Friday, October 5, 2007

Fool Me Once, Shame on Me. Fool Me Twice (or an Infinite Number of Times)...

The Most Rev. Henry Orombi, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, nails it in his comments concerning the recent House of Bishops statement (emphasis my own in the following paragraphs):

(Church of Uganda News)

The Episcopal Church USA (TEC) has clarified its commitment to continue on their path to abandon the Biblical and historic faith of Anglicanism. They, in fact, have decided to walk apart, and we are distressed that they are trying to take the rest of the Anglican Communion with them.

We cannot take seriously a statement from TEC that merely pledges “as a body” to not do something. TEC betrayed the Anglican Communion when it elected and confirmed as bishop a divorced man living in a same-sex relationship. We were further betrayed when its Presiding Bishop agreed to the Communiqué from the 2003 emergency Primates’ Meeting that he deeply regretted the “actions of the…Episcopal Church (USA),” and immediately proceeded to assert at a press conference that he would preside at that consecration. He then explained that the Primates believed their statement “as a body,” but individual primates were free to disagree.

Now, TEC has told us that they pledge “as a body” not to “authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.” We have every reason to believe that individual bishops will feel free to disagree and continue to permit blessings of same-sex unions in their dioceses, rationalizing it as part of the breadth of their pastoral response, and all the while denying their complicity. This is unacceptable.

TEC has lost the right to give assurances of their direction as a church through more words and statements. They write one thing and do another. We, therefore, cannot know what they mean by their words until we see their meaning demonstrated by their actions.

Archbishop Orombi, meet the Rt. Rev. Charles Bennison, Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, who voted "no" to the final House of Bishops statement:

When, on September 25, the House of Bishops ... affirmed that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom [General Convention 2006 resolution] B033 pertains, knowing that resolutions are recommendatory, not canonically mandatory, and that therefore compliance is voluntary, I honestly could not promise I would not consent to the election of a gay or lesbian priest to the episcopate.

As I said in one of my House of Bishops posts, "whenever you read formal Anglican communications, it's time to put on your analytical hat and remember this guiding principle: every word counts." Bishop Orombi has analyzed the House of Bishops' statement well.

Because whether we're talking about consent to the consecration of a priest living in a gay or lesbian relationship or same-sex blessings, given its track record, how can the Episcopal Church be trusted? How many other bishops might leave open the option of going against the House of Bishops statement, using the argument that "resolutions are recommendatory, not canonically mandatory, and that therefore compliance is voluntary"?

Hat tip: Kendall Harmon

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