Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lambeth and Legitimacy

Lambeth is about legitimacy. It is unpleasant to have to point that fact out, but it is becoming more and more evident as the Conference draws to a close. Consider:

1. All of the buildup and speculation in 2007 to the point when the actual invitations were mailed.

2. The reactions in The Episcopal Church when it was learned that practically all of its bishops had been invited.

3. The reactions in the Anglican Church of Canada when it was learned that all of its bishops had been invited.

4. The initial reactions to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s refusal to invite Bishop Robinson, followed by the continued pressure exerted by TEC to allow Bishop Robinson to attend.

5. The reactions in The Episcopal Church to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s refusal to invite the Bishops in CANA or AMiA.

6. The pointed refusal by the Archbishop of Canterbury to reach out to any of the leaders at GAFCON, and his issuing a critique of them instead.

7. The wangling of an invitation for the newly but illegitimately appointed Bishop of San Joaquin, and the decision to spend a significant potion of that fledgling diocese’s kitty to take him and his wife to Canterbury.

8. The reaction in The Episcopal Church again to the news that Bishop Lamb was invited, and that Bishop Schofield would not be attending.

9. The arming of TEC bishops with carefully drafted “position papers” for them to use in the discussion groups, so that they would all be heard with one voice.

10. The concerted circus mounted by Integrity and other LGBT groups around the periphery of the Conference to make their presence known.

11. The spending, again, of a significant sum—reported to be in excess of $70,000—to bring the uninvited Bishop Robinson to Canterbury, along with a security team and a videographer to make a film documentary of his crashing the Conference.

12. And now the latest evidence—the reaction of those at the Conference to the Archbishop of Uganda’s forthright declaration of the reasons his Church did not attend:
I bump into a senior church figure near the Conference's Marketplace, a hangar behind the Sports Centre where you can get dressed as a bishop and buy all their books. I ask him what he makes of remarks from Henri Orombi, Archbishop of Uganda, about the Archbishop of Canterbury being little better than a remnant of colonialism and, unlike the Pope, being unelected and appointed by a secular government.

My eminent friend looks distant for a moment. "It's Orombi's way of getting into the conference," he replies. "If he's got something to say to us, he should have come here to say it. It's a sign of how frustrated the boycotters are that the Anglican Communion is getting on with its business without them. And it's a very childish response." [Update 08/01/2008: see more responses here.]

Yes, the Anglican Communion is “getting on with its business”, all right. That business has everything to do with sitting down to talk and talk and talk, and nothing to do with upholding important consensus—such as Resolution 1.10 passed at the previous Lambeth Conference.

Resolution 1.10 has to be one of the most denigrated resolutions ever passed by any body anywhere; in terms of being “honored in the breach more than in the observance,” it is right up there with resolutions passed by the Security Council. The first and most common way to denigrate it is to point out that it is only advisory, and not binding (see p. 8). Yet precisely in that characteristic lies its strength, as expressing the mind of the Anglican Communion. Honoring what it says shows respect for each of the members of that Communion, just as surely as refusing to follow its advice shows profound disrespect.

The second way the Resolution is denigrated is to contend that “things have changed since 1998---what a difference a decade makes.” But as a matter of fact, the bishops at Lambeth now affirm that the majority of them (even without the Ugandan and Nigerian bishops present) would still take the same position today.

The third way it is denigrated is to argue that the Resolution was “rammed through” in 1998 by a conservative wing, well-equipped with pagers and cellular telephones (an innovation adopted by TEC's liberals in 2008), that plied the Africans for their support with chicken dinners. Once again, that assertion is simply untrue.

And the fourth, and most effective, way to denigrate the Resolution is simply to break it, and to do openly that which it advises against. In doing so, of course, you claim that you are being motivated by the Holy Spirit, who is doing “new things” in your Church.

But if you take this last approach, you have a genuine legitimacy problem. Because the Resolution was adopted by a Lambeth Conference, your dishonoring of it cannot be seen as legitimate unless that act is honored—or at least forgiven, or excused—by another Lambeth Conference. Hence stems the struggle to achieve that legitimacy at Lambeth 2008, as witnessed by the evidence cited above.

Another problem, however, comes from the fact that Lambeth 2008 will not be adopting any new Resolutions. So you cannot get an official acknowledgment that your actions contrary to Resolution 1.10 may, in the long run, be seen as adiaphora about which the Communion can agree to disagree.

What, then, do you do? You see to it that the final “Lambeth Reflections” document acknowledges that you were there, that everyone sat down and talked things over with you, that you were heartfelt in your apologies for the consequences of your actions, of which you were totally unaware at the time, and that you will continue to maintain the dialog begun at Lambeth, especially with those with whom you disagree. You make these same points to the press, using your own press conferences as necessary to get out the message. And above all, you see to it that the final document does not contain (a) any condemnation of your actions, (b) any commitment for you to observe a moratorium on future actions, or (c) any indication that you have been asked to withdraw from the instruments of the Communion. And you take your leave, pleasantly satisfied at having accomplished all that was necessary to achieve legitimacy from Lambeth. The money was well spent!

Then you go back to your office and approve the draft of the resolution to depose the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan for “abandonment of the communion of this Church.” Next you check up on the latest in your lawsuit against Bishop Schofield, and you touch base with Bishop Lamb about his plans to depose the sixty-odd clergy who went with +John-David to the Southern Cone.

Oh, yes—and you send a thank-you letter to ++Rowan for his hospitality to you at Lambeth.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Whither the Anglican Communion?

There is an important new post by Dr. Andrew Lilico, whose profile you may peruse here, on what the future split of the Anglican Communion will look like, and on how the coming split is inexorable. In contrast to the rumors and speculations you can read at the mainstream media sites, this writer gives informed specifics, broken down by each interest group, and also analyzed against the peculiar background of the Church of England's Erastianism.

After you have absorbed Dr. Lilico's post, go and read Cranmer's additional thoughts on how there will always be a Church of England---at least, so long as there is a reigning British monarch.

Then, for dessert, read this piece at Fr. Al Kimel's blog: Is The Episcopal Church Truly a Catholic Church?

