Archbishop Ian Earnest writes to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Your Grace,

As you well know I am totally committed to the health, vitality and effectiveness of our beloved Anglican Communion, and thus also to its healing from the current crisis. I have supported all efforts made by yourself and others to do so and to bring greater clarity and strength to our polity and mission as a communion.

As Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean and the Chair person of CAPA, I feel that I should express the heartfelt feelings of the people of God who are extremely distressed at the disrespectful and high handed manner in which the TEC continues to dismiss the concerns of the rest of the Communion and to undermine the decisions taken by the Primates.

I believe that I have been patient and hopeful that our co-operation and listening, our reasoning and brotherly concern would have brought transformation. However it is now abundantly clear to me and to my people that the Episcopal Church has no intention of honouring any of the commitments it has made whether that be in terms of ‘moratoriums’ or ‘gracious restraint’. It is to my mind hell bent on a course that is in radical disobedience to the counsels of God in Holy Scripture.

You have yourself been amazingly patient with TEC, we as Primates have made our position abundantly clear on occasions without number, some of us going so far as to declare broken or impaired communion with both the TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. This it seems has been to no avail, as the recent letter to the Primates from the Presiding Bishop of TEC makes clear that a deliberate course has been irrevocably chosen by that church. In it is stated that the intention to proceed with the consecration of a second person living in an actively homosexual partnered relationship and thereby to disregard the mind of the rest of the Communion is “…not the decision of one person, or a small group of people. It represents the mind of a majority of elected leaders in The Episcopal Church, lay, clergy, and bishops, who have carefully considered the opinions and feelings of other members of the Anglican Communion as well as the decades-long conversations within this Church.”

Consequently, I feel constrained by my conscience to uphold my duty as shepherd of the flock and to forthwith suspend all communication both verbal and sacramental with both the TEC and the ACC – their Primates, bishops and clergy until such time as they reverse their theological innovations, and show a commitment to abide by the decisions of the Lambeth Conference. This suspension of communion would not include those bishops and clergy who have distanced themselves from the direction of the TEC (such as the Communion Partners group)

Both Archbishops Mouneer Anis and Henry Orombi are to be admired for the way in which they have taken a stand and I am proud to associate myself fully with the sentiments they express. Both of them in their recent communications with you have expressed their disquiet at the way in which the teaching and leadership role of the Primates in matters of faith and order has been effectively subverted. I want to agree with them and with their call for an overhaul of the structures of the Communion to bring them into line with the changed demographics which are the reality of our church today. If over 80% of Anglicans live in the global south, why is this not reflected in communion structures? Further attention needs to be given to the adoption of the Anglican Covenant which would bring the communion back to its true calling. However the matter of credibility of the structures which are meant to oversee the process needs to be addressed.

I also support Archbishop Henry’s call for a Primates meeting. I also will only attend this meeting on condition that we as Primates be consulted first before the agenda is finalised, and on condition that the Primates of TEC and the ACC are not present.

I urge you to consider seriously our request. The failure to take prompt and decisive action at this time will only see the Communion falling into deeper chaos and disintegration.

 

With the assurance of my brotherly affection and prayers.

Yours at His Service

The Most Revd Ian Ernest, G.O.S.K

Bishop of Mauritius

Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean

 

12 April 2010

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