Comments: Jefferts Schori writes to Venables

Gregory Venables has so far annoyed Anglican Churches in the United States, Canada and Brazil. Perhaps he should be receiving a letter asking him to consider whether he ought to be going to the Lambeth Conference.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 1:04am BST

That's Our Katharine: the right woman at the right time in history. Can't be fun for her, having to keep after these folk, but whenever I get riled up about Venables et co. I think of how calm and centered she is. God bless her.
Lois

Posted by revLois Keen at Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 1:17am BST

Two related news items: 1. The Presiding Bishop of TEC writes Presiding Bishop Venables of the Southern Cone to tell him his upcoming visit to a special convocation of the Diocese of Fort Worth is unwelcome meddling in the internal polity of TEC and harmful to this Church. A copy is sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury. 2. The same evening it is revealed that Rowan Williams has sent Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire an email telling him he does not have permission to celebrate or preach in England during Lambeth.

I think the poor Archishop of Canterbury is about to be hoist on his own petard. Bishop Robinson will undoubtedly respect Church tradition and the authority of the Archbishop. Most likely, Bishops Iker and Venables will continue with their planned visit as Venables has already done in Canada.

It's all a bit like Cinderella - obedient Gene in the scullery of the "Marketplace" and the haughty Bishops Vemables and Iker all in their finery dining at +++Rowan's table. Silly me to be still thinking of it as the Lord's (at least that's what I call it in my parish).

Kahu Aloha

Posted by Kahu Aloha at Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 4:18am BST

M'kay, Massa Venables!!

What'eva you say, Massa Venables!!

Posted by David Green at Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 8:18am BST

"I think the poor Archishop of Canterbury is about to be hoist on his own petard. Bishop Robinson will undoubtedly respect Church tradition and the authority of the Archbishop. Most likely, Bishops Iker and Venables will continue with their planned visit as Venables has already done in Canada."

The Incredible Shrinking ABC strikes again. If he'd had Neville Chamberlain's [sp?] job, you guys across Das Pond would all be be sprechen zie Deuche [all of which I have likely spelled abominably - it's been a long time since I took a quickie summer course called "German for Graduate Students"]

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 11:21am BST

Conscientious believer changes at institutional levels, let alone global ones, mainly occur slowly. Bravo to Jefferts Schori for modeling one good way to try to balance calm, pastoral leadership, and juridical matters - none of which makes church life sense without the others. The same Presiding Bishop who reaches out to Iker is the same one who must file in court if Iker follows through on his stated plans to steal, in God's name.

I suspect that the reason Canterbury has not yet disinvited the vagabonding incursion bishops from Lambeth is that they have not yet, so far - but look out next? - much violated CoE boundaries. At GAFCON the gathering huffpuff is aimed exactly at those next moves? Does Canterbury have a plan?

This Lambeth then, is looking to be a realistic reflection of where we really are right now - some inside the gates and some outside, with all the range of Anglican reasons why.

How odd how very odd, that in this day and age both queer folks and women would still suspected of just those awful sorts of cooties that prevent them from Lambeth or GAFCON or certain kinds of welcome in certain kinds of traditionalistic parishes or dioceses, as well as those even more awful cooties which prevent us from ever seeing God at work in their lives and spiritual pilgrimages as queer folks or as women. Even more curious from some angles, the conservatives have lost so much of the cultural and intellectual warfare that their nastiness on behalf of their special sense of triumph gives the clue?

Is it really, then, gospel? Back to the work camps or prisons with the queer folks? Back to the kitchen and bedrooms with all the women, no matter what?

Posted by drdanfee at Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 2:44pm BST

To be fair, we have yet to see/hear whether Archbishop Williams has sent similar emails to others who, in his view, ostensibly violate the spirit of the Windsor Process through their acts of ministry.

If not, then apparently being a gay and partnered bishop (openly, that is) is somehow much worse in Williams' view - more uniquely controversial - than, for example, blatantly ignoring diocesan and provincial boundaries and attempting to steal other provinces' properties. Archbishop Williams and his advisors might see their targeting of Bishop Robinson as sound "Realpolitik" for today's Anglican Communion, but, in reality, it is mere - and rather transparent - hypocrisy, which, of course, is unlikely to bear good fruit.

