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Monday, August 25, 2008

A Word In Time

Image: 'La Palabra el Tiempo" by Gregg Chadwick

I encourage people to read the Open Letter made by the "Conservative Think Tank", Covenant Communion to the issues raised in Bishop Bob Duncan's email to Bishop Gary Lillibridge. You can find it here.

I have written to some of the signers of this Open Letter who also serve with me on HOB/D - the House of Bishops/Deputies Listserv.

I have asked two issues of clarification on the first point. I'll let you know when I get a response. Meanwhile, if you have other questions, please do ask them.

We live in curious times that are getting more and more curious.

Bishop Duncan's Point #1
: The first difficulty is the moral equivalence implied between the three moratoria, a notion specifically rejected in the original Windsor Report and at Dromantine.

The Open Letter States: "Actually, it is largely American and Canadian liberals that have implied a moral equivalency between the two."

Issue #1: Besides being really, really ("We didn't start it, they started it."), it is confusing. There are three moratoria, yes?. The Open letter talks about the 'moral equivalency between the two'. Which two? The two having to do with allowing the sacramental rite of ordination/consecration to the episcopacy

AND - the pastoral liturgical rite of blessing the covenants between two people of the same gender (who, BTW, happen to be baptized) -

OR - one of those two as compared with the historical ecclesiastical immorality of incursion by one bishop into the diocesan boundaries of another bishop?

In truth, all I have ever heard from my North American colleagues on both sides of the aisle is outrage that the three moratoria are held together as being morally equivalent.

Let's put the right shoe on the right foot, shall we? It is The Windsor Continuation Group and the Archbishop of Canterbury who have offered - and continue to offer - the three together, the implication being that they are equal.

Can you clarify this statement for me? To your collective intelligent minds, which "two moratoria" have moral equivalency?

Issue #2: The Open Letter goes on to ask: "Who will be the first to display an act of Christian charity and self-giving on behalf of the Communion at this critical turning point in the life of the Communion?

Well, as ordained and lay members of this church, you are, no doubt, very proud to note that TEC has already taken the lead in terms of "Christian charity and self-giving on behalf of the Communion".

Since 2006 General Convention, TEC has been in a period of official moratorium with regard to bishops and standing committees approving the consecration of elected LGBT bishops. Do I really have to mention hold-your-nose-and-vote B033?

Yes, of course, resolutions do not have the binding authority of canon. And, yes there are high hopes that this will be overturned in 2009, but the reality is that the present status is one of 'official moratoria' in this specific regard.

I know it is a matter of some controversy, but the truth is that, despite the more than a decade of effort to the contrary, there is, presently, no authorized liturgical rite of blessing in TEC for the covenants made by people of the same gender.

Yes, there are bishops (thanks be to God), who utilize the rubric in the Book of Common Prayer (page 14) and continue to provide and/or condone ("authorize") their clergy to preside at these liturgical rites.

Yes, there will undoubtedly be resolutions presented - yet again - to General Convention in 2009 to ask TEC (yet again) to ask the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to develop rites to bless the covenant made between two people of the same gender.

If - IF - that happens, the liturgical rite will be brought back for approval at General Convention 2012. Since this rite will need to be approved by two successive General Conventions, this will not be a reality in our church until, at the earliest, 2015 - seven years from now. Who is self-giving to whom?

I have no doubt there will be resolutions for the expansion of the Rite of Marriage to deal with those two states (CA and MA) hwo presently have - as well as the anticipated states (CN and NJ by the end of 2008) who will have - legalized the civil right of marriage for people of the same gender.

However, there are (and, I will say it again just to be clear) no officially authorized by TEC for rites of blessing covenants of people of the same gender.

Admittedly, this does not follow the 'spirit' of the request from the ABC or the WCG, but it does follow the 'law', such as it is in the Anglican Communion, of their request.

Meanwhile, the "modern innovation" of diocesan incursions continue to be a reality, despite the historic catholic tradition of the church.

Can you clarify the basis of your question about who will take the lead for me?

I have other thoughts and questions, but let's start with these two issue from this first point.

(That link again is:


father will brown said...

Dear Rev. Kaeton,

I don't think Covenant-Communion meant to imply anything about "moral" equivalency. We used that language because Bp. Duncan used it, and this letter was written in response to him. Our conviction is, as you rightly point out, "there are three moratoria". They all need to be observed as a matter of discipline. We are agnostic, for the practical purposes of this letter, on the question of "morality".

By "the two" we meant (1) consents & blessings, and (2) boundary crossing. In other words, we meant to refer to a moral equivalency between the "two sides" in the dispute (not between any two of the moratoria). I see now that our wording could have been clearer.

As to issue #2, our question was rhetorical. Many will answer it as you have answered it. In any event, we hope that the conservative side will likewise be eager to exercise charity and self-giving for the sake of the Communion at this critical juncture.

Lastly, I would like to resist your phrase "Conservative Think Tank". The contributors of Covenant-Communion (and the signatories of this letter) run the ideological gamut, even on the presenting issues of human sexuality. But we are united in the conviction that (1) personal and corporate sacrifice is necessary if the gift of Communion is to survive, and (2) that the gift of our Communion is priceless, that it is sinful to squander the opportunities for witness and Gospel work in the world afforded to us by that gift.

Blessings and peace.

Will Brown +
(a Covenant-Communion author)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Will, for the courage to post a comment here.

To respond to your first point - "the two" issues of ordination and blessing of a covenant. My position is that to compare either of the two to each other or to the incursion of diocesan borders is, in fact, a moral outrage.

First of all, there is no equivalency - moral or otherwise - between the sacramental rite of ordination and the pastoral act of blessing of a covenant. The first is clearly addressed by the canons of The Episcopal Church. The second is addressed by the rubrics of the Book of Common prayer, page 13.

The incursion of diocesan borders is an historic tradition of the ancient church, the breach of which is anathema to the church catholic - Roman, Orthodox and Anglican.

To your second point: Make no mistake, the only "self-giving" being asked is that of LGBT people. We are being asked to sacrifice the fullness of our vocations.

We are being asked to sacrifice the pastoral care which we generously bestow to the blessing of our pets and our religious jewelry, our homes, cars and even our motorcycles.

What is "the church" - progressive or conservative - being asked to give or sacrifice in comparison?

Finally, I used the term "conservative think tank" as a compliment, meant to incorporate all of the attributes you enumerate.

Oh, how I wish that we were all so committed not to "squander the opportunities for witness and Gospel work afforded to us by that gift" of the Anglican Communion.

How better to do that than to use this opportunity to witness to the Gospel work of the LGBT Christians in the Anglican Communion, by blessing the sacred covenants we make to each other - regardless of our gender, ordaining the fullness of our God-given vocations despite our gender and sexual orientation, and abiding by the historic covenants of respecting diocesan and provincial boundaries?

Bill said...

father will brown said...
“I see now that our wording could have been clearer.”

I agree wholeheartedly. My “Mom” used to say, “Say what you mean”. I read through the “open letter” a few times and still came away confused as to what you were really trying to say. Drop the “legal speak” and try colloquial English. I know it's not quite so impressive, but it will stop the going back and forth ten times to get your point across.

father will brown said...

"Drop the legal-speak...."

It was written by lawyer (a lawyer-priest, but a lawyer nonetheless). Its probably hard for him to help it.

Apologies for obfuscation.

Blessings and peace.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Bill, your comment was helpful. Thanks you.

Will - that was, no doubt "Fr. Neal." He can't help it. He was educated - and, I suspect born - that way.