Here is the entirety of the reductor's highly condensed discussion of what took place at the second Lambeth Conference in 1878:
Nonetheless, the idea of the conference seemed good and the bishops met again in 1878 to grapple with the nature of Anglican unity and pass some resolutions that are still relevant today. It is, they said, “of great importance for the maintenance of union among the Churches of our Communion” that “the duly certified action of every national or particular Church . . . should be respected by all the other Churches” and that “no bishop or other clergyman of any other Church should exercise his functions within (some other) diocese without the consent of
the bishop thereof.”
The first point to note here is that the reductor purports to quote "some resolutions" that "passed" at the Lambeth Conference of 1878. The problem with this claim is that historically, no resolutions were voted on or adopted at that Conference. Instead, as this site summarizing the history of the Conferences explains, the committee reports from the 1867 Conference, which had been carried over to the 1878 Conference due to a lack of time to consider them, were presented and adopted virtually in toto into the encyclical letter which was issued at the end of the Conference. The reports embodied what they specifically called "recommendations," and not "resolutions", because they were not debated individually on the merits, and were "adopted" only in the sense that the report of which they formed a part was approved. So it is two of these "recommendations", lifted from one of the five reports, which the Sunday bulletin insert characterizes, in an attempt to mislead the modern reader, as "resolutions [passed at the Conference]." (In his original article, Father Webber states clearly that resolutions as such were "first brought before the bishops and officially adopted" at the third Lambeth Conference, in 1888.)
The second thing to note is that the reductor asserts that these "resolutions . . . are still relevant today"---and actually, Father Webber agrees. Is anyone surprised at the ones that someone writing from the narrow perspective of TEC would choose to quote, out of the twelve recommendations which the Official Archives site culled from the reports incorporated into the Conference encyclical? They would seem, from the quotations given, to be rather relevant to today's issues. But is that what they really say? Let's quote the full text of both recommendations from the Archives. They are both taken from the same report on "Union Among the Churches of the Anglican Communion"; I have italicized the portions which the author of the Bulletin saw fit to leave out:
There are certain principles of church order which, your Committee consider, ought to be distinctly recognised and set forth, as of great importance for the maintenance of union among the Churches of our Communion.So---the second Lambeth Conference did not say that every "certified action" of a national Church should be "respected by all the other Churches"---in other words, there is no support to be gained here for the notion that the election of V. Gene Robinson to be a Bishop of The Episcopal Church was an action that, once "certified" by TEC, required instant assent throughout the Churches in the Anglican Communion. No, that is not what the original text says: it is speaking only of matters of discipline. The concept here was with reference to the case of Bishop Colenso, and expressed the desire that his deposition by a tribunal convened under the authority of a primate of the Church of England (in South Africa) would receive recognition from all the other branches of the Anglican Communion. It is thus ironic in the greatest degree that the news organ of The Episcopal Church would be citing this particular paragraph: it is, after all, The Episcopal Church who is today "deposing" bishops and priests right and left for their "abandoning communion" when they have the temerity to transfer themselves to other Churches within the Anglican Communion. One sees here the height of TEC's hypocrisy: they are asking the rest of the Anglican Communion to respect their "disciplining" of those who elect to stay within it!
First, that the duly certified action of every national or particular Church, and of each ecclesiastical province (or diocese not included in a province), in the exercise of its own discipline, should be respected by all the other Churches, and by their individual members.
Secondly, that when a diocese, or territorial sphere of administration, has been constituted by the authority of any Church or province of this Communion within its own limits, no bishop or other clergyman of any other Church should exercise his functions within that diocese without the consent of the bishop thereof. [Footnote omitted.]
As for the matter of bishops exercising functions in other dioceses without permission, it should be noted that this language also referred to the Colenso affair, in which the Archbishop of Canterbury, along with his convocation, had officially sanctioned the creation of a second "Diocese of Maritzburg" that was coterminous with the already existing Diocese of Natal headed by Bishop Colenso---as well as the consecration of a bishop to lead it. Thus it may be regarded as the statement of a principle that was more honored in the breach than in the observance.
It did not occur to Father Webber, and it obviously did not fit the preformed mold of the anonymous Episcopal Life reductor, to quote this passage from the report in which the recommendations just quoted appear:
I. In considering the best mode of maintaining union among the various Churches of our Communion, the Committee, first of all, recognise, with deep thankfulness to Almighty God, the essential and evident unity in which the Church of England and the Churches in visible communion with her have always been bound together. United under One Divine Head in the fellowship of the One Catholic and Apostolic Church, holding the One Faith revealed in Holy Writ, defined in the Creeds, and maintained by the Primitive Church, receiving the same Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as containing all things necessary to salvation these Churches teach the same Word of God, partake of the same divinely-ordained Sacraments, through the ministry of the same Apostolic orders, and worship one God and Father through the same Lord Jesus Christ, by the same Holy and Divine Spirit, Who is given to those that believe, to guide them into all truth.
