This morning’s press conference is forty five minutes earlier than usual.
Canon Paul Fehely: The theme for the day is safeguarding environment. We have no rep from the spouses today it is a relaxing day for them. The bishops also have a relaxed day. They have Bible study and endaba groups. Their photo will be at 2:00pm.
There were a couple of things from yesterday I want to address then I want to introduce John Reece
There was a question about those invited. There were around 880 invited.
There was a question about the signs from Thursday’s march. The signs have been brought back here. They will be recycled and the sticks will be given out for use in gardens.
There was a question about a deposed bishop from Uganda taking part in the conference. Here is Peter to discuss this question from a security standpoint.
Peter: I think that some had seen this person work in the area around the big top. He was wearing a white lanyard. That should not have happed and I spoke to security about it and it should not happen again.
There was a question about indaba groups. The stage they are moving to is one in which each indaba group has put forward names of bishops to be part of the Reflections Group some of whom have been selected. The Reflections Group will be writing the statement at the end of the conference.
The group was chosen by theological, geographical measures to achieve a balance.
A list of names was passed out: Here are the names
Andrew Proud: Bishop for the Horn of Africa (Jerusalem and Middle East)
Alan Abernathy Bishop of Connor (Ireland)
Howard Gregory Bishop of Montego Bay (West Indies)
Sue Moxley: Bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (Canada)
Daniel: Bishop of East Kerala (South India)
Patrick Mwachiko: Bishop of Masai (Tanzania)
James Ochiel: Bishop of Souther Nyanza (Kenya
Johannes Seoka: Bishop of Pretoria (Southern Africa)
Ezekiel Kondo: Bishop of Khatoum (Sudan)
John Neil Alexander: Bishop of Atlanta (TEC)
Roger Chung Po Chue: Bishop of Antsiranana (Indian Ocean)
Gerry Wolf: Bishop of Rhode Island (TEC)
David Njova: Bishop of Lusaka (Central Africa)
Bill Godfrey: Bishop of Peru (Southern Cone)
Michael Perham: Bishop of Gloucester (England)
Louis Tsui: Bishop of Eastern Kowloon (Hong Kong)
A word about the press confeecn will be at 1:30
Presiding Bishop Schori will be at the 1:30pm press conference today
This morning we have Canon Lawyer John Reece with us who is the legal advisor to the Anglican Communion. Yesterday John released a book called Principles of Canon law.
Copies are passed out to the press
Mr. Reece and his associate are prepared to answer questions.
John Reece: It is easy to get a misconception about law and what it does. Some knowledge about what we have been doing as a group is around but this morning is a great opportunity to try and dispel misconceptions.
Let me set out what this book and this project is not about.
1. What it is not about is a quick fix. If you read my preface which begins on page 30, it begins by saying that very clearly. This is a process not a fix.
2. It is not the covenant. That is an entirely separate enterprise.
3. It is not a code of law which you can simply read off and say “this is the law” in the church of England etc…These are principles of law we have deduced but you cannot just read it off if you are involved in litigation.
Yesterday we were looking at an incident and a bishop expanded on how things work in his province and I wanted him to come and speak on a case I have where his evidence would be germane to our project.
4. It is not, then, prescriptive or enforceable. We are not saying this is how the law should be we are saying this is how the law generally is.
We are saying these are principles you generally find. It is descriptive.
5. It is not the last word. The group will continue to meet. The AC Legal Advisors network will continue to do this work and to assist lawyers around the world in the issues they deal with. By sharing knowledge we can understand some of the more complex issues.
Let’s look at the book. If you look on p. 95 at the bottom you will find a definition of “a principle of canon law” reads:
“A ‘principle of canon law’ is a foundational proposition or maxim of general applicability which has a strong dimension of weight, is induced from the similarities of the legal systems of churches, derives from the canonical tradition or other practices of the church, expresses a basic theological truth or ethical value, and is about, is implicit in, or underlies canon law.” (direct quote from booklet)
There is a shorter account on page 15 in the third paragraph down. “ we need to keep faith with our Anglican heritage, doctrinally, liturgically, and structurally. These principles are an attempt to map out what the main legal themes of that inheritance may look like, when some of the peripheral local detail is stripped away.” (direct quote)
That is what this is about. There is all this law out there and similarly there is a lot of law in the provinces. We are saying that we can deduce certain principles that underlie these laws. It is very much, again, a work in progress.
