Simon Sarmiento has done The Episcopal Church a singular service at a time when it is all the rage to bash TEC as the evil empire and the whore of Babylon. He has written a paper rebutting the American Anglican Council. Thank you Simon.
The American Anglican Council distributed a paper titled, "THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH: OVERBEARING AND UNJUST EPISCOPAL ACTS," written the AAC suggested "The Rev. Philip Ashey, AAC Chief Operating Officer and a practicing attorney, originally authored the 29 page paper at the request of several members of the Church of England's General Synod."
Again, read Simon's rebuttal paper HERE.
Much of the AAC paper is a rehash of an earlier presentation made to the Primates in Tanzania prior to their formal meeting, that paper being titled, "THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH: TEARING THE FABRIC OF COMMUNION TO SHREDS." Philip Ashey was its author as well. This is the same Philip Ashey who wanted to be seated as an member of the Anglican Consultative Council from Uganda at their last meeting. (It didn't work.) Thanks to Simon for this rebuttal.
For some reason it made me think of Stephen Bates' book, "A Church at War." In the last few paragraphs he states the alternatives: "The church will probably choose uniformity of practice over diversity, and prize unity above pearls such as truth and justice... or the church could grow up, challenge the bigots in its midst and allow perhaps for a degree of prophetic vision.... The choice needs to be made, otherwise the church will decline and die in the West and wither in the developing world. But the problem is, some of these people have got Religion."
In growing up it is unfortunately the case that we get into snit fits, some where we are drawn, and some where we draw others in. Getting Religion is one of the way to enter the snit-fit competition. Having religion will do as well. The matter of the numbers of clergy who have been deposed, resigned, or simply walked away from The Episcopal Church provides a playing field on which lobs of mud can be thrown. It is religion at low tide.
What seldom gets mentioned, because it seems somehow tacky to do so, is that the practical necessity of removing clergy from the rolls is determined by fiduciary and legal responsibilities within the Church. There needs to be a way to say you are either part of this church's ordained ministry or not, quite distinct from any issue of ontological standing as ordained. Some clergy are deposed, some resign the ministry of THIS CHURCH, some wander off and are found to have abandoned the ministry of THIS CHURCH.
The snit-fit is that those who leave by these various routes want to maintain that they are indeed bishops and priests, but no longer part of TEC. TEC says, we are not talking about your ontological status, but your status as clergy in this Church. The matter is about license, not status. The person deposed and the person resigning or abandoning this Church may not act in a clerical capacity in this church. What they do elsewhere is a matter for the polity of the community in which they find themselves.
Of course TEC does warn the larger Christian community, by the fact of deposition, and sometime the fact of resignation or abandonment, that the individual in question may present some problems or issues concerning the oaths made at ordination. It is up to the receiving church to determine if the reasons for leaving TEC were in their eyes legitimate, and up to them to determine if the individual is likely to be a problem for them too. So in the end the exact numbers are not the issue. The issue is that TEC , as does any other Anglican church, exercises its licensing role in a variety of way and removes license and the right to be considered a clergy person in this church. Crying, "poor, poor pitiful me" to the General Synod of the Church of England is pretty childish as is thinking that the General Synod folk have not seen the same behavior in thier own clergy who have been deposed, or otherwise stricken from the rolls.
All that remains for others who might take these clergy on is the old and well warn truth, "caveat emptor" - let the buyer beware." And, less there is a fit about this, I have read the list and there are some who I know have left in good conscience and with right reason, but there are others on the list who are more troublesome. There is always wreckage in the fast lane.