Monday, 28 July 2008

The sublime and the ridiculous

Yesterday was Sunday - and as I headed down the hill from my residence here, I was seranaded by the church bells of the 900 year old St. Stephen's, Hackington, where I joined faithful from around the world for a Eucharist celebrated by Bishop Bruce of Ontario. Afterward, Steve Schuh and I spent a pleasant afternoon at Herne Bay walking along the beach, eating ice cream, and wandering around the ruins of a Norman church...built on the ruins of a Roman fort. It was sublime. Then came today.

The third part of the Windsor Continuation Group's "preliminary observations" (pointedly, according to the ACNS website, not a report) was released this afternoon, to great sensation.

The text of the full report is here:

There are two notable points for discussion for bishops to chew over. The first is that any blessing of same-sex unions or ordination and consecration of individuals in same-sex relationships be subject to absolute moratorium. The consequences of this suggestion, if accepted, would be that the eight parishes of the Diocese of New Westminster currently authorised to bless same-sex unions would no longer be able to do so; and that movements towards blessing the civil marriages of same-sex couples elsewhere in Canada would likewise grind to a halt. Gay or lesbian postulants for ordination in committed relationships would either have to ignore God's calling, or practice unholy hypocrisy by pretending to be unattached.

The second recommendation is that some mechanism be devised to provide pastoral care for those parishes which are now under extra-provincial jurisdiction, pending reconciliation with their provinces. Legal action would cease, and their assets would be held in trust. In essence, this regularizes the illegal actions of schismatic parishes. Although the document does reaffirm the moratorium on cross-border interventions, unlike the situation with respect to LGBT Anglicans, it does not make the banning of such interventions retroactive.

The document concludes by recommending the formation of a Pastoral Forum, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which would (amongst other things) "offer guidance on what response and any diminishment of standing within the Communion might be appropriate where any of the three moratoria are broken."

The stance of the discussion paper is clear: TEC, the Anglican Church of Canada, and others will need to decide between the inclusion of all God's children, or diminishment of our standing in the Communion. My hope and prayer is that the bishops will see these recommendations for what they are: exclusionary of LGBT Christians; enabling of schismatic movements; and empowering of a Curia-like structure for determining what sort of doctrine and discipline provinces of the Communion may adopt.


Neil Fernyhough


Neale Adams said...

Oh, rats. Here we go again. 1.10 revisited. I can't conceive of how the Continuation Group (including Bishop Victoria, who knows better) could think these "observations" would help anything. There is absolutely no way TEC or the ACC is going to "unbless" any people whose committed relationship has been properly, canonically, blessed. (And there's probably no way the Primates of Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Cone, etc., are going to rescind their sanction of "missionaries" to North America.) So what were these Continuation folks thinking? Were they thinking? This would help? But thanks for the reports folks.

Julie H. Ferguson said...

Hear! Hear!, Neale.
I am speechless, and it takes a lot to do this to me...