Skip to comments.Walking the Walk
Posted on 07/14/2005 9:10:02 PM PDT by sionnsar
Over the two years that I've been closely following the Anglican controversy, I've noticed a change in emphasis. At first, I'd attack liberal "arguments," such as they are, as enthusiastically as anyone until I slowly began to notice something. The Anglican left is becoming less and less important to this story, almost to the point where they no longer matter at all.
Let's face it. The Anglican left is no longer news. Everything they have done for the last two years, from same-sex marriages and Robbie's pointy hat to their tepid responses to the Windsor Report to their replying to the Newry primates requests on their own terms to other issues like disinvestment from Israel has been entirely predictable. Everyone in the Anglican world knows, or should, how the Anglican left will respond in any given situation. What the Anglican world does not know is this:
When are North American Anglican conservatives, going to actually do something in response?
Yesterday, Connecticut's Episcopal Obergruppenfuhrer Andrew Smith suspended the Rev. Mark Hansen, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Bristol, Connecticut and lied through his teeth about it. As his brownshirts forced open office doors, changed locks, shut down the parish web site and hacked into personal computer files, Smith forcibly took over St. John's and imposed a very liberal rector on the very conservative parish. What has been the conservative Episcopal reaction?
The web site of the Anglican Communion Network, supposedly the home of official orthodox Anglicanism in the United States has...nothing so far. The American Anglican Council released this statement today:
Yesterday, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Smith, Bishop of Connecticut, issued an inhibition against the Rev. Mark Hansen, rector of St. Johns, Bristol and seized church property over the protest of the churchs elected lay leadership. We believe there are serious questions regarding the canonical grounds upon which this inhibition was based as well as inconsistencies in the bishops explanation of his actions. We are outraged that any bishop would seize control of a church without lengthy consultation with the vestry [elected church board], and to do so in the name of pastoral concern is unconscionable. Bishop Smith has exhibited pastoral disregard for the leaders, members and clergy of St. Johns. He also seems to display a lack of episcopal discretion and appears devoid of prudent counsel with which bishops are expected to carry out the historic and canonical role to which they are called.
In blatant disregard for the clear warning of the four Instruments of Anglican Unity to avoid doctrinal innovations on human sexuality, the Episcopal Churchs General Convention 2003 voted to approve the election as bishop of a man living in a same-gender relationship. Bishop Smith voted for that measure, subsequently participated in the consecration of V. Gene Robinson, and advocates the blessing of same-sex unions. In so doing, we believe he has abandoned the official teaching of the Anglican Communion.
The actions of revisionists within the Episcopal Church have resulted in an unprecedented crisis threatening the unity of the Anglican Communion. Rather than seeking a way to reconcile with the large number of Episcopalians who stand against doctrinal innovations inconsistent with Holy Scripture, Bishop Smith has exacerbated this crisis immeasurably. In their February 2005 Communique, Primates of the Anglican Communion addressed the need for intervention in such situations. In order to protect the integrity and legitimate needs of groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their Provinces, we recommend that the Archbishop of Canterbury appoint, as a matter of urgency, a panel of reference to supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions made by any churches for such members in line with the recommendation in the Primates Statement of October 2003.
We urge the recently appointed Panel of Reference to intercede without delay in this matter. We are deeply concerned that Bishop Smiths actions yesterday are punitive in nature against a church and priest who have requested alternative episcopal oversight, and we fear the bishop will also seek to punish the other five churches in theological dispute with him. We are convinced that it is vital to the health of St. Johns, the welfare of Father Hansen, the protection of faithful Episcopalians across the nation, and the unity of the Anglican Communion for abuses such as occurred in Connecticut to be confronted by the leadership of the Communion. If the Panel fails to intervene now, every church and priest who uphold the doctrine, discipline and order of Anglicanism in revisionist dioceses face imminent threat of unilateral, hostile takeovers and dubious inhibitions.
We pledge our full support to the faithful members of St. Johns, to Father Hansen, and to the Connecticut Six. We have closely monitored the situation in Connecticut, visited the six parishes, and met with wardens, vestry persons and priests; therefore, we have first-hand knowledge of the situation and of the canon law issues involved. Based upon our own review of the facts, we consider the six parishes to be in full compliance with Episcopal Church national constitution and canons; we do not believe they have violated diocesan canons. Bishop Smiths actions and threats against these parishes, their lay leaders and priests can only be described as blatant attempts to force his own theological views of human sexuality on Godly people within the Anglican Communion.
Fine, forceful words. And completely useless. With all due respect, I can paper my apartment with the conservative denunciations that have been issued since the start of this crisis. Why should Andrew Smith care that the AAC thinks the canons have not been violated? Since Panel head Peter Carnley has already indicated that participation with the Panel is entirely voluntary
and that they can't force anyone to do anything, how will an appeal to the Panel to act "without delay" help Mark Hansen, St. John's or the other five rectors and parishes in the slightest?
Talking about how despicable people like Andrew Smith are is getting really irritating. When are Episcopal conservatives going to stop being so damned Anglican and start doing something about this? What did you have in mind, Johnson? Well, lots of African provinces have broken relations with ECUSA; A Network diocese should have declared that what Smith has done is appalling and until such time as it is rectified, a state of broken communion existed between that diocese and Connecticut and that the Network bishop won't attend any House of Bishops meeting with Smith or take communion with him.
And when Smith eventually gets around to dynamiting the other five parishes, why can't a Network or retired conservative bishop declare those six homeless parishes now have a new bishop?
Why can't that bishop go into Connecticut, visit those parishes, perform confirmations and otherwise provide episcopal oversight in Smith's fiefdom regardless of how loudly Smith yelled about it?
That would be a violation of the canons and we don't want to sink to their level. I've got news for you; the canons are a dead letter and have been for two years. Why should conservatives continue to venerate liberal garbage? That bishop would be brought up on charges. Perhaps. But Smith's behavior would be a major factor in the proceedings so a trial might be a risk. And if ECUSA's conservatives made it clear that they backed this bishop 100%, a trial would be a risk ECUSA couldn't afford to take.
But that's not how the Anglican world operates. Anglican wheels grind slowly but exceeding fine while you're an American and you want something to happen right now. That may well be.
But to some of us, conservative Episcopalians had better start getting more, well, American if they want to save the orthodox Anglican tradition in the United States. They've had two years of Anglican commissions, reports, statements and responses and two years of ECUSA lies, deceits, distortions and evasions. And now they have Andrew Smith.
If North American conservatives actually think that one more appeal to my gracious lord of Canterbury is going to change anything at all, they are criminally deluded. Many of us have been extremely patient but our patience is running out. We love the Anglican tradition but we do not need it and we are not going to wait forever. It may well be that if Anglican conservatives do finally confront the liberals with something more than mere words, a great many of us will congratulate them from our new homes in Geneva, Constantinople or Rome.
Not my fight, I know, but I must say I can see where this fellow is coming from! This really is all getting a bit ridiculous.
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