Posted by christopher+ at Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 3:22pm BST

It is interesting, people here will speak up for freedom of action in the case of people like B Ingham in N Westminster.

He ignored for years the standards and the call of the ACC, to go his own way, that is all wonderful! Then someone like Iker in his own diocese invites someone from the wider Anglican Church to come and speak (with no call to action contrary to Anglican standards!) and there is an uproar. The irony here should not be missed!

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 3:40pm BST

My understanding is that +KJS has no say over who +Iker invites into his diocese. He has invited +Venables so +Venables is welcome. +KJS cannot determine who other bishops can or cannot invite into their own dioceses.

Posted by Branford at Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 5:28pm BST

"He ignored for years the standards and the call of the ACC, to go his own way, that is all wonderful!"

Speak the truth, Ben, he most certainly did not. His diocese voted three times to approve same sex blessings, each time with a solid majority of support. He refused to act on the first two votes. The third vote was over two thirds in favour. You might argue he should have refused consent then as well, I wouldn't argue against you, but it simply isn't true to say that he "ignored for years the standards and the call of the ACC". Let me ask you what for me is the "acid test question": what do you think of Bishop Cy Pittman of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador? I know the conservative blogosphere has had some thing to say about him, I'm wondering what you think.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 7:35pm BST

"No say", Branford?

He's a primate entering the territory of *another primate*, unannounced. While canons may not speak directly to this matter, can we not count simple precedent? Much less, etiquette?

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 8:26pm BST

Bp Iker has written a letter back. Ouch. It says, exactly as Branford states, Katherine Jefferts Schori is assuming authority that she simply does not have. The letter may be found http://tinyurl.com/5un895

Posted by robroy at Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 9:41pm BST

That's right, JCF, she has no say. The presiding bishop position is not that of pope or above any other bishop. She is first among equals in the American Episcopal Church. She is not above Bishop Iker or any other Episcopal bishop in terms of what goes on in their diocese. In fact, I'm sure you know that the presiding bishop cannot go into any diocese without the permission of that diocese's bishop. And please, don't even open up the idea of "etiquette" - after the actions she took against Bishop MacBurney, ignoring his personal pain and Bishop Ackerman's pleas.

Posted by Branford at Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 10:36pm BST

Ford,

Take the statement just as I have it:"He ignored for years the standards and the call of the ACC, to go his own way, that is all wonderful!" The fact is the ACC has NEVER approved his action of same-sex blessings. Last year again at the general meeting of the Anglican Church of Canada it was voted down (though some individual bishops have now joined Ingham).

Within his diocese Bp Michael Ingham, in 2002 sanctioned a diocesan vote that eventually permitted the blessing of same-sex couples at eight out of 67 parishes. That is hardly the whole diocese "pushing" him into it!

So who is being truthful or not here?

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Thursday, 1 May 2008 at 2:57am BST

"That is hardly the whole diocese "pushing" him into it!"

I'm not sure it's safe to assume that the only parishes that voted in favour of SSBs are those that want to perform them. I doubt, even if it were permitted, our parish would have an SSB in the forseeable future, but given what I have been hearing in casual "after Mass" coffee conversation, I get the feeling some would support others doing it if they felt called to do so. Not that there's much chance of that. Despite what the conservative blogosphere has been saying about him, our bishop's position has always been that we must wait for the Church to decide, it isn't even on our radar here.

And, as I said, two refusals before finally agreeing, in a situation where the national Church had yet put in place any recommendations as to how to proceed in such instances is hardly "ignor(ing) standards for years", as you put it. Furthermore, what bishops have joined Ingham? In which diocese in Canada has the bishop given approval? I acknowledge he could have not permitted the vote, but are you actually saying it was wrong to allow his flock to speak their mind?

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 1 May 2008 at 1:20pm BST

Ben, here's a link to the chronology of this from a Canadian persepctive. Where are the bishops who have joined Ingham?

http://forums.anglicanjournal.com/timelines/ssb/

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 1 May 2008 at 1:52pm BST

Ford,

The chronology is helpful. Contrary to how you have stated things here, the national church has been clear (weak as it was), no same-sex blessings are to be sanctioned.

