The Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi, has not resigned from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion (SCAC) despite earlier reports that he had.
He merely said "I stand with my brother Primate, Bishop Mouneer Anis, in his courageous decision to resign from the Standing Committee," (Episcopal Life, which seems to have first announced that Orombi had resigned). In this sentence 'stand' should not be read as 'walk'.
What he has done is to send a 3 page letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, copied to 'Primates, Moderators, and Members of the Standing Committee of the ACC' available here (pdf).
In it he reminds Rowan (though, in fact, telling everyone except Rowan who already knows) that he hasn't been to a meeting of the SCAC since he was elected for 'principled reasons'.
(Incidentally this raises other questionr of representation of the Primates on SCAC - can they vote someone off mid-term on the grounds on non-attendance?)
His grounds are
- He stands by the Primates' Communique after their meeting in Dar Es Salaam.
- Members of TEC - including the Presiding Bishop who, just like Orombi, was elected by the Primates - are part of the SCAC and clearly will not vote for their own exclusion (I paraphrase, see below).
- The leadership of the Anglican Communion Office have subverted powers which properly belong to the Primates. In particular it has been cut out of the 'Windsor process' (to which he objects in any case) and that process has been given to the SCAC.
- The SCAC has appropriated powers to itself that neither the Primates nor the Lambeth Conference have approved.
- The issue of homosexuality, and the standing of homosexuals in the church, is a matter of faith and order and these properly belong to bishops - and the Lambeth Conference devloved such issues to the Primates (1998, Resolution III.6)
- And now the SCAC is to be given authority over Covenant discipline - all highly irregular.
His remedy is to restore power and authority to the Primates. Even their meetings, he says, have been subverted by the officers of the Anglican Communion Office as their secretariat.
He also wishes to exclude TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada from that Primates meeting.
Orombi describes TEC as 'gross violators of Biblical Truth' and states that TEC and the ACoC 'are proceeding with unbiblical practices that contradict the faith of Anglicanism.'
For Ormobi (and I think most of GAFCON) judgement day has passed: from his perspective TEC and the ACoC have already stepped outside the Christian pale, have done so of their own informed volition, and all that remains is frustration at the lack of institutional mechanisms to expel them formally. That was the view of Maurice Sinclair and Drexel Gomez in 2002.
Well, I largely agree with Orombi's organizational analysis - though not about the Primates. The SCAC is a cuckoo in the nest. It has usurped authority already and has, inevitably, reduced the authority of all the other Instruments of Unity.
What Orombi's attitudes and (in)actions also show - as I have argued from the beginning of the Covenant process - is that creating a central executive body to govern the Communion will not resolve any dispute. It will provide new channels for campaigning, new people to be lobbied, and a new location of decision-making which those in contention across the Communion will all try to capture.
The Primates would not all share the sacraments in Das es Salaam. Why should anyone think that the members of different body would do so? Elections to membership of the SCAC - or any other such body - merely replicate pre-existing divisions and carry differences and antagonisms into a small room.
Surely, well I would have thought, surely the goal should have been to enlarge the space of Anglicanism, not to reduce it - to make more room for difference and cultural specificity and theological debate, not to try to cram volatile material into an even smaller container.
I don't know if Orombi's letter will make much difference. That (a) he should have to put this in writing, (b) he has to circulate it widely, (c) it should be made public, and (d) he describes not only the sidelining of his preferred option (Primatial power) but also his personal feelings of being sidelined - are all signs of weakness.
Under such circumstances there are normally just two options: to play a long game to get back into a position of power and influence or to pick up the ball and go find some other game.