The Dubliners: Why Peter Carrell has it all wrong

david at david at
Sat Jan 15 08:25:57 CST 2011

The Dubliners: Why Peter Carrell has it all wrong

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue 
January 11, 2011

 In an article written for The Living Church, the Rev. Dr. Peter Carrell of the Diocese of Christchurch, in the Anglican Church of New Zealand, opines that the non attendance of eleven orthodox primates in the Anglican Communion in Dublin, later this month, amounts to nothing and "in ten years or so, all will be well again."

Perhaps it is because the Rev. Carrell lives in far off NZ, has never attended a Primates meeting, a CAPA meeting, has never met or talked with orthodox archbishops like Henry Orombi (Uganda) or Nicholas Okoh, (Nigeria), has not seen what Archbishop Robert Duncan has gone through, (it was Duncan who said orthodox Episcopalians would have been exterminated if they had not left TEC), has never met an ACNA bishop nor seen the devastating impact that theologically revisionist bishops like Jack Spong and the takeover of the Episcopal Church by a handful of politically correct pansexualists has done, that he can write the nonsense he does from the safety and distance of NZ. (In NZ only one diocese - Nelson - is remotely orthodox, the rest rolled over a long time ago.)

The truth is he is living in a dream world. The earthquake his fair city suffered recently should have given him a hint at what the whole Anglican Communion is going through on a daily basis resulting in GAFCON and the Jerusalem Declaration. Apparently not.

He is playing with words. Orthodox. Episcopalians, however, are not merely playing with words. Orthodox Episcopalians are EXPERIENCING first-hand what it means to be inhibited, deposed, tossed out of rectories, lose pensions, thrown out of parishes, personally sued, have false accusations made against them and much more. Carrell should read more than the official news services. What world is he living in?

Carrell: One predictive story of the Primates' Meeting goes like this: it is a very, very important meeting. Here would be present the titular heads of the member churches of the Communion. But they are not all coming; and if they did, they would not share the Eucharist together. No communion must therefore mean no Communion: the end is nigh.

VOL: For the last five primatial gatherings (at least) - going back to Dromantine, Ireland in 2005, the primates have not had Eucharist together. I know. I was there. "No communion" means that there is a de facto schism not a de jure one. No, it doesn't mean the end is nigh. The orthodox primates have no interest in splitting the communion. They simply will not participate in its meetings. They have every intention of remaining Anglican and will wait out the present incumbent in Lambeth Palace.

Carrell: Accordingly, this boycotted meeting, so the prognosis goes, will be the effective end of the Communion as we know it, the historical moment when Anglicans recognize that all is not well and never will be well again. In this case, there will be a terrific fight to win the battle to determine who has been the culprit: TEC or GAFCON? North America or the Global South? Or will fingers point to Archbishop Rowan Williams, the man who would not disinvite Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori? Or, perhaps, to the Presiding Bishop herself, who knows that not going to Dublin would potentially be a fruitful decision for the health of the Communion.

VOL: What it means is that there is now a fork in the road with the liberals going to the left and orthodox going to right. The orthodox Primates have said they will never again be in the same room with Jeffferts Schori. What about that does Carrell not understand? The communion has not been "healthy" for a very long time. It has been a spiritually unhealthy place going back to Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold who spent all his spiritual capital trying to persuade Global South archbishops to roll over and buy sodomy because two North American Anglican provinces wanted, nay demanded it. As far as finger pointing goes, it IS up to the Archbishop of Canterbury as to whom he invites or disinvites. He stands or falls by that. Yes, he could have chosen not to invite Jefferts Schori, but he obviously chose not to go down that road. 

The days of battles and finger pointing are long gone. Orthodox primates will simply not waste their time or their money going to a Primates meeting to watch Dr. Rowan Williams play shuttle diplomacy between two conflicting groups in different rooms. That is over. It doesn't mean the Anglican Communion is over. That is something different altogether.

Carrell: A second narrative comes from a vigorous chorus of voices that say the meeting is not important, just a clearing house of ideas and feelings. And the primates are, well, a little pompous as they presume prelatial privilege - maybe even an Anglo-papal power which they simply do not have. Real Anglican power lies with the people: synods, conventions and the Anglican Consultative Council count; pontificating primates do not.

VOL: There is some truth here. Most of what they say or conclude WILL be largely ignored. Any affirmation of pansexual behavior will only confirm in the minds of orthodox primates that not going was the right thing to do. If a lot of sweet sounds about unity are offered up, everybody WILL yawn. The ACC is totally persona non grata with the Global South. They long ago distrusted Canon Kenneth Kearon as they believe his loyalty lies with Jefferts Schori and the liberals. They have no reason to trust him. They are also aware that a large portion of his budget is paid by TEC.

Carrell: This view is odd in one way. It discounts the value of one of the Instruments of Communion. If it is not important, are the other instruments also unimportant? And such a view offers a surprisingly low estimation of episcopal leadership in a communion of episcopal churches: are primates not to be trusted to convey the mind of their respective churches to the Primates' Meeting? Sure, some Anglicans say their bishops, let alone their primate, do not "speak for them," but what if bishops and primates are speaking for the silent majority?

VOL: The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) was discounted by orthodox primates at least two years ago. The decks are loaded against them. They saw and abandoned it. The Listening Process is seen as little more than a shill for gay and liberal agit prop. I've got news for you. If 10 or 11archbishops are absent then 80% or more of the "silent majority" will not be spoken for.

