Skip to comments.Kneel Before Zod! ["Anglicanism is worth fighting for"]
Posted on 05/21/2005 6:55:15 AM PDT by sionnsar
For all its current faults and all its current problems, and these are many, there is something beautiful about the Anglican tradition. Perhaps that's why people like me have stuck with this story for so long and why so many former Anglicans still patronize Anglican web sites. Anglicanism is worth fighting for.
At its best, Anglican worship is dignified, restrained and peaceful. It has been called Rome Lite, and it is that, but I think Rome Unplugged might be as valid a description. For at its best, Anglican worship is catholic worship distilled to its essence. You cannot imagine my delight last Christmas Eve when I realized that the Church of the Resurrection sang the Psalms. And even if you're not Anglican, I heartily recommend any CD of settings of the Psalms that you can find. There isn't much that's more relaxing at the end of a tough day.
The English churchs effect on the world at large has been considerable. As Archbishops of Canterbury go, William Sancroft wasnt much. But his courageous refusal to order James IIs Declaration of Indulgence read in British churches set in motion a chain of events that led to the Glorious Revolution, ended forever any possibility of royal absolutism in Britain and advanced the cause of human freedom. The end of slavery and the slave trade in the English-speaking world was initiated by the Anglican William Wilberforce.
Anglicanism can boast of three great literary triumphs. Even non-Anglicans recognize that the Book of Common Prayer(its 1662 British and 1928 American editions; most emphatically not the current ECUSA abomination) is one of the greatest devotional books in the English language.
Not too many Christian traditions can boast of two great Bible translations. Anglicanism, of course, produced the Authorized, or King James, version of the Bible, the greatest and most influential book in the English language. And the modern Welsh language exists today because of translations of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer into Welsh made by the Anglican clergyman William Morgan.
So the Anglican tradition has a great deal to be proud of. I have to remind myself of all this this whenever I read stories like this one:
Whether or not six priests will acknowledge the authority of the diocesan bishop is the central issue of an ongoing dispute in Connecticut.
The "Connecticut Six," as they have become known in the media, want to be released from their ordination vows of obedience to Diocesan Bishop Andrew D. Smith, with whom they disagree about Smiths support of the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003. The six, all rectors of congregations, are also demanding suspension of selected canons governing financial obligations, ordination procedures, and clergy succession.
Attempts over the past year to reconcile differences or reach an acceptable way forward -- including Smiths proposed implementation of the Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) plan approved by the House of Bishops last year -- have been unsuccessful.
The Standing Committee of the Diocese in March determined that the six rectors had "abandoned the communion of the [Episcopal] church" and recommended that the priests be inhibited from practicing their ministries in the diocese for six months.
The six priests claim that they are being gagged and their careers threatened because they dont support Smiths views. The bishop says thats not true.
"We can disagree about many things, but we cannot disagree about the role of the bishop in his diocese. I cannot break my own vows as bishop, suspend the constitution and canons, and relinquish my authority because we dont agree on a given issue."
Let's enliven the festivities with a little paranoia.
The controversy in Connecticut is widely seen as part of a strategy by the American Anglican Council (AAC), and its affiliate the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, to realign the Anglican Communion by replacing the Episcopal Church USA with a network of conservative dioceses and parishes. At one point, it appeared that the six rectors and their congregations wanted to create a "mini-diocese" within Connecticut.
Really. I don't know how often the Anglican Communion Network updates its web site but it says here that none of the Connecticut Six(The Rev. Allyn B. Benedict, the Rev. Ronald S. Gauss, the Rev. Mark H. Hansen, the Rev. Donald L. Helmandollar, the Rev. Christopher P. Leighton and the Rev. Gilbert V. Wilkes) or their parishes are members of the Network. But I guess that's all part of the Network's Sinister Plot. Anyway, this is what passes for noblesse oblige in the Nutmeg State these days.
Last spring, in response to their request, Smith offered to work with the six conservative parishes using the DEPO model -- a temporary measure of approximately two years during which Smith would delegate some of his authority for pastoral care to a conservative bishop agreeable to both sides. During that time, the parish and bishop would continue to work intensively at reconciling their differences. Smith has spoken with several conservative bishops willing to serve as a delegated bishop for the parishes.
