Commentary on Archbishop of Canterbury’s reflections following the Anglican Consultative Council meeting

The Anglican Consultative Council met for a marathon voting session on April 18th, as part of ACC 2016. Many hoped that the votes and comments made during the forum would provide clarity for Anglicans and Episcopalians worldwide on disagreements around the acceptance of people married to partners of the same sex. As previously reported, the group declined to take up for a vote a request that they ‘welcome’ the statement from the primates’ gathering calling for consequences for TEC.

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, even addressed human sexuality issues, stating that he wouldn’t skirt around them any longer. Despite statements on clarity, however, responses have highlighted the lack of clarity in his follow-up reflections on ACC 2016.

Thinking Anglicans has links to the reflection and a scathing critique by Tom Ferguson, the “Crusty Old Dean”. The comments on the post provide further critique and analysis. Commentators see the Archbishop as spinning and twisting words to stay on the good sides of TEC and the detractors.

One commentator (also active on the Café) notes that this is timed just before a vote in Canada on ceremonies for same-sex couples. He also notes that Welby, enmeshed in the situation, is unlikely to provide effective conflict resolution:

Given the rather positive reports about ACC-16 from other participants, perhaps it is time to find a non-invested conciliator to work with the Primates, who seem to be the hot spot for Communion conflict. Such a conciliator would need to be a non-bishop, perhaps a retired professional diplomat and lay person, someone to do shuttle diplomacy among the entrenched? All in the spirit of Ephesians, you know, to each were given gifts, some to be Primates, others diplomats and negotiators, and so forth. -Rod Gillis

Another Café commentator, Susannah Clark, parses through the fine print as it were, providing counter-points to the Archbishop. In her 7 points, she notes a confusing decision in light of the statements in the reflection:

5. “No member of TEC stood for office at the ACC elections.” So? And it’s worth noting that Alistair Dinnie, an openly gay priest planning to get married, was elected to the Standing Committee of the ACC. – Susannah Clark

A last call-out for Christopher Seitz’s comment, also familiar to the Café’s unofficial commentariat, expands on his view that the concessions TEC offers in allowing churches to not perform ceremonies for same-sex couples are temporary, and suggests that Welby is prepared to treat the TEC as only temporarily in good graces:

Knowing that this arrangement will time out shortly, and is a decoration at best, one might wonder if +Welby puts this kind of remark down simply as a marker. He surely cannot believe that a concession made for a few dioceses is expected by anyone to obtain more than a year or two. This is common knowledge. So perhaps this belongs to some kind of logic that is difficult to follow. By saying it, when it goes away, he can then declare more forcefully that TEC has gone into its own realm? – Christopher Seitz

Are you tired of the back and forth on the primates’ gathering? What do you think of the leadership of Archbishop Welby at this time? Do you think he’s become more clear on these issues or less?

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