Each of these articles is pertinent to my title, especially in light of the second Lambeth address given last night by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Dr. Lilico sees most clearly what I think all the fuss and bother at Lambeth about sexuality--- now we'll discuss it, now we won't---is obscuring: the Church of England is coming apart right under Archbishop Rowan's nose. The refusal of General Synod to make continued provision for its Anglo-Catholic wing means that they will not be able to stay in the same Church with women bishops: they regard the latter as an invalidation of the historical apostolic succession. The evangelicals, meanwhile, will not tolerate the election of practicing homosexuals to the episcopate in clear violation of Scripture, as I explain in this post; with the Anglo-Catholics gone, there will be no means of halting the inexorable trend that begins, as TEC has seen, with the ordination of women, and the Church of England will have at least one openly gay bishop before Lambeth convenes again. Dr. Lilico foresees a two-thirds reduction in the number of CoE priests when these two groups take their leave. At the same time, however, he does not predict that the separate groups will fall out of Communion with each other, but will remain as "sister churches"---because of the incredible complexities of property ownership going back to medieval times. (He also believes that the departing evangelicals and the Anglo-Catholics will maintain their present alliance. I am more skeptical that they will both make the break at the same time, and so think that they will end up separate because they will break off that way.)

As for The Episcopal Church, does anyone doubt that it will be a return to business as usual once the September meeting of the House of Bishops convenes? Will our bishops' experiences at Lambeth cause them to change course, to drop the phony deposition threat against Bishop Duncan, and to work with him, San Joaquin and Virginia on a way to end all the litigation? I have seen nothing from the remarks of our Presiding Bishop thus far to indicate that. Thus if the bishops "depose" Bishop Duncan in September, the Diocese of Pittsburgh will follow the Diocese of San Joaquin out of The Episcopal Church, and the Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy will leave shortly after that. There will then be enough of a critical mass to organize a new North American province for those who have left TEC.

That new province will receive immediate recognition from the GAFCON Primates' Council, but to be accepted as a province of the Anglican Communion will require action by the Anglican Consultative Council and all the Primates of the Communion, and the process would have to begin with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, as explained in this article:
Since the geographic United States is already a province, it would have to be split in some manner for another province to be formed. This has never before happened for doctrinal reasons.

The ACC requires the presiding officer or primate of the original province to request it to begin the process leading to division. That could be the first formidable hurdle for a theoretical new Anglican province in the United States. "I don't envision the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church requesting such a division," Sessum said.
Indeed---nor do I, so long as it is Katharine Jefferts Schori whom we are talking about. However, once the total bill for her disastrous litigation strategy comes due, I predict that she will not serve out her full term in that position. Even if she does, then the person elected to replace her will have different marching orders, because by then the entire Anglican Communion will look very different from what it is now. As Dr. Lilico foresees, the Church of England will follow the Queen. (It probably does not want to wait for Prince Charles to assume the throne, because he has long intimated that he would regard himself in that post as the "Defender of Faith", not the "Defender of the Faith.") So, presumably, will the Archbishop of Canterbury. And if the Queen decides for the traditional Anglo-Catholic wing, then the liberals in the Church of England will have to call themselves something else, to say nothing of the evangelicals if they are then separate.

Having an Anglo-Catholic Church of England would facilitate rapprochement with the GAFCON group, and in a short time after the dust settles, we could have a new Anglican Communion, surprisingly along the lines currently envisioned by Archbishop Rowan in his plans for a Covenant. There would be the core national Churches who signed onto the Covenant, presumably including the new North American province, which would be part of the compromise reached with GAFCON. (Once there are two or three different Anglican churches in England, all objections to two separate Anglican churches in the territorial United States will become meaningless.) Then there would be the non-covenantal, or "affiliate" churches like TEC and ACoC, still nominally "in communion" with the Archbishop of Canterbury, but preaching an entirely different, "inclusive" Gospel, as described so well by Fr. Kimel. Finally, there would be those on the fringe, not in communion, but preserving the Anglican faith in various forms, just as we have with the Continuing Churches today. (The new North American province may also splinter in time, between its own Anglo-Catholics' views on the ordination of women, and its evangelicals who are not opposed to women priests. If that happens, the United States will end up mirroring what happens in England.)

Against all these interacting currents, the two weeks of Lambeth 2008 will seem like the calm where interfering waves temporarily cancel each other out. The turbulence will emerge beyond, just as though there had been no interference. Anything of significance that is accomplished at Lambeth will be whatever is done to advance the draft of the Covenant. For if all turns out the way envisioned in the articles above and in my own added comments, it will be around such a document that the core of the New Anglican Communion coalesces---and quickly. (Already the voices in TEC are saying that they will not be able to take up the subject of a covenant at GC 2009 because of the timing, and that its consideration will have to wait for GC 2012. That is exactly right, and by 2012 any contribution to it by TEC will hopefully have become irrelevant.)

Sic transit gloria Communionis anglicae . . .

Monday, July 28, 2008

What Is So Hard About Reading Scripture?

The Lambeth Conference is threatening to come apart over the issue of consecrating gay bishops. (Yes, I know---blessings of same-sex marriages are also a subject of dispute, but tell me: do you really think The Episcopal Church, or the Anglican Church of Canada, would go to the mat and risk their affiliations with the Anglican Communion over some non-liturgical mumbo-jumbo that they regard as "not core doctrine"? Concede their right to elect gay bishops, and same-sex blessings will follow as a matter of course, but the converse is not by any means as true.)

The Windsor Continuation Group has issued a preliminary draft of yet a fourth call for a moratorium on the election of any more gay bishops. Reaction from the bishops who heard it was, not surprisingly, mostly confined to the North Americans (18 out of the 25 who spoke), from both sides of the issue. One witness said in frustration: "They were basically just slagging each other off." (And no wonder, given the long-standing dysfunctionality of our House of Bishops.)