Golly. For two whole years, Smith will delegate some
of his authority. Who could possibly turn that deal down? People with actual principles who understand what's at stake, that's who.
However, in a letter from the six priests dated May 27, they asked Smith to repent from his actions in support of Gene Robinson, and his decisions to ordain sexually active gay clergy. Barring that repentance, they asked for DEPO, but listed several conditions. They asked that the assigned bishop, instead of the diocesan bishop, oversee future succession of clergy, and future candidates for ordination, in the parishes. The letter also asked for release from the parishes obligation to pay diocesan assessments.
Talk about lèse-majesté. It's amazing that the Connecticut Six still have their heads.
Bishop Smith rejected their demand to choose between full repentance and conditional DEPO. "To choose one, I must reject decisions that I have made in faith and disown persons who are faithful servants of Christ," Smith said. "To choose the other, I must disobey the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church that I, as bishop, have promised to uphold."
There you have it. Six actual servants of Christ are implicitly forced to accept Andrew Smith's heresy. And they have to do this not because Smith made an actual Biblical case for it but because he claimed that he voted to give Robbie a pointy hat "in faith" as well as for the sake of ECUSA's real holy book, "the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church." And some people actually think popes have power. As a one-man Magesterium, Bishop Smith demanded respect.
Smith requested, then ordered, the priests to meet with him individually. None of the meetings were successful. He then set a date of February 15, 2005 for implementation of DEPO. When that date passed without further resolution, the bishop informed the Standing Committee of the impasse, and they recommended that the six priests be inhibited under the national canons (Title IV, Canon 10) for abandoning their ministries. Smith set a deadline of April 15 for them to respond.
Late in the afternoon of April 15 the bishop announced he had invited the priests to another meeting the following Monday evening, April 18. This time, he agreed to meet with them as a group. He also invited Bishop Gordon Scruton of Western Massachusetts to facilitate the conversation.
But Smith doesn't seem to realize that respect is something that must be earned. And the Connecticut Six know Who they really work for.
On April 18, all six rectors, along with a lay attorney, met with the bishop and the diocesan chancellor for nearly four hours. One rector spoke on behalf of the others; the other five did not participate in the conversation. No resolution was reached. The bishop asked the priests to acknowledge his authority as their diocesan bishop. However, they left without doing so.
Leaving the old despot nothing to do but thunder and threaten.
"By leaving the meeting tonight without acknowledging my authority as their bishop they have placed themselves under threat of inhibition by refusing to live within their vows," Smith said in a statement. "I regret that we were unable to reach accord this evening. I shall continue to pray for them."
Canon law allows Bishop Smith to inhibit the six priests for a period of six months, and thereafter, depending on the circumstances, depose them of the gifts and spiritual authority conferred at ordination.
Were I one of these six rectors, I would not view a letter of inhibition or deposition from Andrew Smith as a tragedy. I would probably frame the letter and hang it on my wall. And any time I needed a lift, I would look at it because that kind of encouragement doesn't come along very often.
Orthodox Anglicanism will be rather hard to see in the West for the foreseeable future. It's easy to spot the old Episcopal church on the corner but it's tough to find the orthodox Anglican congregation in the hotel meeting room, the conference center, the junior high school, or the apartment two doors down.
But while I may not live to see it happen, the Anglican tradition will eventually be back. And if men like Andrew Smith continue to become ECUSA bishops, it'll be worshipping in old abandoned Episcopal churches on the corner.
Did you read Frank's Pentecost Eve remarks in Rhode Island where he talked about quantum theology? In his mind, pluriform truths can co-exist.
...[snip]I think weve moved to a different kind of world. Weve moved out of an either-or world into a quantum world in which many things can be true at the same time and held in tension, were in a both-and world, and I think younger clergy live in that world, and can make room for multiple dimensions to reality without having to wrestle everything down to one point of view. And they can live that way respectfully, holding their own take on the truth, but accepting the fact that that take on truth has to encounter and be in some ways balanced by other takes on truth.
I had seen that before...sadly..thank, though..
It really is sad...Wonder who the candidates will be for the new Presiding Bishop. I read somewhere that Bishop JJ Bruno of Los Angeles was asked but he turned it down. Shudder, shudder.
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