EVIDENCE OF ATTEMPTED MANIPULATION OF THE PRIMATES MEETING
DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Fri Oct 3 19:27:51 EDT 2003
Church of England, ECUSA plans to keep control in primates' October
meeting. Evidence of Attempted Manipulation of the Primates meeting
The Church of England Newspaper
The staff of the Anglican Consultative Council [ACC] in London will
attempt to manipulate the agenda and format of the forthcoming Primates
Meeting scheduled for October 15-16 in London in a bid to "nullify" any
conservative outcome in the battle raging within the Anglican Communion
over homosexuality. A proposed agenda and a strategy memorandum
accidentally distributed by the ACC at the International Anglican
Doctrinal and Theological Commission [IADTC] meeting earlier this month
will seek to "make sure nothing happens" at the emergency meeting
called by Archbishop Rowan Williams. The ACC, critics charge, will use
financial intimidation and a manipulative agenda to frustrate the will
of the majority of the Primates of the Anglican Communion.
"I was given by mistake two classified documents," stated the Very Rev.
Paul Zahl, a member of the IADTC. "One was a proposed schedule for the
Primates Meeting a blow by blow on the fifteen minute schedule for
the entire meeting of the Primates. And the other was a very carefully
typed one and one half page memo which was a very strongly worded
recommendation as to how to deal with 'the conservative Americans' and
A noted theologian and dean of the 3000-member Cathedral Church of the
Advent in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Zahl remarked the way in which he
was given the documents "was hilarious. It was sort of like an Alfred
Dr. Zahl joined the IADTC meeting at Virginia Theological Seminary in
Alexandria, Virginia, on September 8, four days into the proceedings.
When he arrived he was given a sheaf of papers that he began to read as
he listened to the morning presentation. Two documents, an agenda and
an unsigned memo, seemed to Dr. Zahl out of place.
He told the Church of England Newspaper, "they were very duplicitous
and highly compromising papers." The agenda for the Primates Meeting
had been "carefully scripted". "The schedule had four or possibly five
discussion points, but in each case a 'conservative' was to be linked
with a 'liberal' to give equal time." The meeting was designed not to
achieve any sort of consensus or "executive decision" but "was a
typical sort of Anglican 'process' situation where you take the fangs
out of any position by always making it into a 'conversation'," noted
"It would say 'well we'll have a conservative speak on the gay thing
and then we'll also have a liberal'. Every 'no' was paired with an
equally equivalent 'yes'. it seemed like just another in the
interminable kinds of process discussion that I have witnessed over the
last thirty years with no resolution, no time to actually deliberate
it seemed to give gave no room that I could see for anything like
deliberation or anything like action." Dr. Zahl's impression was one of
conscious manipulation by the Conference planners. "I was horrified. I
wanted to say who had been consulted? Had the Primates been consulted?
It looked like a very careful job to suppress any kind of action."
The second document, a memorandum to the Archbishop of Canterbury,
argued that it was imperative that the will of the majority of Primates
be frustrated. As Dr. Zahl read the document he said, "two things
caught my eye". The memo argued "the conservatives and the Americans
will try to get their way by making a lot of fuss, but we must resist
at all costs listening to that."
Dr Zahl stated the document noted "four potential outcomes" for the
meeting. The first was "some kind of parallel jurisdiction" in North
America. The memo urged that this outcome, "at all costs must be fought
because it would be disastrous." The remaining three outcomes were
variations upon the theme of study, dialogue and delay: "none of them
[sought] discipline or Godly admonition" of the American Church. Dr
Zahl said they were "ways of staving off any kind of decision."
"The overwhelming thought I had as I read it" Dr. Zahl told us, was
"these people want to prevent and block any possible action that the
Primates might try to take." To achieve this political end, the memo in
Dr. Zahl's words, recommended "let's not give them anything they want,
let's do all we can to prevent any kind of substantive action." No
attempt at any "substantive theological, biblical, or even
ecclesiological comments" was offered he added.
As he was reading the papers, Dr. Zahl told us he asked himself, "Holy
Moses! Why did I get these?'" Ten minutes after being given the papers,
an ACC secretary, Mrs. Christine Codner, asked Dr. Zahl if he would
return them to her as there had been a "mistake". Dr. Zahl's conference
papers were swiftly collected and a second set, less the two documents
was given to him in their place.
On UK-based theologian who attended a gathering of 13 Primates in
Nairobi on September 27 stated that the attempts to nullify the will of
the Primates were unfair. "The un-level-playing-field, away-game,
racist, patronising, un-inclusive and Western dominated character of
these gatherings -- all the while applauding like mad at the new
inclusive atmosphere" had generated anger among the non-Western leaders
of the Anglican Communion. Canon Bill Atwood of the Ekklesia Society, a
second participant at last week's Nairobi meeting stated the Primates
would not submit to manipulation. "The primates are being very wise and
very tough. Those who think they will cave in are wrong."
The question of how the Primates Meeting will be funded is also a point
of controversy at this time. James Solheim, the director of the
Episcopal News Service, denied the accuracy of press reports that
stated the American Church would underwrite the £70,000 cost of the
Canon David Anderson, president of the conservative pressure group, the
American Anglican Council, also denied that they were providing the
funds for the meeting. "We have been told that the ACC sent a letter
which at least some of the primates received that told them that they
would have to pay their own way to this Primates Meeting because there
wasn't enough ACC money for travel and housing" Canon Anderson stated
He added that no Primate had, so far, asked for financial assistance
from the AAC.
Canon James Rosenthal of the Anglican Communion News
Service told us, "there are no provisions in the Inter Anglican Budget
for this specially called meeting. It may fall to the meeting itself to
decide how the costs can be met."
Critics argue that one method that will be used to frustrate any moves
against the American Church will the plea of poverty from the ACC. Even should the
Primates overcome attempts at manipulation the options available for
disciplining the Episcopal Church are unclear. The Primates may, by two-thirds vote,
alter the composition of the ACC. ECUSA sends three delegates to the ACC's
triennial meetings. Twenty-six votes would be needed to expel or otherwise
Expulsion of the American Church lies, under English ecclesiastical
law, in the sole hands of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
Neither the overseas Primates nor the American Church can dictate who
is a member of the Communion, though both sides will doubtless exert
pressure on Dr. Williams and the Archbishop of York, David Hope, to see
matters in a light favorable to their cause.
Attendance at the Lambeth Conference of Bishops is also not by right,
but by invitation. Should Dr. Williams so choose, he may decline to
invite bishops to this gathering. Previous Archbishops of Canterbury
have exercised the right of exclusion, most notably in the Nineteenth
century in the case of the Bishop of Natal, John Colenso.
The director of communications for the Anglican Communion Office was
not available for comment at the time of going to press.
More information about the VirtueOnline