Monday, November 8, 2010

Not much news in this announcement

Odd story in the news of Anglican doings. Bishop Gene Robinson is to retire. But on closer inspection this 'event' will not take place in February, 2011 (three months notice) or May, 2011 (six months notice) or November, 2011 (twelve months notice), but in January, 2013 (26 months notice). Perhaps even odder is this:

"The first openly gay Episcopal bishop, whose consecration instigated a global religious controversy, announced today that he would take early retirement, citing stress from the experience". (Explanatory note re 'early retirement': +Robinson will be 65 then, but he does not have to retire till he is 70).

Now perhaps, dear readers, you live in a different world to me, but in my world stressed people who cite stress as a reason for early retirement do not then stay in the job for a further 26 months! No doubt +Robinson has been stressed by his role as lightening rod for discontent in the Episcopalian and Anglican worlds in which he has become one of our most famous figures, but it is an oddity of this story that stress is the reason given for announcing retirement more than two years away.

However the point I think which is worth noting more about this news is that it is, in a way, a non-news story: it purports to be about a significant change, +Robinson retiring, but I find it impossible to conceive that +Robinson will cease to be retired after January, 2013 in respect of media presence and comment. In his ministry as Bishop of New Hampshire he has been a bishop of everywhere, travelling widely and speaking plentifully. Will that change in retirement? I foresee +Robinson for many years to come being an ever present voice in Anglican matters. A new Spong for a new age!


Fr. Bryan Owen said...

Given the odd character of announcing "early" retirement while planning to stay on the job for another 26 months along with the politics of the Episcopal Church, it's hard to not draw the conclusion that there's more going on here than we've been told.

Peter Carrell said...

Perhaps, but +Robinson strikes me as a person who cannot keep from verbalising things ... if he came to an inner decision that 2013 is the time to go then he needed to put it out there. It's the 'stress' bit which (IMHO) is puzzling! But I shall keep an eye on the possible 'politics' of it all :)

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

Baby Blue Online offers the following food for thought on all of this:

"The timing is fascinating. Nothing is done without some planning. If he retires in January 2013, well guess what happens in 2012? The Episcopal Church has a General Convention. Last time the New Hampshire election was timed so that the voting to affirm Gene Robinson's election would be done at General Convention 2003. It will be interesting to see if New Hampshire follows the same strategy again. The 2012 General Convention is slated to take up the Anglican Covenant as well."

Suem said...

I think receiving death threats and being banned from the Lambeth Conference and all the press furore would be pretty stressful. I agree that the timing does seem strange though, but with Glasspool in place, TEC or Robinson could not possibly have thought this would change the underlying tensions?

I sincerely hope he will continue to be a voice in the Communion for many years to come.

Brother David said...

Unlike other perhaps less conscientious folk, +Gene is one who likes to see that everything is handled properly and everyone is taken care of. He can be a bit of a Mother Hen, in a good and loving manner.

Since the election process in TEC takes a bit longer than appointing bishops in other provinces, he said in his talk at the closing session of the diocesan convention that he wants the diocese to have the time to choose the team who will handle the process, elect a bishop co-adjutor, receive consents at TEC General Convention 2012, consecrate the new bishop and give him or her an over lap period of about three months with him to settle into the diocese.

I think that +Desmond Tutu would be the more likely role model for +Gene's retirement.

Paul Powers said...

David: I agree with your assessment, except that I believe coadjutors usually serve for a year or so under the outgoing bishop before taking over the reins (I think two years is the outside limit under the canons). I'm also not sure he'll necessarily try to time it so that the new bishop-elect will have to get consent from GC instead of from the diocesan bishops and standing committees.

Brother David said...

Paul, I am not taking a stab at conjecture. I am stating exactly the scenario that +Gene himself drew during his closing remarks at NH's diocesan convention, as I previously stated. His talk is available in full if you wish to see it for yourself at Preludium.

The only bishop with the right to diocesan succession is a coadjutor, regardless of the time served. Otherwise it would be a bishop suffragan and that is not what HN is seeking.