Wednesday, 29 September 2004

ECUSA developments

In Los Angeles, Bishop Bruno has said that he will not take legal action against Bishop Maurice Benitez: Bishop to Hold Off on Charges

Meanwhile NACDAP has published this Analysis of Bishop Bruno’s Lawsuit Against St. James Church, Newport Beach (it would be more comprehensible if the source documents were available)

The ECUSA House of Bishops has held a meeting in Spokane. Larry Stammer reported on it this way: Bishops End Session With Hope and here is the ENS press release, A word to the Episcopal Church from the House of Bishops.

Another ENS press release is subtitled House of Bishops informed of network leaders’ plan to launch parallel agency and refers to this announcement by NACDAP: Anglican Relief and Development Fund Launched. The same body had earlier claimed that SUPPORT AND RECOGNITION OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION NETWORK INCREASES. The figures in that release deserve some analysis in due course.

Yet another item of interest from this HoB meeting is on titusonenine and is Bishop Epting’s House of Bishops’ Presentation concerning the status of ECUSA’s ecumenical relations.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 29 September 2004 at 10:06 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA
A list of those bishops who boycotted the House of Bishops meeting so far include:
  • Ackerman, Quincy
  • Herzog, Albany
  • Iker, Ft. Worth
  • Stanton, Dallas
  • Beckwith, Springfield
  • Duncan, Pittsburgh
There were conflicting reports that Gray (Asst.) and/or Jones (Suffragan) of Virginia did or did not attend (with no clear reports of motivation). Lipscomb of SW Florida did not attend for health reasons, and as far as I’m concerned, anyone from Florida has a perfectly valid excuse for missing the meeting :) Posted by: David Huff at September 29, 2004 11:10 PM

TitusOneNine has published a letter from Assistant Bishop Frank Gray of Virginia explaining his reasons for not attending the meeting:

Posted by: RB at September 30, 2004 02:39 AM

An additional, tho’ not surprising, boycotter:

  • Schofield, San Joaquin

So along with Quincy and Fort Worth, that’s the entire “He-Man Woman Haters” club and their sympathetic, AAC allies.

Posted by: David Huff at September 30, 2004 02:04 PM

Mr Huff, one would have thought that a “thinking Anglican” would not resort to that sort of foolish ad hominem “argument”.

Posted by: Todd Granger at October 1, 2004 06:53 PM

Mr. Granger, Apparently you didn’t get the reference. It was to a series of comedy movies made in the U.S. during the 1920’s and 30’s called The Little Rascals. In this series, the young boys had a clubhouse where they referred to themselves per the above.

In the ECUSA, the bishops of Ft. Worth, Quincy and San Joaquin “distinguish” themselves by not ordaining women - in clear violation of Church Canons.

Posted by: David Huff at October 1, 2004 09:32 PM

Mr. Granger is quite right, and the reference is beside the point. You were clearly dismissing those three bishops and the rest of the AAC bishops (who ordain women) as sexist. It is indeed an argumentum ad hominem, an attack upon the people’s character instead of their positions and reasons for them.

Posted by: RB at October 2, 2004 12:01 PM

I’m sorry RB, but your point is ?? Of course they’re sexist, and I have no intention of being tolerant of that. I wouldn’t be tolerant of a bishop that refused to ordain someone based on their race or ethnic background either…

And no, it isn’t an ad hominem remark if it’s germane to the subject at hand. Being sexist is a sign that these bishops don’t respect the dignity of every human being - which shows both poor judgement and a lack of Christian moral values.

Posted by: David Huff at October 2, 2004 09:03 PM

It’s not germane to the subject at hand; it’s a smokescreen. In the first place, of the nine dioceses that are part of the network, six of them ordain women as priests; only three of them do not. In the second place, the action which precipitated this event was not the ordination of women but the dedication of a practicing homosexual to the episcopate. In the third place, you presume that anyone who opposes the ordination of women is a sexist and doesn’t respect the dignity of every human being. This would include far more than those three dioceses, but also the Roman Catholic church, the Othodox churches, much of the Anglican Communion, and probably most of the evangelical churches — possibly the vast majority of Christians, excepting only Anglicans, liberal Protestants, and a few evangelical sects (mostly among the holiness/pentecostal types). That is quite an assumption. Do you know the reasons all these people oppose women’s ordination, and can you demonstrate that all of them boil down to sexism and a lack of respect for human dignity? I support women’s ordination as well, but I would hesitate to characterize all these people in this way.

