January 26, 2009

Thought from 01.25.09

From yesterday's sermon:

Paul tried to tell the difficult Corinthians that by squabbling over the gift they were destroying it, like peevish children who fight over a toy and end up breaking it beyond repair...

A lesson for the church today?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

14 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Could be. Could be. To think that the larger number of Episcopalians in the pews know little or nothing about the disputes.

Tobias Haller said...

GM, I'm more concerned about the few in parishes where they hear of nothing but "the problems."

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tobias, you're very right to be concerned about them. All of us who do pay attention should be concerned about them and praying for them/

Anonymous said...

Any chance of a fair minded evaluation of the PB's contribution to squabbling, Tobias. I would appreciate your analysis of her letter to Scriven and the ACI's comment on it.

Tobias Haller said...

Anonymous, please i.d. yourself in comments, as I like to know who is who.

I've not followed the Scriven situation in detail. It seems to me that our Canons are not well suited to the anomalous and anomic activities of any number of bishops, especially with the new porous understanding of geographical and ecclesiastical boundaries. What I don't understand is why they do not, as, for example, Bishop Bena did, follow the canonical procedure available to transfer their membership to another province. Simply announcing their departure is insufficient. The fact that the province in question is acting in a manner contrary to canon and tradition is also a part of the anomaly. These are very murky waters and I don't sense a resolution any time soon.

I do not say this to excuse the inventions or interpretations to which I think the PB has been urged by her Council of Advice; and I think she has not receiving the best advice available in these cases. Were I in her position (which God Forbid!) I think I would have addressed the situation very differently. I tend to take a very conservative view of the canons, and am on record as seeing the novel interpretations of the abandonment canon as precisely that.

All I can say is that this is a right royal mess, and while I may not like the PB's responses, I do not see her as the cause of the problem, but rather an unfortunate reaction to it.

Jan said...

Too true.

JCF said...

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, PB Katharine is offering the worst church leadership . . . except for all the others'. ;-/

Christopher (P.) said...

Tobias-- Not wanting to be argumentative, but rather from curiosity and a desire to know, in what way has what has happened with the Bishops been "inventive"? The only point of dispute that I am aware of is the interpretation of how many Bishops need to be in attendance at a meeting where one of their number is to be deposed. Yet past practice, coupled with a lack of objection at the time, support that all was in order. And it seems clear that the Bishops had left this Church.

What is telling for me is that, in my very, very conservative parish, the coffee hour talk (and scorn) is no longer about how "fuzzy" the message is from the National Church. People still disgree with the direction, but they seem to respect the clarity of the action.

Tobias Haller said...

Dear Christopher,
What I mean by "inventive" is more directed to the Scriven / Wantland affairs than in reference to the earlier issues on the abandonment canon. The issue in this case is that the canons provide little other way to address what the bishops in question are doing, and so the PB is using a canon not actually designed for the end to which she is finding it necessary to employ. While I think it is perfectly true that Iker and Wantland, for example, have actually renounced the ministry of the Episcopal Church, the canon employed speaks about renunciation of ministry tout court and that is not what they intended. The problem is that what they intend is really not addressed in the canons, the novelty of being a bishop in a province of the Anglican Communion other than the one that is actually the recognized Anglican Province in the place where one actually is! And the PB has found herself using this canon to state the obvious -- you are no longer a bishop of this church -- even though the language speaks more about not being a bishop at all. Frankly, I think there is a certain amount of truth in that, as the ancient canons would immediately have deposed any bishop doing as they have done.

I think the proper canon to use in all of these cases is not the abandonment canon, but the disciplinary canons -- except that our church seems allergic to trials. I think trials are the proper way to settle the law.

Given that, as I say, I think the PB is being abundantly clear and active -- even if she is using a pair of pliers as a make-do hammer; and I place the major blame for all of this on the plates of the dissident bisohps. But it is a messy situation still.

Tobias Haller said...

I just reread my last note and want to clarify that the Scriven situation is different from the Iker / Wantland one. It appears that Scriven acted correctly, but that there is a weakness in our canonical provision for transferring bishops to another province -- although it happens, it isn't clear, canonically, how it is supposed to happen.

Iker and Wantland are another case altogether -- they are schismatists and have been treated as such; though, again, I think the proper canon is not the renunciation canon.

Our canons were written in the more innocent days of good intentions and bona fides. The Romans have much more experience with this -- for instance, what we really need in these cases is something like the canon the SSPX "bishops" fell foul of -- automatic excommunication latae sententiae for consecrating a bishop without papal permission -- and formal schism is one of the other offenses. What the PB has done is effectively to apply the renunciation canon as a form of general statement that a bishop has left the church, and is no longer authorized to function within it. He can, of course, still consider himself to be a bishop, and others may do the same -- but as far as this church is concerned, he is no longer able to function in that capacity within it.

David |Dah • veed| said...

The ++ABC has not been helpful in these matters as well. If one was disposed to respect Holy Tradition, one would think it would be the person of the ++ABC. However, prior to Lambeth his words to the Presiding Bishop of the Conalonialists regarding David Schofield just added to the confusion. That he understood Schofield to now be a member of the Conealone HoB, and so a part of the AC.

Schofield continues to use this quote to convince folks that since he is part of the AC, anyone attached to him is part of the AC. In spite of the fact that in the very next sentence in the letter to ++PB Conealone, the ++ABC questioned the legitimacy of the diocese attached to Schofield.

Knowing full well how his every word & deed are latched onto by the schizmatics the ++ABC never disputes the interpretation or further explains himself. Case in point, the visit of Robert Duncan & wife to Lambeth Palace.

Tobias Haller said...

I tend to think that the ABC is one of those who doesn't like being in a position of authority, but whose refusal to take charge gives him a kind of paradoxical power -- a kind of delphic openness to interpretations by people who hear him saying whatever they want.

For instance, in the recent conversation about the New Province, he apparently said something like, "Not up to me. There's a process; fill out the forms." In fact, he could have said, "Whatever you are doing, I will not recognize a second province in North America as being in communion with the Church of England." That is a real authority that he has (as does the AB of York, since it requires them both to say Yes to create a bond of communion with the C of E) but he doesn't want to use it. Instead, I think he thinks he is buying time.

And perhaps he is. There are times when such dithering turns out to be good policy after all, as the irascible dissidents work themselves further and further into a corner. Only time will tell; and it may not be all that long a time. The Primates are lining up, and I don't think we will see two-thirds of them favoring the New Province, or even a simple majority. Of course, I could be wrong.

Tobias Haller said...

Of course, by "second" I really meant fourth -- in addition to Canada, Mexico and the US. I should have said "additional" and "overlapping" to clarify.

Belinda said...

Ugh...I have to admit that witnessing the squabbles in the Anglican Communion (if I even got that right) makes me joyous to be a Southern Baptist. Not that we Baptists are without our own, but the lack of central authority seems to minimize them.

I think your observation astute, Tobias, and I will pray for resolutions to said squabbles.