Monday, June 25, 2018

GAFCON, ACNA and Anglo-Catholics

By all reputable accounts I’ve heard, GAFCON 3 was an excellent conference.  And I concur in its closing Letter to the Churches.

At the same time, there was a serious shortcoming that occurred before the conference began.  And if this shortcoming was addressed during the conference, I am not aware of it.  GAFCON leaders failed to address with adequate firmness the consecration of a woman bishop in South Sudan in violation of an agreed moratorium.  Yes, there was a response of a sort early this year.  But she was apparently free to come to the Jerusalem conference as a full participant this past week.

It appears that because of that a number of Anglo-Catholics decided not to attend, including Bishops Keith Ackerman and Bill Ilgenfritz.  It turns out the South Sudan delegation did attend due to visa issues.  But that did not become clear until near the beginning of the conference.  In any case, the damage was done; the number of Anglo-Catholics at Jerusalem was fewer than in the past.

As for ACNA, I will not rehash the aftermath of the Conclave concerning Holy Orders.  Nor will I dive into the thorny topic of just what assurances were or were not made to traditionalists concerning Holy Orders at the formation of ACNA.  But communion with Anglo-Catholics is certainly frayed and even impaired as is the case with the Diocese of Ft. Worth.

We can hardly undo the past.  But as for the future, probably the most urgent matter for GAFCON and ACNA is to restore as much as possible communion and fellowship with Anglo-Catholics.  That is easier said than done although it is perhaps not too late to enact a moratorium on women’s ordination in ACNA and to strengthen a moratorium on women bishops in GAFCON.

Also, future GAFCON and ACNA meetings should reflect the importance of Anglo-Catholics among us, including in worship meetings.  Frankly, the next ACNA Provincial Assembly next year presents a danger.  With it being in Plano, Texas, I presume it will be hosted by Christ Church Plano, which is a large parish in the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO).  It is safe to say C4SO has a talent for rubbing Anglo-Catholics and other traditionalist Anglicans (including yours truly) the wrong way.  If the Assembly turns out to be like an expanded C4SO Synod, that would not assist any remaining traditionalist patience with ACNA.

That Assembly and the time leading up to it should instead be used by both ACNA and GAFCON to mend fences with Anglo-Catholics.

Any form of Anglicanism without a robust and enthusiastic contingent of Anglo-Catholics is an impoverished Anglicanism.  I pray that GAFCON and ACNA bishops address that danger wisely and soon.

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