We did yesterday get a good response. 66 people came to this self-select session, one of the largest turnouts.
We took them through 4 or 5 examples.
We looked at ordination, that’s principles 32.15 on page 45. That principle talks about what is involved in valid ordination and how that relates to particular laws and we looked at some difficulties or procedural defects.
We looked at clergy discipline 47.4. One point hat came out is the way we use language differently. The word “depose” for example means different things in different provinces. In the light of that discussion we’ll probably expand that section.
We talked about ecumenism in 90.1, looking at the distinction between being in ecumenical relationships and being in communion. A number of Anglican churches have formal intercommunion arrangements with Lutheran churches. This does not mean that Lutherans are part of the Anglican Communion. It does mean that there is a deep level of cooperation.
We got to property in section 80.5. There is a general principle that church property is held in trust. The way that principle operates in various provinces is different. The CofE is very complicated in this respect. This section is certainly affirming that property is held in trust and further on we talk about how that trust involves that property being available from generation to generation and how we must take the long view.
And we looked at a section on liturgical revisions, 55.5 which affirms the normative place of the 1662 book of common prayer. It is not a document used in every church in practice but it is the normative form of the book of common prayer in the sense that any adaptation of liturgy needs to conform to the doctrine of the church in essential matters and you will find that in the institutional constitutions of churches around the world.
The approach to this is forensic not frenzied. It is calm and cool and rather deliberate in its approach.
It certainly, however, generated a lot of excitement yesterday.
We are hoping the feedback from yesterday’s session will generate even more interest and a better effort. For the first time this effort has drawn together the structural similarities you will find held in common in our diverse provinces.
So strong have these similarities turned out to be that some have said this could be a fifth instrument of unity
Steve Waring: Are the churches going to be encouraged to bring their own canon law into conformity with this book. What of a church that says, well, the 1662 book is no good? Are they able to be in the Communion?
Reece: As I said in the beginning, this is not prescriptive. You are suggesting a prescriptive use. It is merely a descriptive use.
Q: two questions: First has to do with principle 49 which deals with the sources of doctrine, in points 1 and 4 of that section reference is made to the ‘ancient fathers’ as a source of doctrine. What is the definition of that? It seems to leave out the ancient mothers?
The next question has to do with principle 35 and to my uninformed understanding point number 3 under principle 35 seems to be a disjoint with point number 6. #3 seems to say that valid consecration needs an additional approval from other authorities while point number 6 seems to say that if 3 bishops get together and lay hands someone is a valid bishop.
(Here is point 3: Consecration of a bishop elect shall not take place unless and until the appointment is confirmed by competent lawful authority.”
Here is point 6: Consecration of a person as a bishop, consisting in the fulfillment of what the church universal intends, is effected, with the consent of candidate, in accordance with the prescribed liturgical form through the laying on of hands by three validly consecrated bishops, the recital of the words of consecration, and the invocation of the Holy Spirit to give grace for the work of a bishop.)
A: First there is no question of the people behind this wanting to exclude the ancient mothers of the church.
Q: Could you not say “ancient theologians” then because it seems exclusive?
A: I think it is probably just a form of speech but your point is valid and it is one we shall revisit. On your second point about the process of consecration, what 35.3 is saying is that you have to bear in mind that the way this is done in the world is different in different places, but it must be done under legal authority. It cannot be done wily nily. It must be in accord with the constitution of the church 35.3 in which the activity is taking place. And that generally dictates, under 35.6, the use of three bishops. These are consistent not contradictory
Q: You have said what this book is not. But what is it? What is the purpose? You said it is a work in progress, progress toward what?
A: in order to be positive, what these principles are intended to do is that it is on one level an academic exercise. It reflects the increasing interest around the world in the law of the church. A lot of the leg work has been done by Norman Doe who has been running a course on canon law for 15 years now. And it has excited a lot of interest around the world. People have come with their own experience and that has been fed into the process of thinking through Anglican law.
Q: If this is to be a fifth instrument, will this be appealed to in various provinces in litigation
A: I threw that out as a comment that has been made in a number of forums. I suggest you look at what I say in paragraph 4 on page 15: you cannot quote this word for word I know. This book is descriptive not proscriptive. I cannot stress that enough
(paragraph 4, page 15: “These are principles not laws, and if you try to rely on them in court as binding upon your own church, you are likely to come unstuck. You may find that you can quote them as having, “persuasive authority” at some time, but that is another matter—and you should take careful legal advice before you do so.”)
