07 August 2009

Canada and England take center stage

Honoring that old proverb, “To thine own self be true” General Convention said the simple truth. There are no outcasts in this church. The church makes decisions about which vocations it will advance to holy orders. Anyone may try without being told they are not eligible because of their sexuality, skin color, nationality or gender.

In his, “reflection” on the other hand, many find the Archbishop of Canterbury violating the proverb. He has in the past stated his opinion that lesbian/gay folk should be allowed to marry and he has personally ordained at least one gay man if his public comments are to be believed. Yet we now learn that ordering a person who loves another is inappropriate.

Given his published comments on gays prior to this year, his former friendship and betrayal of a gay man, and his reflection comments, one can only think this is a man Caiaphas would understand. It appears expedient that lesbians and gays suffer (persecution in Central Africa and exclusion throughout the world) for the good of the archbishop.

I call this the sin of institutionalism, which may be excessively kind – one could easily allege pure personal greed for standing. But, I am guessing that he has convinced himself that sacrificing a few queers is in the best interest of the church. Of course it is fair for the rest of us to notice that it is not the church that gets to meet with the pope or jet off to chair a meeting. It is not the church that gets to be treated with deference in the house of Lords. Letting one's personal position define the good of the institution is the path to failure.

Failure is precisely where he is heading. The Central Africans and American fanatics are not going to forgive his former friendships and opinions nor his equating their “incursions” into North America with the other acts that the Windsor Report so ineffectively sought to prohibit. The schismatics are not coming back. In fact it is likely that their latest creation – ACNA will seek recognition as a “province” from the FoCA / GafCon bishops but not from the Anglican Communion.

Now, after the Anaheim General Convention that did not even consider the draft covenant, attention necessarily turns to two upcoming events: the next general synod of the ACCanada and next general synod in The Church of England. It is likely that both events will be confronted by a “final” draft of the covenant and a push by the archbishop for adoption. Both bodies must choose new members before they meet.

Canada meets next year in Nova Scotia. If they were to formally dismiss the covenant, exactly what the document deserves, the discussion would be over. I put it to you simply: Canadians can legitimately claim credit (or blame) for founding the World Wide Anglican Communion and the Lambeth Conference. Their theological and intellectual contributions cannot be over appreciated. If Canada says no to this lunacy, the game is over.

Given the calendar Canada's synod owns a major tactical position. They must be considered very carefully as the battle against the dictatorship of exclusion is joined.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is in an interesting position. Chosen by the English government, appointed not elected, the archbishop is primate of all England. The archbishop is also the convener of Lambeth, chair of the 'primates' meetings,' a member of the cabinet and the House of Lords and one of the now infamous, “instruments of unity.” And yet none of the rest of us choose or have any voice in the choice of the archbishop. In a sense the archbishop is more of a monarch than the pope. At least the princes of the Roman Church get to choose the pope.

It is rather clear that a number of the communion's progressive and democratic members wont sign the covenant. I doubt Canada will, TEC probably wont in spite of the presiding bishops' duplicitous willingness to put others in a 'crucified place.' Wales and Scotland are likely lost as is Japan and I think Australia, South Africa, Brazil and New Zealand. That would leave England in a very controlled, very evangelical and very conservative place. England would give up its independence and freedom of thought to the Central African primates who dominate GafCon.

It is important to understand this in context because as Mad Priest has observed, if the CoE follows his path to failure it wont be because the English agree with him. It will rather be an act of suicide by politeness. The General Synod does not as a group generally want to embarrass the archbishop. That as insane as it may be is the factor to fear. England may well subordinate itself to be polite.

The great problem is that the bus has left the station on lesbian and gay rights in England. Most of its people seem to be as are most Americans, at least willing to tolerate lesbians and gays. England not the US or Canada is where the church participates the most in blessing lesbian and gay unions. The church will therefor be sacrificing whatever limited credibility it retains among its people for of all things politeness.

One can only look at the emerging efforts in England and Canada to put forward candidates who are prepared to do the right thing and kill the covenant with hope and prayer. If one thing is clear it is that the protectors of male privilege will be out in droves seeking to pass this very bad idea. Only if we support and encourage each progressive candidate can we hope to avoid disaster.

Pray for the Canadian and British. Then think about what you can do to help and do it!


Christal said...

I think I am looking for what suggestions you have on what we in the US can do to help people in Canada and England be more progressive. Also, what can we do in re the Archbishop of Canterbury? Where can we voice praise or criticism?

Good food for thought. I liked this post.

One more thing, can you clarify "institutionalism" in this context?

JimB said...

Besides praying, participate in blog and other conversations to make the point that the covenant is the end of Anglican freedom of thought.

Institutionalism is the sin of placing an institution or even worse one's own position within an institution ahead of justice and other person's welfare.


Anonymous said...

it sound more like vanity.

St Laika's

Click to view my Personality Profile page