Thinking Anglicans

New Zealand marriage blessing proposals

The Church Times this week carries a report on New Zealand: Priests could be authorised to offer same-sex blessings in New Zealand

Here are some links from New Zealand that contain more information:

AnglicanTaonga New way forward? Report out now

Full text of the report here.

Peter Carrell
Beautiful Anglican Accommodation – Down Under’s Way Forward

Bosco Peters
Blessing Same-Gender Couples

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CynthiaFather Ron SmithTobias HallercrsBrian Ralph Recent comment authors
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Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

The official Report from the ACANZP Working Group on its proposals for a ‘Way Forward’ on Same-Sex Blessings would seem to be the only way in which our Church can maintain ‘the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace’ which will lead to a proper containment of diversity of conscientious responses to gender and sexuality issues. This is remarkable when one considers the stark diversity of the membership of the Working Group – from a Gafcon-friendly bishop to a Gay-affirming layperson – both, however, seemingly intent on keeping the Church together despite their acute differences. If this proposition… Read more »

Shamus
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Shamus

“This range of tools means that if you are a clergy person who is unable to support the blessings of same gender couples, then the canonical changes will ensure that you are not required to participate in such blessings and there will be no disciplinary nor adverse consequences for you declining to be involved. Similarly, if you are a clergy person who is supportive of such blessings or you see this as a social justice issue, then there will be a structure by which such blessings can occur and there will be no disciplinary nor adverse consequences for you conducting… Read more »

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

Unsurprisingly Peter Jenson is unimpressed especially with Peter Carrells defence of a middle way…see his The Mythical Middle on anglicandownunder.

Brian Ralph
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Brian Ralph

Sadly I do not have much hope. I am reliably told that at the last General synod in May 2016 there were the numbers to pass something similar to this but the threats of a mass walkout of the church by the opponents meant a committee was formed and any decision was put off for another 2 years. I quote from the blog of the since retired Bishop Dunedin “Our General synod, from which I am now in the process of travelling home, spent about 3 days of its week long agenda discussing sexuality. What conservatives were being asked for… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

Thanks, Perry for your comment. As former archbishop Peter Jensen is foremost in the Gafcon sodality (whose own comments on extremist views belie the fact that his own extremism is one of the most formidable proponents of schism in the Anglican Communion), it behoves his cause to belttle what is being proposed – in the way of eirenic inclusivism in the New Zealand Church. One tends to forget that P.J.’s advocacy of ‘Lay Presidency’ at the Eucharist which – together with his repudiation of women priests – has already split the Australian Anglican Church with its ill-founded claim to exclusive… Read more »

Peter Carrell
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Peter Carrell

Thanks Perry.
The actual link to ++Peter Jensen’s article and my response is: https://anglicandownunder.blogspot.co.nz/2017/08/which-peter-is-muddled-in-his-moderate.html

For clarity: I do not think ++Peter Jensen reads my blog. I think he is writing in a general way about moderate Anglicanism around the globe and its capacity to be muddle-headed.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

For the record, this is exactly how TEC did SSB several years ago, and handles marriage now. No priest has to do any wedding they don’t believe in, for any reason. The problem is when a bishop wants to keep an entire diocese from being inclusive. That is an imposition on the LGBTQI people, and affirming congregations.

Helen Jacobi
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Dear Thinking Anglicans

You may like to add my blog to your list

https://helenjacobi.com/2017/08/12/the-report-about-the-report-about-the-report/

Thanks for the interest

crs
Guest
crs

“The problem is when a bishop wants to keep an entire diocese from being inclusive.”

This is a perfect illustration of falsehood parading as righteous ire. On it goes.

It is of course the dioceses themselves which have, in orderly assembly, passed canons on marriage. Not big bad bishops.

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

For the record, this is exactly how TEC did SSB several years ago, and handles marriage now. No priest has to do any wedding they don’t believe in, for any reason.

Cynthia this is the Cof E practice on heterosexual divorce and re-marriage too.

