In case you missed it, a tremendous response from Fulcrum. No-one can argue that they’re soft on this issue. I’ve added emphasis to what I think is the crucial call to the Archbishop of Canterbury as to what has to happen now. I agree with every word.
The bishops and Standing Committees of The Episcopal Church (USA) have consented to the election of Mary Glasspool as bishop suffragan in the diocese of Los Angeles. That consent sadly confirms that TEC is determined to ignore all the repeated appeals of the wider Communion and, in the closing words of The Windsor Report, â€˜walk apartâ€™.
But what about TEC and the current Communion? This emphatic further breaching of the bonds of affection shows that not only TECâ€™s promises about the future but its apologies and expressions of regret for the past are worthless. In particular, their 2006 regret relating to the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire – which the Primates accepted and which Windsor said â€œwould represent the desire of the Episcopal Church (USA) to remain within the Communionâ€ – is now shown to be either fraudulent or short-lived. If the Communion is committed to the Windsor and covenant vision of communion life and if the Communion is to keep wrestling with integrity in relation to its teaching and practice on sexuality then, despite the financial implications, it must now proceed in its common life without TEC.
The nature of the Communionâ€™s structures at present is such that effecting this distancing will require clear and decisive action by the Archbishop of Canterbury. At the very least he needs to make clear that bishops participating in the May consecration in Los Angeles will thereby exclude themselves from being invited by him to participate in the Instruments or to represent the Communion in any form.
Unless he does this all that the Instruments have repeatedly said in relation to TECâ€™s conduct will be undermined. The sickness of TECâ€™s inability to say what it means and mean what it says to the rest of the Communion will then have infected the Instruments and will surely destroy the Communion. The fact the Presiding Bishop of TEC and Ian Douglas are on â€˜The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communionâ€™ (which according to the proposed covenant will have a crucial role in monitoring the covenantâ€™s functioning) only highlights the need for decisive action if the Communion and the covenant are to retain any credibility.
In fact, the situation is now such that it may be better for the Archbishop simply to state â€“ as one of the Instruments and a focus and means of unity – that TEC as a body has rejected the Communionâ€™s repeated appeals for restraint, made false promises, and confirmed its direction is away from Communion teaching and accountability. It has thereby rendered itself incapable of covenanting with other churches and made it unclear what it means when it claims to be in communion with the see of Canterbury and a constituent member of the Anglican Communion.
Although decisive action is necessary, Archbishop Rowanâ€™s limited powers within the Communion and his laudable desire to keep on going the extra mile to enable dialogue mean many think it unlikely. Some long ago gave up on him. Many, however, both within the Church of England and the wider Communion (particularly in the Global South which meets next month) have been patient and sought to work with him by supporting the Windsor and covenant processes. They need now to make clear that unless he gives a clear lead then all that he and others have worked for since the Windsor Report and all that is promised by the covenant is at risk because of the new situation in which TEC has placed us.
Fulcrum Leadership Team