Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Ugly Episcopalian

The primates of the Anglican Communion.
This development affects less than 1% of the population of the United States, but if you're part of the dwindling group of Episcopalians it probably meant a lot: Anglican communion to restrict US Church over gay marriage.

The handwriting has been on the wall for over a decade.
Anglican leaders have barred a liberal US branch from decision-making for allowing same-sex marriage.

Anglicans have been divided on the issue since the US Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop in 2003.

Leaders said the church's stance was a "fundamental departure" from the faith of the majority in what is the world's third largest Christian denomination.

But Episcopal leaders said the three-year bar, which aims to prevent a formal schism, "will bring real pain".

The decision - made at a four-day meeting of 39 Anglican primates in Canterbury - means the Church will be suspended from participating in the life and work of the Anglican communion, the BBC's religious correspondent Carol Wyatt said.
The Bishop of our Diocese likened the temporary suspension of the U.S. Episcopal Church to the Crucifixion [bold added]:
The primates made peace among themselves by scapegoating The Episcopal Church, and even more fundamentally by further marginalizing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. The political powers who plotted the betrayal and execution of Jesus believed that it was expedient to sacrifice one person for the good of order and “peace.”

Let's step back from our narrow Eurocentric perspective. The Episcopal Church comprises less than 3% of the Anglican communion. The continent where Anglicanism is growing the fastest---Africa---is home to substantial populations that regard homosexuality not only as evil but as a sin punishable by death.

What would their reaction be to an Anglican church that performed same-sex weddings as a sacrament, that is, the equal in importance to Baptism and Holy Communion, in their community?

To put other Anglicans’ lives at risk to proclaim a value that is recognized by a minority of the world’s population is the height of arrogance. (Interestingly, the Episcopal Church decries this “Imperialist” behavior when Western society promulgates capitalism or traditional Christianity or democracy in the Third World.)

The Episcopal Church could have avoided the sanctioning of the primates by not forcing the issue at its General Convention last year but by allowing each Diocese or even Parish to decide for itself whether to perform same-sex weddings. There’s no question that the rite would be performed in the overwhelming majority of churches across the United States. But cultural warriors insisted on making same-sex wedding an official policy of the entire Church, forcing other members of the Anglican Communion to take a position.

In previous disputes the Church was fond of telling critics that it was not governed “top-down” like the Catholics. It is organized as a confederation of equals who are free to make their own decisions. Hence the ordination of non-chaste gay priests and the blessing of same-sex unions occurred in some Dioceses but not others. This freedom to choose apparently expired when progressives took control of the governing councils.

The Ugly American was a 1950’s stereotype of the American who bestrode the world, his pockets full of the almighty dollar, wondering why the world wasn’t more like him. More than half a century later, the Ugly Episcopalian echoes the narcissistic certitude of those times.

Note: the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, strikes the right note of conciliation, regret, and hope.

No comments: