... before it melts
The Archbishop of Canterbury's office has sent an e-mail to Bishop Robinson telling him he won't be allowed to preach or exercise priestly ministry in England. This is not the first time such admonitions have been issued. Though the part about preaching seems a tad dodgy canonically, as far as priestly ministry goes, this is all in keeping with the English rules on such things. As an openly gay and partnered person, Gene could not be ordained to the priesthood in the Church of England under its current laws. (Of course, it is the openness and honesty that is the problem here; Lord knows there are many gay partnered clergy, and even a few bishops, gracing C of E pulpits and sanctuaries; and when I say, "Lord knows," I really mean He does, and I don't know who these folk think they are fooling.) In any case, that's why he would not be allowed to function as a priest at present. He is in much the same position women priests from abroad were in before the C of E permitted the ordination of women to the priesthood.
Some have found Rowan's action to be harsh and unnecessary. Others have asked about how doing this in an e-mail tallies with the English equivalent of Miss Manners. It does seem that Rowan is handling the situation ham-handedly -- and, I might add, in a way that will actually serve the progressive cause and create a myriad of press opportunities and reports.
Hmmm... Perhaps not so ham-handed after all?... What if Rowan is just letting things play out as they will, and allow the wrong to condemn itself, the absentees to absent themselves, those who are willing to assemble to assemble, and find a way forward? Perhaps Rowan is wise after all to know that those who will not sit at table, and eventually walk away from it, weren't interested in it in the first place. Could Rowan be exercising the wisdom of the willow?
In the long run, perhaps the one showing how to maintain the highest degree of communion possible — putting up with exclusion and denigration, yet offering to do as much as he can in patience and civility and fellowship — is Gene Robinson. He is modeling how the Communion ought to work, in willingness to engage with those who would seek to expel him from it. He is showing the way to true Communion modeled on Jesus' teaching not to judge others. Hopefully, before it melts.
Tobias Haller BSG