When Ruth Gledhill gets it right, she does it wonderfully well. Her note on the effort to find Cardinal Newman's remains and remove them to an Oratory in Birmingham ends, "As our capitalist world crumbles about us, it seems that Newman is a saint for our times in more ways than we could previously have imagined." So Newman is not to be accounted present for the foolishness of this age.
Bishop Charles Bennison has been found wanting by the ecclesiastical court and they have recommended that he be deposed. Their decision is the harshest they could recommend and brings matters closer to conclusion. The process has been long and unpleasant.
This is the second bishop I have known well in the deposition process. I was priest associate in Bishop Duncan's parish when he was Rector in Newark, Delaware. Bishop Bennison was one of my thesis advisors in the Doctor of Ministry program at EDS. Both were pastorally and personally supportive of me at times when I needed it. While I believe both have acted in ways that warrant deposition, I cannot be happy about that fact.
It will be interesting to see what role Bishop Duncan plays in the unfolding of the Diocesan Convention today in Pittsburgh. He is deposed and has not contested that fact. Apparently he is now a consultant to the Diocese and as such may be at Convention. At any rate, if Pittsburgh does vote to leave the Episcopal Church he will no doubt reappear as the Bishop of the Leaving. He is already bishop in the Province of the Southern Cone, so having gone on before them he will now lead either a majority or minority of the Diocese with him.
If it is the majority, they will claim that "The Diocese of Pittsburgh" has left. That will be completely inaccurate. What will be true is that a majority of the delegates representing their parishes will have voted to leave. Not all the members of a parish voting to leave will do so, just as not all members of a parish voting not to leave will stay. Instead, PEOPLE will leave or stay. There are now more than 16 parishes intending to remain in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.
So, Bishop Duncan as consultant will either reemerge as Bishop of the Leaving one way or another. Either a majority or minority of clergy and people will go with him. The property issues will be a mess, as they always are. When he gets to that far shore it will only be for a short visit. Very soon I suspect the powers that be in the GAFCON Primates Council will proclaim the Common Cause Partnership, or some portion of it, sutable as the so called orthodox presence in North America.
At one point I received a comment indicating that if Bishop Duncan were still bishop in the Episcopal Church and if the Convention were to vote down the proposal to leave, he would have resigned. As it is, of course, he can't resign, he has been deposed. So now, one way or another he is taking himself and whoever will follow to southern climes to await a return, triumphal or otherwise. Echoes of MacArthur.
Cardinal Newman will not satisfy the worshipful by providing bones to venerate. And parishes in the Episcopal Church at least are congregational enough that the Sunday following deposition, or leaving or staying in a particular Diocesan fellowship, will look more or less like any other Sunday.
It turns out that Anglican heros and villians, even the ones who leave, do not provide the focus for much veneration. Attention quickly passes to matters more congregational, more local, more precisely missional. It turns out all mission is local.
We are more interested in the Bread and Wine, the Body and Blood, than in the hands that deliver or the minds that invent theological stones on which we can stumble.