07 March 2007

Fun with bishops

Several sundry items from around the blogosphere. No relation, except that they all emanate from people who wear purple shirts.

First, off, another one bites the dust. +David Bena, retired suffragan of Albany has gone over to CANA. Mark Harris has some good pondering points on this one, most especially that this means the good bishop has abandoned our communion and should be dealt with accordingly.

Second, in a brief burst of blatant unfiltered truth-telling and subtle insight, the Archbishop of Wales has called it like he sees it. It would be nice to see more of the middle and less of the extremes from our primates. Oh, wait, I guess the notion that we might not be wholly correct is radical. Guess the middle moved. Anyway, this is from a recent newspaper article, pointed out by titusonenine.

The archbishop said it was shocking to see people from the traditional wing of the American Anglican Church "blatantly influencing the more conservative primates of provinces [and] making an inflammatory situation potentially explosive. Primates have briefed against one another and some primates have refused to receive communion from the same altar as other primates," he said.

The archbishop said Anglicanism was about diversity in unity. "Not only do we have to respect one another’s geographical integrity, but also one another’s moral and theological integrity," he said. "We need one another’s insights with all our diversities and differences. Anglicanism at its best is the realisation that none of us possesses the truth, and will never do so."

Third, the Bishop of Upper South Carolina, who is no liberal, does not much like the outcome of the Primates' Meeting. On his blog, he raises all sorts of great questions about polity, both the polity of the Anglican Communion and of ECUSA. More than that, he points out the obvious (but apparently not obvious to some):

In my view we have failed the homosexual community. I can find no better words to describe what I mean that those uttered by Archbishop Williams: "…(M)indful of the full text of Lambeth I.10, we should have done more about offering safe space to homosexual people…to talk about what it is like to be endlessly discussed and dissected in their absence, patronized or demonized. Again and again we have used the language of respect for their human dignity; again and again we have failed to show it effectively, convertingly and convertedly. …(E)very attempt to 'listen to the experience of homosexual people' is easily seen as…an exercise in winning battles rather than winning understanding." (Another hat tip to t19.)

Then, fourth, there is +Gerard Mpango of Tanzania, who says,

He said the Tanzanian Anglican church is in an "impaired relationship" with the Episcopal Church, the American branch of Anglicanism, over the issue. The recent election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA did not help. The problem is not that she is a woman, but that she supports gay relationships, he said. Mpango said the issue is very important to Africans. "We live with Muslims, and they use this against us," he said.

Until I traveled to Tanzania, I used to accept statements like that. But now I've had a chance to speak with a number of ordinary church-goers in Tanzania. Here's the thing. Mostly, they don't seem to care much about what Katharine Jefferts Schori says or does. In fact, a couple of Tanzanians I spoke with specifically said that schism is a much greater threat than the possible "taint" of American liberalism in evangelizing Muslims. I'd like to hear more from people in Africa -- not from archbishops -- on this one.

Finally, +Douglas Theuner (retired diocean of New Hampshire) writes very articulately about the current struggles in our Communion, especially as it relates to power, authority, and unity. He concludes with a sensible proposal:

Fasting from decision making during this period of Lent is an excellent penitential discipline. Then, I think the House of Bishops meeting in September ought to pass a "mind of the house" resolution asking the Presiding Bishop to convey to the Primates of the Anglican Communion that it has received their advice and counsel from Dar es Salaam and has given it prayerful and thoughtful attention and that it looks forward to being with them at Lambeth in 2008 for further discussion of these matters and others relating to the mission of the Church today. Nothing further should be required or is likely to be either helpful or honest.

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