Bishop Cyrus Pitman of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador is acting as a true shepherd in calling all his clergy together to determine their desire to remain loyal to the ordination vows they took, or to follow the self-styled prophets of the True Faith into schism. In a news story in the Toronto Star, an American schismatic opines that such "loyalty pressure" will begin to be felt everywhere. One would have thought, given the ecclesiastical nature of the vows (with explicit reference to obedience to real live leadership rather than the dictates of one's own private judgment) that no "pressure" would be necessary. But times have changed, and as in the days of the Judges, people often simply do what they think best.
Some will say, But isn't that what Canada and the US did in not following the dictates of Lambeth and the Primates? The difference, of course, is that no one has taken vows to follow the advice and counsel of either Lambeth or the Primates as a body. These bodies usurp and presume an authority they do not have.
Needless to say, it is also the duty of a bishop to gather, not to scatter, the flock; and certainly not to woo the clergy and laity into schism. This struck me in particular due to this from the first reading in the Daily Office this morning:
Jeremiah 23:1-4 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.
Thank God some bishops, such as Cyrus Pitman, know how to act like bishops: to preserve unity by calling people together.
Tobias Haller BSG