Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali: Duncan deposition shows need for "structural solution" and "immediate relief"

Ruth Gledhill's latest column in the Times (London) on the reaction from British bishops to the deposition of Bishop Robert Duncan is a 'must read.'

The second part of that column is particularly significant--a transcript from an interview with the Bishop of Rochester, Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali on the growing demand for a new Anglican Province in North America and the potential for the division that has been worsened by the deposition of Bishop Duncan to affect the Church of England.

Here is an excerpt of what Bishop Nazir-Ali had to say:

'The first thing is to express huge admiration for Bishop Bob, because for so many years he has borne the brunt of the anger of those who want to make changes in The Episcopal Church. He has stayed loyally within that Church.

'I have quite often watched him in the American house of bishops or general convention, taking flak. So given all of that, I am very sad and very shocked that he's been treated in this way.

'Quite a few American bishops had come to Lambeth, knowing that nothing would change afterwards. I do not think we can take seriously what they agreed at Lambeth. This is of a piece with other meetings where they have beehn present, have agreed things and where nothing has happened afterwards.

'This does show that a structural solution is needed for the orthodox in the American church. There must be immediate relief. No talk about panels doing things in the future. We need, they need more importantly, immediate relief from this kind of action taken against them. I hope that a province in due course of the orthodox in America will be recognised in the Anglican Communion.

'Here are loyal Anglicans whose only fault is not wanting to change what they have received.

Ruth Gledhill continues:
But a robust statement this evening from Bishop Wallace Benn of Lewes and others at Anglican Mainstream gives some indication of how serious the problems remain on the home front.

They said: 'The Jerusalem statement from almost 1200 confessing Anglican leaders urged the Archbishops of Nigeria, Kenya, Southern Cone, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa and Rwanda to recognise a new Anglican province for North America.

'This has now become more urgent due to the aggressive liberal and unprincipled behaviour of The Episcopal Church house of bishops towards the Bishop of Pittsburgh whose currently moderator of the orthodox Common Cause Partnership.

'The behaviour of The Episcopal Church house of bishops shows that the promised moratorium at Lambeth is dead and their integrity in wishing to bring peace must now be questioned.'

Read it all.


Anonymous said...


There is a little Orwellian thing going on here that some notice and some don't. A not so subtle linguistic game is being played involving the phrase, "this Church". I understand the urge to think of the Communion as a "Church", but it is not so, and it has never been so. Institutional re-union with Rome is an ideal for some, but not most (I long ago felt the pain of it viscerally, but not convincingly, at Christ Church, New Haven, my sponsoring parish.). Not that you need to hear this from me...I am assured that you know your Constitution...but why not own up to it? The Preface to the Book of Common Prayer is clear, and it is "constitutional". "This Church" is a clear designation for "The Episcopal Church". If some other "church" wishes to have Duncan, Iker, Schofield and Ackerman as bishops, I wish them well - but they really must consecrate them as bishops according to their several constitutions and canons. By the time the neo-donatist movement comes to fruition, all of them will have been duly deposed. Purity eventually will demand a re-ordering; but it is a lost cause, because none are pure.


Rev. Ethan McCarthy said...

Where do you begin? Do you establish different jusrisdictions that overlap the current jurisdiction of the TEC? Also, I am curious about the idea of a province with multiple jurisdictions for both evangelical and anglo-catholic parishes. I know Rome has different jurisdictions for many Eastern Churches and the one Roman Church.

Robert S. Munday said...


You'll notice that I have not gotten into the semantic game regarding the phrase, "the Communion of this Church," neither does this article from Ruth Gledhill, nor the quotations from Bp. Nazir-Ali or Bp. Benn.

The question at hand is whether there will be a new province created for Anglicans in North America. I was merely calling attention to the news that leading figures in the C of E are now saying that a new province appears almost inevitable, and that the action of TEC in deposing Bishop Duncan has hardened lines and hastened a division that may divide the Communion and the CofE as well.

Although I regard that development with great sadness, it is nevertheless what we are facing.