The bishops at Lambeth have been engaging in regular morning Bible study for over a week now. Since they are supposed to be pondering the role of a bishop in the Communion, what I wonder is why they could not leave the Gospel of John for one day and concentrate just on this passage from Titus 1:6-9, which lays down first-century criteria for a person to be an "elder" (Greek presbyteros---"elder," "older/senior"; applied, for example to a member of the Sanhedrin):
An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, with faithful children who cannot be charged with dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be blameless as one entrusted with God’s work, not arrogant, not prone to anger, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy for gain. Instead he must be hospitable, devoted to what is good, sensible, upright, devout, and self-controlled. He must hold firmly to the faithful message as it has been taught, so that he will be able to give exhortation in such healthy teaching and correct those who speak against it.
This is the New English Translation; let's compare it with some others. Here is the more literal English Standard Version (with verse 5 included for context):
5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
And now we are ready to look at the familiar King James Version:
5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
Can there be any question as to the meaning of this passage as applied to the case of V. Gene Robinson? (The word "overseer" in verse 7 is, as the KJV has it, the English equivalent of the Greek word "episkopos", or "bishop" in today's language.) From 1611 to today, the translations have not varied: a bishop must be "the husband of one wife". Let us look at the Greek original; it is even clearer. (In the link, you can move your cursor over each Greek word to see its meaning and its form.) It says "mias gynekos aner"---literally, "man of one woman", or phrased in more contemporary language, "a one-woman man".

A "man of one woman," or "a one-woman man," could not be more specific: the phrase cannot be applied to those in a same-sex relationship, however committed, and no matter how long-standing. Thus I have a difficult time with all the debate and anguish over the issue of whether it is in accordance with Scripture to elect an openly gay man to the position of an elder in the Church. Forget about all the arguments over what the Old Testament says about homosexual behavior: Paul in his letter to Titus is absolutely clear that a bishop should not be "married" to a person of the same sex! (It also means---sorry, Christina Rees et al.---that women bishops were by no means sanctioned in the early Church; but see what you think of this argument.)

We do not have to take the testimony of Paul's letter to Titus as the sole example of this teaching. Here it is again, in 1 Timothy 3:2-7 (NET):
The overseer ["bishop"] then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money. He must manage his own household well and keep his children in control without losing his dignity. But if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God? He must not be a recent convert or he may become arrogant and fall into the punishment that the devil will exact. And he must be well thought of by those outside the faith, so that he may not fall into disgrace and be caught by the devil’s trap.
We have the same standard reiterated, plus something further: the prospective bishop "must manage his own household well"---for "if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God?" (Whatever else he may be a model of, V. Gene Robinson is not a model head of household.) And there is more: a bishop "must be well thought of by those outside the faith." Again, while Gene Robinson may be well thought of by those in the gay and lesbian community, the bishops at Lambeth heard how he is regarded by Anglicans in the Sudan and other areas in Africa that have to contend with the forces of Islam. Thus it is difficult to reconcile the plain words of Scripture with the elevation of V. Gene Robinson to the episcopacy, even though all the procedures were duly followed. (Don't forget that the Emperor Caligula followed all the prescribed protocols to make his horse Incitatus a Roman senator.)

We also have the testimony of one of the early Church fathers as to the importance of maintaining the apostolic succession according to the guidelines laid down by the apostle Paul:
. . . the Tradition of the Apostles has been manifested to the universal world in the whole Church, and we can enumerate those who have been constituted bishops and successors of the Apostles up to us […] [The apostles] wanted those whom they left as their successors to be 'perfect and irreproachable' in everything (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6-7), to entrust the Magisterium to them in their place: If they act correctly it will be followed by great usefulness, but if they fall, it would be the greatest calamity" (Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, III, 3, 1: para. 7,848).
Thus we have two independent passages about the qualifications to be a bishop in the early Christian church, backed up by an explicit citation to both of those passages by a second-century bishop and leader of the early Church. (From the days of the Church fathers, it has also been argued that Paul's language excludes from the episcopacy those who had been divorced, and though I could cite scholarship to that effect, I do not need to---the disqualification of V. Gene Robinson follows not from the fact that he is divorced, but from the fact that he is not a "one-woman man." Moreover, see this thread and its comments.) The question thus arises: how do the supporters of the consecration of V. Gene Robinson defend their actions in light of these two New Testament passages?

It is remarkable that the only defense of the election of V. Gene Robinson against these two passages which I could find on the Web occurs in the publication prepared by The Episcopal Church for presentation at the 2005 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, in response to a request from the Windsor Report (paragraph 141) and the Primates at Dromantine in 2005 (paragraph 16) that The Episcopal Church provide an explanation of "why their proposal meets the criteria of scripture, tradition and reason." This publication, entitled "To Set Our Hope on Christ," avoids the issue by sidestepping it. The document first sets up an elaborate straw man---the candidate for the episcopacy who believes unreservedly in the bodily resurrection of Christ, based on the example of St. Paul:
But then God “crucified” his world, and, in so doing, called him to be an apostle to the very group he had once tried to destroy. St. Paul later describes this as God’s great act of grace and mercy towards him when he himself was an enemy of God without knowing it. He had been absolutely certain that he was doing God’s will, only to find out that he was blocking God’s will instead (1 Corinthians 15:3-11). That experience caused the Apostle Paul to understand apostolic credentials in terms of service to others, not power over others—a service that could only spring from his own life-changing share in Jesus’ death and resurrection. For, as he says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). . . . Over against Cynic philosophers who bullied their followers and ruled as tyrants over them, Paul insists on a model of leadership that imitates the gentleness and kindness of Christ. Real eligibility, indeed real authority, in leadership, he insists, is seen in human willingness to be used by God for the empowerment of others.
What does this have to do with the qualifications Paul elsewhere sets out for a bishop? you ask. Well, just wait---they are getting there, by their own route:
[4.3] Bearing these features of St. Paul’s life and teaching in mind, we can see that what makes leaders fit to serve the whole Church of God is the universality of Christ’s mission—and a minister’s fidelity to Christ’s way of serving that mission. This is the foundational quality that reaches across every human boundary. This is the fundamental ground upon which locally chosen ministers may be servants for the Church throughout the world. Thus the Christian family must, in discerning God’s call to this apostolic ministry, be able to recognize such an authentic witness to the cross and resurrection in a candidate for episcopal service. Within our own Anglican tradition, Archbishop Michael Ramsey affirms that the wellspring of the Church’s life is nothing less than the dying and rising of Christ, and clarifies how this must shape the Church’s new Gospel understanding of reality. Men and women, he writes, are now found to be identified with Christ’s death in such a way that they think of themselves no longer as separate and self-sufficient units, but as centred in Christ who died and rose again. They used to think of Christ as an isolated historical figure (“after the flesh”[2 Cor. 5]); now they think of Him as the inclusive head and centre of a new humanity, wherein a new creation of God is at work.
Still not there yet; but now watch how Archbishop Ramsey (who would be turning over in his grave at this abuse of his teaching!) is called into service:
The implication of this passage is far-reaching. Christ is here defined not as the isolated figure of Galilee and Judea but as one whose people, dead and risen with Him, are His own humanity. [Footnote omitted.] The transforming power of Jesus’ death and resurrection, overcoming every division, unites his faithful people as the living members one Body. Thus the people of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, discern God’s call to episcopal ministry in those in whom they recognize the charism of true, faithful, and, if need be, costly witness to the power of the Lord’s death and resurrection. Such witnesses are notably marked by a deep and continuing conversion to God’s purposes, as St. Paul understood, and by a gentleness, kindness, and humility that corresponds to the way of Christ. Across the centuries and in every region of the globe, the organic life of Christ, in the limbs and members of his Body, has expressed itself in this Spirit-guided authority to discern rightly such calls of God; the bishops of neighboring dioceses, in giving their consent to these elections and participating in the ordination liturgy, have affirmed the faithfulness of these communities in so discerning the call of God. Such, we devoutly believe, was the case in the recent calling to the episcopate of the Bishop of New Hampshire.
The authors of this tract are still not ready to deal with the passages in Titus and 1 Timothy. But note how the criteria in those passages have already been winnowed, and made marginal. What really counts in the election of a bishop is the ability of those electing him to let themselves be "Spirit-guided", and that the candidate's "gentleness, kindness and humility" model the image of our ideal Christ. Now we are ready for the culmination of this disingenuous argument:
Further Qualities to Be Discerned in the Ordained

