Comments: New Orleans: press reports Wednesday morning

Unseemly and misleading dig at ++Venables from Bates.

Why mention this, Mr Bates?
Are you trying to impply the man is a lightweight or would not have risen above curate if he had remained in England???

Disappointing more than anything else to see Bates ending his "religion" era with this kind of attack......

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 9:42am BST

Sorry to see the New York Times get the lead wrong. But it did say

"Bishops in New Orleans said the Dar es Salaam communiqué galvanized them, despite their differing views on homosexuality, largely because of what they considered efforts by foreign primates to interfere in the life of the Episcopal Church."

Oddly, if incursions were meant to push the bishops to "repent" it has had the opposite affect. And simply marginalized those who have participated. Hopefully, the same will be true in the AC as well.

Posted by C.B. at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 11:04am BST

Re Venables - sounds accurate to me. He and his scheming cohorts in the CofE (who themsleves never became bishops) have done incalculable damage. The fact that Venables only has 20000 in his province is neither here nor there. Even a little poison goes a long way - as do acts of kindness and charity.

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 12:33pm BST

Neil - if you knew the history, you would know that many vicars of the largest churches in the CofE turned down opportunities to become bishops because they had so much to do in their parishes.....and they thought it more important work. I think they were mistaken as this left others to fill the void but their intentions were good....focussed on pastoring their people rather than church politics.

It is quite a lot of work leading a CofE church with a couple of thousand people in it (and allows much less time for talking on synods and committees - the required "work" of too many of those who like to wear purple.)

Also, the CofE has had the bizarre idea that people who have never led a church (eg academics like the ABC) are the right people to be bishops.......that's been just great in terms of "leadership" in the CofE, has it not?!

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 1:04pm BST

The remark about +Venables does seem a bit pointed! As it happens, I'm godfather to the daughter of a bishop who also "never rose above the status of curate" in the C of E and whose diocese is numerically small but geographically large. That's because he left the parish in which I then worshipped to become rector of a church in Scotland, where he has remained ever since.

More importantly, the conflicting interpretations of these journalists leave me totally confused about what happened.

Posted by Alan Harrison at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 1:10pm BST

"focussed on pastoring their people"

Bishops, of course, not being pastors! Also, on another thread you indicate that for you the search for a bishop is really just an election campaign. Where do you get this stuff?

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 1:51pm BST

Bates says - "Canon Gregory Cameron, the communion's senior negotiator, said: "It has become clear to me there is a wider range of opinion in the American house of bishops than there is in the communion as a whole."

Would he be speaking about the TEC moderates who are willing to agree to disagree and do not find this all to be about"core doctrine?"

Posted by C.B. at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 1:53pm BST

The product from the HOB could not be more disheartening.

So now the HOB has told all of us who took encouragement in the consecration of Bishop Robinson, those of us who heard a message of full acceptance and welcome from a church for the first time in our lives, that it was just a big mistake and must not be repeated.

Will this make the secessionists happy? No. The secessionist will leave anyway because that is what they want to do. It's always been about power for them not scripture or community.

The irony of timing makes comparison with the Little Rock school crisis of 40 years ago too easy. Supporting those kids’ civil rights without letting them in the schoolhouse was a lie. HOB take notice. Your reaffirmation of support for the rights of gay folks is terribly hollow and even insulting if we can't be fully present at all levels of the church.

Meanwhile the leaders of the gay community find this action disgraceful, a capitulation to bigotry and hatred. Because it is disgraceful. Disgraceful.

Lord have mercy.

Posted by Tommy at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 1:58pm BST

Concerning Presiding Bishop Venables qualification to be metropolitan of a province of 20,000 or so souls (Mark Harris recently estimated it more charitably at around 30,000, but even this is small enough make the Southern Cone of minimal importance to those wedded to the "size matters" school of province ranking), no-one can accuse Bp Venables of being an "academic like the ABC". His entry on the AC's website lists his completed higher education as a 1974 CertEd.

I say "completed higher education" since Bp. Venables is currently affiliated with Christ Church College Canterbury - this is also listed on his CV.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 2:37pm BST

Here is a thoroughly unofficial point of view.

