. You can see why many would decide there's little reason to apply the brakes. It was another ambiguous vote.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply; I wish everyone read things with such care and willingness to be in discussion.

      (1) When a group of Anglican primates gathers, decides it wants to "walk together," but recognizes the need for some changed relationships to make that possible -- does it really matter whether the meeting was billed initially as an informal one? Your interpretation assumes that Abp Welby is some master schemer, who planned on that result from the beginning and cunningly manipulated people into an informal meeting that then made a formal decision. Meanwhile, all of the reports from the meeting itself show that the assembled primates themselves decided the agenda to discuss and weigh in on the strained relationships in the Communion. For him to refuse to reflect that really would have been an example of overbearing leadership.

      --Please note my specific concerns, which have to do with what occurred after the fact and not with the meeting itself. It is what has occurred after the fact. I was specifically referring to the fact that this "gathering" after the fact has consistently been referred to as a Primates Meeting, and what was presented as a decision of the primates with regards to the Episcopal Church as a result of conversations in January 2016, after the fact, has and is presented as an ongoing disciplinary process. So this informal meeting is now an official Primates Meeting which has established a process, when, in fact, that was not the original intention or situation.

      (2) The SEC was originally part of the discussion of the Columba report. It withdrew, then released later public statements of an aggrieved character, as if it were totally blindsided. Moreover, the Columba declaration was not some private effort of Abp Welby. It had been (and has been) decided on by General Synod. Do try to get the facts straight, when you're assaulting someone's character in public.

      --I noted concerns about consultation, cited individuals expressing those concerns, and did not mention anything about this being a secret agreement.

      --I do not see where any of the things I mention here are factually incorrect, though we may interpret tone differently (e.g. by "push through" I did not mean secretly, only that it was clearly a major initiative he would undoubtedly want to see to completion).

      I have a major ecclesiological concern about one Anglican province which has no presence in another province establishing ecumenical agreements without the full participation of the Anglican province which is present. I will freely admit to using inflammatory language of boundary crossing purposely to draw attention to this.

      Delete
    2. 2 of 2

      (3) I think you're over interpreting what was an ambiguous meeting, from which people took away multiple different interpretations: this point is clear if you speak to multiple people from different provinces who were there on the ground, rather than simply repeat verbatim the talking points of either the Episcopal delegation or Abp Welby.

      --I would agree it is an ambiguous situation. However, it is the Archbishop who has, in fact, made unequivocal public statements. The Episcopal delegation was in response.

      (4) I don't disagree with you here about the lack of clarity, though I note that even before the ACC, Abp Welby made the point that the primates' "consequences" had been followed through to the extent that it was possible. More to say about that: it would take too much time.

      --Again, with ambiguous and complex situations, perhaps it is best not to make definitive statements through official organs of communication like the ACNS article did. "To the extent that it was possible' would have been accurate.

      Also, on the current issue: Abp Welby isn't some dictator deciding CofE policy without consultation. The dispute here has to do with the entire House of Bishops and its consensus that doctrinal change is out of the question. And, given the power they have over liturgical and doctrinal definition in the CofE, there's not much that can be done once they've said that -- beyond pressure on them.

      Moreover, the situation in Synod was quite complex. 17% of Synod simply didn't vote or even record an abstention on the "take note" report. Out of the remain 83% of Synod, the motion was narrowly defeated in one house. You can see why many would decide there's little reason to apply the brakes. It was another ambiguous vote.

      --I perfectly understand the reason to put on the brakes, and I noted that it failed in one order.

      Thanks again for the care in your response. I don't disagree with much of what you say here concerning dealing with difficult and complex situations, but I also stand by the concerns I raise. I see a troubling pattern of taking ambiguous or complex situations and characterizing as definitive in ways that many, including those personally and intimately involved in those situations, would dispute. I find that very, very troubling.

      I am delighted with the accusation of histrionics, that's exactly the tone I was trying to strike.

      Delete
  5. Scottish church history is complex, and the relationships among the Church of England, the Scottish Episcopal, and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland are more complex. But for a time in the late 18th century there were Church of England congregations in Scottish cities. In the 1770's and 1780's the former President of Kings' College, New York, a Church of England priest, served such a congregation in Edinburgh. At the time the Scottish Episcopalians were still technically Jacobites and subject to persecution as such. I think it was 1791 when Bonnie Prince Charlie finally died and the Scottish Episcopalians began to pray for King George. So there is some historical precedent for the CofE's recent action.

    ReplyDelete