[4.4] In addition to this foundational emphasis upon witnessing to the resurrection of Christ, the present ordination rites of the Episcopal Church (following earlier Anglican custom) identify other particular qualities and capacities for service which must be remarkable in one called to episcopal ministry. Among other features, one must be discernibly called “to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church... and to be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 517). These elements in the Examination of the bishop-elect reflect long-standing traditions in the Church’s ritual life, tracing back to the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (c. 215) and behind that to the Pastoral Epistles (cf. 1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9).
Wow! There are the two passages, openly acknowledged as being "long-standing traditions" in the election of bishops! So how do the authors of "To Set Our Hope in Christ" deal with them? Watch carefully: this is a "bait and switch" carried out right in front of your eyes.
It must be noted here that if the Church had not adopted a canon of interpretation such as the foundational nature of Christ’s death and resurrection, all the personal characteristics called for in the Pastorals would have to be given equal weight: this would most certainly prohibit the episcopal election of anyone married more than once (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6), or of any who have unruly or unbelieving children (1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 1:6), or of any who have a propensity to be quarrelsome, arrogant, or quick-tempered (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7).
". . . if the Church had not adopted a canon of interpretation such as the foundational nature of Christ's death and resurrection . . . this would most certainly prohibit the election of anyone married more than once . . ." What in the world does this mean?? When, exactly, did the Church adopt a "canon of interpretation" that changed the applicability of the criteria set out by Paul in Titus and First Timothy? Please re-read the lead-up of the argument to this stunning assertion. You will have to conclude that the "canon of interpretation" is based on Paul's own life, which witnessed to "the foundational nature of Christ's death and resurrection" (and possibly also as construed by Archbishop Ramsey in recent times). So we have a "canon of interpretation," supposedly drawn from Paul's own life, which contradicts (or makes superfluous) what Paul himself wrote! Could any argument be more specious?

But wait---there's more (I shall now go to a fisking format to deal appropriately with the outrageous assaults upon common sense that now ensue):
[4.5] The history of episcopal ordinations throughout the Church’s history suggests, rather, that the people of God have indeed interpreted all such prescriptions of personal qualities in the light of Christ’s redemptive work.
Oh, really? Just who are "the people of God" to whom you refer? And could you provide some examples from history of how they "interpreted all such prescriptions of 'personal qualities'", as you so quaintly describe Paul's criteria?


Instead, the hand-waving continues:
The Prayer Book calls for the ordination of a bishop to take place on the Lord’s Day (Book of Common Prayer, p. 511); and this reminds us again that all the qualities of the bishop-elect are understood as signifying and testifying to the power of Christ’s resurrection. This is emphasized by the resonance of high priestly language in the ordination rites over time: in the Apostolic Tradition the candidate is called, using sacrificial language, to be blameless, gentle, pure, and humble.
And also to be the husband of one wife!!

Now that the difficulties presented by Titus and First Timothy have been swept under the rug, the dissimulation continues apace:
[4.6] In this way, the prayer for the ordained to be filled with the love of God points us again to the new bishop’s identity as a witness to the death and resurrection of Christ: the whole of the episcopal ministry is to exemplify the sacrifice of Christ, and the qualities of purity, gentleness, and holiness are not the new bishop’s own possessions but can only be the continual outpouring of Christ who “loved us, and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” This means that the electing community must be able to discern in a candidate for episcopal ministry an authentic obedience to the love of Christ and a capacity to point, as St. Paul teaches us, not to the candidate’s own self but to Christ at work in the full power of his sacrificial holiness. And this is the testimony of the people of God in New Hampshire—laity, priests, and deacons—and of the bishops and deputies from every diocese consenting.

[4.7] So while there may be differing forms in which the sacrificial holiness of Christ embodies itself in differing circumstances, there can be no doubt that the electing local community must be able, by power of the Holy Spirit, and confirmed by the consents of neighboring bishops along with clergy and laity from every diocese, to discern in candidates for episcopal office genuine charisms of obedience to Christ and so of authentic disposal of self to the service of Christ’s sacrificial love. In the Examination of bishops-elect, after they confirm that they believe themselves to be called by God to episcopal ministry, the very first question asked is, “Will you accept this call and fulfill this trust in obedience to Christ?” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 518). It is by means of this fundamental orientation of their entire being “in obedience to Christ” that bishops may bear witness in all their words and deeds not to their own particular qualities but to the power of the crucified and risen Lord whom they serve. While a bishop is, necessarily, recognized locally as called of God, it is precisely this obedience to the universal mission of Christ that fits the bishop to serve the universal Church. Again, it is their testimony that this is what the people of God in New Hampshire and the bishops and deputies consenting have discerned in electing their bishop.
I defy anyone reading this to demonstrate how these arguments could not also be used to justify the election of a confirmed polygamist to be a bishop of The Episcopal Church, provided only that he sincerely answers "Yes" to the question: "Will you accept this call and fulfill this trust in obedience to Christ?"

