Sunday, March 04, 2007

time will tell

Here's a little interesting reading from VirtueOnline's archives. It's an article written for VOL's e-digest dated June 7, 2003 - that's just after Gene Robinson's election in NH (which took place two months before GC03). Robinson's election is only one of several inflammatory events that took place that Summer, and we sometimes forget the others. One was the appointment, by ABC Williams, of Jeffrey John to be Bishop of Reading in the UK. Dr. John professed to be a celibate gay man, and he later resigned his see to prevent becoming a cause of division. Another inflammatory event was, of course, the approval of rites for same-sex blessings in the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada by Bp. Ingham. According to Virtue, Bp. Bennison of Central PA had done the same thing months before, and one of his priests underwent such a ceremony with his partner.

Already, two months before GC03, 14 of the Primates had issued a fiery statement about Bp. Ingham's actions, Archbishop Akinola had spoken out against both ABC Williams' appointment to the see of Reading and Bp. Ingham's actions, Bp. Duncan had released a fine statement about Robinson's election, the entire province of South East Asia declared broken communion with the diocese of New Westminster, 13 Canadian bishops condemned the developments in New Westminster, ABC Williams condemned (very politely) the developments in New Westminster, and the Primates meeting in Gramado, Brazil, noted and approved of ABC Williams' condemnation of the New Westminster affair. So we see that all of the conflict we experience today in the Communion had begun months before GC03, much of it even before the election in NH. Bp. Robinson's election, GC03's consent, and Griswold's steaming ahead with the consecration all added fuel to the fire that was already burning.

Conversations were already under weigh toward an Anglican Covenant. ABC Williams, in a letter to the primates dated 23 July, still before GC03, says this:

At our meeting in Brazil, the question was raised as to whether we really wanted to be a Communion, or just a federation of local churches; and the feeling of that meetings was very strongly that we wanted to be much more than a federation.
But what does it mean to be a Communion rather than a federation? It means that provinces recognise each other as true churches of Christ, so that the apostolic ministry of one local church can be exercised freely in another local church. It means that we have ways of being accountable to each other, so that decisions in any one local church are not taken without consultation and awareness of the consequences a decision may have for other churches. It means that we regard our unity as more than a matter of human agreement, more even than a matter of doctrinal uniformity; we see it as something rooted in the Word of God who is active both through our reading and hearing of Scripture and in our performance of the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.

Clearly, TEC has no excuse for having breached the bonds of Anglican affection. We had two months' notice, at least. 'Regret' really is inadequate; 'repentance' is needed, but there's slim chance of that. Everything that is now to be enshrined in the Covenant was clearly articulated before GC03, but our leaders and representatives didn't take their responsibilities as Anglicans seriously. This was no sin of ignorance. The problem really is TEC's arrogance, willfulness, and willingness to sacrifice Anglican charity for 'prophetic', progressive innovations in Christian sexual morals. We chose in 03, having already been warned, to be a gay church above being an Anglican church. GC06 was our second chance. Now the primates have given us a third, with a deadline of September 07. Presuming nominal cooperation at least, GC09's approach to the Covenant will be a fourth chance. Whatever the vices of those orthodox who have jumped TEC's ship already, impatience is not one of them. Will TEC, under PB Jefferts Schori, finally choose the Communion over its 'prophetic' social justice stance? Time will tell.

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