7/26/2008

Is there a Lambeth bombshell on Monday?

The Telegraph thinks so.

The article by Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent begins
,

"Homosexual clergy will be barred from becoming bishops in the Anglican communion under controversial new plans backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Liberals will be warned that they face being expelled from the heart of Anglicanism unless they respect the ban, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt...."

The Telegraph then goes on to repeat a really wacko rumor:

"There have been reports that it is prepared to consecrate more gay bishops while the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, told this newspaper that he would be willing to do the same."

Some dioceses are prepared to accept gay and lesbian candidates for bishop. If one of these candidates is elected it might very well be that a majority of bishops and standing committees might well give consent. The notion that the Episcopal Church is "prepared to consecrate more gay bishops" is tabloid journalism at its finest. It makes it appear that there are a number of people already elected and standing by to be consecrated.

The Telegraph then reports, "The paper, "How do we get from here to there?", stresses that it is vital that an Anglican Covenant be agreed so that churches around the world are mutually accountable and united by a common set of beliefs....

Until a consensus is reached, the American and Canadian churches must refrain from consecrating more homosexual bishops and carrying out blessing services for same-sex couples, the paper says.

If they do not, they will face being pushed to the margins of the communion and find themselves excluded from the councils that are central to the governance of the Church."

So it is Windsor time again. Just when we thought that idol was broken it rises up again. Requests to refrain, to express regret, to cease and desist.

According to the Telegraph, "The African churches, which oppose having practising homosexuals in the clergy, will be told that they must stop intervening in the affairs of other churches as their actions are deepening the rift."

Good luck on that one. Bishops Minns, the AMiA Rwanda Bishops, the Kenya and Uganda bishops are not likely to give up their ministries and disband their various church structures. They will use the same old argument. We have to do it, we hear the cries of the suffering.

The Telegraph opines, "The introduction of a covenant and canon law would be further steps on the path to a more concrete notion of Anglican identity and limits on what is acceptable behaviour, following the more centralised model of the Catholic Church."

Well, we will know on Monday.

I think the document on Monday will indeed return to Windsor and its demands to cease and desist. It will meet with the same polite interest and non compliance by various factions.

Another possibility is there: The document (Preliminary Observations III) might well propose that barring compliance, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada be removed from the governance bodies of the Communion for a period of time, during which the bishops ordained for ministry in America and Canada as well as the Provinces providing them Primatial leadership also be removed. That would take TEC, Anglican Church of Canada and Southern Cone, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda out of the governing bodies.

Another possibility is that the document might call for the Primates to constitute a Central Committee of the whole and that they take on some synodical powers for an Anglican Patriarchy ordered around the Covenant as it is developed and the Common Canon Law as it is formed.

As Jim Naughton has pointed out, the tone of much of the Preliminary Observations is ordered around the offices of bishop, and in particular the office of the Primate. Given that The Archbishop of Canterbury's role is under attack and the concerns of Province to Province communion status is seen as central, it is not hard to see why almost nothing is said of lay or clerical input to Anglican Communion matters.

Many of the Provinces of the Communion are not prepared to have outside bodies dictate what they may or may not do. If the Covenant runs in that direction or the Canon Law Project gives rise to a disciplinary canons applicable to all Anglicans, there will be hell to pay.

Let's see what comes on Monday. For now, may your Sunday and mine be a time of refreshment in the faith.

12 comments:

  1. Mark - In the fifth paragraph from the end, in the last sentence, a verb appears to be missing: "That would [that] take (?) TEC, Anglican Church of Canada...out of the governing bodies."

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  2. Doesn't it occur to anyone that there is nothing yet binding to be enforced? And why isn't it a "Peace and Reconciliation" Commission given our polity?

    Rebecca

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  3. Yes, we shall see. On the other hand, I can't be surprised at a return to the Windsor Report and the "Windsor process" by a group designated the Windsor Continuation Group.

    That said, it is worth our time to think about what it might mean not to be "Anglican" in the specific sense of being in communion with Canterbury. For good or ill, we do have a model for that: GAFCON/FOCA have provided that.

