18 September 2008

Wales reject flying bishops, covenant, and homosexuality as a communion breaker

[Updated and revised]

Well things just keep getting worse for the Most Rev’d Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England.

In a move that must have made him groan, the bishops of The Church In Wales have decided they will no longer cater to those priests and laity who reject women in Holy Orders.

According to an article in Wales Online, The Most Rev’d Barry Morgan, Primate of the Church in Wales made the announcement yesterday.

We reaffirm as Diocesan Bishops our commitment to securing a continuing place in the life of the Church in Wales for those who cannot in conscience accept the ordination of women to the priesthood. However, we no longer consider that the continuation of additional Episcopal provision for one part of the church on grounds of belief or doctrine on one particular issue is either necessary or consistent with Anglican ecclesiology

From 1996 until this past June, The Rt. Rev’d David Thomas has served as a Provincial Assistant Bishop for those whom Bishop Morgan described.

In April, the Church in Wales rejected the consecration of women by three votes. In light of that decision, I’m not sure I understand the new move. “No women bishops and no male bishops for those who reject women’s ordination.”

One really must feel sorry for the fundamentalists. The world is getting smaller for them and the only place to hide is in Africa or a wee spot in South America. I propose that all the fundamentalists move to Nigeria where 99 percent of the world’s Anglicans worship on any given Sunday. Well, if one believes the hyperbole, that is.

And it just kept getting worse for Rowan. Dr. Morgan rejected the idea of homosexuality as being a “communion breaker” and also rejected the “covenant” in a rather strong condemnation of the fundamentalists.

[One] of the glories of Anglicanism has been about being held together by our beliefs as contained in historic creeds and formulas but not by agreement to particular statements about that faith in each generation. That is the difference between belonging to a Communion rather than a confession.

Moreover, GAFCON members do not believe in engaging in dialogue with people with whom they disagree on human sexuality because it means being open to the possibility that the position of one’s opponent might be true when the plain sense reading of Scripture shows, in their view, that it is not.

Why is it that, as far as Anglicanism is concerned, we do not interpret the Scriptures literally when it comes to issues such as usury or marriage and divorce to name but two, but insist on a literal interpretation of texts that allegedly deal with homosexuality?

He said that while certain leaders are focusing on homosexuality, the fact is the vast majority of Britons who are married with Church of England Rites come to marriage having lived together for a considerable time before marriage or are divorced yet the church blesses such couples.

It is difficult to believe that we have boxed ourselves into this particular corner.

Allegorical, symbolical and mythical interpretations are allowed and have been allowed from the time of the Fathers to the present day for every part of the Bible, except for those that deal with sexuality and one is also left wondering why there cannot be diversity on this issue as on so many other moral issues.

Ouch! To quote a histrionics expert, “That must have sent chills though Lambeth Palace…” Remember that although ++Rowan is Archbishop of the Church of England, he is a member of the Church In Wales. As such, Dr. Morgan is Rowan’s archbishop. Here Rowan Williams’ own primate has called Rowan’s position a load of rubbish.

Dr. Morgan acknowledged that the severity of the current crisis was “unleashed” when the Rev’d Gene Robinson was elected bishop of New Hampshire. But, at least Dr. Morgan said “elected” which is a fact the fundamentalists like to ignore. The prefer to believe he was appointed by TEC.

[T]he consecration of a bishop living in a same-gender union has caused deep upset and outrage and questions both the view of Scripture and tradition, has hampered mission in some parts of the Communion and led to the persecution of Christians in others, and has impaired ecumenical relationships as our Roman Catholic observers told us.

On the other hand, in other places, it has sent positive messages about the place of homosexuals in God’s church.”

For Morgan, the highlight of Lambeth was the march in London to honour the UN Millennium Goals.

As the Prime Minister reminded us, 10 million children each year die avoidable deaths from Tb, polio, diphtheria and malaria; 77 million children have no schools to attend and 100 million people face starvation in our world today.

I am left wondering that had we spent our energy on promoting these goals, rather than on debating sexuality over the last 10 years, how different things might be now.

To that, I say a hearty “amen.”

[Unless otherwise noted, all emphasis is added.]