Secretary general says Episcopal Church should have expected consequences for Glasspool consecration
Kearon describes 'problem of increased and growing diversity in the Anglican Communion'[Episcopal News Service -- Linthicum Heights, Maryland] The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, told the Episcopal Church's Executive Council June 18 that when Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool was ordained as the church's second openly gay, partnered bishop, the church ought to have known that it would face sanctions.
However, he said that in the recent removal of Episcopal Church members from some Anglican Communion ecumenical dialogues "the aim has not been to get at the Episcopal Church, but to find room for others to remain as well as enabling as full a participation as possible for the Episcopal Church within the communion."
Kearon claimed that the communion's ecumenical dialogues "are at the point of collapse" and said that the last meeting of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, of which Jefferts Schori is an elected member, "was probably the worst meeting I have experienced."
"The viability of our meetings are at stake," he added.
The secretary general said that the Episcopal Church is free to make any decision that it wants to make but, he added, that the Glasspool decision put the church "out of step with the rest of the [Anglican] Communion" on same-gender issues.
"There is a logic which says if you do not share the faith and order of the wider communion then you shouldn't represent that communion to the wider church," he said.
Kearon's remarks came during a 35-minute question-and-answer session with the council on the last day of its June 16-18 meeting at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute here just outside of Baltimore. The secretary general's visit was initiated by member Bruce Garner of Atlanta, Georgia, who suggested to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori that she invite Kearon, who was vacationing in North America, to the meeting.
Garner told ENS afterwards that he had "never witnessed so much obfuscation in such a short period of time" in his entire life.
"We were polite," he said, "but we asked him questions he could not or would not provide answers to."
At the beginning of the session with Kearon, Jefferts Schori asked the council to vote on his request that the session be closed to all but council members. His request was decisively rejected by a show of hands.
Kearon said at the outset that he would tell the council "the way I see it because I don't think the way I see it is the way any of you see it."
He then began by saying that the "problem of increased and growing diversity in the Anglican Communion has been an issue for many years" and added that by the 1990s leaders in the communion began to name "the diversity of opinions in the communion and diversity in general as a problem and sought some mechanisms to address it."
House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson said at a later news conference that the Episcopal Church does not see diversity as an issue in the same way that Kearon presented it. "By the time we had finished talking I did not see any concrete evidence that there was a particular newly developed line of understanding coming, perhaps, both ways," she said.
At the same news conference, Jefferts Schori said that "we look forward to the possibility, upon further reflection, that all participants of this conversation this morning may have had their understanding increased."
Kearon said during his statement that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has limited authority beyond the ability to call meetings of certain communion bodies, make some appointments and "occasionally articulate the mind of the communion."
"Everywhere I go, everyone wants him to act as a sort of an Anglican pope as long as he does what [they] want him to do," Kearon added.
Towards the end of his nearly 10-minute statement, Kearon spoke about so-called "cross-border interventions" in which a bishop representing one province or diocese acts in another without permission. "Each instrument of communion, including the Primates Meeting, has condemned them and asked for them to cease, but we are a voluntary communion and have no [ability] to act against a province," he said.
After his statement, members of the council's Committee on World Mission and Anderson posed six questions to Kearon that reflected a compilation of questions the committee had received from council members. In addition, council member Diocese of Ohio Bishop Mark Hollingsworth asked Kearon about interventions in his diocese by a bishop of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.
Kearon told one of the questioners, Diocese of Pittsburgh council member Jim Simons, that Williams had asked Southern Cone Archbishop Gregory Venables for "a clarification of the current state of interventions into other provinces. There's a deadline for his response and there's a deadline in that letter to end the interventions."
Simons told ENS after the conversation with Kearon that "it is a great encouragement to me that the Archbishop of Canterbury recognizes that the Province of the Southern Cone is in violation of the Windsor Report moratoria on incursions, and has written the archbishop of that province asking for clarity about the extent of these incursions." In 2008, the majority of the Pittsburgh leadership voted to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Southern Cone.
During his remarks, Kearon also said that he has asked whether it "constitutes an intervention and is therefore a breach of the third moratoria" if a communion province has among its bishops one who is exercising ministry in another province without that province's permission.
"That question has not been addressed by any of the instruments of communion so I and the archbishop don't have guidance on that particular question," he said.
Later in the discussion, Hollingsworth said that he was puzzled about how the communion could declare a moratorium on interventions and then say it cannot determine what constitutes an intervention.
"I can pretty easily define what an intervention is," said Hollingsworth, in terms of a Southern Cone bishop who has established congregations in the Diocese of Ohio and exercise his episcopal ministry without Hollingsworth's permission.
Kearon's meeting with council came 11 days after he announced that he had sent letters to five Episcopal Church members of the inter-Anglican ecumenical dialogues with the Lutheran, Methodist, Old Catholic and Orthodox churches "informing them that their membership on these dialogues has been discontinued." Kearon also said on June 7 that he had written to the Episcopal Church member of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), withdrawing her membership and inviting her to serve as a consultant to that body.
Kearon acted in response to Williams' May 28 Pentecost letter in which he proposed that representatives serving on some of the Anglican Communion's ecumenical dialogues should resign their membership if they are from a province that has not complied with moratoria on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate. He specifically referred to the Glasspool consecration and the unauthorized incursions by Anglican leaders into other provinces.
The Rev. Thomas Ferguson, the Episcopal Church's interim deputy for ecumenical and interreligious relations, and Diocese of North Carolina (Diocese of North Carolina) Assistant Bishop William Gregg were serving on the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue.
Bishop C. Franklin Brookhart of Montana had been a member of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission and the Very Rev. William H. Petersen, professor of ecclesiastical and ecumenical history of Bexley Hall seminary, Columbus, Ohio, was serving on the Anglican-Lutheran International Commissio.
The Rev. Carola von Wrangel, rector of the Anglican/Episcopal Church of Christ the King in Frankfurt, Germany, a parish in the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, had served on the Anglican-Old Catholic International Coordinating Council.
The Rev. Katherine Grieb, an Episcopal priest and professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary, was the IASCUFO member who has been invited to serve as a consultant.