Andrew Lightbown
Guest

I don’t think in a UK context we could have a situation where decisions are made at the diocesan level. It would give each diocesan bishop too much power and vest too much authority in the integrity an individual bishop holds. What would happen if an incoming bishop held the opposite integrity? I would also be fearful of creating (or at least formalizing) a market in dioceses. It would have to be a parish decision. Subsidiarity suggests that decision making should be devolved to the most local level.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

This result, in ACANZP, being a side-step rather than an actual ‘Way Forward’ for LGBT inclusion in our Church, simply reflects the fact that a GAFCON-affirming bishop was chosen to be part of the Working Group that produced this Report.

This, presumably, was the result of the con/evo pressure in our Church to rein in the influence of the pro-Motion-30 people who had advocated a real move forward towards the eradication of homophobia and sexism in ACANZP. The alternative was no less than the threat of schismatic severance.

Susannah Clark
Guest

Andrew: “Subsidiarity suggests that decision making should be devolved to the most local level.”

Hit the nail on the head. If a local church community – in living relationship with its parish neighbourhood – believes in good conscience that they must signal acceptance and affirmation to LGBT+ people living in their midst, then that decision – based on conscience – really ought to be theirs.

It’s just common sense.

crs
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crs

Mr Lightbown, of course the CofE has no history of diocesan canons, etc, as has been the case in TEC. It is a different polity. But that said, the CofE has had bishops overseeing significant blocs of people, for matters like WO. TEC has by contrast not had that. I suspect the question is not congregationalism v dioceses, but something different. In TEC, only a small remnant of conservatives are left and any diocesan polity is slowly being eliminated (though see LA). In the CofE, the matter is proportionally very different when it comes to progessive/traditional blocs. I would be… Read more »

Edward Prebble
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Edward Prebble

Fr Ron, I see that your later post on 13/8 qualifies your earlier posts affirming the “eirenic inclusivism in the New Zealand Church”, and I am glad to see that. In my view, this proposal stinks. Far from being evidence of a spirit of eirenic inclusivism, the proposals demonstrate a grudging allowance of the smallest possible nudge in the direction of inclusiveness. I would encourage TA readers to look at Helen Jacobi’s excellent summary – I totally agree with her analysis, so don’t need to repeat it. I believe that crs is mistaken in his interpretation of the comparative power… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

In response to crs; is TEC really the tail-end of Anglicanism in North America? Would you say that your friends in ACNA are not the tail trying to wag the dog? There is nothing ‘lock-step’ about those in the world-wide Anglican Communion who actually are making a serious effort to rid themselves of institutional sexism and homophobia. In fact, it could be that the schismatic elements around the world could find themselves in the very same situation as the numerous other ex-Anglican “Churches’ that have emerged in the past over other matters of difference that have proved to be marginal… Read more »

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

“…TEC, which is a smallish US denomination now pretty much lock-step progressivism.”

And yet… The more liberal TEC churches seem to be growing steadily, and retaining their new members. For the first time in years, my Episcopal church in Seattle is adding daycare, has 30-somethings on the vestry, has a young people’s group, and is growing steadily.

Young people it seems, now used to diversity in every day life, want to bring their children up in an environment where all are welcome, where questions are discussed, not dismissed, and where dogma is not more important than experience and dialogue.

crs
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crs

“So if the Bishop of, say, Christchurch decided that in the interests of unity in her diocese she would not issue any such licences, then Cynthia is correct; it would stop the entire diocese from being inclusive.” Mr Prebble, another occasion to learn about the polity differences, in this case vis-a-vis NZ. From what you write, it sounds like NZ does not have diocesan canons. TEC does. The Diocese of Dallas has a canon on marriage. The Bishop did not write it. He cannot change it unilaterally. What Cynthia wants is for GC to tell Bishops and Dioceses to do… Read more »

crs
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crs

Ron, I suspect telling you over and over again that I am not affiliated with ACNA doesn’t matter. It upsets your rhetoric.

I live in France and have a PTO in the CofE. I have retired from TEC.

Could you please update your rhetorical file cabinet? I would be very grateful.

Many thanks.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“Ron, I suspect telling you over and over again that I am not affiliated with ACNA doesn’t matter. It upsets your rhetoric.”

Yet you support them in everything they do. What are we to think?

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

Dear crs; I rejoice that you are able to dis-associate your self from ACNA. I was aware that you are now enjoying a quiet ministry in France, as a licensed clergyman of the Church of England. I have now updated my file on your provenance.
Blessings! – Fr.Ron

crs
Guest
crs

Forgive me for being sceptical re “The more liberal TEC churches seem to be growing steadily, and retaining their new members.” Good for Seattle.