Carrell: Finally, the voice of wisdom prophesies a third version of the meeting. Yes, it is a very bad thing that some primates are boycotting the meeting - following on, moreover, from the boycotted 2008 Lambeth Conference. But one swallow (or two) does not make a summer. The Communion is in a slump, an all-time low in otherwise fruitful Anglican fellowship, but it will come through this. The day to day life of the Communion continues. Anglicans meet together in a host of commissions and conferences which are not headline news, probably because no one boycotts them. Unheralded global partnerships in mission remain intact. New primates will be elected, simmering tensions will settle down, and reason will prevail over emotion. In ten years or so all will be well again. 

VOL: This statement completely discounts the reality of GAFCON and the abandonment of the Lambeth Conference by more than 70% of the world's Anglicans. A third of the communion's bishops did not turn up at Lambeth, but they represent more than 70% of the Anglican Communion. A third of the Anglican Communion's bishops attended GAFCON in Jerusalem. They represent 70-80% of the communion. That is not going to change. There WILL be future GAFCON'S. If there is another Lambeth, there will be fewer bishops representing less and less of the Anglican Communion. Carrell simply doesn't get it.

Furthermore, orthodox primates have all but bagged the Covenant (it is also hated by liberals and homosexuals, incidentally). Certainly the "day to day life of the Communion continues" and it is growing rapidly in the Global South and dying in the North and West. In ten years, TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada will be shadows of their former selves and barely afloat. They are dying that fast. (TEC has less than 700,000 ASA and Canada has about 300,000 ASA.) Put together, they represent a couple of large dioceses in Nigeria and/or Uganda. The Anglican Province of Nigeria has more than 21 million practicing Anglicans, Uganda has about 10 million (give or take) and they are both continuing to grow. Western Anglican provinces are withering on the vine.

There will still be a few healthy dioceses in TEC, but the rest will either be dead or have to juncture with another diocese. The healthiest thing about TEC will be the Church Pension Fund. The sale of properties will keep some dioceses afloat for a while. Furthermore, Carrell ignores the fact that the newly formed Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) is fast approaching 1000 new Anglican parishes. They are on the upswing with a new parish opening somewhere in North America with each passing week.

Yes, new Primates will be elected - Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya and Central Africa have all chosen new primates, recently. Nothing has changed. They are all orthodox and they are all boycotting Dublin.

To say, as Carrell says, that "reason will prevail over emotion" is to highly insult Global South Primates, most of who have been educated in the West, and are better educated than Carrell. His biting remark downplays the profound theological differences that now exist between the two groups that show no signs of abating. It has nothing to do with emotion. It has everything to do with reason and theology. Does Carrell really think that Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda will ever have anything in common spiritually with Katharine Jefferts Schori who denied personal salvation at GC2008...the very salvation that has built the Global South up to where it is today?

Does Carrell really think that Jefferts Schori's successor will miraculously be orthodox in faith and morals? It would mean a total reversal of all the General Convention resolutions affirming pansexuality that have been passed at successive conventions. That is not going to happen. It is easier to believe that dead men rise than to believe that is going to happen. And does Carrell really think that Global South primates will one day wake up and say, "Wow guys we got it all wrong and God blesses sodomy." It ain't gonna happen.

Carrell: The 2028 Lambeth Conference will have 110 percent attendance (even ACNA will be back in the fold). January 2011 will not end anything, whether by whimper or bang; the Communion will carry on, come what may. On this account, GAFCON will have faltered: it offered an alternative way forward, historians will say, boldly touting a way of being Anglican without Canterbury, but it proved to be a dead end. The Communion always was the only game in town.

VOL: This presupposes there will be a Lambeth in 2028. And no, ACNA will not be back in the fold because it is not there in the first place. ACNA is totally allied with GAFCON, not Lambeth. Kearon will never give ACNA an entry ticket into the Anglican Communion while TEC rules. To say GAFCON will have faltered is a total fiction. Yes, the Communion is the only game in town and the Global South know that. They can wait out the present incumbent without compromising the "faith once delivered". Their loyalty is to the See of Canterbury going back to Augustine not to Rowan Williams. That will not change.

Carrell: A possible miracle of Dublin, however, would be for the Primates' Meeting to find words which honestly and unreservedly acknowledge the depth of our problems and the width of our divisions. Sometimes we can only be saved when we admit we need help. To see this need could be an epiphanic moment among this temporary set of Dubliners, the primates of the Anglican Communion.

VOL: That is not going to happen. Ultra liberals like Jefferts Schori, Fred Hiltz,(Canada) Barry Morgan (Wales) and Philip Aspinall (Australia), to name but a few, are diehard revisionists who will overwhelm the more moderate primates from Pakistan, Hong Kong, Japan, Southern Africa and Jerusalem, et al. They don't believe they need saving because they don't believe they need any help, therefore there will be no "epiphanic moments."

These liberals are totally committed to "another gospel" that is more in keeping with MDGs than the gospel propounded by the Apostle Paul. They see the flow of history on their side with grand moments of ecumenical niceness and cooperation, the coming together of all world religions and paradise on earth. That is not the gospel of the Global South who sees us all as sinners in need of grace and salvation through the atoning work of Christ at the cross. Carrell is regrettably blind to the obvious, to the present and sadly, to the future. There will be no "miracles of Dublin" that Carrell earnestly yearns for.

---The Rev. Dr. Peter Carrell is director of education for the Diocese of Christchurch, Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. You can read his full statement here:

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