|Photo Credit: Kevin Kallsen|
[Atlanta, GA] Pope Francis has communicated his personal greetings and blessings for the ministry of the Most Rev. Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America [ACNA].It should be noted that Archbishop Beach also acknowledged personal greetings from the Archbishop of Canterbury but such a courtesy hardly covers for the damage done by Justin Welby's statements from last week.
Speaking to the congregation of over 1500 gathered at the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta on 9 Oct 2014 for the installation of Archbishop Beach as leader of the ACNA, the Anglican Bishop of Argentina, the Rt. Rev. Gregory Venables stated that he had received a telephone call last week from "Fr Jorge", the former Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Bergoloio -- now Pope Francis. Bishop Venables noted that he had long had a warm personal relationship with Pope Francis from his days as leader of the Argentine Catholic Church, and added Anglicans should rejoice in the current occupant of the chair of St Peter as he was a "Bible-believing, born again Christian."
Pope Francis had telephoned Bishop Venables and asked him to convey his "personal greetings and congratulations as he leads his church in the very important job of revival ..." to Archbishop Beach.
Before the service, the Most Rev. Wilton Gregory, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta presented Archbishop Beach with a crozier as a mark of his esteem for the new Anglican archbishop.
The personal accolades of Pope Francis were greeted warmly by the congregation, and harkened to the words of support read out at the 2003 Plano Conference for conservative American Anglicans from the then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI.
UPDATE: More from George Conger on last night's service and a significant statement made by the Primates participating in the investiture.
The Anglican Church in North America is Anglican and its primate is an archbishop of the Anglican Communion, declared seven archbishops last night.
At the close of the prayer of investitute of the Most Rev. Foley Beach at the Church of the Apostles on 9 Oct 2014, the primates of Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Myanmar, Jerusalem and the Middle East and South America, and bishops representing the primates of the Congo, Sudan and South East Asia laid hands on Archbishop Beach. Giving him their primatial blessing, they also acknowledged him by word and through laying on of hands to be a fellow primate of the Anglican Communion.
The archbishops' act comes one week after the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby told the Church of Ireland Gazette the ACNA was an ecumenical partner of the Anglican Communion and was not Anglican.
In their formal statements of greeting delivered to the 1500 people attending the service at the Anglican megachurch led by Dr. Michael Youseff in suburban Atlanta, the primates offered greetings and congratulations to the new archbishop and expressed the fellowship of their churches with the ACNA, but declined to press home their statement that Archbishop Foley was a primate of the Anglican Communion.
After the service, those primates approached by Anglican Ink declined to be drawn on this issue. A leader of the ACNA familiar with the deliberations of the primates said the manner in which their endorsement of Archbishop Beach was given had been formulated to express their views on his status, while avoiding a direct confrontation with Archbishop Welby at this time.
Since 2008 the GAFCON primates have affirmed their fellowship with the ACNA. Last night saw primates of the Global South Coalition -- conservative church leaders outside the Gafcon movement and seen as closer to Canterbury -- join their African colleagues in validating publically the ACNA's Anglican credentials.
The signficance of the statement, said one highly placed source who asked not to be identified as he was not authorized to speak for his peers, was that the 10 churches had made their positions quite clear to Archbishop Welby. If, as he told the BBC last Sunday, he would be guided by the mind of the primates in deciding issues of Anglican ecclesiology (such as the time of the primates meeting and structure and timing of the Lambeth Conferences), then he must now know that archbishops representing the majority of Anglicans worshipping today were in solidarity with the ACNA -- and citing Daniel 6:15 said there was no turning back. (“Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”)