News for Week Ending 8/3/2009
Archbishop’s ‘reflection’ sparks discussionThe latest “reflection” by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has been the subject of many news stories and much commentary on the Web. Williams posted his “Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future” on July 27, 2009. Though nominally a response to the 2009 General Convention, the essay is more of a status report and commentary on the Anglican Communion by its spiritual leader.
The Archbishop begins by stating his understanding that the two resolutions passed at General Convention related to ordination of bishops and same sex relationship blessings “do not have the automatic effect of overturning the requested moratoria.” He then argues against ordaining homosexuals and discusses how the Anglican Communion should make decisions, but the secular media have largely reported on his suggesting that the Communion could become a “two-track” affair. (See, for examples, stories from The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.) Williams had earlier suggested a “two-tier” Communion; the latest discussion of this idea offers two ways of being Anglican, rather than first-class and second-class Communion citizenship for provinces such as The Episcopal Church.
The past week has seen a flood of commentaries on the archbishop’s reflections. Episcopal News Service ran a story on the reaction on July 31, but commentaries continue to appear. Generally, Rowan Williams seems to have satisfied neither conservatives nor liberals. (See the story in The Boston Globe.) Thinking Anglicans has continued to cover responses. Particular posts can be read here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Test of ‘moratorium’ loomsWhatever one’s view of whether The Episcopal Church has had a moratorium on the consecration of partnered gay bishops since the 2006 General Convention, the reality is that Bishop Gene Robinson remains the only such bishop in the church. This could change soon, however. On August 1, 2009, Episcopal News Service reported that the Diocese of Minnesota had nominated three priests to be considered as its next bishop. One of these, the Rev. Bonnie Perry, who currently serves as a rector in the Diocese of Chicago, is a partnered lesbian who, in 2006, was an episcopal candidate in the Diocese of California. Additional information on the candidates is available here. A new bishop for Minnesota will be elected at the end of October.
On August 2, ENS reported that two partnered gay candidates are among the six candidates to be considered for two suffragan bishop positions in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Included among the candidates for the December election are the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool, of the Diocese of Maryland, and the Rev. John L. Kirkley, of the Diocese of California. Additional information is available here. The Los Angeles election will be held in early December.
All bishops elected in The Episcopal Church are required to receive consent to their consecrations by a majority of bishops with jurisdiction (mostly diocesan bishops) and a majority of diocesan standing committees. The recent General Convention declared that there are no institutional bars to LGBT persons entering the discernment process at any level of ministry, but they may, like other candidates, be eliminated or withdraw during the discernment process (see Pittsburgh Update story here). A number of bishops have indicated, in the so-called Anaheim Statement—see Pittsburgh Update story here—that they will not vote for an LGBT candidate.
PB explains property litigation policyDiocese of Washington blog The Lead has published a post containing the text of a letter sent to bishops by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on July 31, 2009. The letter grew out of recent discussions among Episcopal bishops and among members of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice regarding property disputes. In the letter, Jefferts Schori sets out specific policy that has not hitherto been articulated publicly. In particular: (1) property settlements must be “reasonable and fair,” and (2) the church will not make agreements “that encourage religious bodies who seek to replace The Episcopal Church.” Explicating the latter policy, the Presiding Bishop writes
Pragmatically, the latter means property settlements need to include a clause that forbids, for a period of at least five years, the presence of bishops on the property who are not members of this [Episcopal Church] House [of Bishops], unless they are invited by the diocesan bishop for purposes which do not subvert mission and ministry in the name of this Church.