Sunday, July 27, 2008

Are You Ready?

Gut-Check Time

We've said we might have to face this possibility sooner or later. With increasing frequency, several of us Episcopalians have asked: Is the Anglican Communion worth it? Let's try on that question again.

Are you ready to be cut off from, or at least placed on the margins of the Anglican Communion?

Perhaps it will be an academic, purely theoretical exercise. But not if there's truth behind Jonathan Wynne-Jones' story posted Sunday night (BST) in the Telegraph.

[By the bye, yet another hat-tip to Simon Sarmiento of Thinking Anglicans yet again. That man has done incredible work throughout Lambeth! Where do folks like he and Ann Fontaine get the energy?]

The Jonathan Wynne-Jones story is headlined

Homosexual bishops face Anglican Church ban

and subtitled

Homosexual clergy will be barred from becoming bishops in the Anglican communion under controversial new plans backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Reading his report suggests it might be worthwhile the next few hours (or perhaps days) to ask: Does the Anglican Communion matter enough?

The story begins with a subtle leading paragraph:


Liberals will be warned that they face being expelled from the heart of Anglicanism unless they respect the ban, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.
OK. He has my attention.

Then there is the obligatory background: Gene Robinson … blah blah blah … 2003 consecration … blah blah blah … TEC may appoint more such folks … blah blah blah … Wales may do the same … blah blah blah … incursions into the U.S. and Canada ... blah blah blah

He characterizes the third (not yet publicly released) paper from the Windsor Continuation Group:


The paper, "How do we get from here to there?", stresses that it is vital that an Anglican Covenant be agreed so that churches around the world are mutually accountable and united by a common set of beliefs. This must happen as soon as possible, it says, to prevent further haemorrhaging of the Anglican Communion over the issue of homosexual clergy.
Until a consensus is reached, the American and Canadian churches must refrain from consecrating more homosexual bishops and carrying out blessing services for same-sex couples, the paper says.
If they do not, they will face being pushed to the margins of the communion and find themselves excluded from the councils that are central to the governance of the Church.
The African churches, which oppose having practising homosexuals in the clergy, will be told that they must stop intervening in the affairs of other churches as their actions are deepening the rift.
[Note: All those emphases in the foregoing quotation are mine.]

He characterizes the WDG paper as "central to the stance that Dr Williams would like the conference to take. If the conference agrees to the recommendations, it will give him a mandate to exclude rebel churches." OK. That's his characterization. But what does Rowan Williams actually say?

Lo and behold! Wynne-Jones has an actual quotation:
As well as the covenant, Dr Williams has argued for new canon laws, which would govern how bishops and clergy acted. "We need ways of knowing who is supposed to do this or that and who is entitled to do this or that, so that we can act economically and purposefully, instead of being frustrated by a chaotic variety of expectations and recriminations," says the archbishop.
Frankly, Scarlet, I'm not sure I "give a damn" anymore.

More about that in a few moments.

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