George Conger reporting:
The Primates have returned a vote of no confidence in the Episcopal Church. Lambeth Palace reports that a majority of primates have rejected the conclusions of the ACC/Primates Joint Standing Committee (JSC), and have told the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams the Episcopal Church has failed, in whole or in part, to honor the recommendations of the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Dar es Salaam communiqué.
The majority rejection of the JSC report comes as a blow to Dr. Williams’ hopes to avert a showdown between the liberal and conservative wings of the Communion. It also marks an unprecedented repudiation of the competence and judgment of the central apparatus of the Anglican Consultative Council.
Following the publication of the positive assessment by the JSC of the actions of the New Orleans meeting of the US House of Bishops, Dr. Williams wrote to the primates asking “How far is your Province able to accept the JSC Report assessment that the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops have responded positively to the requests of the Windsor Report and those made by the Primates in their Communiqué at the end of their meeting in Dar es Salaam?”
Of the 38 primates, including the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, Lambeth Palace reported it had received 26 responses, and no reply from 12. Of the 26, 12 stated they could accept the JSC’s findings, 12 stated they rejected the JSC’s findings, while three offered a mixed verdict, and one said it was continuing to review the matter.
Of those who had not responded, three were from Africa, three from the Indian subcontinent, two from Central and South America, and four from other areas. However, based on past statements from the African and South Asian provinces, the majority reporting a mixed or negative response will be increased to roughly a two third’s margin once their views are communicated to London.
Details of who voted how were not released, nor did the summary stand close comparison to the body of the report. While the summary graph reported 10 provinces as not having responded, the paper identified 12 no responses. Twelve provinces were stated to have rejected the report in the summary, while the body of the paper stated this number was 10. Three provinces were listed as having given mixed responses in the summary, while the body of the paper said two provinces had so spoken.
In characterizing the differences between Provinces that accepted and rejected the JSC’s conclusions, the report said “that the former have looked for the spirit of the HoB’s communiqué (and the JSC’s analysis), whilst the latter have looked more closely at their language.”
Dr. Williams’ queries to the individual members of the ACC were inconclusive. Of the 75 members, 13 reported they agreed with the JSC’s conclusions, 8 disagreed, two offered a mixed response, with the remaining members not responding.
Lambeth Palace stated Dr. Williams would offer his views in his Advent letter to the primates.