Monday, June 07, 2010

The Pentecost Punishments Move from Threat to Reality

We recently discussed Canterbury's Pentecost Punishments, in which Dr. Williams outlined his intention to discipline those Provinces who ignored the requested moratoria regarding consecrating gay bishops, same sex blessings and border crossings. Apparently, these were not idle threats. From a statement by the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion:

...Last Thursday I sent letters to members of the Inter Anglican ecumenical dialogues who are from the Episcopal Church informing them that their membership of these dialogues has been discontinued. In doing so I want to emphasise again as I did in those letters the exceptional service of each and every person to that important work and to acknowledge without exception the enormous contribution each person has made.

I have also written to the person from the Episcopal Church who is a member of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), withdrawing that person’s membership and inviting her to serve as a Consultant to that body.

I have written to the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada to ask whether its General Synod or House of Bishops has formally adopted policies that breach the second moratorium in the Windsor Report, authorising public rites of same-sex blessing.

At the same time I have written to the Primate of the Southern Cone, whose interventions in other provinces are referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report asking him for clarification as to the current state of his interventions into other provinces.

These are the actions which flow immediately from the Archbishop’s Pentecost Letter...
So, three sacrificial lambs, one for each of the three moratoria, have been chosen; TEC for consecrating Bp. Glasspool, the ACC for same sex blessings, and the Southern Cone for border crossings.

The first interesting thing to note is that it is only TEC that has been requested to remove its members from the ecumenical dialogues and the Unity, Faith and Order Commission. Canada and the Southern Cone were simply sent letters asking for further clarification.

Perhaps TEC has been singled out because of the wording of Canterbury, in which he spoke of "...provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria..." (emphasis added). I suppose that the consent process following the election of Bp. Glasspool might be considered a "formal" adoption of a policy that breaches one of the requested moratoria. Yet, one would think that a letter requesting clarification from TEC, rather than this punitive action, would have been the expected next step. After all, is there any question as to what the Southern Cone has been doing? They are sheltering entire schismatic dioceses, and accepting deposed bishops into their House of Bishops. Yet they receive a courtesy letter.

Perhaps Dr. Williams figures TEC can take the heat? We've survived such stunts in the past. Or maybe he thinks we are so desperate to remain in the Communion, at least until the lawsuits involving the properties stolen by the schismatics are resolved, that we'll accept quietly whatever he dishes out?

In the end, these punishments appear to be symbolic. The removal from two Anglican bodies is not terribly significant. And it seems clear that one Province for each of the moratoria was selected as an example that Canterbury "really means it, this time." I would certainly hope that Canterbury doesn't imamgine that TEC is the only Province consecrating gay bishops, or that the ACC is the only Province doing same sex blessings. If so, he might want to take a closer look in his own backyard, as well as in a few other Provinces in which such things happen on a regular basis. And why is the Southern Cone the example of border crossing, and not Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya? Is the message here that it is open season on North and South America, but Africa gets a free pass?

Over on The Lead, Jim Naughton makes a very astute observation. If Dr. Williams is going to start asserting the kind of power some hoped a new Covenant would grant him, why do we need a Covenant? And if you were concerned about the Covenant excluding some folks, your concerns have been justified. If this is an example of what "enforcement" under a Covenant will be like, there will indeed be a new "second class" membership within the Communion, with the literalist "sola scriptura" gang deciding who is in and who is out.

If this is an indication of who will and who will not be represented at the next Primates' meeting remains to be seen. However, if the Americans are excluded, I seem to hear an old line from our nation's short history ringing in my ears...something about taxation and representation?

Another bit of trivia from our history comes to mind as well. This one is a line from a doctrine that is known rather well on this side of the pond:

...the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers...
Perhaps this might be an opportunity to work towards common goals with the Southern Cone against the European powers? Who knows. Call me a romantic if you must, but, yes, I believe in miracles!


No comments:

Post a Comment