Monday, January 08, 2007

Communion Coup

The hot news popping in the Episcopal blogosphere this afternoon is that the Panel of Reference (assembled at the urging of the angry primates meeting in February 2005 in the aftermath of the Windsor Report) has issued its response to the appeal from the diocese of Fort Worth. You can read the full report here.

The panel's decision in a nutshell is this: The Diocese of Fort Worth must be allowed to bar all women from ordained ministry. The Episcopal Church must allow Fort Worth to continue choosing bishops who oppose the ministry of women. And no one anywhere must be compelled to recognize the ordained ministry of women – whether she be the local deacon, a priest of our church, a female bishop, or even our own Presiding Bishop. Oh! and the Panel thinks we've been picking on the poor, pitiful diocese of Fort Worth, and we must cut it out right now. (Never mind that Fort Worth has absented itself from the counsels of the church for several years now. They haven't even been at the table to be picked-on.)

As ENS reports, the Diocese of Fort Worth has long been at odds with the Episcopal Church and was the first of seven dioceses to ask for a relationship with an Anglican Communion primate other than Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, who had been elected the day before Iker and the diocese made its request.

You can read Iker's response on the diocesan website here.

The panel's report is chilling. Its audacity in seeking to dictate policy and polity to the Episcopal Church is opposed to 500 years of Anglican tradition. Apparently, the chickens of the Windsor Report have now come home to roost. The Panel of Reference has arrogated to itself the power to determine who can and who cannot be ordained in the Episcopal Church, which parts of our constitution and canons we may and may not enforce.

It's a farce, of course.

The fact is, they have no such power. Nor does the Archbishop of Canterbury, who apparently has no spine except the one he can suck from panels, commissions, and primatial commiques. The more I hear from England, the more I want to cleave to our General Convention and let the Anglican Communion move its headquarters to Nigeria.

The Anglican Communion is supposedly a body of autonomous provinces in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. If our church allows this panel to dictate any part of our behavior, then the Church in Nigeria, the Church in Uganda, the church in Ireland, and every other province must be ready to have a pseudo-curia dictate its internal policy and polity. Every province of the Anglican Communion would have to subject its constitution, canons, and local decisions to the authority of some Anglican-wide body. I cannot imagine that happening. If anything, the mistake the Episcopal Church has made is in taking the Windsor Report seriously; and – make no mistake – ours is the only church that has yet done so.

The Episcopal Church has repeatedly asked to continue dialogue with the rest of the Anglican Communion about the divisive issues currently before us. We have not sought to impose our decisions on any other province; we simply seek to follow the Gospel of Christ as we have discerned it together. I now begin to think that was a mistake. Perhaps we should simply be as adamant and self-righteous as the primate of Nigeria. … No, I don't really believe that. But it certainly is a tempting stance.

My thoughts here are fairly uninformed and off-the-cuff. If you want to read really good commentary, go to Elizabeth Kaeton's Telling Secrets. And I'll post other commentaries here in the coming hours.

A couple centuries ago, the radical Americans conducted a "tea party" in the Boston harbor. I'm about ready to have another one. Anyone want to meet me in Boston?

Update: The Episcopal News Service has posted this story with some very fine analysis and background information. I have added some of their links to my posting above.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I rarely engage in rants on my blog but this latest pushed me to do so (mildly). I am so angry that I am almost beyond words.

1/08/2007 9:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Well said, Caminante. (And, yes, I am rather amazed to see even a mild rant on your blog!) Readers, go over to Caminante's blog and give her an "Amen"! Here's mine.

1/08/2007 9:11 PM  
Blogger Thomas B. Woodward said...

And just when we thought mysogyny was on its way out.

Again, the one opinion not sought on this matter was that of Jesus of Nazareth, at least in his recorded statements and deeds. He would have been more pissed off than and of us ranters.
Tom Woodward

1/08/2007 11:23 PM  

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