Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Coup de Grace?

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States has spoken, and its statement can be found at Stand Firm in Faith. The die is cast for the eventual disintegration of the Anglican Communion. In short, the bishops have refused to accede to the demands of the communion's primates in February to put an end to the blessing of same-sex relationships and to refrain from consecrating as bishops practicing homosexuals.

As this is one of the most classic examples of Anglican fudge ever written, the analyses will consist of hundreds of millions of bytes but the end result will be what has been predicted: the Anglican Communion will suffer both implosion (the steady and inexorable decay and death of those parishes, dioceses and provinces that remain within it) and explosion, as more and more others leave and realign themselves with others.

For early examples of intepretations of what the bishops have done, see the piece in the New York Times, which pretty much concurs with me, and this one by the BBC, which would suggest that all is well.

For those of you who wish to look more closely at what was asked for in February, you can find here a link to the Primates' communique, in which they noted the following: "... we believe that there remains a lack of clarity about the stance of The Episcopal Church, especially its position on the authorisation of Rites of Blessing for persons living in same-sex unions. There appears to us to be an inconsistency between the position of General Convention and local pastoral provision. We recognise that the General Convention made no explicit resolution about such Rites and in fact declined to pursue resolutions which, if passed, could have led to the development and authorisation of them. However, we understand that local pastoral provision is made in some places for such blessings. It is the ambiguous stance of The Episcopal Church which causes concern among us."

What the Episcopal bishops said in response was that "We, the members of the House of Bishops, pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. We do note that in May 2003 the Primates said we have a pastoral duty 'to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations.' They further stated, '…[I]t is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.'"

What the bishops did not address is the fact that some of them allow same-sex blessings, if not even implicitly encourage them.


tdunbar said...

Well, in backhanded way they do address that: "In addition to not having authorized liturgies the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions" which logically entails that an unspecified minority do "make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions."

Anonymous said...

It should be noted that a number of bishops had already left the meeting, when the ABC left. A few others did not even come. The vote was bad but not as bad as it is reported.

Albion Land said...

Anonymous (please use a name in future),

A closer examination of the comments at Stand Firm show that a Bishop Wolfe seems to have called for a recorded vote, but that Mrs Schori ignored that and called for a voice vote. As there was only one nay vote (presumably Wolfe) it could be mistakenly assume that the measure was adopted almost unanimously.

But as you quite correctly point out, there is no way of knowing how many bishops were still there. Furthermore, there is no way of knowing how many of those there actually shouted aye.

Anonymous said...

It is enough for the I-35 bridges to stay in, and those drifting in the wind to continue to drift away from the Bible.

John A. Hollister said...


Given the exceedingly slippery nature of the propositions advanced in the New Orleans statement, surely you meant to title your posting "The Coup de Grease?"?

John A. Hollister+