The Archbishop of Canterbury or someone on his staff is not pleased. Following the announcement yesterday that Bishop elect Mary Glasspool received the required majority of bishop and standing committee consents, Lambeth Palace released this message today:
"It is regrettable that the appeals from Anglican Communion bodies for continuing gracious restraint have not been heeded. Following the Los Angeles election in December the archbishop made clear that the outcome of the consent process would have important implications for the communion. The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion reiterated these concerns in its December resolution which called for the existing moratoria to be upheld. Further consultation will now take place about the implications and consequences of this decision."
Various blogs and news folk have received this communication and it has been quoted in The Living Church. It is not yet been made available on Episcopal Life Online. The message comes from Lambeth Palace, and does not quote the Archbishop beyond a reference back to an earlier statement he made when Bishop elect Glasspool was elected in LA. So this is the head office at work.
One wonders if perhaps the Archbishop has pushed for this announcement or if his minions are busy at work putting him in a terrible place. We shall see.
We shall see just what will be next - a special meeting of the Primates?
At the moment the Archbishop is apparently expected at the Global South Conference where there will be guests from the US and Canada, including I gather some Communion Partner bishops and no doubt some bishops from ACNA. The list of invited guests and non- Global South observers is not yet posted (as far as I can see). In any event it will be a difficult venue for the Archbishop of Canterbury. It seems to me it would be well for him to step back.
Whatever his next steps, the Archbishop needs to remember one thing... one little thing.
Asking for "continuing gracious restraint," is insulting and patronizing.
It is an insult because it asks the receiver (in this case The Episcopal Church) to refrain from doing what TEC considers right, just, valuable, purposeful, etc, without acknowledging the cost of such restraint, the reality of our common life and our Christian commitment or even acknowledging the actions restrained as having value. It insults our moral and spiritual basis for action in that it assumes we can somehow easily restrain ourselves from doing what good order and faithfulness require of us.
It is patronizing because it crowns such restraint with a nice word - gracious. "Heel," says the master holding a rolled up newspaper in the far hand, and then, "good boy" when the command is followed. "Restrain yourselves," say the Primates with ax in hand, and when we do, they call us gracious.
If I volunteer to quit this sphere instead of you (to quote the Mikado), that may be gracious.
When you volunteer me to quit doing what I believe is right, with the ax and block just there in the background, there is nothing gracious about it. It is coercion.