April 19, 2015

Those who are ignorant of history...

...are doomed not to know what they are talking about.

The folks at the Anglican Communion Institute are all in a dither about Resolution A066 coming to General Convention this summer. It is an amendment to the Constitution to spell out a process by which supplemental liturgical texts might be authorized. Neither the ACI nor the proposers of this resolution appear to recognize that it is neither a horrible novelty hatched as part of a "twenty-five year effort" (as ACI says) nor a strict necessity (as the proposers seem to think.)

The fact is that nothing in the Constitution or Canons forbids General Convention authorizing rites supplemental to the Book of Common Prayer. The Constitution does lay out the process for amendment of the BCP itself by revision or addition, and requires that the BCP be used throughout the church, but nowhere suggests that no other liturgical rite can be authorized.

On the contrary, the General Convention has been authorizing supplements to the BCP since the 1940s (starting with The Book of Offices, which later became the Book of Occasional Services, and Lesser Feasts and Fasts). The House of Bishops (on their own) had authorized earlier versions of the Book of Offices going back to 1916!

The ACI seems to think that the House of Bishops (and Deputies) cannot do as a body what any individual bishop can do in her own diocese (authorize a liturgy for a special occasion or for circumstance not provided for in the BCP) -- a notion that reflects their peculiar ecclesiology in which the diocesan bishop is at the apex of all rule.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

UPDATE: See a more detailed response to the allegations of unconstitutionality, and the accuracy of my assessment.

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