Some Details on the Proposed Same Sex Union Rites from the recent House of Bishops meeting

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The agenda for the afternoon was a report from five bishops who have been involved in the development of a rite for the blessing of same-sex relationships, with accompanying supporting materials. There was actually a read-through of the liturgy, with two bishops taking the lines of those committing themselves to one another. After a few "clarifying questions" in plenary (some of which did not actually meet that description), we had a period of discussion at our tables, and then were sent to breakout rooms where larger groups (about three tables worth) engaged in Indaba-style dialogue.

No one should be surprised that I am among those opposed to the entire project, on principle. I will vote against it, whatever form the rite takes in the end. For that reason, I'm not in a position to offer feedback on its details, fine-tuning language, etc. So I have the luxury of observing, as it were, from a distance. And what I see is a developing struggle between hard-core ideological liberals for whom anything but "full marriage equality" will still be a denial of justice, and institutional liberals who would like there to be some authorized rite for same-sex blessings but are not really interested in it looking anything like marriage. The rite that is being proposed is, in my estimation, marriage by another name, despite the protestations of its authors that it's simply a "blessing" liturgy. It's doesn't use the word "marriage," but it borrows heavily from the vocabulary and structure of the marriage liturgy. And can anyone question what the headline will be in the secular media the day after we pass the authorizing resolution?

The silver lining in all this is that the proposal is for this rite to be new resource entitled Liturgical Resources One--that is, not appended to any currently extant liturgical book, thus placing it under the authority of the Bishop Diocesan as to whether it may be used.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

Posted March 27, 2012 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Ralph wrote:

I’d still like to know who those 2 bishops were, so that I can send them a wedding present.

March 27, 9:48 am | [comment link]
2. tjmcmahon wrote:

“Lunch was with the group of Communion Partner bishops. Ten were in the room—diocesans, retired, and suffragans—with three more who would have been there but for other commitments.”
So, TEC is down to a total of 13 bishops who identify as Communion Partner bishops- including retirees and suffagans (down from, as I recall 22 diocesan Windsor bishops, only a few years ago).  Zero Anglo-Catholic diocesans (or suffragans, as far as I know), and only a few still in retirement (several having been deposed even though retired).

March 27, 10:02 am | [comment link]
3. David Keller wrote:

#2—Dorsey Henderson claimed to be a Windsor Bishop, so I’m not sure that means anything.

March 27, 10:11 am | [comment link]
4. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

Personally, though I am opposed to the whole concept, I am of the school of thought that the Episcopal Church should just call a spade a a spade. I find this whole “blessings of same sex unions” thing to be intellectually disingenuous, if not outright deceptive. They just need to call what they are doings same sex weddings. If it is anything more than people coming up to the altar rail and getting a blessing like little kids who don’t receive communion get, then it is not a blessing. Just call it what it is and stop wasting everyone’s time and resources.

March 27, 10:49 am | [comment link]
5. Undergroundpewster wrote:

I am not surprised. I wonder if anyone blushed, or cried, and I wonder who would be the father of the bride in this circumstance?

March 27, 12:33 pm | [comment link]
6. wvparson wrote:

Surely the Bishop of Springfield would be counted as an Anglo-Catholic?

March 27, 1:14 pm | [comment link]
7. tjmcmahon wrote:

According to the people I know of catholic heritage, the distinction in whether one is Anglo Catholic or Affirming Catholic is whether one follows the original apostolic lineage or one has opted to accept women as priests and bishops.  Since the current bishop of Springfield was consecrated by the current PB, and supports the ordination of women, he is therefore a relatively conservative Affirming Catholic. 
I suppose one could claim he is an Anglo-“cafeteria Catholic”- accepting those revisionist doctrines he chooses to accept while maintaining the “faith as he received it” in other areas.  I like him, respect him, and think he is one of the few rational choices made in TEC in the last few years.  But I cannot see how someone who broke with the Church Catholic over ordination can be construed to be Anglo Catholic.

