Archbishop of Perth makes not-so-veiled criticism of GAFCON

HerftIn his recent Charge to Synod (Presidential Address) the Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft, has included a thiny-veiled criticism of the GAFCON movement’s leadership.

The remarks can be found in the “Anglican Communion” section [pdf] of the speech (my emphasis):

The growing influence of GAFCON in many parts of the world, including Australia, raises questions about the commitment made by the leadership of this group to be faithful to Anglican polity and to the Instruments of Unity in the Anglican Communion, particularly the autonomy and inter-dependence of respective Anglican Provinces as they keep symbolically and practically linked to the See of Canterbury.

The Archbishop of Canterbury in an effort to enable some conversation and engagement has visited every Province in the Anglican Communion with a genuine desire to ascertain their views on how best we can witness as a Communion. I understand that as a gesture of seeking reconciliation a Primates’ meeting has been called in January. An invitation has been issued to the leader of the Anglican Church in North America to attend the meeting. It would appear that the Anglican Covenant which was seen as a way in which the Communion could come to some common agreement has lost momentum.

Issues of intervention and parallel jurisdiction are real in some parts of the world and are being canvassed in others.

I pray and hope that in Australia we can still be a body governed by the ‘dignity of difference’ that allows for The Way and This Life to be lived out from a varied understanding of what it means to “be saved” and to “evangelize”.

Of course the question of how broad those categories of “be saved” and “evangelize” [sic.] are is one of the key reasons by the GAFCON movement was formed in the first place. Their response to the recent invitation by the Archbishop of Canterbury to all the Communion’s Primates to meet reiterated this basic issue, that fidelity to the gospel is a greater priority than compromised Communion structures:

In the end, our confidence is not in any structural reorganisation, useful though it may be, but in the saving grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and in the abiding truth of the Bible. That is what empowers us and this is the assurance we bring to our broken world.

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  1. MichaelA

    Its hard to pin down what the good Archbishop means – with respect, a bit less waffle would be welcome!

    Calling out Gafcon about “being faithful to Anglican polity” seems an extraordinary thing to write, when that is precisely what Gafcon is known for, and it is protesting against the actions of certain overseas provinces who seem determined to do the opposite!

    When he writes “commitment… to the Instruments of Unity in the Anglican Communion” that is more understandable, but surely that query should be addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth hierarchy? After all, Lambeth decided unilaterally to change the format of the 2008 Lambeth Conference to “indaba” format which resulted in little or no real conferring taking place, and Lambeth unilaterally decided to cancel the 2018 Lambeth Conference. And Lambeth calls or fails to call Primates Meetings as it chooses, and blithely ignores decisions and recommendations of the Primates Meeting as it chooses.

    When the ABC has so little respect for the “Instruments of Unity”, isn’t that the first thing that needs fixing?

    ++Herft’s comments do not seem very logical.

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