Skip to comments.New Church New Bishop
Posted on 07/03/2006 6:52:39 PM PDT by sionnsar
In a stunningly predictable move, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church elected the first ever female Presiding Bishop and the only woman Primate in the Anglican Communion. Pundits are saying that the election was somehow engineered, but perhaps this is cynical. Bishop Schori comes with excellent credentials to head up the ECUSA at this pivotal moment in its history; it should be clear to all that she has a wealth of experience relevant to governing the steadily shrinking Episcopal Church.
As Bishop of Nevada, Schori not only knows what its like to minister in a desert wasteland, she also understands numbers, having a weighty thirty five parishes and six thousand people under her pastoral charge. And in a Church which has committed itself to a whole new way of Christianity, why not elect someone with a little over ten years experience of ordained ministry? After all, freshness to the business might be beneficial in the new world of ECUSAn Christianity. Likewise with Divinity, a Presiding Bishop hidebound to the dogmas and beliefs of the past would be a disadvantage to headship in the new Episcopalian polity. This isnt a concern with the new PB, she has plenty of academic experience, but not in theology. Her expertise is in marine biology and oceanography, making her a fitting successor to Griswold and his sea of faith.
Still, despite Schoris obvious symbolic qualifications for the job, its only fair to ask what her election means for those few Old Church holdouts that are left in ECUSA, to say nothing of the awkwardly large number of Anglicans worldwide who refuse to accept her orders as a Priest, much less Bishop and Primate of a Province. So, what does it mean? It seems that a consensus is emerging among the traditionalists at the Convention. They feel that Schoris election brings further clarity, if it were needed, to the position that the Episcopal Church now occupies. For them, a schismatic ECUSA has elected a truly representative leader and this is no bad thing, as it forces Anglicans to make a choice, to be for or against the new religion, as embodied in the person of the worlds first woman Primate.
Are traditionalists right in thinking this, does the first ever woman Primate really personify a radical departure from the Faith and Order of the Church? It seems that she does for at least two reasons. Firstly, as her orders are not universally accepted, either at home or abroad, she has no choice but to exist as a center of division in an office whose nature is essentially one of unity. In her person, Schori stands for a new understanding of the episcopate, one that is based on justice and inclusion rather than the common position of the Church. That ECUSA should enshrine this in the office of its chief Bishop signifies, at the very least, ignorance of the commonly held catholic conception of Holy Order and quite possibly a deliberate movement away from it. Either way, Schoris election indicates the Episcopal Churchs de facto rejection of apostolic norms. Secondly, Schoris wholehearted support of the gay and lesbian platform signals clear disregard for Scriptural morals and the Tradition of the Church. So, it appears that the traditionalists are right; that Schoris election is emblematic of the New Church that ECUSA has voted into being, an ecclesial body that has swapped out Scripture, Tradition and revelation for the threefold mantra of justice, inclusion and peace.
The tragedy of it all is that ECUSA, or rather TEC (The Episcopal Church), has achieved the exact opposite of its laudable goals of establishing justice, inclusion and peace. There is no justice under Schori, no fair play, for orthodox, or even conservative Anglicans in her jurisdiction. This minority does not have a Chief Pastor, a principle locus of episcopal authority, of sacramental and pastoral oversight. Their consciences and the integrity of their convictions have been written off, along with the majority conviction of Anglicans worldwide. If this is TECs version of even handed justice, one hates to imagine how things would pan out if they had opted for a more oppressive approach.
The same applies to inclusion; how could New TEC act in a way that was less inclusive? Only fourteen of the Communions Provinces permit the consecration of women to the Episcopate, with a mere three (Canada, New Zealand, America) having them in actual office. The rest of the thirty-eight Provinces are not included at TECs altar, nor, for that matter are the countless individuals that hold to a catholic understanding of Holy Order. These have been excluded from sacramental communion with Schori and those she ordains. Or to put it another way, Schori, the people she ordains, and possibly the Bishops she lays hands on as chief consecrator, are excluded from the communion of the Church because their orders are in question. As with justice, Schoris election signals the reverse of its stated intention, of auguring in a new age of ecclesial inclusion. At the end of the day, she is a source of alienation and division, instead of communion and the fellowship that springs from it.
This means that Schori cannot act as a sign and instrument of peace; on the contrary, she enshrines discord at the heart of TECs governance. Just as her sacramental status is divisive, so too is her position on the Churchs moral teaching. Schori rejects this, making her election an aggressive vote in favour of the policy responsible for breaking the bonds of affection, and an action that works to exclude TEC from the Anglican consensus on this issue. It seems, then, that we are left with little option but to believe that Schori is about war not peace, warfare against the Churchs teaching on Holy Order, morals and the Christians who uphold these things.
With these credentials, the new Presiding Bishop of TEC is well qualified to head up a Church that set itself on a revolutionary trajectory years ago. Bishop Duncan, moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, sums it up well; For the Anglican Communion worldwide, this election reveals the continuing insensitivity and disregard of the Episcopal Church for the present dynamics of our global fellowship. This election asserts once again, that it is our autonomy and revolutionary character that is most dear to us. It is this latter thing that Katherine Schori represents, bringing traditionalists the clarity they desire. What they do with it remains to be seen; the Diocese of Fort Worth has so far led the way, requesting alternate Primatial oversight from the Archbishop of Canterbury. If they do not find it there, we may be sure that there are others prepared to meet the need.
The first two paragraphs ARE sarcastic, right?
From what I've read of Fr. Heidt in the past I would have thought so.
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