It will have to be some whopping, off the chart nation-wide growth, just to slow the rapid decline, leaving aside reversing it.

TEC keeps superb figures. 40% of all dioceses have under 4000 ASA, 20% under 2000. Average age 57. Average size the same. Decline over all 33% since 1980. Baptisms since then, 1/2. Same Marriages, down 50%.

Blessings.

crs
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crs

Sorry, Ron, you must have trouble tracking. I have *never* been involved in ACNA. I have told you this repeatedly. ACI was a TEC-inside effort. In the day we were rather famously opposed to ACNA.

So. I am not dis-associating from ACNA. Please try to get your records in order. I would be most grateful. Blogs are great generators of confusion and there is enough of that about already.

Have a good day. I promise not to congratulate you on dis-associating from something you were never a part of.

crs
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crs

“Yet you support them in everything they do.” Find one statement of support for ACNA from me or ACI. I fear this is what happens when people live inside echo-chambers. There needs to be some kind of primer for progressives, that they could consult. ACI == supporter of the Global South ACI == supporter of conservatives inside TEC ACI == unrelated to the ACNA movement ACI == founded the Communion Partners ACI == supporter of EDSC in relation to the Global South of the AC ACNA == supporter of Gafcon ACNA == alliance of non-TEC (REC etc) or erstwhile TEC… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

And how does all this make TEC any different from any other mainstream denomination in the United States? The Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Methodists are all seeing quite similar declines. Even the once-burgeoning Southern Baptists are seeing a decline in the past decade. The only thing keeping the Roman Catholic Church from a similar decline is immigration …attendance by native-born citizens in RC parishes is in decline, hence the closing and merging of parishes in many older dioceses (Boston, NY, and Philly have all experienced–and continue to experience–this phenomenon).

crs
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crs

Pat — Methodism is large enought to absorb losses and its decline isn’t anything like TEC; plus it has a growing international contingent. The PCUSA has a worse decline than TEC mathematically, but its alternative PCA is doing just fine. SBC churches don’t have the decline or the small numbers.

Solace in (relatively) related decline does not make a 800K ASA denomination grow. It is whistling past the graveyard. I think TEC Bishops and the present PB get that. “We have a problem, Houston.”

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

CRS – you are certainly right about the overall picture (see https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/tec_membership_and_attendance_totals_by_province_and_diocese_2014-2015.pdf) But I can only comment on what we are seeing at Trinity, which encourages me to think we are doing some things right. This year we had our largest-ever pledge commitment, so while this may be a Seattle phenomenon, I can’t help thinking that good liturgy and a very “open door” seem to be working, at least for us.

Lorenzo
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Lorenzo

Well, it’s a lot better than what the CofE can offer. From the official site’s page on marriage’s ‘Information for same-sex couples’: “Church of England ministers can not carry out or bless same-sex marriages, but your local church is still there for you. At any time you are welcome to come and pray with us, or ask us to pray for you. You might just need space for yourself to pray – some churches or cathedrals are left open at certain times so anyone can go in. If you need a place to connect with God, worship, give thanks and… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

crs. I thought I had put my record about your provenance to bed, but your latest response bids me to offer one more observation – to get the record straight:

Was ACI not fundamentally associated with support for the Global South (GAFCON) on matters of gender and sexuality within the Anglican Communion. Did I not once refer to ACI as “Three Theologians and a Website? And were you not one of them? They did not seem (to me) to be friendly towards TEC!

My question might now be: “How have you changed?”

Cynthia
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Cynthia

I love how whenever I state the view of General Convention, the mind of the entire church, Christopher says that I’m uttering a falsehood about TEC polity. We have a polity at the national level. The dioceses don’t have the authority to override that, so there is no “good order” for a diocese to resist the mind of the church via GC. Attributing feelings to me, like “resentment,” is not kosher. It is unjust for bishops in 6 or 7 dioceses to impose their view on the LGBT people and gay affirming congregations. It creates a nasty inequality and keeps… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
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Andrew Godsall