2. Together with this unity, however, there has existed among these Churches that variety of custom, discipline, and form of worship which necessarily results from the exercise by each "particular or national Church" of its right "to ordain, change, and abolish ceremonies or rites of the Church ordained only by man s authority, so that all things be done to edifying." We gladly acknowledge that there is at present no real ground for anxiety on account of this diversity; but the desire has of late been largely felt and expressed, that some practical and efficient methods should be adopted, in order to guard against possible sources of disunion in the future, and at the same time further to manifest and cherish that true and substantial agreement which exists among these increasingly numerous Churches.
No, it would not have fit into the mold to remind everyone that the Anglican Communion in 1878 was based on an "essential and evident unity in which the Church of England and the Churches in visible communion with her have always been bound together." Nor would it have been appropriate to include the paragraph making clear, as did the Windsor Report some 126 years later, that "adiaphora" had to do with adapting Church rites to local custom, and not with reading Scripture to allow the consecration of gay bishops provided they were in a committed monogamous relationship. Better just to lift out the part about bishops keeping to their own dioceses.
The third Lambeth Conference of 1888 resulted in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, and for once our anonymous reductor excerpts the relevant part of Father Webber's article on this point. But when it comes to the fourth Lambeth Conference of 1897, we are back to the preformed mold. And because of the extreme reduction that has been done to make a propaganda point, a reader of the bulletin insert might well be confused by this passage:
The issue of freedom and unity was addressed again in the statement that: “it is important that, so far as possible, the Church should be adapted to local circumstances, and the people brought to feel in all ways that no burdens in the way of foreign customs are laid upon them, and nothing is required of them but what is of the essence of the faith, and belongs to the due order of the Catholic Church.” The first of these statements, of course, left undefined what was meant by being “in full communion with the Church of England,” and the second left open “what is of the essence of the faith, and belongs to the due order of the Catholic Church.” Over a century later, these questions remain unanswered.
One wants to ask: what "first statement"? Where is there anything said about being "in full communion with the Church of England"? For the answer, one has to go back to Father Webber's original article, where one finds that the reductor has left out the following introductory sentence:
In 1897, at the fourth Lambeth Conference, the bishops set out to define themselves by referring to letters of the earlier conferences which had been addressed to “Archbishops, Bishops Metropolitan, and other Bishops of the Holy Catholic Church, in full communion with the Church of England, one hundred in number, all exercising superintendence over Dioceses, or lawfully commissioned to exercise Episcopal functions . . . .”
Oh, that communion. Maybe I shouldn't have bothered to clear up the confusion. For the reality is that Father Webber here has drawn upon the most superficial part of the entire body of 62 resolutions adopted at the 1897 Conference. (Yes, I know---the anonymous bulletin reductor claims that there were 69 resolutions adopted in 1897. But we can't get our history from mass-produced Sunday bulletins, remember?) He has done so in order to set up his manufactured conclusion about "these questions" remaining, "[o]ver a century later, . . . unanswered." (Questions? The bishops at the Conference of 1897 did not see them as questions, but rather as fixed points of their universe. It is only in the post-modern world that we see them as questions.) In doing so, Father Webber passes over some resolutions that were noteworthy, such as Resolution 5, which called for the formation of what eventually---seventy years later---became the Anglican Consultative Council (he does mention it in a later part of his series, however). He also mischaracterizes the ones that he does quote from. Resolution 24, for example, does not say that it would be "very wrong" for two bishops of the Church to attempt to carry on a ministry in the same area; it addresses the problem of overlapping missionary dioceses, and suggests that Bishops coordinate their efforts with one another:
That, while it is the duty of the whole Church to make disciples of all nations, yet, in the discharge of this duty, independent Churches of the Anglican Communion ought to recognise the equal rights of each other when establishing foreign missionary jurisdictions, so that two bishops of that Communion may not exercise jurisdiction in the same place, and the Conference recommends every bishop to use his influence in the diocesan and provincial synods of his particular Church to gain the adhesion of the synods to these principles, with a view to the framing of canons or resolutions in accord therewith. Where such rights have, through inadvertence, been infringed in the past, an adjustment of the respective positions of the bishops concerned ought to be made by an amicable arrangement between them, with a view to correcting as far as possible the evils arising from such infringement.Reading into this language a message for today---and still worse, seeing such a message as a consistent theme of the Lambeth Conferences, is wishful editing. But then, history as such is not what one expects to find in preprinted Sunday bulletin inserts.
[A printable version of this post may be found here.]