The argument goes on for pages more, and uses every rhetorical trick that can be mustered. (Those who want to see for themselves can follow the link given above.) Is it any wonder that, given such blatant dishonesty to the word of God as expressed by the Apostle Paul, no one continues to defend this propaganda today, or to cite it as a rationale for what TEC is doing?

It all comes down to this: either The Episcopal Church honors the Anglican Communion by respecting the consensus of its bishops that Scripture plainly does not sanction the election as a bishop of those who serve as a model for the gay lifestyle, or it decides to walk apart, in pursuit of its ideals that contradict the Scripture it claims to honor and uphold. Like the authors of "To Set Our Hope on Christ," its bishops can resort to elaborate evasions that fail to engage those who study their Bibles and endeavor to apply its precepts in their own lives. They may be successful, for a time, in satisfying the self-indulgent cravings of those who cannot bother to go back to the source. Eventually, however, they will be swallowed up, along with their church, in the great Sea of Irrelevancy. For if Scripture can be so easily set aside, then what more substantial is there that could possibly take its place? Even if they are accompanied by all the pomp and ceremony in the world, babbled untruths are scarcely the rock on which a church may be founded.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

History Repeats Itself at Lambeth 2008

[A note to the reader who happens by this site: Apparently, criticism of the role which V. Gene Robinson has been playing in The Episcopal Church, and lately also at the decennial "Lambeth Conference" of all Anglican bishops at Canterbury, is taken in certain circles as an instance of gay-bashing, homophobia, or even worse forms of mental perversion. Like many others, the Curmudgeon has not been immune from this form of criticism (see the first comment to this post). Being a curmudgeon, however, he has never let any thought of how his remarks might be perceived by others influence either their character or their tone. The following essay, therefore, remains what it is, regardless of how any given reader may choose to interpret it: it is nothing more than a criticism (along with an accompanying historical parallel) of a bishop in the Episcopal Church who persists in conduct that is anything but episcopal. Were Pope Benedict XVI himself to visit Canterbury Cathedral for propaganda purposes, and to arrange to have himself filmed in doing so, this Curmudgeon would be no less severe in his criticism of that august figure. So be forewarned: if you are one of those who might perceive any criticism of Bishop Robinson as upsetting, or as a form of gay-bashing, or worse, then please stop reading, and find something here that is more to your liking. And for those who are not upset in the least, you might also enjoy this post (the latest in a series), which includes a game in which you can take part in order to mitigate the impact of all those personal pronouns that +Gene employs.]  

We learn from the Weblog of Gene Robinson that he had a little run-in with the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral when he tried to use that historic shrine as a prop in a film that he is making to record, presumably, his experiences in being excluded from the 2008 Lambeth Conference. First he sets the stage for us:
Since arriving in Canterbury, I had not yet visited the Cathedral. I went nowhere near the place on Sunday's opening service. The ever-anxious leadership had provided the Cathedral security guards with a large photo of me, posted at the security checkpoints, presumably to keep me from "crashing the gates" of the opening service. No one believed that I would be true to my promise to the Archbishop not to attend.
Note the self-serving projection here: Bishop Robinson, seeing himself as the divinely-appointed leader of the movement to win equal rights for gays within the church, conceives that such a leader probably ought to "crash the gates" rather than allow himself to be excluded from Lambeth. This sets up feelings of guilt, since he has not in fact done so, and he projects these feelings of guilt onto "the ever-anxious leadership" of the Anglican Communion, who simply cannot believe that he "would be true to [his] promise" not to do so. (Of course, does anyone doubt that had the Lambeth Conference not taken any security precautions at all, Bishop Robinson and his Episcopalian enablers would have taken advantage of that circumstance to hustle him in to create "an event"? Otherwise, what would be the point of having him come to Canterbury at all?) Thus, as +Gene projects his feelings of guilt onto the Lambeth leadership, we are already off on a very unepiscopalian note. As Archbishop Rowan Williams told the assembled bishops in the pre-Conference retreat, "bishops can never, however much they’d like to be, become the spokesperson of a single nation, or cause, or group, however worthy they may be. . . Therefore we can never simply be servants to one subgroup."

Next +Gene reveals that he is in fact making "a documentary" to be released---oh, in 2010 or so (no need to give the details, because all will be disclosed in time):
On Thursday, knowing that the conference attendees would leave early in the morning for London -- for the MDG walk, lunch at Lambeth Palace, and tea with the Queen -- it seemed like a good, low-profile time to make my own pilgrimage to our Mother Church. I told no one of my intentions to attend -- except I had my security person follow the properly courteous protocol of alerting the Cathedral to my visit. I had him also seek permission for a videographer to accompany me on my visit for a documentary to be released sometime in 2010. We were informed that the videographer could NOT accompany me or film me inside the Cathedral. Fair enough. We were told that he could accompany me to the gate onto the Cathedral grounds, and, standing in the public street, could at least film me walking into the Cathedral through the gate's archway.
So he picks the day when he knows most of those attending Lambeth will not be around, and arranges to bring his cameraman. His cameraman?? Is it not remarkable that a bishop making a pilgrimage to Canterbury imagines, before all else, that it would be wonderful to star in a little documentary of his visit, in which he could be filmed kneeling at the shrine to St. Thomas à Becket, and admiring the other features of that most holy site? (See the still pictures at his blog for an idea of what this would be like.) Would he still have made the visit had his camera- man been unable to come, I wonder? (The fact that this curmudgeon is having to ask such a question goes to the heart of the criticism being made: what kind of a documentary needs to be made about a visit to Canterbury, if not for purposes of the gay-rights agenda? And just what is "episcopal", anyway, about starring in a documentary?)