I’m not sure there is any genuine interest Christopher but I think it’s worth observing another formula here related to Anglican polity. ACI = = self styled organisation that has nothing officially to do with the Anglican Communion ACNA = = self styled organisation that has nothing officially to do with the Anglican Communion and is not in communion with Canterbury. EDSC = = self styled organisation that has nothing officially to do with the Anglican Communion and is not in communion with Canterbury New Zealand = = a recognised province of the Anglican Communion in communion with Canterbury. The… Read more »

crs
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crs

Ron, how hard it is my friend. GAFCON is not the Global South. They are different groups. The former created ACNA. The latter includes a much larger bloc. The bulk of them stayed away from the GAFCON events. To write “Global South (GAFCON)” shows how little you have ever bothered to understand them. It would be like referring to +Josiah Idowu Fearon as “that member of Gafcon.” ACI is a TEC organization that defended an historical view of its identity. It defended the TEC diocesan cases in Illinois and Texas. It was critical of ACNA. It helped organize the Communion… Read more »

crs
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crs

Cynthia, my recent convert to TEC friend. The “view of General Convention” is that “6 or 7 dioceses” are free to remain committed to their diocesan canons on marriage. This is a fact. Another couple of facts. It is a forty-five minute drive from Dallas to the Diocese of Fort Worth. An interesting question would be how many have actually taken it for a marriage service. Ditto in CFL, equally proximate to all FL dioceses for marriage. As Mr Prebble indicates, in NZ Bishops have the ability to withhold licensing. You are welcome to assure yourself that inclusive parishes are… Read more »

crs
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crs

Just in. The Diocese of LA–coadjutor and Standing Committee–has put paid to the idea of a General Convention super authority (the creators of the new Title IV) or a Presiding Archbishop of some description. They have called both out by name and asserted their own right to deal with propety in LA and evaluate the pastoral reality in a parish. It is a lovely and dreamy idea to invent a super-high-up “authority” but quite another thing to make it work on the ground. Where conservatives have struggled to make this point, a liberal has done so quite forcefully. Maybe the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“ACI is a TEC organisation…” – crs –

But not an organisation accredited officially by TEC. Also, I believe that some of its members were English Bishops (NOT TEC) like Nazir Ali and + Winchester – both pro GAFCON & ACNA!

At least, crs, let’s get the facts straight.

crs
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crs

The clergy and associates of ACI were all members of TEC. Together we represented over a century of service. Michael Scott Joynt was an exception, and to the point, no member of ACNA.

Please do not throw around falsehoods. You have been proven wrong on just about everything you have posted recently. On ACNA and ACI most explicitly.

I am sorry if this is embarrassing but hopefully the record is now straight. God bless you.

Tobias Haller
Guest

The polity of the Episcopal Church gives it authority over its clergy, including bishops. It does not give it authority over local or federal civil law. Under that law, it is apparent that the Bishop of LA acted legally, though contrary to the express wishes of the church. The church can discipline him in its own way, but it cannot control — locally or nationally — the progress of civil legal proceedings. There is absolutely nothing new in any of this. Bishops have been charged and deposed for various actions; that is all the “higher authority” of the church can… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

“The polity of the Episcopal Church gives it authority over its clergy, including bishops.” Who or what is this “it” to which you refer? Until recently the only authority to be wielded in respect of Bishops was three senior Bishops. Is that the “it” to which you refer? For if so, one wonders if the entire fiasco in LA would have been avoided, especially in respect of property matters, but perhaps also in respect of other “crimes.” Indeed, wasn’t this entire case chiefly about St James? +Robert Duncan was cleared under such a system. But people didn’t like this outcome… Read more »

Michael Ingham
Guest
Michael Ingham

Meanwhile, back to New Zealand . .

As has been pointed out, this ‘down under’ model for the blessing of same-sex relationships is essentially the same as that followed by TEC a few years earlier.

And also that of the Anglican Church of Canada, starting with the Diocese of New Westminster back in 2003.

