Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Anglican Communion Death March

Originally, I expected the full-blown shattering of the Anglican Communion to be an explosion. I was wrong. It's going to be a long, drawn-out, decomposition.

The latest from the Washington Post:

National leaders of the Episcopal Church have ousted 61 clergy who aligned with a former bishop in California when he broke with the national church in a dispute over the Bible and homosexuality.

Former Bishop John-David Schofield led the Diocese of San Joaquin to become the first full diocese to secede from the U.S. denomination in 2007. Four years earlier, Episcopalians consecrated their first openly gay bishop, setting off a wide-ranging debate within the church and upsetting conservative congregations.

Schofield ultimately was removed as head of the diocese and barred from performing any religious rites. He maintains he is an Anglican bishop under the worldwide church.

Episcopal leaders said Wednesday they were deposing all clergy who severed their ties and joined Schofield in affiliating with an Anglican archdiocese in Argentina.

Of course, there's the typical finger-pointing of who really left who here. Of course, the correct answer is that they all left the Catholic Church 500 years ago and need to just come home.

In December, the breakaway diocese joined with three others and dozens of individual parishes in the U.S. and Canada to announce that they were forming a North American Anglican province to rival the Episcopal Church. Schofield said Wednesday that 23 dioceses now plan to affiliate with the new province. Its future status in the worldwide Anglican Communion is unclear. It's unprecedented for an Anglican national province to be created where a national church already exists.

Not with a bang, but a whimper.

This is what ex-Fr. Cutie opted for? That reminds me of when Ted Danson exchanged his career on Cheers for Whoopi Goldberg.

1 comment:

Chants a Lot said...

It will be a slow and painful death, which is perhaps fitting, given that its birth was by fits and starts as well. From the Act of Supremacy in 1534 until the Elizabethan Settlement in 1559, the Church of England did not have an identity. It was variously pseudo-Catholic (under Henry), Protestant (under Edward), Catholic (during Mary's reign), and Protestant again under Elizabeth.

I doubt, of course, that these beginnings of the Anglican Communion are in the minds of my many friends, both laypersons and clergymen alike, who struggle with the issues that threaten to tear their communion apart and the question how to restore communion with Holy Mother Church. Their concerns, as they have expressed them to me, are things like the mixture of evangelicals and anglo-Catholics in the more orthodox Anglican dioceses, and the number of divorced and re-married Episcopalians (which brings up the question of how the Catholic diocesan tribunals will be able to deal with these marriage cases thoroughly yet expeditiously for dioceses or parishes that wish to be received into the Church). So, it's somewhat more complicated than it would appear at first blush to be. We need to keep praying for them and for the Holy Father as he considers how best to help them all come home. By all accounts, this a priority with him.