First, remember that in the Episcopal Church, the Bishops acting alone (that is, in the absence of the House of Deputies in General Convention) have no legislative powers. They could not create a binding canonical provision to make a person in a same sex relationship ineligible to be a bishop. They could promise as individuals not to vote to consecrate persons who present a challenge to the wider church. They did that. It isn't legally binding and doesn't bind their successors, but that was as far as it goes and as far as they could go.

Posted by Paul Davison at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 3:02pm BST

Fair comment in general about bishops in the CofE NP, and there seeming to be more important pastoral jobs to get on with. However, I am not sure Venables would have even reached any short-list in the CofE so I think Bates is within his rights.

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 3:17pm BST

"Meanwhile the leaders of the gay community find this action disgraceful, a capitulation to bigotry and hatred."

Good thing I'm not a leader, then, I'm just one of the rank and file who really doesn't see that allowing me to get married in the Church is such a great thing, who believes that marriage isn't actually about validating anybody's relationships, despite how it has been used for centuries, who really does not believe that the Church's unwillingness to marry me constitutes anything even vaguely close to oppression, certainly not comparable to that experienced by gay people in some parts of the world, and who mistrusts the theology from the liberal side that justifies this. It's not because the theology CAN'T be done, just that it seems many "leaders" on the Left don't have the ability to make such arguments. I'm not trying to say that this isn't an issue, just we all, on both sides, have a love of hyperbole when it comes to talking about it. What precisely is so disgraceful about saying that while we believe a position to be true, we will not act on that belief for now out of respect for others who disagree? You talk as though they're about to string us up in the town square. That might well happen in places like Iran, perhaps may soon happen in Nigeria, they already want to jail us there. But surely if that's the case, we should be more worried about fighting for them over there than in trying to pretend we are at imminent risk of the same treatment in the near future. It's pretty disrespectful of their suffering to claim that, despite my comfortable lifestyle to which they cannot hope to aspire, I am as persecuted as they are beacuse I can't get married. Annoying? Perhaps. Frustrating? Perhaps. But disgraceful? No. A quite moderate and, I think, Christian approach, far better than stamping one's little foot and demanding one's way, of which extremists on both sides are guilty.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 3:41pm BST

Ford - well, so many bishops are not pastors...are they? And it is TEC that thinks bishops should be elected, not me.

In your haste to attack me, you do not have a word of defence for ++Venables? I though you would not like the unnecessary comment on him.

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 4:04pm BST

"you do not have a word of defence for ++Venables?"

Touche! Not "rising" above one's station is immaterial. Who was the patriarch who was chosen as a layman? One of the biggies, one of the Greats, but I can't remember his name. Perhaps the British didn't appreciate what they had, perhaps they darned well knew!

As to election, you see, old man, the point is that the Church tries to hear the voice of the Spirit in who She should make a bishop. In North America, we tend, wtih our more or less democratic background, to think the Spirit speaks loudest when everybody has a say. Hence the election. In Britain, you have far more connection with monarchy, so letting hoi polloi decide seems at best quaint. For some reason you seem to think that giving a monarch the power to discern the will of the Spirit is a good thing! The Real Orthodox allow the monks to do it, they choosing one of their own anyway, but they also being further along the road than the rest of us. Even then the laity get a say. What is certain is that the process certainly ought not to bear any resemblence to a worldly election. It is not something to be campaigned for, and it is not a "race" to be dropped out of. Personally I would be much happier with a bishop who had to be dragged to his consecration than one who views the process as a race. That you can use that word shows the worldliness of your understanding of the Church. It shows how far you have sold out to the ideas of the world, NP, whether or not you want to admit it, and whether or not you see a need to change.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 4:43pm BST

maybe, Ford, it shows the worldiness I see in certain people / groups with their own agendas fighting elections to gain power as bishops

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 5:25pm BST

Ford comments: "may soon happen in Nigeria, they already want to jail us there"

Actually, Ford, they already can jail you in Nigeria. The Act which Akinola disgracefully endorsed did not make homosexual acts illegal since they already are. But his new legislation would have me go to jail with you for being your friend. And I'd still be your friend despite the risk.

