Money, sex & power

Money_closeupStephen Bates of the Guardian reports today on something remarkable: a “senior North American bishop” says the Episcopal Church is willing to punish African dioceses financially if it is disciplined for consecrating Gene Robinson as an openly gay bishop. Patrick Mauney of the Episcopal Church Center has previously said, “The disbursements are offered without strings attached.”

I reported in 1999 on Ronald Haines, then the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, applying financial pressure on the acting vice chancellor of Uganda Christian University — and other bishops — because of African bishops’ votes at the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

Bates’ report does not mention, as an Associated Press report in his paper made clear in April, that some African archbishops already have told the Episcopal Church what it can do with its money and power.

Further, the threat that Bates attributes to this anonymous bishop is inconsistent with Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold’s soothing letter to his brother and sister bishops about the forthcoming report of the Lambeth Commission.

When the Telegraph reported that American bishops, including Griswold, would travel to London for talks with Archbishop Rowan Williams, Episcopal News Service distributed a clarification from the Diocese of Massachusetts and a brief notice on Griswold’s trip to London.

ENS has been silent so far about Bates’ report. But we can be sure of this: If any American bishop truly has been talking about using money as a weapon — something liberal Episcopalians normally decry — it will attract many comments in conservative Anglican circles.

On a related matter, blogger Andrew Carey linked last week to a presidential address by Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales and a member of the Lambeth Commission.

We may now count Archbishop Morgan as the highest-ranking Anglican bishop to use this remark widely attributed to Richard Hooker (without any textual proof, to date): “Pray God that none may be offended if I seek to make the Christian religion an inn where all may be received joyously rather than a cottage where some few friends or family might be entertained.”

Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles, whose use of this Snopes-worthy quote first attracted the critique of the Rev. Richard Menees, now refers to Anglicanism as a “roomy house” rather than a “roomy inn.” Well, it’s a step.

The way things are going lately, the Anglican Communion may become a balkanized global village before the end of the year, with plenty room for all Anglicans to do as they see fit.

Print Friendly

  • tmatt

    From the Bates piece:

    “But the North American bishop, who is one of those who may be disciplined after the commission report, said that the American church, which underwrites the funding of many dioceses in the developing world, might then cease paying for the rest of the communion.

    “He and other senior churchmen are making clear privately that they would expect African bishops to be disciplined for breaking Anglican conventions which prevent bishops intervening outside their own dioceses.”


    There is a fascinating hard-news element to this story that needs to be reported. Through the years covering the ECUSA establishment, I have heard people discuss the fact — is it a fact? — that much of the money the US church sends to places is actually interest off trust funds. These funds are actually old, old money donated FOR CERTAIN CAUSES, such as the support of missions and hospitals, etc., in certain parts of the world.

    Could this money legally to aimed somewhere else? Could money for hospitals in Africa be used to fund, well, “women’s mental health” initiatives at colleges, universities or seminaries?

    In other words, is it legal to stop using trust funds that were created for a specific purpose?

  • S.K. Davis

    Even assuming that the purported quotation from Hooker IS accurate, does that mean that the innkeeper is supposed to cheerfully accept threats, bullying, theft, and extortion by any guest who comes in? Doesn’t he have a responsibility to turn him out, to protect the inn’s other inhabitants?

  • thecosmopolitan

    Tmatt’s first question–”is it a fact that much of the money the US church sends to places is actually interest off trust funds? is really the only one worth pursuing at the moment. Understanding the budgetary realities of first and third world dioceses within the Anglican Communion and the financial (and therefore political) relationships between them supplies a frame thus far missing from current media coverage of the reaction to the ordination of +New Hampshire.

    Media coverage tends to treat both dioceses and bishops as though they were more alike than different, and the dispairites in their respective institutional settings and history are very much part of the larger picture.

    Knowledge of that larger context is necessary to fully appreciate the ecclesiastical adroitness of Bishop Peter James Lee (+Virginia) in securing Carey (+ Canterbury) to officiate at the dissenting congregations in his charge.

    The long and complicated history shared by first world churches and their missionary enterprises is well documented, as is its political permutations, domestic and international. The Uneasy Alliance: Religion, Refugee Work and US.Foreign Policy, by J.Bruce Nichols( Oxford University Press Inc, USA 1988) is a good resource.

  • Huw Raphael

    This is an interesting story because it seems the first honestly (in the press) regarding the fact that ECUSA holds the conservatives hostage by their purse strings.

    Many of them are paid out of trust funds. The money can’t be redirected but the money can be not-disbursed.

    They are also sent money out of the ECUSA general budget. A lot of this money goes towards “mission” activities which means paying the salaries of missionaries or providing resources for them – but not in the standard way many Americans think of missionaries: for example, the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Rev’d Canon John L. Peterson, is a missionary paid by US funds (or at least he was when I worked at the Church Center). Or regarding mission resources, my office once purchased a lap top computer for an African bishop – out of “mission” funds in the budget.

    Many bishops in Africa are also “missionaries” in this way. Also some funds – such as the Christian Leadership Scholarship – could be given to people from Politically Correct Dioceses. Equally future “partners in mission” such as seminarians sent overseas for summer programs, etc, could be sent to PC places.

    Also some funds come from such places as Trinity Church, Wall Street – these are also controlled by a PC process.

    Of course a good many of the men and women who work for ECUSA and who write the news for ECUSA have a very personal stake in this – having identified themselves with the “gay rights” movement. That story is much more interesting, I think. Because in addition to purse string hostages, the conservatives are in debt to the very sort of people they preach about.