It is intersting how you put it: bp Ingham's "refusals" of same-sex blessings. He was tilling the soil for this long before (he is quite rightly classed with John S Spong). Once adopt the theology and the field is open to all kinds of things (e.g. polygamy is only another option when society is "ready"). Like bp Spence in Niagara he presents himself as someone "holding the line" but "only for so long, we have put our finger up and we know which way the wind is blowing" (essentially talking out of both sides of his mouth).

On the bishops with Ingham, there was one in Quebec and most recently bp Spence in Niagara I believe. I do not know about the Labrador situation that you asked me to comment on.

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Thursday, 1 May 2008 at 3:26pm BST

You people are out of your minds, ++Venables does not have to listen to what Schori says, she continues to ignore what the bible says about homosexuality, and is loosing souls to sin every time she opens her mouth. ++Venables has acted honorably, to try to save the godly from the sinking ship that is TEC

Posted by paul at Thursday, 1 May 2008 at 7:04pm BST

"polygamy is only another option when society is "ready")."

You know, I would once have snorted derisively at this, but not now. Such arguments ARE being made in this country, in the context of Shari'a and some Mormons. I had forgotten about Bp. Spence, I apologize (I seem to be doing this a lot today, a good lesson in humility, which I desparately need).

That said, I don't understand how the national Church's stance contradicts what I said. At the time Ingham was acting, directions from the HoB were thin on the ground. Things are clearer now. As to your comment about "tilling the soil" well, there's a lot of soil tilling going on. Are you saying that he withheld consent twice because he wanted to give it enough momentum that when the third time rolled around, he could appear to have been forced? You make the same kinds of assumptions about "liberals" as I make about "conservatives", it seems: they are scheming to get their own way, dishonest, and not to be trusted. It's easy for me to fall into that, but, as you often say, we ought to behave better. All the same, I still se the Right as behaving far worse than the Left in this. No-one on the KLEft wants to jail people, after all. No-one on the Left speaks in such a way as can be expected to stir up the public, then denies their words have anything to do with violence. And once adopt what theology? The idea that we ought as a Church to not only behave better towards gay people, but repent for past sins?

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 1 May 2008 at 8:06pm BST

Ben, you are being disingenuous.

The motion was passed by a majority at a New Westminster synod. Not by eight vestries, but by a majority of delegates at the synod. (I don't know if the vote was conducted in one plenary or two houses.)

The bishop witheld his consent.

The motion was passed by a majority at another New Westminster synod two years later. Not eight vestries, but a majority of delegates at the synod.

The bishop witheld his consent.

The motion was passed by a majority at another New Westminster synod two years later. Not eight vestries, but a majority of delegates at the synod.

I understand that the majorities were larger at each successive synod.

The bishop consented.

Yes, the national House of Bishops counselled caution, delay etc. The fact is that the House can caution to it's heart's content.

I have no doubt that Michael Ingham supported this development. Neither do I have any doubt that he would have liked to have given his consent the first time it came up.

The fact is, though, he did not. He also insisted on a deliberative dialogue process in the diocese between those who supported and those who opposed this development.

Michael Ingham did not force this on an unwilling diocese, and he was certainly not the only (and probably not even the principle) driver of the agenda.

Call him wrong on the issue if you like. But please don't accuse him of a head long rush when he was deliberately - and responsibly - applying the brake for four years.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Thursday, 1 May 2008 at 9:40pm BST

Malcolm,

Thank you for more complete information. I am recalling earlier items and stories on this and picked up a recent Vancouver Sun piece for the summary.

To Ford: On bp Ingham, I think in light of developments as they unfolded Malcolm has it right, "I have no doubt that Michael Ingham supported this development. Neither do I have any doubt that he would have liked to have given his consent the first time it came up." I do not recall specific words now but recalling the news stories it was clear what Spence and Ingham were encouraging. In particular Ingham with his reductionist theology - to a great extent made up as you go along - moved as fast he "prudently" could.

