06 July 2010

A poor substitute for Freedom in Christ

I'm running several days behind in reading the multitude of online newspapers and blogs that form part of my early morning routine. I've just read the guardian.co.uk for 30 June and finished an excellent article by Savitri Hensman on the troubles in the Anglican Communion. She must have been following the issue for a very long time or she's been poking about Fr.Jake's place.

For those of us in the North Americas, the issue is an old one. But for England, this is fresh blood on the white flag of St. George. They are about to experience what their former American Colonies got face-full of while the ABC sat in his comfy overstuffed chair by the fire drinking sherry silent as the tomb. Now, however, it's about to make mince out of his own church and there is naught that he can do to stop it, now. Had he acted years ago, he would not be about to jump from the frying pan into the flames.

I must admit to having more than a modicum of schadenfreude. (I'll say ten Ave's, Pater's and Gloria's and whacking good Act of Contrition, but I'll be smiling though them all.)

Any road, Savitra Hensman writes in her article The proposed Covenant is the culmination of a conservative and homophobic drive for power in the Anglican Communion that 
The Archbishop of Canterbury has been a champion of greater centralism among Anglicans worldwide, supposedly to strengthen unity. But recent events have exposed the tawdry reality behind talk of "interdependence" and "bonds of affection".
 This, Hensman points out, is contrary to the "founding documents" of the Communion:
The 1878 Lambeth Conference resolved that "the duly certified action of every national or particular Church, and of each ecclesiastical province (or diocese not included in a province), in the exercise of its own discipline, should be respected by all the other Churches" and "no bishop or other clergyman of any other Church should exercise his functions within that diocese without the consent of the bishop thereof" .
This was, however, "selectively applied." In 1997 a Rwandan bishop declared that he was in charge of a parish in Arkansas (I didnt' remember this). When the diocesan protested, Lambeth responded by explaining that Lambeth's resolutions only had "moral authority" and the attempt to undermine The Episcopal Church (TEC) went unpunished, and largely unnoticed. Keep in mind that this was a year before the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

Ms. Hensman writes that:
Yet the tune changed when in 2003 the Episcopal Church, after decades of theological debate, consecrated a partnered gay man as bishop of New Hampshire. This move was fiercely condemned by leaders such as Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria for damaging Anglican unity. Likewise approval of same-sex unions by a diocese in Canada. was widely condemned. Border-crossing intensified.
And what happened, TEC became the great Satan and the homophobes became the saviours of the world - in their own minds.

It is a telling thing that in any church power and politics trumps Jesus and his love for all creation. As Hensman rightly states, "This is a poor substitute for freedom in Christ."