Saturday, August 02, 2008

Spinning

I'm trying to take in all that I have read today about the Saturday discussions at Lambeth. I fear this post may be "all over the map." But maybe that's ok. For my reactions are all over the map.

As I wrote above, even before the Lambeth conference has ended, the bishops of the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa have written their valediction to Lambeth. They thank many people: Archbishop Rowan and Jane Williams, the Lambeth Palace and Anglican Communion and Consultative Council staff, and the staff of Kent University.

They cry crocodile tears over "those who for the sake of conscience are unable to be with us":
We think of those from Provinces and Dioceses who felt it would not be appropriate to be present on account of the unilateral actions taken by the Episcopal Church in America in breach of the Resolution 1.10 of the last Lambeth Conference now again reaffirmed as still expressing the mind of the church as a whole. We share their sense of pain that such unilateralism has so strained the bonds of our unity as to leave them now still impaired.
In the very next sentence they "pray for a spirit of mutual submission to prevail and for unity to be restored."

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The Episcopal Church has indeed blocked the election of gay/lesbian bishops. And we have exercised restraint, refusing to authorize blessings for the unions of gay men and lesbians. And all the while, the episcopi vagantes have poached parishes and consecrated bishops to serve in North America. The Episcopal Church is one of the few provinces of the Anglican Communion that has truly been "Windsor-compliant." For a fact, the provinces of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and the Southern Cone have not!

Has anyone called those provinces to account for their flagrant violations of "Windsor" and of the Anglican Communion's ethos? Of course not! We are too terrified of being labelled "colonials."

Please observe the "slow creep" these bishops are introducing even before the conclusion of the Lambeth Conference:
We must all pray for a spirit of mutual submission to prevail and for unity to be restored and we join with our African brothers and sisters in the Conference of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) in unity with the wider Global South movement in support of the Windsor continuation process, the Covenant and the three (retroactive) moratoria comprising a cessation of
  • The blessing of same-sex unions
  • Ordinations to Holy Orders of those living in same-sex relationships
  • Episcopal interventions across diocesan and Provincial borders
There has been no "mutual submission"! It has all been about TEC's submission, humiliation, demonization, and castigation all the time. No other province is being singled out as we are. (Though, sadly, the Anglican Church in Canada does sometimes share in the castigation.)

There's much I could contest. But note especially the second bullet point. The "Reflections" document called for a moratorium on consecration of gay/lesbian bishops. But these guys are already pushing the bar further – trying to enforce a moratorium on all ordinations of gay men and lesbians. And note that they are stressing that this is a "retroactive" moratorium. If our bishops agree with this, they will have to inhibit every gay man and lesbian who has been ordained to the priesthood and diaconate in the Episcopal Church. Are they ready to do so? If they don't protest – and protest loudly – then I don't know how they can came home with any vestige of integrity. I hope our bishops will demand clarification of this point before the "Reflections" document is finalized.

It is not lost on me that the bishops of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa thank virtually everyone – the Lambeth organizers, their friends in the Global South, even the Coptic Orthodox Church – but give not even a nod to the North Americans who have (by all accounts) sought to participate humbly and have ceded much in this Lambeth Conference.

The statement of the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa reminds me: It will never be enough! We can never do enough to placate these radicals. And I believe it is time we stopped trying.

If our bishops come home to the U.S. asking the gay/lesbian community to sacrifice for the sake of these zealots, I believe their pleas should fall upon very deaf ears.

Over 200 bishops in the Global South declined to attend the Lambeth Conference. Some of the zealous primates used threats to bar their bishops from attending.

My friends, the Anglican Communion is already in schism. Most of the radicals have already departed. Even the Southern Cone's Presiding Bishop Gregory "Have It Your Way" Venables gleefully declared that, though he went to Lambeth, he never once took Communion during the Lambeth Conference, due to his oh-so-fragile conscience.

Let us get on with the work of the Gospel, and let us try to build some sort of Anglican Communion that can carry the Gospel forward.

When I read the comments of my bishop and very many other bishops, I hear that they desire to stay in communion with each other while they work out these conflicts. I truly hope they can do so. I am glad they have had deep and honest conversations with one another. From what they write, I hear that many of them have a rekindled desire to be in relationship. I give thanks for that. And I pray that my diocese can find a way to continue in relationship with the Diocese of Lui in southern Sudan.

But, bishops, you cannot achieve that goal by selling the gay men and lesbians down the river. Do not even try bringing that message back here. Bishops, I believe most of you have seen the "fruits of the Spirit" in the gay men and lesbians in your care; but I have not read any such assertion in your blogs. I have read nothing affirming the faith and faithfulness of your gay/lesbian members. Will you remain silent about our lives and witnesses, while the rush for "unity" overwhelms you? I wait to hear.

One day remains at the Lambeth Conference. I pray that one of our bishops will speak for us.

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