Friday, February 23, 2007

From the Doorstep

I urge you to take a look at Tobias Haller's most recent blog entry Of the Dangers of Self-Evident Truth and the commentary that follows. While formulating a more rigorous approach to how we might respond as a Church to the Communiqué as well as the other Anglican documents that have led to this moment, he alludes to the just-released recording of ++Katharine Jefferts Schori addressing the staff today at the Episcopal Church Center. It's both sobering and hopeful. Do give it a listen.

One of the more critical things to note is that, in ++Katharine's mind at least, the provision of pastoral care in the form of blessing same-sex unions was not intended to be addressed by the Communiqué. Only authorizing, that is, creating an official public rite for same-sex blessings as a Church was of concern. If indeed this is accurate (while the Communiqué seems a bit unclear to me, but I can only give our Presiding Bishop the benefit of the doubt, as she was there in the conversation), then the de facto reality, not only in the Episcopal Church but in many other parts of the Anglican Communion will remain intact: pastoral provision for same-sex blessings in local places will not need be touched by what the Primates demand.

Now to the broader situation: without drawing speculative conclusions, it sounds to me as though an intentional effort remains afoot towards a more thoroughgoing witness through dialogue to the position of the Episcopal Church -- ecclesiastical, theological, and incarnational.

++Katharine Jefferts Schori's reflection of today reminds us that we may be ultimately of greater help and support to the Anglican Communion's LGBT members by seeking a way to remain part of it than by scuttling that hope through willingly entering division. Tobias+ is taking this up in subsequent posts.

Much to consider deeply. As he posts more from his end, I will provide links here.

Also of import, this from ENS:

Listening, Lent and reflection on the recent Anglican Primates' Meeting will be among themes addressed as Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori facilitates a live webcast conversation with Episcopalians churchwide on Wednesday, February 28, beginning at 10 a.m. EST (9 a.m. CST, 8 a.m. MST, 7 a.m. PST).

Venue for the 45-minute program will be the webcast studio facilities of Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York City. Access to the program will be available through both the Episcopal Church's web site,, and the parish site,


June Butler said...

Richard, as I was taking my walk tonight, the thought came to me that, since we face an ultimatum and a time limit, we don't have much time to dialogue. Perhaps Bishop Katharine has in mind a stalling strategy.

Canon David Anderson issued a particularly unpleasant response to the meetings in Tanzania. Archbishop Akinola is making fiery and threatening statements. These folks could well do themselves in rather quickly.

It seems a risky strategy, and I don't like it at all that we have strain to discern what is really going on here.

I haven't listened to Bishop Katharine's talk yet. Perhaps that will shed a little light. It's good news about the pastoral care blessings.

We shall see.

R said...

Dearest Mimi,

Do give her talk a listen. Well worth the time.

I certainly share your sentiments, but ++Katharine takes a longer view that is hopeful, as she sees movement in places in the Communion that we may not see through the belligerence coming from some quarters.

We must all remember that there is much hot air in bullying. . .and fear. The substance on the ground may be very different.

Love to you.

Fr. John said...

Dear Richard,

I listened to the PB's comments to her staff today. Yesterday, I listened to a group of lesbian and gay Episcopalians from one of our East Bay parishes. I'm still contemplating what I'm hearing from them (and reading elsewhere). Hopefully, in a week or two I'll have time to put some reflections into writing.

My immediate reactions, however, are along these lines:

Does the PB really believe we need to sacrifice the dignity of (comparatively privileged) queers here for the sake of the queers "over there?" Will our capitulation to ecclesiastical bullies really be a sign of hope to them? There are other ways to have conversation globally besides Primates' meetings (thank God). Missing the Lambeth tea party wouldn't be the worst thing either.

Going back on authorized rites means going back into the closet. Even authorized rites for SSBs are "seperate and unequal" rites vis-a-vis the marriage rite. No way I can accept that. I'm going to the mat over this one.


R said...


I will go with you.

I want to know more where we are, though, in the process of authorized rites. It's been my impression so far that they have not yet been put forward to the Standing Liturgical Commission -- not sure I have the nomenclature right in my mind. But if they have, I'd like to know more about where they are.

Authorized rites will take time to move through Convention at any rate. By the time GC 2009 roles around, the Primates will have seen substantial turnover, it sounds to me.

If I understand you correctly, though, I agree that "buying time" is not in order and would be about selling souls. ++Katharine seems to be uncertain, with measured humility, that the Episcopal Church is prepared to go along with the Communique. I can only imagine she is grateful our polity will not let that decision rest with her alone.

As I've said to you before (and I will leave it here publicly, if you'll forgive me), it strikes me that as long as same-sex unions are hindered and under pastoral supervision of bishops, so should be heterosexual marriages. Perhaps we should pursue that locally as a sign of solidarity?

Love in Christ.

Anonymous said...

The communique speaks of "authorised rites". The words "official" and "public" are not used, unlike the OP.
So a rite authorised by +Jefferts Schori under her time in Nevada would qualify as an "authorised rite" as far as I can tell. (I don't know if she actually authorised any. I read somewhere there were a handful, but I don't know for certain.)
Bishops using a "don't tell me but I know you are conducting SSBs" can also be seen as authorising rites of blessing.
Michael Hopkins has an post on "From glory into glory" that is worth reading on this practice.He wants a more honest approach.

Anonymous said...

I listened to PBKJS's address to 815... and, I must say, was sadly disappointed. I am so very tired of being an issue in the church that I barely have energy to rebut the lost souls on the SF blog (*gasp*).

The whole notion of "fasting..." The whole notion of "time for reflection..." They just wear me out (when they're not making me angry).

I'll ditto John+ and send blessings.

R said...


There seems to be a great deal of confusion over what "authorized rites" means.

1) It could mean any rite approved locally or nationally for a pastoral or sacramental service of the Church. (As in, authorized by some church authority.

2) It could mean something in a more technical, narrow sense -- that is a rite developed and authorized by the governing body of the Church for use within its jurisdiction. In our polity, this means a rite developed by our relevant commissions and approved by General Convention either as part of, or as an appendix to, the Book of Common Prayer.

My only point in the OP was that ++KJS seemed to articulate her understanding that the latter (#2) was what was under consideration by the Primates vis-a-vis the Windsor Report and last week's Communique.

Like you, I find the Communique unclear to which of the two it is addressing (or both). It seems to want to conflate the two, thereby shutting down even pastoral case-by-case situations -- like we have in this Diocese at present. But, as I wrote, ++KJS was part of the discussion, so I would assume she would know better than I what the intention was behind the language of the Communique.

I agree honesty is an important consideration. But not all pastoral provision made at present are a "don't ask-don't tell" policy. Our bishop, for instance, has been quite transparent about our diocesan policy, in which he must be notified and review the liturgy before same-sex blessings are undertaken by our clergy.

Anyway, I think to go on more would belabor the point unnecessarily.

The question remains: just what did the Primates mean by "authorized rites?" Do they mean to shut down pastoral provisions already made in local settings (i.e. Dioceses) or, more narrowly forestall authorized rites being passed at our General Convention? The question will be one important to our House of Bishops, it seems to me, because the former implies interference in local provisions for pastoral care -- and clear draconian measures against the pastoral needs of our LGBT members. The latter implies maintaining the status quo (and this is the one ++KJS seems to be pointing to), but demands that we continue to treat our LGBT members as "second-class" in their covenanted relationships.

Closed said...

She is still talking ABOUT us rather than conversing with us, which reveals that we've a ways to go in terms of listening to LGBT Episcopalians.