March 27, 1:47 pm | [comment link]
8. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

You surprised me.  I thought you’d go a different way to attempt to classify “the Bishop of Springfield” as not a true Anglo Catholic.
But since you went the way you did, may I point out the hole in your argument is the very reason there is a requirement for 3 bishops who will lay on hands?

March 28, 3:25 am | [comment link]
9. Sarah wrote:

I don’t think anybody is an AngloCatholic if they support women’s ordination.  They can, of course, claim to be “catholic” but certainly not AngloCatholic.  AngloCatholic belief is very clear, it has been defined in writing over and over and over again, and their beliefs about the nature of the priesthood and the sacraments make it impossible for women to be ordained.

March 28, 10:17 am | [comment link]
10. tjmcmahon wrote:

Fr. Rob,
I surprise a lot of people.  I am, of course, aware of the reason why there are 3 consecrators.  I’ve never argued that Bishop Martins is not an Anglican bishop (nor would I argue that), but (among several other things mentioned) that the official recognition by him that his chief consecrator is a bishop, and indeed one with authority over him, defines his theology and ecclesiology as something other than Anglo Catholic.

March 28, 7:52 pm | [comment link]
11. wvparson wrote:

Ah the contagion theory of Holy Orders. Press that theory and Apostolic Succession collapses. But does the PB have authority over TEC’s diocesan bishops?

March 28, 8:03 pm | [comment link]
12. tjmcmahon wrote:

“But does the PB have authority over TEC’s diocesan bishops?”
She deposed several bishops (including +Iker, at the time an active diocesan bishop) by “accepting” “renunciation of orders” that they never wrote. No trial, no HoB meeting, just her “interpretation” of what they “meant” when they wrote something on the order of “I will not resign my orders.” 
Now, since those men are no longer bishops of their dioceses in TEC (and from the TEC point of view, not bishops at all, having resigned their orders, according to the PB), I am going with “yes”, she has authority over diocesan (and suffragan, and retired) bishops.

March 29, 10:07 am | [comment link]
13. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

I’d say “no”, if we make use of Sarah’s understanding of a finite set of determinators.  In fact, by Canon law, the PB does not have such authority.  That authority is vested collegially.  What she has done is manipulated those collegial bounds to provide the results she (and others) wished to accomplish. 
Now if we want to argue “for all intentions and purposes”, then what has happened has happened.  Still, none of the deposed in question (I mean not for any purpose except “abandonment”, which is also questionable application of Canon law) intended to stay on as TECUSA bishops.  They are not looking back, and the matter is phyrric, at best.  No, the real matter here is whether the PB - male or female - has any authority to depose a bishop or a priest or a deacon for leaving one Anglican Province (Church) and being accepted into another.  And that answer is “No.”
And then there is the matter of sacramental and/or administrative authority, and how any Anglo-Catholic bishop considers such authority for submission.

Having said all that, I never said I believe Bp Martins is an Anglo-Catholic bishop.  All I raised was the argument that tj was making was running afoul of the (as Bishop Anthony rephrased) contagion theory.

And, having said that, despite what Sarah has researched and heard and known (and I know the material), the best and purest of Anglo-Catholics understand their doctrinal formulations as based on ancient tradition and reason, as hermeneutic for the primary source, the holy scriptures.  Within that hermeneutic are valid arguments within the ancient sources.  If an argument is found to be, in fact, a misunderstanding or failed hermeneutic of the Word of God, then it must be understood that the opposing ancient source is now the primary—and things will be brought into order.  When certain things are brought into a different order than before, that does NOT declassify one as holding Anglo-Catholic identity.
“Affirming” Catholicism is a classification for those who failed to continue to uphold the Word of God as the place for argument, and simply hold new opinions and then attempt superficial justifications.

Anglo-Catholic is not a finite set.  Its imperfections and excesses show that to be true.  But so then must it have the ability to argue - from the scriptures, making use of tradition and reason, ancient especially - truth to its own power.
Now, if you want to argue Anglo-Catholicism as a finite set making use only of the Tractarians themselves, well, then, that’s another matter.  But even they would say it is something bigger than themselves alone.

March 29, 4:06 pm | [comment link]
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