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.,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.

3 Responses

  1. This has a very ad hominem ring to it, Tony.

    You are opposed to the ordination of women, right? You are opposed to the church allowing women to be Bishops, right? You are opposed to gays being ordained, right? You are opposed to the church allowing GLBT persons to be Bishops, right?

    That is the point, Tony. The rest is just window-dressing.

  2. Huh? You make many assumptions Sharon. I live in a diocese with men and women priests, where we work together in harmony and mutual respect. We receive the sacrament as each other’s hands. I have known gay priests since I was a lad, many of whom have been outstanding pastors. Our church does not permit people who are living together in sexual unions outside matrimony to be ordained to any order. Our doctrine of matrimony is clearly set forth in the Prayer Book and the Catechism. I oppose changing the “matter” of the Sacrament of Matrimony. I oppose Provinces of the Anglican Communion acting as if they were independent denominations. None of this means that I seek to exclude from my parish anyone at all, or that I discriminate at all. I am a sinner, and so are you and so are my parishioners sinners. We are loved by Jesus, forgiven by Jesus and understood by Jesus. Your attempt to stereotype me in order to dismiss my writings is unworthy. So the dress you have put on me in your window doesn’t fit.

  3. I have thought a lot about your comment here and our subsequent conversation. The point is that you adhere to a church politic that remains exclusive rather than inclusive, despite the discrimination you would wish to deny. I was not attempting to put you in my window, but describe to you what I was feeling about your writing. I am sorry that you perceived I was being debasing of your value. I was reacting to your ideas, as I understood (or misunderstood) them, rather than to you as a person. We have never had the opportunity to meet. Maybe we will one day. We have many loves in common, among them the mountain life experience of living in West Virginia.

    If you knew me up close, you would know that my content was really more playful than acrimonious as you felt and expressed to me in your email.

    As I said, I will continue to think of you as a friend despite our clear difference of opinion.

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