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Friday, 2 May 2008 at 1:19am BST

Just for clarity's sake, Ben W, no bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada have "joined" Archbishop Ingham. You really need to check the sources who are telling you these things before you repeat them. Actually, given the erros in this case, you have to question the reliability of your sources, and ask whether their errors are accidental or intentional.

Three diocesan synods - Montreal, Ottawa and Niagara (twice) - have voted in favour (in each case by a substantial majority in both the houses of clergy and the house of laity). But in no case has the bishop agreed. All three bishops (and BTW, Ralph Spence is no longer Bishop of Niagara; he's retired and is working on the staff for the Lambeth Conference at ++Rowan's request) have deferred any decision at least until after Lambeth.

It is worth pointing out that in practical terms in Canada, without the approval of his/her diocesan synod,a bishop could not authorize blessing of same-sex marriages (for indeed, as there is legal same-sex marriage in Canada, it is sily to talk about blessing same-sex unions). So taling about "bishops joining" Archbishop Ingham betrays a singular lack of knowledge about church polity in Canada. Whe people make statements about polity, it behooves them to make sure they know what they're talking about.

It is probable that a majority of the House of Bishops in fact approves -- the majority against in that House was 2 at General Synod. Two (or three) of the noes have said they in fact approve the principle and only voted as they did because of process issues. At least one of the noes (Anthony Burton of Saskatchewan) has moved on to greener pastures as the rector of a large conservative parish in the US.

Posted by John Holding at Friday, 2 May 2008 at 2:32am BST

John H,

Just to keep things straight it would be helpful if you at least would read closely what I wrote before presenting your edicts from on high.

As it is I have no reason to doubt the statement I made earlier, "Within his diocese Bp Michael Ingham, in 2002 sanctioned a diocesan vote that eventually permitted the blessing of same-sex couples at eight out of 67 parishes." Is it not right as far as it goes? What Malcolm provided was fuller information.

That two other Canadian bishops "joined" bp Ingham in moving toward same-sex blessings has been public knowledge for some time! This recent headline and statement in the Anglican Journal: Niagara diocese approves blessings for gay couples; bishop assents
Solange De Santis
staff writer
Nov 17, 2007
Hamilton, Ont.

The southern Ontario diocese of Niagara, meeting at its annual synod, on Nov. 17 voted to allow civilly-married gay couples, “where at least one party is baptized,” to receive a church blessing.

Bp Spence voted for it at the national meeting last summer and here he specifically supported this step. They have not implementd yet but that is just a matter of time.

So much for your "errors in this case."

Ben W

Posted by Bern W at Friday, 2 May 2008 at 1:44pm BST

It isn't really accurate to accuse the bishops of Ottawa, Niagara and Montreal of joining Ingham, as though it were bishops driving the bus. The impetus isn't coming from the bishops, but from the lay and clerical members of synod.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Friday, 2 May 2008 at 9:24pm BST

Ben --

So just what did I say that was wrong?

You claimed that two bishoips "joined" Archbishop Ingham.

That implies a new step, and it implies something worth talking about. As almost half the House of Bishops voted "with" Archbishop Ingham (that wasn't actually what the vote was about, but let that pass) -- and two who didn't but would have made it a majority had already indicated their support while Synod was still in session -- what's the news?

It still stands that none of the three dioceses whose laity and clergy have voted in favour have bishops who approved -- all three, including Niagara, have reserved their judgement. In none of them is it lawful to consider or perform a same-sex blessing.

As for Bishop Spence, he has never concealed his personal support. He rejected one (maybe two) earlier attempts by his laity and clergy to go this route.

Where I do find you less than accurate is in your apparent belief that what a bishop does or says on this (or any such matter) in itself, changes anything. In Canada it doesn't. So a bishop's opinion is just an opinion. Canons, bylaws and regulations have to be passed or approved by Synods. None of which have done so. The motions approved by the SYnods of Ottawa, Niagara and Montreal I'd point out, asked their respective Bishops to prepare such measures as would be necessary, they did not draft or purport to approve such measures.

Posted by John Holding at Friday, 2 May 2008 at 11:28pm BST

John H,

I am not clear on all you are saying here. Some things are more than a little strange.