Ruth: You are using the phrase “a valid consecration of a bishop”. There was a consecration in Ireland recently some deemed to be “valid” but illicit. In this context are the orders of Martyn Minns or some of the AMiA bishops “valid” or how would you describe them?
A: I would not want to be drawn into a discussion of any particular case. We in the C of E talk about “regularity” which is different than validity. This question feeds back into the discussion of the constitution of the church that is doing the consecrating. Recognition by other churches is another question that also feeds into the question of regularity.
Ruth: Why didn’t you use the word Regular?
A: There are two different concepts and we were precise in our usage.
R: It seems that you are saying that Minns’ orders are valid?
A: That is a different question. You must look at under what authority particular steps were taken and then you look at recognition and then you look at wider questions of the exercise of the orders that have been given and you think through those questions. We will need to go back and do more work exploring these questions in more depth
Q: The bishops would be asked to affirm the code of practice? Is it your mind that the provinces would make a promise to follow these principles?
A: This is, again, a descriptive exercise
Q: Then there are no teeth? It is a pretty picture
A: It is not at all, it is incredibly significant
Q: It is a VERY pretty picture?
A: It is exploring what we can deduce about our life together as we look at the way the material presents law around the word. This is not the covenant
Q: How does this feed into the covenant then?
A: It will be illustrative of some of the material that will be encapsulated in other ways in the covenant but the covenant process and this one are two distinct processes
Q I am trying to glean what this is. Could you say this is a tool to use by the AC in order to make the covenant work? I cannot believe that you do not hope it will have some effect on the communion?
A: Yes I speak about this having “persuasive authority” which is a legal concept. And very often you would do that when something is not written in a particular code or constitution. You must understand that the laws, the COE laws, are thick. The US TEC law is of a significant size. There are provinces where very little is written and you have bear bones. Part of this is to help provinces like that. If you are trying to figure out what the law could be in your province this could help you to find your way through.
Ruth Gledhill: there seems a lot that is quite catholic about this
Reece: the Anglican tradition is both Catholic and Reformed. We are both
George Conger: In keeping with that point in principle 52, you are promoting a very catholic view of the fellowship in the Eucharist there are many here and those who are not here who do not agree. How would you respond to those who say this is designed to enforce the status quo? How would you respond to those who say ‘we are being written off right out of the bat because we do not understand the Eucharistic fellowship in the same way?
(here is the section Conger may have been alluding too: 52.1 “Ministers are called to work together and remain in fellowship so that visible communion is maintained even if theological or other disagreements occur.
2. The right to deny the authenticity of the ministry of anyone duly authorized by a church belongs only to the competent ecclesiastical authority as designated by law.
3. A minister enjoys such rights of conscientious objection with impunity as are permitted by law.)
A: I don’t understand your point.
Q: When you write these things, does it not seem to indicate that the bishops who are not here are written off?
A I think you are saying that fellowship is something that must be exercised in a particular place and that is not necessarily the definition we are working with.
Conger: You are not addressing the question.
A: Fellowship is more than being together in one place. There is a, I like to use the DNA analogy, there is an Anglican DNA
Conger: and what is that DNA?
A: in part it emerges through this document
Q (another reporter): fellowship is like a family. I might be mad and not show up to dinner, but I am still part of the family
A: I think you have answered the question ably.
Conger: you have not answered the question. We have people refusing to receive Eucharist. This is an ongoing problem and now it seems you are saying that they are not a part of the fellowship.
A: you are narrowing fellowship to being in a particular place.
Q: If you get say 28 provinces signing on to this and others not doing so, will it end with some sort of change in the structure of the communion?
A: I do not want to get into a ling talk about autonomy and interdependence. We are not a contractually established church. We are a church which is historical and genetic in its linkage. Let me give another image. We are not like as it were the spokes on a wheel. That is a rigid structure. We are like a web where you have 38 points around the corner and they all crisscross and interlink. That is the image we have. Each of the churches is in direct relationship with the others and the points where they crisscross is where the come together.
Q: Can I compare these principles of canon law to the role of Canterbury who has persuasive authority but not a coercive authority?
A: That is an interesting analogy but I would say we are using this differently. Thank you that is an interesting point.
No more questions…