As I see it, there are some profound implications in suggesting the Episcopal Church refuse to tolerate people who oppose women’s ordination. First, of course, the Episcopal Church should withdraw from the Anglican Communion now. There are far too many primates who refuse to ordain women. Secondly, most of our ecumenical discussions should cease, especially with the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox. We don’t need them. Third, let those three dioceses go unless they conform now; they have no place in the Episcopal Church. (It is, of course, an open question who gets the property — we’ll let the lawyers sort that out.) Fourth, those who refuse who refuse to ordain homosexuals should be put on notice; after all, refusing their ordination also implies a lack of respect for human dignity, does it not? The fact that these bishops don’t come to the HoB meetings is a positive thing; their negative influence is undesirable. The bad thing is that this schism is taking so long to happen.

Is this how you would see your position? If not, why not?

I can only hope your attitude isn’t widely shared in the Episcopal Church. If it is, the effort to establish this Network for conservative Episcopalians (which I had been opposing) is absolutely justified.

Posted by: RB at October 3, 2004 12:30 AM

In the first place, of the nine dioceses that are part of the network, six of them ordain women as priests; only three of them do not.

And I implied nothing more or less than that.

you presume that anyone who opposes the ordination of women is a sexist and doesn’t respect the dignity of every human being.

I don’t speak for the ECUSA in this, just myself. But if one judges the fitness of a person to do a job based solely on their gender, and finds that person lacking purely due to their gender, then that’s the definition of sexism. And to be sexist, racist or (in my opinion) homophobic is to not respect the dignity of many of your fellow human beings.

Third, let those three dioceses go unless they conform now; they have no place in the Episcopal Church. (It is, of course, an open question who gets the property — we’ll let the lawyers sort that out.)

If it were up to me, yes - I’d be much more proactive in enforcing our Canons in those three dioceses. I find the attitude of these three bishops, quite frankly, an embarrassment to us. I’d feel exactly the same way if they refused to ordain people of color. And yes, I am old enough to remember when people of color were not welcome in most Episcopal Churches…

But no, I don’t want these dioceses to leave and never implied that I did. It would be a tragedy for the church. My beef is with their bishops, not with every Episcopalian resident there (I’m not so simple minded as to think that, for example, every church member in Ft. Worth is sexist. I know for a fact that they’re not :)

BTW, the property question isn’t that open. Heard of the “Dennis Canon” by chance ? (though I am aware that such cases aren’t completely open and shut, and as they say on the Internet, “I Am Not A Lawyer”)

You’re also are making snap judgements about my “attitude.” I think the ECUSA should have plenty of room for “conservatives” - as long as they don’t try to shove their beliefs down everyone else’s throats and agree to abide by their ordination vows to obey the Constitution and Canons of this church.

We have many thoughtful and honorable conservatives in the Episcopal Church. I’d suggest reading pastoral letters and such written by the likes of +David Bane (Southern Virginia), +Don Johnson (West Tenn.) and +Herbert Thompson (Southern Ohio). They somehow manage to maintain collegial relationships with their fellow bishops, attend HoB meetings, and work to build up the church - all from a conservative viewpoint, without being members of an organization attempting to supplant or tear down our church (the AAC/”Network”).

In closing, I apologize if I came across as, well, “very worked up” about this. I do feel quite passionately about these issues and am also resident in one of those nine diocese you mention. Unless you are a mainstream Episcopalian in one of those places, you have absolutely no idea what a hostile environment it is becoming. The AAC-types are trying to drive out, or simply disenfranchise & silence, anyone who doesn’t toe their line. It can really be quite discouraging.

Posted by: David Huff at October 3, 2004 02:30 AM

If I have given a snap judgment, based on your refusal to tolerate those bishops, I apologize. I don’t know you, of course, and can’t judge you based on a few comments in a blog.

I find some irony in your post, and have a much too long response to them. I especially refers to the comments:

“I think the ECUSA should have plenty of room for “conservatives” - as long as they don’t try to shove their beliefs down everyone else’s throats and agree to abide by their ordination vows to obey the Constitution and Canons of this church.”


“I’d be much more proactive in enforcing our Canons in those three dioceses.”

You realize, of course, that until 1997, those canons did not apply to dioceses that objected due to conscience and their traditional theology. The recent determination to enforce those canons is, to speak frankly, the way the majority has determined to shove their beliefs down the traditionalists’ throats.

I believe several of those bishops were already in place before 1997. The Canons changed after they were elected, to something they felt they could not in good conscience obey. They also were duly elected in their dioceses, as was Robinson, and possibly reflect the views of the majority of the people in their respective dioceses. If the liberal Episcopalians cannot tolerate the more conservative bishops, how can they expect the conservative ones to tolerate Robinson? They are, after all, greatly embarrassed by him in ecumenical circles. Maybe these bishops are sexists (or at least, their position on this issue is sexist – in other ways, it is quite possible that they are very respectful of the dignity of women). Are they and the people they represent therefore unworthy of being treated with dignity and rightfully pushed into positions that violate their convictions?

