Time to open up the ACC

The Anglican version of the Olympic
opening ceremony, ACC Nottingham 2005,
Photo: ACNS
The next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Auckland, New Zealand, begins on October 27th. An outline of events is here (pdf).

Traditionally the ACC has been very circumspect about sharing its deliberations and the event programme says "The ACC needs to get on with its own work in relative privacy,".

But it's not 'its own work', it's the Church's work (and, we would hope, God's work). The secrecy, with only selective and carefully managed press releases coming out of the conference, followed by the bare list of resolutions, is wholly inadequate.
The role of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) is to facilitate the co-operative work of the churches of the Anglican Communion, exchange information between the Provinces and churches, and help to co-ordinate common action. It advises on the organisation and structures of the Communion, and seeks to develop common policies with respect to the world mission of the Church, including ecumenical matters. (Anglican Communion site)
From Dave Walker
The ACC is (a) a meeting of representatives from around the world, (b) consultative in its character and (c) of interest to a very large number of people around the world. Representatives should be audible to those they represent, consultation should (as much for its quality and comprehensiveness as for the benefit of others) be as public as possible, public interest is to be taken seriously as a sign of the engaged membership of the global communion.

I accept that members may not want to release the details of everything while debate is still going on. I accept that, occasionally, some matters may be confidential (though, having written that sentence, I puzzle over what would require confidentiality, and on what grounds). But what would be the harm in releasing transcripts or, at least, detailed summaries of each debate once the event is concluded?

Secrecy in government is both necessary and corrosive. As a rule I believe the balance should be struck by beginning with the presupposition that everything is public; exceptions should then be justified on a case by case basis according to previously agreed criteria.
Logo from the AnglicanChurch of Canada

But the ACC is not making judgments on commercial matters, nor dealing with information that's market sensitive. It's not debating matters which entail the disclosure of sensitive personal information. It's not a private club. There are no security implications of its debates. I even struggle to think of issues that it would simply want to hide.

So why is it so secretive? Why is information about its deliberations so sparse as to be almost vacuous? Whose Communion is it anyway?

Time for a new campaign: for an open minded, hearted, and voiced Communion.

1 comment:

  1. Ironically, the ACC's hour has now come.

    The Covenant is effectively dead, there's to be a new Archbishop of Canterbury and frankly FoCA, GAFCON etc are noisy but ultimately no more than a fissiparous 'issue' grouping who by their own declaration are remaining in the Anglican Communion.

    So the ACC remains as one of the authentic 'Instruments of Communion' and it could do some good simply by being confident, measured and sensible.

    I am ever hopeful.