Two of our diocesan clergy, the Revs Elizabeth Carl and Carol Cole Flanagan have responded, individually, to the Primates’ communique. You can read both responses by clicking on the “continue reading” tab.
Reflecting on the Primates’ Ultimatum
By the Reverend Elizabeth Carl
The so-called “traditionalists” of the Anglican Communion are not nearly traditional enough for me. When the choice is presented, “Shall we violate a sub-section of the Levitical Code, or shall we be guilty of the only sin described as unpardonable in the New Testament, the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:30-32, Mark 3:28-30), they choose the latter.
Let us be clear that when the Church chooses to categorically call profane those persons and relationships to whom the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit have been given — given either privately or in sacramental acts of ordination, or consecration, or blessing — that is what is at stake: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the claim that what has been blessed by God is evil.
Peter learned in Acts 10 and 11 that it is God’s business, not the business of the Leviticus Code, to decide what is clean and what is profane, and the sacramental churches have practiced and taught for centuries that careful and individual discernments must be undertaken to know the difference. This is what those elaborate ordination processes engaging 80-100 “testers” over a period of many years are about. This is what a conscientious priest does in counseling sessions before declaring God’s blessing of a marriage or union. It is what conventions do when they elect bishops and standing committees do, or in +Gene’s case the General Convention did, before they give consents to those elections. In fact, speaking of that portion of Acts, the controversy over sexual orientation in our present day very closely parallels the circumcision controversy in the early church. The Anglican Communion seems at the moment determined to un-learn the lesson that was given to our ancestors in the faith.
And in the case of ordination and consecration, even if one assumed that all of those zillions of discerners had been wrong, when the sacraments are conferred a priest becomes a priest and a bishop becomes a bishop. To say otherwise, these self-styled “traditionalists” would have to repeal a settlement finally achieved in 412 of the Christian Era under the leadership of St Augustine of Hippo. This was the settlement of the Donatist controversy, Donatism being one of the classic heresies of the Christian faith.
As for fasting, isn’t that a spiritual discipline which, like celibacy, finds all its meaning in being taken up voluntarily rather than imposed by some outside authority?
Theologically, biblically, and intellectually, all of this is not brain surgery. Trust me; I’ve had brain surgery, and by God’s abiding grace and continual blessing my life has been preserved to minister as a priest in Christ’s Church. Whatever our Lenten disciplines are to be in response to this time of trouble, let us begin or continue them knowing that the Bible and church tradition are our friends, not our enemies. And let us uphold one another, the Episcopal Church, and our Presiding Bishop in prayer.
By the Rev. Carol Cole Flanagan
A posse of petulant Primates parleys amidst much palaver and patronizing patter, in search of a panacea. They produce a paper and propose a Pastoral Council, perpetuating prejudice and bigotry, and preempting the Presiding Bishop’s provincial prerogatives, to pacify a party of power-seeking prelates from the self-styled Global South, predisposed to preserve, protect and promote patriarchy, pander to the pompous, presumptuous pretensions of their own Primates Meeting, and patronize GLBT people, as a prelude to a premature pact that is a parody, perversion and pale imitation of the peerless and peculiar relationships that have characterized our prized Communion.
With little more than a patina of propriety, a plea for the preservation of Anglicanism, and a pent-up preoccupation with pelvic perils, Primates demand penance and seek to penalize persons and provinces in pursuit of peace and justice, as if they were merely pawns, precipitating pandemonium in a perversion of the listening process promised since 1979. They presuppose Lambeth 1.10, fruit of a poisoned tree, to be a “standard teaching” positing for the first time the puzzling paradigm of a curia our Communion has never possessed, professed, or preferred.
The prelates parse the products of our discernment process presuming, with a paucity of information, to penalize a patient people whose previous proposals for participation in dialogue have been promised and put off precluding the possibility and potential of perceiving a shared plan or pathway forward in partnership with other provinces. Our prevaricating primates heard from the Presiding Bishop and other passionate prelates on problems and possible next steps in our province.
++Peter, presenting for the Panel, pointed to progress, pastoral provisions and the problems that polarized people can produce.
The Primates were presented with a proposal for a pending pact to be presented to ACC-14. Since the polity and integrity of the Episcopal Church have been attacked by peacocks, who invade our jurisdictions without consultation let alone permission, presume to propose what pastoral provisions are pastorally appropriate in this church, prey on persons and parishes alike, disdain our own prelates, and plot and plan the destruction of this church, we are peeved by this parody of partnership.
Insulting our polity, the Primates propose our House of Bishops produce a plan for the period preceding the Covenant Process and propose that the provisions of this pastoral plan will preclude the necessity of further pastoral interventions by invading primates. In an effort to precipitate an end-run around the House of Deputies, the Primates plan to procure from our own prelates a promise our polity prevents them from providing.
Paradoxically the Primates propose pastoral processes for healing and reconciliation, which is after all predicated on restoring justice, when some of their own party have precipitated and perpetuated the brokenness and damage done to our church. How perplexing that patrician primates, who view themselves as instruments of unity and communion, have been instruments of the very pandemonium they decry, protecting the lawless plaguing our Communion, fracturing our church, and blaming the victims.
Proposing a moratorium on consents to the election to the episcopate of partnered gay clergy, and the blessing of same sex relationships is pointless and punitive, and stands indicted by the totality of the gospel witness and the Spirit of God.
Our posse of peckish paragons proposes to pander to the prejudices of bigots by perpetuating the persecution of our GLBT members, a perversion of the very gospel we are called to proclaim.
Pray for our PB, our people, priests, and parishes, our prelates, primates and provinces, ourselves and our posterity