I read a comment elsewhere this morning in which the writer claimed that senior staff at Lambeth Palace were suggesting that the Archbishop of Canterbury will do nothing in response to TEC’s breach of its promise to keep the moratorium which its own Primate signed off on last Christmas.
I’d bet one of my discarded mitres that the writer has no inside information. He wants to believe that the Archbishop is useless and from that firm conviction he builds his case by recourse to rumor and speculation spread by people who are as pessimistic as he is. Indeed I read a great deal of tripe from people whose views don’t seem far from my own, but with one crucial difference. They want the sky to fall. Somehow they believe devoutly that if all crumbles and decays, if Israel goes into captivity, they will be vindicated. Well I suppose there’s nothing wrong with such a position, if those who held it were not quite so nasty about their targets.
If one reads the Archbishop of Canterbury’s message to the Global South leaders, who are in Singapore at the moment, there is little to suggest that he is comfortable with the behavior of TEC. Even the Irish Primate, who is not known to be a staunch conservative has expressed his dismay with TEC’s approval of the Glasspool election. Indeed this election has changed the focus of Communion dismay. For the confirmation of the election by a majority of bishops and standing committees and the TEC Primate portrays TEC as being fundamentally dishonest. Set aside the matter of a church having Canons which require clergy not to engage in sexual relationships outside marriage, which elects and confirms people who engage in such relationships: set aside the fact that the blessing of same-sex persons in something resembling marriage counters the doctrine and discipline of our church. (I am quite prepared to bless anyone who seeks to be blessed, even in Krogers supermarket! I am a sinner and I bless sinners all the time, a few of whom are malicious gossips who do much more harm than a partnered gay.)
The crucial matter is one of honesty and trust. Even after the votes taken at the last General Convention which seemed to reject a principled pause in these areas, the PB and the President of the House of Deputies wrote to the leaders of the Anglican Communion stating that TEC still honored its agreement to a moratorium on the ordination and consecration of persons in partnered same-sex relationships and to authorizing same-sex blessings.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has made his dismay quite clear. Mutual affection and submission, the type of any loving relationship, depends on trust. The issue presented to the Communion now is that it cannot trust TEC, for no single agency of TEC represents its voice, and thus one “voice” may say one thing and seem authoritative, only to be drowned out by another which seems authoritative.This confusion of tongues is lauded as TEC’s superior form of government!
Clearly there is much in all this to dismay even moderate people, those inclined to sympathize with the pastoral dilemma the church faces in caring for gay and lesbian people, taking care not to categorize their sexual behavior as the only unforgivable sin, while tolerating all sorts of bad behavior in others. Dismay is the natural response to bad faith. TEC has stumbled into bad faith because it sought political means of instituting its reforms, instead of proposing its theology first, then adopting the canonical and liturgical changes necessary to affirm gay marriage while putting into effect the pastoral measures vitally attached to such policies. I am not suggesting that the Communion would have accepted such a course. Far from it. But the process would have integrity!
Having said all this, I return to another form of bad behavior and that is demonizing those one believes to be wrong, or inefficient. Traditionalists in TEC: those who have left have no business grumping about TEC’s doings – so often sound like the “Tea Party at Prayer”. I hear Tea Party activists saying that the President of the USA is going to take away their guns! I wish he could and would. But there is no evidence to suggest that he plans to find a way to legislate such an outcome. So they hoist signs on which there is a photograph of the President with a Hitlerian mustache. Starting from the premise that the government is rotten, which may be true who ever is in power, such people invent stories intended to prove their point and these stories include personal invective against those assumed to be the Enemy.
I could draw instances of Liberals who demonize traditionalists, but my point this April morning is aimed at those in whose camp I uneasily dwell, whose world-view and consequent invective begins with the premise that the Archbishop and his Communion are rotten, and weave tales to prove the point, spiced with personal invective.
We should be praying hard for +Rowan and the Primates and others with whom he takes counsel and heed his cogent reminder that healing is not the work of committees and conventions but of our Lord the Spirit. One might add that genuine koinonia is not created by Conventions, Synods and Canons but by worship, prayer and loving loyalty to the always faithful covenant God has with His people.
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