Bp Ingham was moving toward and then sanctioned same-sex blessings - that then have proceeded as I understand it - years before there were many for it in the national church. So your statement here does not add up:"It still stands that none of the three dioceses whose laity and clergy have voted in favour have bishops who approved -- all three, including Niagara, have reserved their judgement. In none of them is it lawful to consider or perform a same-sex blessing."

You further state: "So a bishop's opinion is just an opinion." That is a hoot! On that view, if they are largely irrelevant and ineffectual, why bother with bishops? Not what I have seen.

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Saturday, 3 May 2008 at 4:08am BST

Ben - as far as I am aware, in all three dioceses in Canada which have passed these motions (all of which have very similar wording), the motion requests that the bishop consider allowing blessing of marriages between two people of the same sex. Since the motions asks the bishop to _consider_ allowing it, passing the motion (and the bishop assenting to the motion) does not actual change the real situation. The bishops of Montreal and Ottawa (and, I believe, Niagara, but I did not follow their process as closely) have agreed to consider allowing churches whose clergy are amenable to bless same-sex marriages. None of these bishops have made any decisions or movement in the way of allowing clergy to perform these blessings, and there is little evidence anything will be happening any time soon. So, yes, the bishops assented - but they have not done what Bp Ingham has done in allowing the blessings, despite their synods requesting it.

Posted by parodie at Saturday, 3 May 2008 at 5:01am BST

"You further state: "So a bishop's opinion is just an opinion." That is a hoot! On that view, if they are largely irrelevant and ineffectual, why bother with bishops? Not what I have seen."

Because, in both the Canadian and American churches, the Bishop is not the final authority on policy or liturgy or anything else. Synod (in Canada) and convention (in the US) are the final authorities. Try this as an analogy: President Bush can offer any opinion he wishes as to, say, the ability of a man to marry his horse. But unless he can get a majority of Congress to pass a law that agrees with his opinion, it remains that--his opinion.

Similarly, Bishop X can offer any opinion he wishes as to the ability of a priest to bless a same-sex union. But unless he can get a majority of the lay and clerical houses of convention to agree with him, it remains simply his opinion.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Saturday, 3 May 2008 at 11:42am BST

Pat,

Your main point that the bishop cannot simply act apart from synod or convention has been clear all along. Question is, do they exercise any real leadership. I have said that is what this position is supposed to be about!

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Saturday, 3 May 2008 at 1:45pm BST

Ben:

Leadership is more than getting people to do what you want them to. You see, especially in the case of a bishop, I thought he was more a servant than a leader...as much sheep as shepherd. And the shepherd doesn't get the flock to move by prodding them with sticks...he does it by gentling showing the way to go.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Saturday, 3 May 2008 at 3:25pm BST

Pat,

In some ways you are speaking back to me what I have said!

Still, bishops from the NT to the present have been called to be teachers, to lead by example (earlier adamantly denied on this list), to stand for the gospel and so on. Certainly more than those who put their fingers up to test the direction and go with the winds in culture or church!

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Saturday, 3 May 2008 at 6:15pm BST

Arw you possibly thinking of Dr Roswan, Archbishop Akinola or Bishop Duncan?

Or is this just an abstraction?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 4 May 2008 at 5:58am BST

"Still, bishops from the NT to the present have been called to be teachers, to lead by example (earlier adamantly denied on this list), to stand for the gospel and so on."

And what is the example of +Akinola, Minns, Harvey, et al? Does a bishop set a good example when he claims that those he disagrees with are "a cancer on the Body of Christ", or falsely claims that pagans have taken over the Church, or that those who disagree with him believe nothing? This has been my point for a very long time: those who lead the conservatives in this do not behave as Christian bishops ought to. It is, to me, perfectly clear. Your bland statement about people following the wind just shows how you too have bought in to what they say. In essence, those who are trying to defend outdated societal structures are condemning as "selling out to the world" people they see as espousing new societal structures. That they pretend they are actually defending Christian truth is by the way. Their actions clearly show they have no understanding of Christian truth.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 5 May 2008 at 5:24pm BST
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