Stand Firm have a must read piece on how the Panel of Reference has essentially been stymied by its chair and senior people at the Anglican Communion Office.
As the report on New Westminster was being finalised a team from the Panel went out to meet disputants in the TEC Diocese of North Florida. Here, again, we have seen evidence of negative interference by Carnley and the ACO. It is our understanding that a final draft report was ready for approval in December 2006 but its release was delayed because of a number of amendments and clarifications requested by Carnley that could have been suggested much earlier, and by input from a senior member of Canterbury’s staff, again at the express request of Carnley and Cameron.
Not only this, but it appears that deliberate attempts are being made to change the tenor of the report. We have been provided with copies of both the draft report from the end of December and also the draft narrative section of that report which was sent in January to both sides in the dispute for their agreement. Missing from that second draft was a key paragraph in the section outlining the wider context of the dispute. That deleted paragraph reads as follows:
In a considered response to the ongoing crisis the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered in June 2006 a statement to the Anglican Communion entitled “Challenge and Hope”. He endorses the proposal for establishing an Anglican Covenant and anticipates varying responses to this development. He foresaw “a situation where there were ‘constituent’ Churches in covenant in the Anglican Communion and other ‘churches in association’, which were still bound by historic and perhaps personal links, fed from many of the same sources, but not bound in a single and unrestricted sacramental communion, and not sharing the same constitutional structures”.
In the context of the report the purpose of the paragraph is clear. It signals that there is to be a change in the future structure of the Communion that will have a direct bearing on the proposed solutions contained later in the draft report. Removing the paragraph eliminates this sense of trajectory and undermines the solution more likely to be favoured by the parishes in the dispute. That solution seeks to provide adequate structures while both parties await “a new situation linked with a Communion-wide resolution of the controversy”.
To remove the paragraph, then, is to underplay deliberately the almost inevitable realignment that is occurring around us.
In mid-February Peter Carnley will have to explain to the primates (who he previously sat amongst) why the Panel of Reference, set up “as a matter of urgency” appears to be operating with anything but a sense of urgency, and its leadership show every sign of being biased in their important task. More than that, our sources tell us that there is growing anxiety amongst members of the Panel at these issues and an unhappiness with the way Carnley has facilitated matters (or not, as the case may be). We thought it best that there should be transparency in this so that a full and frank conversation might be had between the primates, Carnley, Kearon and others.