I have heard the label "neo-donatist" thrown around in other contexts and never challenged it. I think I will do so here.

The Donatists separated themselves from those who, under duress, had betrayed other Christians and handed over the Scriptures to be burned by the Roman persecutors of the Church. They were penitent and sorry for their actions, and the question was "could they be forgiven" or were the Orthodox right to continue to refuse to be in communion with them. The Church ultimately decided that those who were penitent should be restored to communion and to their offices in the Church.

In the current debate, no one is sorry for having blessed same sex unions or ordaining those who are not celibate outside of marriage. So the Donatist example does not apply. The question here is whether it is right to break communion with someone who is engaged in heretical teaching and continues to support immoral behavior. And for that, there are numerous precedents from Church history of excommunicating and anathematizing such invidivuals. And that is a more fitting comparison to our present situation.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, Robert, why be so complicated. You controvert yourself. This is a matter of discipline within the Episcopal Church. I said that none are pure. I meant it. If you want to use the European argument for overlapping jurisdictions, go right ahead. Just leave the properties and assets where you found them.

Anonymous said...


It's not fair that you haven't posted my response. If you are still working on a response to it, all right, I'll give you that. In the mean time, you really ought to post my post to your post.


Robert S. Munday said...

Scott (6:04 p.m.),

The whole purpose of my post was not to argue for overlapping jurisdictions. In fact, I am not arguing for anything. I am merely calling people's attention to the fact that Michael Nazir-Ali and other English bishops think that the deposition of Bishop Duncan will widen the divide to affect the entire communion and even possibly split the Church of England.

But as to your last sentence: If you are going to argue that folks should "leave the property and assets where you found them," then it seems that the Church of England has a lot of cathedrals, abbeys, etc. that they need to give back to Rome.

Robert S. Munday said...

Scott (8:57 p.m.) As you can see, I moderate comments to my blog in order to avoid spam. I don't even know someone has posted a comment until the next time I check my e-mail, which happened not to be until this morning.

You posted a comment and then expect me to have read and moderated it less than three hours later when I wasn't even online???

For Pete's sake, chill already!

William Tighe said...

If one considers the course that Christ Church, New Haven has followed since the death of Fr. Kibitz in the late 1970s -- defection from its Anglo-Catholic principles, the calling of a "partnered" homosexual as its Rector, the subsequent advent of priestesses, and so on -- that is itself a vivid and convincing argument that, to adapt Cato the Elder to my purposes, "Ceterum censeo, delenda est TEC."

David Handy+ said...

Dr. Munday,

Thank you for calling our attention to this significant Gledhill piece, especially the fine quotes from those two stalwart English evangelical bishops, Michael Nazir-Ali and Wallace Benn. Whether their words will seem ominous or promising will naturally depend on which side one takes in this vexed Anglican civil war. I see them as very promising indeed.

As far as I'm concerned, the new province for orthodox Anglicans can't come fast enough. Now that the TEC HoB has done the expected and carried out its scandalous, unjustified, and completely uncanonical deposition of +Bob Duncan the Lion-Hearted, the need for such a "structural solution" is more apparent than ever. And the fault lies entirely with the pernicious and self-deceived leadership of TEC.

More importantly, it's now clearer and more urgent than ever that there be "IMMEDIATE relief" for orthodox leaders in North America. For surely, +Jack Leo Iker the Valiant and +Keith Ackerman the Kind are next in line.

All I can say, as a loyal son of the Diocese of Albany, is that I too see a new orthodox Anglican province for North America as "a tragic necessity," as Jaroslav Pelikan said about the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. It seems abundantly clear to me that the New Reformation of the 21st century is at least as necessary as the earlier one, even while it's no less tragic and lamentable.

Indeed, personally, I see that new province, backed by the leaders of GAFCON/FCA, as not merely an alternative province to TEC and the ACoC. I see it as a REPLACEMENT province for them, for I no longer recognize any spiritual legitimacy whatsoever in TEC as a whole.