On the matter of lay patriarchs, I'm not sure who you mean, but the traditional story of St. Ambrose is that he was not even baptised when chosen as Bishop of Milan.

And NP - electing bishops is perhaps the worst system possible - except for all the others. I'd rather depend on the vagaries of the people of God (vox populi, vox dei, wot?) than trust a committee of James Hackers and Humphrey Applebies to get it right.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 6:07pm BST

Significantly, ENS reports that Bishop Salmon [South Carolina], albeit with some expected reservation, is promising to "do his best to make the statement work." Hopefully, it reflects a sober acknowledgment of a new level of good faith within HoB, enabling his far-reaching response. Something similar is what I now hope for from the temperate majority of the Primates - now that TEC has yet again clarified its clarity.

Posted by Cal McMillan at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 7:44pm BST

"And it is TEC that thinks bishops should be elected, not me."

Yeah, we dumb old Americans, thinking that maybe the people should have a voice in who leads them, even religiously.

But, you see, that's the whole point of "the Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church" (Lambeth, 1888).

You're supposed to be the traditionalist around here, NP--what's wrong, 120 years of tradition isn't sufficient for you?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 10:04pm BST

“…I'm just one…who really does not believe that the Church's unwillingness to marry me constitutes anything even vaguely close to oppression…”

I understand Mr. Elms. I know well the level of barbaric oppression gay Africans suffer. I know it is not on par with the struggle for North American gay rights. You conflate two separate issues. The policies of African and Middle Eastern cultures leading to the oppression and murder of gay people are ghastly. It must, and I pray it will change. That does not mean we are obliged to tolerate lesser or more subtle forms of bigotry and discrimination in the mean time.

The retreat to exclusion of gay people from any holy orders of the church offends me. It diminishes the sign value of Bishop Robinson’s consecration (aka the movement of the Holy Spirit). One expects this backpedaling from Archbishops (“not even if you’re celibate Jeffrey”) Williams and (“throw ‘em in jail”) Akinola (pronounced ah-KEE-noh-la, BTW). I am saddened the HOB changes course after the clear messages of the last two General Conventions of TEC.

What if the AP headline "Bishops Pledge Restraint on Gay Bishops" read instead "Bishops Pledge Restraint on Black Bishops" or "Bishops Pledge Restraint on Female Bishops" or "Bishops Pledge Restraint on Asian Bishops," would you be so sanguine? This is North America, not Africa or the C of E.

Like you, I don't look to the church to validate my relationships or for that matter my baptismal vocation to witness to the Gospel. Nevertheless, discrimination remains discrimination no matter its form or location. Via media has its place in church polity but not in matters of full acknowledgement of civil rights.

Posted by Tommy at Thursday, 27 September 2007 at 3:17am BST

"certain people / groups with their own agendas fighting elections to gain power as bishops"

Like the Evangelicals in a recent Episcopal election in a Canadian diocese who, despite repeated votes in which their candidate did not come anywhere close to a majority, kept him on the ballot, and gathered around him in prayer between votes (?nevertheless, not Thy will but mine be done?) forcing the proroguing of Synod and a new election six months later?

And Tommy, you are absolutely right that bigotry is bigotry, but I find it offensive, quite frankly, and weakening of our position, when I read people comparing the situation of middle class people in North America earning more and enjoying more freedoms than most of the world's population, claiming to be oppressed on a par with some hypothetical woman in Africa dying of HIV given her by an unfaithful and already dead husband, whose children will be orphans within the year, and whose Church claims that it is successful in stopping this situation because they preach only abstinence. Sorry, her state is far worse than mine, and the Church's refusal to acknowledge that its sex paranoid attitudes have put her where she is is far worse than telling me I can't get married. So is the fate of a 17 year old hanged in public in Iran. I think our energies would be far better spent fighting that kind of oppression instead of claiming to be as bad off as they are because the Church won't marry us. And call me Ford. I suspect we'll be on opposite sides of some fences, and we can't have a good row unless we're on a first name basis!

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 27 September 2007 at 12:55pm BST
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