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LATER TODAY

All seems oddly quiet on this day when Canon Mary Glasspool will be ordained and consecrated as a Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles.  Yet the consequences may well be graver than ensued after the Bishop of New Hampshire was elected in 2003. Then it could be said with some plausibility that no one in TEC realized what a fuss would emerge. No one is in any doubt this time. The Archbishop of Canterbury has made it clear that there will be consequences for TEC in its relationship with the Communion and there will be consequences within the Communion.

I read this morning an interview in the Baltimore Sun with Canon Glasspool which includes a short video.http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/anne-arundel/bs-md-glasspool-bishop-consecration-20100507,0,730992.story.
A number of points were raised which invite comment.  The first is very indicative of our present mood.  Is Canon Glasspool a nice person? It seems she is, but what on earth does her niceness have to do with anything?  One would hope that any cleric, yes, even a bishop-elect might be nice. But niceness isn’t a qualification for ordination.

It is said that she is a good priest and that quality, at least to the newspaper is demonstrated by the fact that she pastored an elderly couple who then died and left her parish $3000,000.  I am genuinely delighted that she is a good priest. Yet the crisis facing the communion has nothing at all to do with her personal traits or her pastoral ability.

In the interview Canon Glasspool made a couple of points which bothered me. She stated that there is no such thing as the Anglican Church: there is merely the Anglican Communion. Her present bishop muttered something about the Communion being a federation of churches.

I would love to sit them both down with the Archbishop of Canterbury for a chat about ecclesiology.  Indeed I would like to hear some explanation about why a Communion is not a Church and why a Church cannot be a Communion. There was also some mention that the Episcopal Church is growing in its self-understanding, as if it were a patient undergoing therapy.

Setting aside the very impoverished doctrine of the church here presented, it is well to remind us that the basic problem with today’s ceremony has not a thing to do with anything I have written above.

The Anglican Communion through its “elder brother”, the Archbishop of Canterbury,  asked the Episcopal Church not to proceed with anymore consecrations of same-gendered  partnered people. The leadership of the Episcopal Church agreed, then prevaricated, then agreed again and then decided to ignore everything that had been said. TEC may cling to the hope that the support it gets from Canada, perhaps New Zealand, Brazil, perhaps Mexico and some parts of its own mini-Communion, and from individuals in Western churches may prove strong enough to deter anything more than a vague wrist slap.  We shall see.  But it is not difficult to predict that if TEC gets away with it yet again, the consequences for the unity of the whole Communion will be dire.