News for Week Ending 5/11/2015
Female Archbishop of Uppsala visits PopeEpiscopal Café has reported on the May 5, 2015, visit of Archbishop Antje Jackelén to Pope Francis in the Vatican. Jackelén, the first woman to head the Church of Sweden, was apparently received in a manner that might be expected of a visiting male church head. According to Vatican Radio, the purpose of the visit was “to highlight the common commitments and shared witness of Catholics and Lutherans preparing to mark the anniversary [in 2016] of the Reformation together.”
ARCIC reports on latest meetingThe Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) issued a communiqué describing its latest meeting. The document does not address the substance of discussions between representatives of the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. The Commission will hold its next meeting in Toronto in 2016. There are 7 Anglicans on the Commission, four of whom are from the Church of England. The Episcopal Church is not represented on the Commission.
Opponent of women’s ordination made CoE bishopThe Rev. Prebendary Rod Thomas, chairman of the conservative evangelical group Reform, has been appointed Bishop of Maidstone. This development is nicely explained by the title of the May 5, 2015, story from The Telegraph: “Leader of campaign against women bishops is made a bishop in bid to avert CofE split: Welby’s olive branch to opponents of women bishops with new flying bishop-style post for traditionalist.” Thomas has asserted that he is a bishop for all of the Church of England, not simply those who believe in “male headship.” That the bishop has been associated with the GAFCON-supported Anglican Mission in England suggests that his commitment to the CofE is less than absolute, however. Thinking Anglicans covered the announcement of Thomas’s appointment and reactions to it here and here.
Anglican and Lutheran churches in Canada to hold joint assemblyAnglican Journal announced May 6, 2015, that the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada will meet in a joint assembly in Vancouver in 2019. This is the second time such an assembly has been held, the first having been held in Ottawa in 2013. The churches, which have been in full communion since 2001, vote separately on issues affecting the individual churches in such assemblies.
Religious conservatives campaign against anticipated gay marriage decision; threaten resistanceIt is widely assumed that, before its current term ends, the U.S. Supreme Court will render a decision requiring greater acceptance of same-sex marriage or even making the availability of same-sex marriage the law of the land. Religious conservatives are trying to head off such a development and are suggesting that they may react to a high court decision with civil disobedience.
One of the cases before the Supreme Court is from Michigan, and a group called Restrain the Judges is erecting billboards in the state asserting that homosexuality is not inborn but is simply a behavior. The group’s Web site asserts that “[i]f federal judges won’t honor state marriage amendments, then we must reign [sic] in their jurisdiction through our elected representatives in Congress.” Raw Story reported this story.
Of more concern is a story from Political Research Associates. which reports on a project promoting a Defend Marriage Pledge. The backers of this initiative have created a Web site that encourages visitors to sign a pledge that has been endorsed by a number of prominent conservatives, including Rick and Karen Santorum, Tom DeLay, Alan Keyes, James Dobson, William Franklin Graham III, Mike Huckabee, Foley Beach (ACNA archbishop), and Mark Tooley (Institute on Religion and Democracy president).
The “Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage” ends with this:
We will view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.One can only guess what that will mean in practice.
We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.
Another GTS-8 faculty member leaving seminaryOn May 6, 2015, Episcopal Café reported that another of the faculty members who participated in a work stoppage last year—see Pittsburgh Update story here—will be leaving the General Theological Seminary. The Rev. Dr. Patrick Malloy, Professor of Liturgy, will leave GTS to become the interim dean at St. John’s Cathedral in Denver. He thus becomes that fourth member of the so-call GTS-8 to leave the seminary.
Parties file motions in All Saints’, Fort Worth caseBoth Episcopal parties and the breakaway Fort Worth group have filed motions for partial summary judgment with the District Court of Tarrant County with regard to the property of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Although the Vestry of the church voted to say with The Episcopal Church when the diocese split, the group headed by former bishop Jack Leo Iker is attempting to claim the property. A press release from the Episcopal diocese reported the filings and contains a link to that of the plaintiffs. The defense motion does not appear to be posted on the Web.
Baptism flap apparently resolvedThe unfortunate “misunderstanding” regarding the postponement of the baptism of the child of a gay couple in the Diocese of Central Florida—see Pittsburgh Update story here—is apparently in the process of being resolved amicably. The parents met with Bishop Greg Brewer May 7, 2015, and it was decided that Jack will be baptized in the cathedral, as originally planned, sometime this summer. Episcopal Café covered the story and provides links to statements by the bishop and the parents. Bishop Brewer also issued a pastoral letter on the baptism skirmish. Canon for Pastoral Care of the Cathedral of St. Luke, the Rev. Canon J. Gary L’Hommedieu, on the other hand, preached an angry, self-serving sermon about the situation on May 10.
Many have expressed their opinions regarding the baptism of baby Jack via social media. Notable among this commentary is an essay by Bishop Gene Robinson for The Daily Beast. Meanwhile, the unaffiliated and invariably negative Anglican Communion Institute expressed theological misgivings about such a baptism.