+Gene recounts what happened next:
We contacted Cathedral security to let them know of our imminent arrival, as had been request[e]d. When we got there, we were met by a gentleman, representing the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral, I think. He intercepted me and told me that I could not be filmed walking into the Cathedral (even from the public street outside) after all. The reason he gave took me by surprise, rendering me speechless (an uncommon experience for me!). "We can't have any photographs or film of you entering the Cathedral," he said, "because we want this to be a church for ALL people." Presumably he meant that my being seen walking into the Cathedral would cause others not to want to come.
What a conceit! "[A] gentleman representing the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral, I think." (Emphasis added---Gene was too self-absorbed to take in who was addressing him.) But the next conceit is still greater: "Presumably [by saying 'we want this to be a church for ALL people'] he meant that my being seen walking into the Cathedral would cause others not to want to come." [Emphasis again added. And now, a warning again to those who are sensitive (see first warning above): the criticism is about to become severe. Depart, or forever hold your peace.] 

These words manifest a distortion of reality so great as to border on megalomania. Bishop Robinson is not even certain as to who ordered him he could not take a propaganda film of his walking into the Cathedral. OK, let us grant him that one, because he was obviously flustered after thinking he had slipped one by those in charge of the Cathedral, only to be told (even though he did not recognize the reason) that he could not use the shrine of a martyr as a backdrop for his little "documentary." But then the megalomania sets in: he projects again that what is forbidden is to be "seen" walking into the Cathedral---not filmed for a documentary, mind you, but "seen" by others.  In +Gene's distorted projection, in other words, his very figure is so upsetting to orthodox Anglicans that just the sight of him walking up the steps to Canterbury Cathedral is enough to deter them from their own plans to worship there.

Can the man not even see how his declared intent to star in a film at the site struck those who had the responsibility of guarding it against just such abuses? He confesses that their protest took him aback:
This was one of those breathtaking moments when you just can't come up with the right thing to say. The rest of the day I thought of all the things I SHOULD have said. Like, "so you mean that I am not included in 'ALL people?!'" Or, "isn't this MY cathedral too?!" Or, "so what am I, chopped liver?!" The moment was so surprising, after having been so forthright in our notification of our visit and going through all the channels to ensure courteousness, I just couldn't come up with anything to say except, "okay," and accede to his wishes.
But the fact is that he was allowed to "walk into the Cathedral"---indeed, he was even assigned a genial and capable guide so that he could have a tour, just like any other pilgrim:
We were taken to the Cathedral's visitors office, where we were introduced to Theresa, a competent and warm guide who provided me with a wonderful, informative and hospitable tour of the Cathedral. But I simply couldn't shake the feelings engendered by the previous "welcome" a few minutes before.
He never gets it. If, indeed, the problem was with his being seen walking into the Cathedral, so that the very sight of him doing so would deter other worshippers, why did the staff assign him a guide to take him around the entire church? Why does he think they allowed him in the place to begin with? (As I say, logic is not his strong point.) 

The rest of his post is as self-serving as what I have already quoted, if not more, and it would be beating a dead horse to continue with this criticism. I shall note only the fact that the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral was entirely within his rights to stop +Gene from turning his Cathedral into a scenic prop for the gay rights agenda, for yet another documentary to be aired in 2010. How many bishops of the Anglican Communion have not one, but two documentaries coming out about them within a three-year period? (I refuse to give links to the first; you'll have to find it on your own if you want to see it.) Is this the role of a bishop---to make documentaries about how the rest of the Communion keeps him from their meetings, and about how he shows up anyway? "Episkopos" means "overseer", not "film star" or "gate-crasher."

And now it is time to answer +Gene's questions. Recall what they were: "So you mean I am not included in 'ALL people'? "Isn't this MY cathedral, too?" "So what am I, chopped liver?" (Well, maybe I will leave the third question to those more knowledgeable than I.)

I submit, Bishop Robinson, that in your focus on just yourself and your agenda for Lambeth, you have forgotten the history of the first Lambeth Conference, in 1867. You might want to remember that an even greater percentage of bishops---nearly fifty percent---stayed away from that Conference than the percentage that stayed away from this one. The reason? Because in 1867, the idea of a gathering of all the bishops of the Anglican Communion was so novel. It had never been done before, and to the many who stayed away, it sounded as though they would be coming together as a "council" of the Anglican Communion, and would pass resolutions that were intended to be binding on all its members, whether present or not. Even the Archbishop of York, whose title as "Primate of England" makes him a close second to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the "Primate of All England," decided not to legitimize the first Conference with his presence, and he was joined by the Bishop of London.

All in all, only 76 out of the 144 bishops of the Communion attended the first Lambeth Conference, which was just five days in duration. The agenda at the Conference was dominated by the current strife between the Bishop of Capetown and the Bishop of Natal, whom the former had claimed to depose, but who had been reinstated in his position by a judgment of the Privy Council, as I have explained in this post. The Archbishop of Canterbury had planned to hold a concluding festival service with the assembled bishops in Westminster Abbey. The Dean of that church, however, declined to allow the service to be held there, for reasons explained by his biographer:
The Conference concluded with a special service. Before the opening of the proceedings the Archbishop expressed a wish to hold this service in Westminster Abbey. In the uncertainty that [Dean] Stanley felt as to the purposes for which the Conference was summoned, he feared that it might be used for party objects, such as giving support to the Bishop of Capetown, repudiating the Judgment of the Privy Council, and confirming the alleged deposition of the Bishop of Natal. He therefore declined to promise the use of the building for the proposed special service . . .   
We have, indeed, the actual letter written by Dean Stanley to the Archbishop of Canterbury declining to make Westminster Abbey available for the purpose requested:
Deanery, Westminster, Sept 21st 1867. 

My dear Lord Archbishop, ---  I have been honoured with a communication from your Grace through the Bishop of London requesting the use of Westminster Abbey for a special service to be held for the English, American, and Scottish bishops now assembled in England---to be held, as I understood, on September 28. On all occasions it is my earnest desire to render the Abbey and the precincts of Westminster available for purposes of general utility and edification, and this desire is increased when the request comes from your Grace.

You will kindly allow me to state the difficulty which I feel in the present instance. I have endeavoured to act in such matters on the rule of granting the use of the Abbey to such purposes, and such only, as are either coextensive with the Church of England, or have a definite object of usefulness or charity, apart from party or polemical considerations. 

