Monday, September 24, 2007

Words Matter: The House of Bishops Continues in Denial

The primates' draft "Message from the Bishops of the Episcopal Church," its mind of the house statement (the final version of which is scheduled to be released at the end of the day tomorrow), provides yet another illustration of how words matter in the Anglican world. Arguably the strongest word in the document is "imperil," and take two guesses as to in which context the writers use it.

Do they say that the Episcopal Church's actions have "imperiled" the Anglican Communion? Nope.

Do they say that the Episcopal Church's actions have "imperiled" the unity of the Episcopal Church, even with the loss of thousands of Anglicans as a result of those actions? Guess again.

Here it is:

"We pray that a way forward can be found which will bring an end to the incursions of extra-provincial bishops. These incursions imperil the Communion's principle of honoring one another as we work together in good faith on these very difficult issues" (emphasis my own).

Yes, it's the action of bishops from the Global South and other locations making "incursions" (i.e., starting groups like the Convocation of Anglicans in North America [CANA] to provide a home outside of the Episcopal Church for orthodox Anglicans) -- who cause the authors to use the word "imperil" -- and in connection with the Anglican Communion, no less. (Comparatively, the authors admit only that "the blessings of same sex unions, no matter how public or private, is unacceptable" to other member provinces of the Anglican Communion.)

Hmmm. "Unacceptable" vs. "imperil." There's still a vast difference in the way that the bishops view the Episcopal Church's own actions when compared with those of other bishops in the Anglican Communion. And the deep denial on the Episcopal Church's part of both the negative effect its actions have had on the Communion, and within the denomination itself, continues.

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