It did not prevent schism in either case.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Cynthia, I was one of the authors of the canonical change and resolution that allowed for same-sex marriage in the Episcopal Church, including the proviso that the use of the liturgy, which is to be available for use throughout the church, is subject to the permission of the diocesan bishop. That proviso does introduce some level of inconvenience and expense for same-sex couples in dioceses where the bishop — for whatever reason, including regard for diocesan canons — declines permission. But this is really no different from the right of any bishop to forbid any or all marriages by divorced… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“”The polity of the Episcopal Church gives it authority over its clergy, including bishops.” Who or what is this “it” to which you refer? Until recently the only authority to be wielded in respect of Bishops was three senior Bishops. Is that the “it” to which you refer?” I didn’t think I would have to give CRS lessons in basic English grammar and syntax. “It” is a pronoun, the antecedent of which is “the Episcopal Church”. As the Episcopal Church is governed by its canons and its General Convention, I would presume (correctly, I hope) that those documents and that… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“The restriction, by the way, is on the clergy — preventing them from solemnizing the marriage — not the couple. Strictly speaking, the situation is the same for same-sex couples. The bishop (under local canons or not) cannot stop them being married civilly, nor forbid the parish recognizing the couple as married under the civil law.” In my parish (in the Diocese of Pennsylvania), it is common practice for a married couple to come to the altar on the Sunday nearest their anniversary for a blessing. In a diocese where the bishop has forbidden blessing for same-sex couples, would such… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

crs, as I said, people can look up the Canons if they wish. I will here only correct your misleading reference to the “three senior bishops” issue, and your assertion that this is “as it was from the beginning.” The three senior bishops provision had to do only with allegations of abandonment of communion, and it was enacted in the mid 19th century (at a time when the Presiding Bishop was always ex officio the most senior bishop; it has since changed to the Presiding Bishop and the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, which includes ten elected member bishops). The very… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

Thank you Tobias. I am glad there is still an “it” there. One may be forgiven for believing, in today’s discourse, that the Episcopal Church is some “it” that does the bidding of whoever has a cause to plead. I believe the three senior bishop panel, dating from the 1800s, has been put to bed. Now the PB can declare people have renounced their orders, as the previous one did with sweeping breadth, even when they made no such declaration, as has been required. It is this kind of “it” to which I was referring. I hope you would agree… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I know you were one of the authors, Tobias, and I am deeply grateful for your work and that of the Marriage Task Force. But I do think that allowing bishops to opt out is incredibly unjust and I know members of the LGBTQI community in TEC who are deeply hurt at being left behind. The forums were full of it, as many celebrated, others were crying. I think the divorce situation is not the same, it is discrimination against a class of people who are created gay. No one is created divorced and there is no hate speech in… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“it is common practice for a married couple to come to the altar on the Sunday nearest their anniversary for a blessing. In a diocese where the bishop has forbidden blessing for same-sex couples, would such an action be permitted for such a civilly married couple?” FYI, Pat, in the time before SSB and Marriage equality in TEC, my partner (of 26 years) and I could not get a blessing for our Civil Union (pre-legal marriage). This, despite being in a very gay affirming parish with a cautious but supportive bishop. KJS asked TEC to “hit the pause button” on… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

There was for a while some confusion about the canons and their application in addressing the unusual situation of many clergy of a diocese and their bishop no longer considering themselves subject to The Episcopal Church. In 2015, a new canon was introduced to clarify the procedure for the transfer of clergy to a church in communion with The Episcopal Church. That had previously been handled, in the absence of explicit law, by a gentlemen’s agreement use of letters; in fractious times of the previous decade, resort to the abandonment canon became routine — wrongly, I think, in the case… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

Dear Cynthia “I know that Christopher doesn’t agree that TEC made plenty of room for conservative parishes.” It is funny what views get ascribed to a person. Thanks for sharing. Let me help. I do not believe that historically TEC was a congregational church or a from-high-down national one. I believe standard histories of TEC can be helpful is showing the truth of this simple matter. The reason there are diocesan canons and diocesan bishops who oversee property and pastoral care is that this is TEC. So I do not know what you mean to say when you write “I… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I know that that is your view about diocese and TEC polity. Your view isn’t broadly shared; the view that dioceses are so independent, or that they ought to be. I’m beyond being able to countenance the folks who want to exercise power over others for the purposes of exclusion and hate. The Pulse shooting + Charlottesville signals to me that it is time to actually do the Gospel of Jesus, and it means inclusion, doing justice, and calling the authorities (be it church or state) to be more just. Excluding gays seems like such a petty goal in a… Read more »

Crs
Guest
Crs

Cynthia. It isn’t a view. It is a reality. Ask Bishop Bruno. Read a basic textbook.