Stephen Bates, one of my favorite British writers on religion just wrote an essay “A Match Made in Heaven” While the front edge of the article concerns the new biography of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the possibility that he could have been made Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen turns to other matches and whimsically suggests the following intriguing, if disturbing idea:
“Currently a number of US dioceses are demanding alternative archiepiscopal oversight because they cannot stomach the idea of a liberal, female presiding bishop being elected. I would make the modest suggestion that Archbishop Akinola should be appointed to that role. I am sure he would be very congenial to them and he would certainly offer them firm leadership, with no tolerance of dissent. They could then walk apart from more liberal Anglicans safe in their own theological certainty and self-righteousness.”
The Plus: The realignment crowd would get what they deserve. Oversight could get quite unsightly.
The Minus: We would get one more foreign prelate distracting us from better things; this time actually walking his dogs in our front yard, pooping about with great abandon, messing the lawn.
On the whole, no thank you Stephen. Great whimsy, devilishly funny, but we couldn’t accept him, you know, because of the dreaded resolution BO (hold your nose and vote)33 (thanks to Elizabeth Keaton for this).
The stark reality is that Bishop Akinola’s “manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” Oh Well!
Stephen Bates got it right: if someone had the guts to do so, Nigeria could be expelled from the Communion for a “clear violation of the Anglican Communion's own policy towards homosexuals (as well as an offence against Christian charity.)” The Bishop of Washington has spoken up, as has the Episcopal Majority, and Fr. Jake, and several others and I. But perhaps it will take the House of Bishops a while longer.
As it is, the Archbishop of Nigeria and the Church of Nigeria have so strained the bonds of affection and communion that they are not in communion with the Episcopal Church, and it would appear not in agreement with whatever mind the Anglican Communion now possesses.
Bravo Stephen Bates, Hurray for Archbishop Tutu. Everybody else get off the grass.