The idea of enforcing these changes on those who don’t accept is comical. The Episcopal Church doesn’t have field marshals and guns, and has little leverage for such coercion. Then there is this matter of religious liberty. Forcing compliance in matters of faith smacks of the Inquisition, and the days of the Inquisition are long gone. It is no surprise that the attempts have been so ineffective, and it is a pity the Episcopal Church gave up on the idea of reception for women’s ordination when they were only three dioceses short of full agreement. They appear to have substituted a process that was working, though slowly, for a process that can’t possibly work and causes tremendous alienation.

The potential weakness of a democratic process, including that of the Episcopal Church, is that a democracy is not always cognizant of the rights and perspectives of minorities within it, unless it sets up checks and balances. From the perspective of the three dioceses in question, it would be valid to interpret this move as a “tyranny of the majority.” The message given to those three dioceses is clear enough (to borrow from another famous series of movies): “Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated.”

Might I suggest that despite all the rhetoric from the presiding bishop and others to the contrary, respect for diversity in the Episcopal Church may well have ended in 1997, at least toward conservatives? Yes, I understand full well how important is the inclusion of women in the leadership of the church to many of us. It’s important to me also. I have two daughters, and I don’t want them to think of themselves as second-class Christians. But to trample upon the convictions of those who believe, like other sacramental churches such as the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches, and even much of the Anglican Communion, that the priesthood should be restricted to males, is simply oppression from the perspective of those who hold such convictions.

Now we have declared someone a “bishop of the church of God” (not just of New Hampshire) who is a practicing homosexual, and same-sex blessing are declared acceptable. How long before they are mandatory rituals, and homosexual priests are mandatory, in the name of “justice”? When will conservatives be told that not ordaining homosexuals is a clear violation of church canons, and they must choose between a clear violation of the canons and of the Word of God (as they and most Christians understand it, not according to the agenda-driven reinterpretation of a very few)? This would be intolerable; evangelicals cannot turn their backs on scripture and still be evangelical, any more than Anglo-Catholics can turn against tradition and call themselves catholic.

It is my opinion that schism within the Episcopal Church would be an utter disaster. Liberals and conservatives need each other; they force each other to ask the hard questions and keep each other balanced. But keeping the church together will be very hard work indeed. I’m not sure the Church is prepared or willing to do the work. Liberal and conservative minorities in various dioceses are both suffering, as I follow the Episcopal news in the blogs. The greatest sign I see that reconciliation is not coming are the argumenti ad hominem and the insults that both sides use so freely. Instead of listening to each other, we demonize each other, and disrespect breeds distrust. There will be no reconciliation without trust and true, not feigned, respect for each other.

Posted by: RB at October 5, 2004 12:53 AM

“How long before they are mandatory rituals, and homosexual priests are mandatory, in the name of “justice”?”

Oh, this one’s too easy, RB: Never. While I really don’t want to impugn your motives in asking it, I can’t help but suspect Ye Olde Straw Man.

Correct me if I’m wrong: the 1997 Canonical change on women’s ordination was not that the “conscience-bound” (aka “recalcitrant”) bishops personally ordain women, only that they not bar parishes in their diocese from selecting a woman priest if they so chose! Now, how is that “shoving something down conservative throats”? (Aren’t conservative parishes who disagree with their ordinary demanding far, far more autonomy than that?)

Yes, I suppose that in the future, a parish here or there, will request the same right to potentially select a gay priest (in a non-ordaining diocese). I also suspect that a “conscience clause” (for bishops who want to deny their parishes that choice) will persist a lot longer than the one on women did.

“Oh, but whether such a clause lasts a year or a century, you’re still demanding that gay priests (or perhaps, a parish’s similar choice to bless same-sex unions) will potentially be anywhere in ECUSA after a certain period of time!”

Y’know, there was another movement within the People of God, that was seen as a radical, apostate departure. Those within the movement were determined to spread it, whereas traditionalists were horrified. What to do? A wise one from the traditionalists offered this advice: “let [the radicals] be, because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—-in that case you may even be found fighting against God!” (Rabbi Gamaliel, quoted in Acts 5:38-39)

Now, from our perspective, 20 centuries after the radicals got going, wouldn’t you agree that “the undertaking” was of God? (even if, sadly, a lot of Christian behavior towards Gamaliel’s spiritual heirs, the Jews, has not been).

The opportunity arose, in the case of women priests (and of gay priests, too), to judge them by their fruits (I’ll agree that it would be great if every bishop was so persuaded . . . I’m just not sure it’s justified to punish each and every parish of a bishop not yet convinced: alternative episcopal oversight anyone?). That is also now the case of gay bishops/same-sex blessings: let’s see what fruits [hah-hah, I get it] are produced—-over the decades—-shall we? The canonical processes for negative judgment (the GC, presentment) will still be there, if the fruits are found wanting.

Posted by: J. C. Fisher at October 5, 2004 11:53 PM
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