Your Grace will, I am sure, see that however much your Grace's intentions would have brought the proposed Conference at Lambeth within this sphere in fact, it can hardly be so considered. The absence of the Primate and the larger part of the bishops of the Northern Province [York], not to speak of the bishops of India and Australia, and of other important colonial or missionary sees, must, even irrespectively of other indications, cause it to present a partial aspect of the English Church; whilst the appearance of other prelates, not belonging to our Church, places it on a different footing from the institutions which are confined to the Church of England. And, further, the absence of any fixed information as to the objects to be discussed and promoted by the Conference leaves me, in common with all who stand outside, in uncertainty as to what would be the proposals or measures which would receive by implication the sanction given by the use of the Abbey---a sanction which, in the case of a church so venerable and national in its character, ought, I conceive, to be lent only to public objects of well defined or acknowledged beneficence. . . .
Thus, Bishop Robinson, I say to you that the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral was only following in a venerable tradition when he declined to let you film yourself walking into or around his church for purposes of making a documentary to advance the narrow agenda of those whom you represent. It is not that the Cathedral is YOUR Cathedral, but that it is a Cathedral belonging to the WHOLE Church---"to ALL the people," precisely as you were told. In 1867, Dean Stanley felt that the Lambeth Conference was not representative of the entire Communion---let alone the Church of England, whose Northern Province had largely absented itself. Consequently, he used his authority to bar even the Primate of All England from using Westminster Abbey as a theater for a culmination of the Lambeth proceedings. How much less of a claim, therefore, could you have to employ the hallowed precincts of Canterbury Cathedral for your own agenda, which is so much at odds with the rest of the Church you profess to serve? 

Surely, as Santayana noted, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. To which I will add the following observation, from Karl Marx: "Hegel remarks somewhere that history tends to repeat itself. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Modest Proposal to Solve the Lambeth Deficit

There have been several stories in the news reporting that the Lambeth Conference is running a sizeable deficit. Here is Damian Thompson on the topic; he parallels this earlier story at the Times Online site:
The problems of homosexual bishops and same-sex blessings are not the only difficulties affecting the Lambeth Conference. Organisers are facing a budget shortfall of up to £2 million. The funding crisis is so severe that even in sky-high temperatures organisers have been unable to pay for air conditioning inside the sweltering conditions of the large blue circus-style tent in which plenary sessions are being held.

An emergency meeting of the Archbishops' Council and the Church Commissioners has been called as soon as the conference ends next month. The Commissioners who have the funds to bail out the conference are not allowed by their charitable trust deeds to fund any except Church of England bishops.

Ironically, the one church that has the funds to bail out the conference is The Episcopal Church of the US. One senior source told The Times: "At the moment we just cannot pay for it."
Two million pounds is quite a shortfall---almost four million U.S. dollars at current rates. Appeals have gone out to the Compass Rose Society, and at least one check for US $100,000 has arrived. At that rate, however, it will be weeks before the deficit can be retired. Meanwhile, the bishops are sweltering in the summer heat, because the cost of air conditioning the gathering spaces is simply beyond the Conference budget.

It turns out that one does not have to look very far for a source of funds that could cover the shortfall (and more, much more!). For in England the Members of Parliament have just gone on vacation, after collecting £5.5 million from the taxpayers to subsidize the dozen or more bars that are operated for the House of Commons! The ineffable Guido Fawkes reports:
The House of Commons Refreshment Department operated on a subsidy of £5.5 million of taxpayers’ money in the 2007/08 financial year, which is equivalent to the total annual tax receipts from 35 pubs. The subsidy is equivalent to £8,500 per MP - that is approximately £50 per diem on top of the £30 per diem they voted to award themselves every working day in cash.

The subsidy, which for some inexplicable reason was not published in the House of Commons’ Annual Accounts, was £693,000 higher than in 2006/07 - a 15% increase. No belt tightening for MPs despite the Chancellor's warnings.
Fifty pounds per day! (How would the visiting bishops like to have that kind of a per diem---just for drinks! You get another thirty pounds a day for food---but who's keeping track? It should be possible, since the rooms are already provided, to eat and drink fairly well in England on $160 per day.) The subsidy comes to a remarkable forty-three percent of the cost of operating those one dozen bars, or, as Guido Fawkes puts it:
[This means] that the taxpayer coughs up £4.30 for every £10 spent refreshing our politicians: even before they claim back their outgoings without receipts through the expenses system. These figures don't include the multi-million pound re-fit of the wine cellar.
Wine cellar??! Oh, yes, of course there would have to be a Parliamentary wine cellar. And as Guido Fawkes explained in an earlier post, it was recently completely remodeled at a cost to the taxpayers of only---

Seven million pounds. That's just under fourteen million dollars. (The Curmudgeon has a modest wine cellar and knows a little bit about what they cost. But his mind reels at what kind of a cellar could be built for $14,000,000.00. That is more than the cost of many a modest five-or six-story building, and it probably exceeds even the cost of this famous cellar, considered one of the world's largest. Note: I am not talking about the cost of the wines to stock it; we are dealing here with just the cost of remodeling it.)

Back to Mr. Fawkes. He includes some more outrageous information:

MPs are members of the best London club with a dozen bars on the parliamentary estate, plenty of dining rooms, brasseries and banqueting suites all operating without a licence and no restrictions on hours - you can even smoke in some.
Apparently in addition to receiving subsidized booze, Members of Parliament regularly turn in their "expense accounts" to be reimbursed. Mr. Fawkes explains in the footnote (indicated by the asterisk) that the salary of an MP used to calculate the statistic trumpeted in red does not include "all the additional expense claims for essential new kitchens, appliances, window cleaning, garden pergolas, plasma TVs . . . ."

It would seem that the Right Honourable Members of Parliament, having been at it for many hundreds of years longer than our own Members of Congress, are much more practiced in the art of feeding at the public trough. Guido Fawkes supplies some detail of where all that booze money went, which he obtained from this press release put out by the ever-watchful ALMR (Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers):
A pint in the Stranger’s Bar costs £2.10, outside parliament in the West End you pay £3.50 to £4.00. An 8-year-old Scotch costs £1.35, while our politicians can enjoy a Pimm’s on the pleasant Thames-side terrace for just £1.65 - which is a third to a half of prices a mile down the road. Do you really think they need to pay politicians more to attract people?
We don't have the details of how much a bottle of, say, 1975 La Mission Haut-Brion might set back a Member in the Parliamentary brasserie. (The linked price is for a double magnum, the equivalent of four single bottles, so it has to be adjusted accordingly.) But given the details in the press release, we may be certain that the $14 million was not spent just to house cases of Horace Rumpole's favorite plonk, Château Thames Embankment.

