07 August 2008

Episcoapl bishop will ordain "gays"

I thought that headline might attract a few readers!

There is an ineresting wee article by Michael Paulson that appeared today in the Boston Globe.

Paulson writes that as the bishops of the Anglican Communion return home from Lambeth, things will continue to be a muddle. Conservatives contending that the Communion is moving toward schism and liberals contending that the Communion is stabilizing. He believes the path forward is unclear.

Most of his article focuses on the ordination of GLBT people. He sees the issue going on exactly as it has in the past. He quotes the Rt. Rev’d. M. Thomas Shaw*, Massachusetts, as stating it is “pastorally important” that he continue to ordain gay clergy. Additionally, he notes that Shaw’s priests will continue to bless same-gender marriages. Shaw added,

I haven’t authorized anybody to do anything; the local priests are dong so on their own.

However, he will not stop the priests from “acting on their own” initiative. Good on Bishop Shaw (and Bruno and Andrus).

Paulson wrote that

As for whether [Shaw] would follow up on his earlier intention to push for ending the moratorium on gay bishops and allowing church recognition of same-sex marriage when the Episcopal Church meets at its General Convention next year, Shaw said he would now wait until he meets with all the American bishops next month to decide how he will proceed.

Commenting on Lambeth, Shaw said

I don't think anything happened that is going to wow you or your readers.

Bishop Shaw who is seen as one of the TEC’s leading liberals was host to several gatherings in the UK to introduce +Gene Robinson to bishops from who view Robinson's homosexuality with concern.

We had frank and good discussions about expectations of one another, and what our context is pastorally, and how it differs from, say, Africa to the United States. I think people communicated well.

Paulsen has an interesting quote from the Rt. Rev’d. William L. Murdoch of the Anglican Church of Kenya. Murdoch as you might remember is the former the rector of an Episcopal parish in West Newbury and now the rector of an Anglican parish in Amesbury. Murdoch was “irregularly” consecrated. Murdoch states that he

[Expects] that the "boundary crossings" by foreign bishops into the United States [will] also continue, because there is no alternative for traditionalist Episcopalians in the United States.

Who is going to offer pastoral care to those churches that want to remain connected to the Anglican Communion but not the Episcopal Church "That's why our work will continue.

Murdoch said traditionalists are moving toward establishing another province, or branch, of the Anglican Communion in North America for disaffected Episcopalians.

The Lambeth Conference itself and the archbishop of Canterbury, for all their efforts, were not able to come up with any new efforts at trying to put in place any instrument that could exercise discipline to correct the brokenness of the communion.

There it is again – punishment. Why is it that the “traditionalists” are so obsessed with punishment? Additionally, how is a cleric in another province/diocese/parish a threat to one’s spirituality? My spiritual wellness is not at risk because Uganda refuses to ordain women or gay people. It’s all about fear, well that and power.

Scholars say the impact of the conference, if any, will play out over time. According the Rev’d. Ian T. Douglas, a professor at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge (the only American on the Lambeth conference committee,

For the first time in a long time, bishops had the opportunity to talk face to face with one another and be honest about what's happening in their church.

It clearly impacted the bishops, but what that means when they have to make tough choices will be some measure. And as to how much that has affected the dioceses and the pews, we shall see.

It will be interesting to see how the US College of Bishops deals with the aftermath of Lambeth when they meet in September. I predict that nothing, as Shaw said, “Will wow your readers.” Some bishops will back off, but not all will do so.

We know that the Anglican Church of Canada is not going to back down, at least not on same-gender blessings. The Most Rev’d. Fred Hiltz, Primate of Canada, told Reuters in a phnoe interview yesterday (Wednesday) that

[It] would be especially tough for Bishop Michael Ingham of the British Columbia diocese of New Westminster to halt the homosexual blessings altogether.

Hiltz pointed out that the decision-making synods of four more Canadian dioceses have in the past year asked their bishops to authorize same-sex blessings.

We know that the Anglican Church of Scotland is not going to back down, either. During Lambeth Conference itself the Dean of the Glasgow cathedral officiated at a same-gender blessing.

What is that song from the 1960’s? Oh, yes!

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

Bob Dylan recorded that song, but first guy to sing it was a man named Jesus.

* The Rt Rev'd M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE., was consecrated Bishop of The Diocese of Massachusetts in 1994 In 1975, he entered the Society of St. John the Evangelist, a religious order of priests and lay brothers in the Episcopal Church. Life professed in the society in 1981, he was elected superior in 1983. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from General Theological Seminary in New York and a Master of Arts degree in theology from the Catholic University of America

UPDATE: To prove that things truly are changing, go read this letter published in the Lead today.