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  4. So, "worse case scenario"--TEC and the ACoC are given a "submit-or-go" ultimatum and refuse to sacrifice their GLBT members on the altar of the Communion.... What real difference would "ex-communication" really make to life in these Anglican communities? Would our orders become invalid? Would Jesus stop showing up on our altars? Would we stop being able to bring people into saving relationships with Christ? I suspect that many folks in the vibrant, growing TEC parish where I'm a member wouldn't even notice that anything had changed! What if they gave an ex-communication and nobody came?

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  5. In essence, expelling the North American provinces would be analagous to Rome's act of schism in the 1500s.

    Rome pronounced schism, and the Church of England carried on.

    Thing is, I doubt we would be alone - and that is part of the reason the CofE and other politicos don't just punt us. Canada and the US probably also means Brazil, Mexico, most of Australia, possibly New Zealand. At the very least, it means a period of chaos.

    The other thing is, the remaining Anglican Communion would have to bear the responsibility of having declared the schism. Of course, they'll deny it - much as Rome denies that it was their action, not England's, which severed the ties.

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  6. Based on teh past 400 years of history it would seem unlikely that he ABC would do something like this. I would suppose that the ABC would rather come up with a more moderate and more reasoned position - if past is prologue.

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  7. Fr Mark wrote on TA: “What does the C of E offer us as gay people? It just seems like prolonged misery at the moment.”

    So it does. And it does seem right to remind us that neither what the Bible “does not say or know of”, nor the continued political and anti Christian use of British Colonial legislation (the blackmailers “charter” as it was called) in former Colonies reasserting themselves anti colonially are arguments against Gays and Lesbians, God’s Very Good Creation, Human rights or even the Millennium Goals ;=) Not even Islamic mission-strategies, if be.

    With the vantage point of 50 years hence the anti Modern emissions yesterday in the comments to Ruth Gledhill’s blog on Times online or the continuous panic mongering in The Felegraph will seem only quaint and strange and this day and age a bad and embarrassing memory for the churches.

    A sobering thought.

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  8. You know, while I was in seminary, I recall chatting with a friend who's a priest in one of the Canadian dioceses. Her comment bears repeating, "Why worry about it? As far as I can see, the schism already occurred when we started ordaining women." In other words, she saw breaking up as a fait accompli and treated these renegades like flies on the wall. Perhaps we should all do the same.

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  9. I'm not convinced that any of these proposals will get very far. I seriously doubt that laity and lower clergy will meekly surrender their rights and powers to bishops and bureaucrats. I also very much doubt that the whole idea of a curial authority that supersedes national autonomy is going to fly either. I can't think of any national church, right or left on the gay issue, signing up to be vetoed by a primatial council.

    "... to a more concrete notion of Anglican identity and limits on what is acceptable behaviour, following the more centralised model of the Catholic Church."
    And what a screaming success that has been for the last 500 years! Yes sirree, a billion Catholics all thinking with one mind guided by the Dear Leader in Monolithic Solidarity.

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  10. "I suspect that many folks in the vibrant, growing TEC parish where I'm a member wouldn't even notice that anything had changed! What if they gave an ex-communication and nobody came?"

    I agree. I'm in favor of continuing our membership in the Communion (although not at any cost), but don't think that it's that relevant to the average Episcopalian. We're not a creature of the Anglican Communion, after all.

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  11. Speaking of $ucce$$ equals counting bums in pews and checks in collection plates, here's a post from that Wicked Woman Elizabeth Kaeton's blog about two Nigerians who probably won't be counted at all.

    So much for the peasants marching obediently in lock-step behind their bishop.

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  12. Really, I think these recommendations trying to return us to a pre-2003 state are a waste of time. TEC will not back off on same-sex blessings and gay/lesbian bishops, and AMIA/CANA/et al. are not going to close up shop or even slow down. They've both said and shown that multiple times. More of the same demands won't accomplish a thing. It's time to deal with the new reality, and determine the status of TEC as is, as well as the status of these African/South American mission churches. Are they in, sort-of in, out, or what? It's been five years since 2003; things have only gotten worse; it's time to move on, whatever form or shape moving on will mean.

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