Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why wary of Schori?

Why is there a cone of silence over Presiding Bishop Schori's visit to Australia (noting a comment made on my post below "Calming")? Why, as commenters have observed on this blog, is there a sense of ambiguity in the public news about her visit to Aotearoa New Zealand?

I want to suggest that it is due to two factors, one of which is less visible than the other. The first, more visible factor is that there is disagreement and division in the Communion about the course TEC has taken with respect to ordaining bishops in same sex partnerships, and giving clear signals it is moving towards formal authorisation of blessing of same sex partnerships. That must mean (I suppose, I have not been talking to Down Under archbishops and bishops about their thinking) that it is difficult to be unambiguous in talking about this visit. An unambiguous speech-act in one direction might give a wrong signal that ++Schori is not welcome; in another direction it might give a wrong signal to other parts of the Communion that Down Under we are conforming to some of the stereotypes across the internet, that 'Australia and New Zealand' are following TEC, in TEC's pocket, poised to join TEC's new global movement, and the like. So ++Katharine Jefferts Schori is welcome, but enthusiasm for this visit at this time is restrained.

The less visible factor, perhaps because it is of more concern to one section of our Down Under churches than to all, is this: a number of us feel we are in fellowship as Anglicans with the many clergy and congregations in North America who have decided to leave TEC or ACCan for other forms of being Anglican (particularly ACNA). Much as we recognise that we are in fellowship with Presiding Bishop Schori because she is a bishop in good standing with a church which is a member church of the Communion, we are equivocal about the role of her office in the departure of our Anglican brothers and sisters in Christ. We do not understand why they have had to be deposed, why litigation about property is occurring, especially in situations where it turns out that no replacement Episcopalian congregation can sustain the buildings they have secured through litigation and so the building is sold to anyone except the new ACNA congregation. But we especially cannot fathom why the turn of events through this decade has moved in the polarising and divisive direction it has taken.

If this is the way forward on embracing change in respect of same sex partnered clergy and blessings of same sex partnerships then we do not want a bar of it. The 'lead' being given by TEC, the 'model' for the future of Anglicanism is not one we wish to take up. There has to be a better way.

I know of no Anglican in Aotearoa New Zealand who wishes to see our church divided in the way division has occurred in North America. So this less visible second factor is a concern potentially shared by all of us.

But for some of us this second concern is already a serious concern. There are Anglicans here for whom the most difficult thing about responding to the Presiding Bishop's presence in our midst is not that there is disagreement with her on homosexuality (we have such disagreements among ourselves), but that there are Anglican brothers and sisters in Christ in the USA who are now formally out of the Anglican Communion because of the way things have been handled in the last decade.


Anonymous said...

"But we especially cannot fathom why the turn of events through this decade has moved in the polarising and divisive direction it has taken..."

"We cannot understand why our wealthy patients have died and your guttersnipes have lived."
Dr Ignaz Semmelweis understood perfectly well, and lost his job for his pains.
I'll spell it out. Tec has largely ceased to be Christian, and no amount of mummery and haberdashery can hide that fact.
Al Mynors

James Majors said...

Your reasoning seems assbackwards to me and Mr.Mynors comments indicate where his head is stuck. No one has forced out the "conservative minority" from the Episcopal Church. In fact a true conservatism coexists quite well with the more liberal stream in true Anglican fashion. The extreme right has exited all on their own and as squatters have taken from the landlord and thus continue to lose in the US courts. The Anglican provinces which have interfered with the Episcopal Church have in large part been implicated in these divisions, obstructed our internal reconciliations and are apparently intent on foisting two Anglican provinces on US soil. You are right in not wishing such a division upon your Church (as overblown as that has been.) I am not informed about the Church of New Zealand but you are poorly informed as well about us if you think that your divisions are not your own or think you could handle them with more grace if someone came and occupied your house.
When that day comes you will have more to learn from the Presiding Bishop Shori than to fear her foisting our divisions upon you.

Furthermore your sympathy is not placed with the victim but the perpetrators which prevents the wholeheartness of your reception of the US Primate, who is far too humble to characterize the relationship with the independent Australian and New Zealand churches as being in her pocket! Indeed the respect for the polity of the independent churches is at the operational heart of the Anglican communion and of the patience and restraint the Episcopal Church has exercised towards our wayward brothers and sisters in the interfering provinces who, not only by such interference(which is by far a greater threat to the Anglican communion) but more importantly by their persecution of their gay and lesbian minorities afflict the body of Christ

Anonymous said...

Hi, James and thanks for your gracious words.
If you really imagine that "a true conservatism coexists quite well with the more liberal stream in true Anglican fashion" - well, I will refrain from offering a cephalo-proctological metaphor. You could also say that black and white co-existed quite well in ante-bellum Dixie. Which they largely did, if you're happy to accept abuse and subordination. It was those interfering Yankees with their border crossings....
Property laws are immensely complex and vary from state to state, and judges themselves have difficulty in coming to decisions - even before the status of the Dennis canon comes into play. So I would refrain from labeling people 'squatters' until true title is established.
Al Mynors

Peter Carrell said...

Hi James,
My own personal knowledge of the situation in the USA re departures is that
(a) not all are 'extreme right'
(b) priests and congregations have left TEC through their own assessment of the situation they have found themselves in, without foreign intervention assisting in the departure, but glad to find that other parts of the Anglican Communion are willing to offer episcopal oversight
(c) "squatters" is a derogatory term when we are talking about congregations consisting of people who have worshipped for many years in the building they now seek to continue to worship in
(d) in some cases reconciling solutions have been found which begs the question why so much litigation is going on.

I hold no truck with homophobia, and in the case of ACNA it's development is towards independency from Anglican church overseas against which the accusation of homophobia is frequently brought.

But the most important point in my post is that Anglican churches Down Under have an opportunity to learn from their North American counterparts, and the most important question I was asking was why the wariness Down Under about the visits. If some kind of backwards reasoning applies to the Primates of our respective churches, perhaps you would care to lay out your case with them!