Thursday, 30 October 2003

news roundup

The Australian ABC Radio National programme The Religion Report has this interview with a former Assistant Bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, Andrew St John, now serving in New York City, about current events in ECUSA.

National Public Radio in the USA has a report Episcopal Church at a Crossroads. (You will need Real Audio to listen.)

There are various reports on the appointment of the new Eames commission.

In The Times, under the seriously misleading headline Eames to head Church inquiry into gay priests, Ruth Gledhill notes that Professor Norman Doe is a member. He wrote “an influential study into Anglican ius commune, or common law, which was presented to a meeting of the primates in Kanuga, North Carolina, in 2001 and published recently in the _Ecclesiastical Law Journal_.”
In his paper Professor Doe wrote: “There is no formal Anglican canon law globally applicable to and binding upon member churches of the Communion. No central institution exists with competence to create such a body of laws.”
As Ruth reports, “In the study he outlined a way of drawing up an understanding of Anglican common law dealing with inter- Anglican relations and looks at how this overarching common law could be incorporated into each individual Church’s canonical structure. This would, he predicted, vastly reduce the likelihood of disagreements between provinces.”

The Herald has some helpful information about Anne McGavin in Scotland to have voice in Anglican debate on gays.

The BBC had Church team to tackle gay crisis.
The Independent has Archbishop names group to tackle gay bishop crisis but this turns out to be pnly part of the full PA report, here in the Scotsman.
The Telegraph and Guardian do not report this story.

Some other stuff from earlier:

Telegraph Gay bishop kept under 24-hour FBI guard.

William Rees-Mogg, who was many years ago the Editor of The Times, had an opinion column which in part discusses Rowan Williams (the other parts concerned Ian Duncan Smith and the Prince of Wales): Britain, a society so sick that it cannot be led. On RW, some of what he said is this:

…This has revealed an ethnic as well as a sexual division, with the Anglican Church in Africa and the Caribbean taking a conservative line. Yet it all goes beyond sexual or racial politics. I was impressed by the addendum to the judgment of the primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez. He says his Church is only in “technical” communion with that of Canon Robinson, the elected gay bishop, in New Hampshire. But he adds that the situation “has risen not because we have differences about sexuality but rather because what was once a consensual view of Christianity … is no longer the case”.
Modern history has been eroding the Christian consensus, but it has also been eroding the British cultural consensus. We think that we share certain assumptions, but we do not. These divisions do not necessarily follow sexual or ethnic lines, nor do they seem to me to follow political lines. It is almost an accident that it is at present the Conservative Party, the monarchy and the Anglican Church which are the institutions immediately under threat. It could just as well be the Labour Party, the Army, and the Roman Catholic Church - which would possibly be even more dangerous. Après Tony, le déluge.

This column provoked a raft of online responses.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 30 October 2003 at 12:22pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: News

A small correction to the comments of Bp Andrew St John in the ABC Radio piece: The Southern Baptist Convention is not the largest church in the USA. The largest is of course the Roman Catholic Church.

Posted by: Scott Knitter on Thursday, 30 October 2003 at 6:46pm GMT

I just want to say kudos on the outstanding interview w/ Andrew St. John, the Australian bishop (now serving as a priest in NYC).

So often when I read the foreign press on ECUSA matters, it seems as though the reporters and commentators just don't get us (ECUSA) at all. Maybe it's really necessary for non-U.S. Anglicans to serve in the States, to get a real sense of what we're about.

Bishop St. John clearly *does* get us. Where others see us as "pushing" something, we just see ourselves as "business as usual" (though of course, the "business" in this case is the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ). Where others see us as coming up w/ something out of the blue, consecrating a gay priest, we see ourselves as both
1) building on a both Anglican _and_ American charism of "proclaiming liberty throughout the land" (the inscription on our iconic "Liberty Bell"), as reflected in the Civil Rights Movement (esp. African-Americans, but other persons of color as well) and women's movements.*
2) operating in a God-given *democratic* process, over the course of many years. The idea that Episcopalians (and esp. LGBT ones) must "wait" on the Anglican Communion becomes particularly repugnant, when ECUSA has been struggling with (and through) these issues for more than 30 years---nevermind how long gay Christians had been struggling _before_ that.

Moreover, I think the precedent of the struggle for the ordination of women is particularly instructive. If the bulk of the Anglican Communion had come round on women's ordination in a timely fashion (10 years after ECUSA? Maybe 20 tops?), maybe Episcopalians would be more inclined to be patient. But that's not what we've seen (in virtually every nation, secular culture had to lead the way for the rights of women, before the Church caught up---nevermind that the New Testament should have pushed the Church to *lead* this fight).

Finally, if ECUSA had been inclined to hang back (that is, telling our outstanding LGBT leaders and faithful couples to hold back), the last couple of years and months have done much to dissuade us. The despicable rhetoric coming from Anglican bishops---despite what they promised at Lambeth---combined w/ the shameful treatment of Jeffrey John, have proven to the majority of ECUSA that the AC will *never* come around, until someone takes the initiative, and demonstrates that the _sky will not fall_ w/ gay bishops (and publically-blessed couples).

From the perspective of ECUSA, "the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now" (Romans 8:22). The AC is experiencing extreme labor pains, awaiting the birth of the new. If New Hampshire (and New Westminster) have "pushed", it's only in the sense of the mother who *must* push, or risk the life of both herself and her child. The pain on all sides at this point, is _excruciating_ (pun intended!). It's only after the birth, that life can go on: binding up what needs binding, healing what needs healing, and---though I don't like to contemplate this---cutting off what has become dead and deadly (recognizing that much of the AC will say the latter of ECUSA).

But none of this can happen until the labor is over, and ECUSA has fairly and justly "given birth" to her new apostle in New Hampshire. If seeking a rationale for ECUSA's process, I can recommend no better interpreter than America's greatest saint, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who wrote a book entitled "Why We Can't Wait."

Thanks again for linking this great interview!

*Civil Rights and Women's movements, understood in their Christian theological contexts, of _all_ persons being made in God's Image.

Posted by: J. Collins Fisher on Thursday, 30 October 2003 at 8:48pm GMT