And so just what is my "modest proposal"? Well, the idea came like a flash when I saw this sentence buried in a note on page three of that ALMR press release:
The Bishops’ Bar and the Lords’ Bar, operated by the House of Lords, are also on the Parliamentary estate.
The Bishops' Bar? Archbishop Rowan has been holding back on us. No need to run a deficit at Lambeth when the taxpayers already subsidize the bishops' tabs at the Bishops' Bar. Simply put it on your expense account, Archbishop, and let it be run through the taxpayers' books. After all, £2 million is nothing---a mere trifle!---in comparison with the amount spent to refurbish the Parliamentary wine cellar. And who knows what kind of fellowship and good will might ensue if you invited all the indaba groups to be your guests at the Bishops' Bar?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On the Gulf That Divides Us

The Most Reverend Dr. Daniel Deng Bul, the Bishop of Juba and the Archbishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, has dared to speak truth to power. At the Lambeth Conference, he requested that the Press Office arrange for him a briefing with the press. When they declined to do so, he walked over to the Press Room (which is some 15 minutes away from where the bishops are meeting) and held an impromptu press conference of his own. He was following up on this eloquently drawn Statement which had been approved by all of the bishops in his church, and released the day before:

Statement of the Sudanese Bishops to the Lambeth Conference on the ECS Position on Human Sexuality

July 2008

In view of the present tensions and divisions within the Anglican Communion, and out of deep concern for the unity of the Church, we consider it important to express clearly the position of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) concerning human sexuality.

We believe that God created humankind in his own image; male and female he created them for the continuation of humankind on earth. Women and men were created as God’s agents and stewards on earth We believe that human sexuality is God’s gift to human beings which is rightly ordered only when expressed within the life-long commitment of marriage between one man and one woman. We require all those in the ministry of the Church to live according to this standard and cannot accept church leaders whose practice is contrary to this.

We reject homosexual practice as contrary to biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS. We strongly oppose developments within the Anglican Church in the USA and Canada in consecrating a practicing homosexual as bishop and in approving a rite for the blessing of same-sex relationships. This has not only caused deep divisions within the Anglican Communion but it has seriously harmed the Church’s witness in Africa and elsewhere, opening the church to ridicule and damaging its credibility in a multi-religious environment.

The unity of the Anglican Communion is of profound significance to us as an expression of our unity within the Body of Christ. It is not something we can treat lightly or allow to be fractured easily. Our unity expresses the essential truth of the Gospel that in Christ we are united across different tribes, cultures and nationalities. We have come to attend the Lambeth Conference, despite the decision of others to stay away, to appeal to the whole Anglican Communion to uphold our unity and to take the necessary steps to safeguard the precious unity of the Church.

Out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we appeal to the Anglican Church in the USA and Canada, to demonstrate real commitment to the requests arising from the Windsor process. In particular:
- To refrain from ordaining practicing homosexuals as bishops or priests
- To refrain from approving rites of blessing for same-sex relationships
- To cease court actions with immediate effect;
- To comply with Resolution 1:10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference
- To respect the authority of the Bible

We believe that such steps are essential for bridging the divisions which have opened up within the Communion.

We affirm our commitment to uphold the four instruments of communion of the Anglican Communion: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council; and call upon all Provinces of the Communion to respect these for the sake of the unity and well-being of the Church.

We appeal to this Lambeth Conference to rescue the Anglican Communion from being divided. We pray that God will heal us from the spirit of division. We pray for God’s strength and wisdom so that we might be built up in unity as the Body of Christ.

Archbishop Deng explained to the press the reasons he and his bishops had decided to issue the statement, and answered their questions. In this account by Cherie Wetzel at Anglican Mainstream, his responses only are given; as she notes, the questions can be inferred from what he says in response:

“Gene Robinson should resign for the sake of the Church and the entire Anglican Communion. We are pleading with them (the others at this conference) for the Anglican World, to not throw that away.

“We do not want to throw any people away, either. But we are here to determine how to remain united. That begins with forgiving one another for errors made. Gene Robinson is an error. The American church has not admitted they are wrong and we cannot forgive them until they do.

“I do not see a way out of these problems with the Indaba groups. The main issues have not been touched.

“300 bishops are not here because of Gene Robinson. Can he not resign to allow them to come? Why has he not done that?

“He is a human being and we are not throwing him away but the norms of the Anglican Communion have been violated. The question is not if Gene Robinson comes but what are we being challenged to do by GAFCON?”

“Let the Anglican world be united and be a normal, respected Christian body.”

“We have not punished the American church yet. We are asking them to repent. I am talking about the institutional church in America, no specific bishops. I am here to speak within the House. I cannot be silent on this issue; I must speak to the House for the reality I know with my people. I should not hesitate to be here since I have been an Anglican since I was a child.

When asked what would happen to the Communion if Robinson did not resign, the archbishop continued, “I cannot predict what will happen if he will not resign.”

Ruth Gledhill of the Times of London asked the archbishop who would pay for this conference, reportedly 2.6 million pounds in debt at this minute, and [with the Communion] not able to pay for this by the parishes in the Church of England, if the American church was not invited. He replied very gently, “Issues of faith cannot be mixed with materialism.”

The baiting by the press had begun with Ruth Gledhill's sarcastic question. There followed this exchange with an unnamed Western reporter or blogger accredited to the Press Room; the comment following the quoted sentence is an editorial addition by Cherie Wetzel:
When asked if he knows any gay people in the Sudan he replied, “They have not come to the surface. We do not have them.” The press from TEC that were in the room did not laugh out loud at this statement, but nearly.

And naturally, another reporter or blogger had to ask his position on women's ordination:

The final question was about the women and ordination, an issue that is still a smoking topic in the Church of England. “Yes,” he said. “Women are human beings that have ministered with the Lord Jesus Christ and to the Lord Jesus Christ.” He does believe in the ordination of women.

From the point of view of the Westerners asking the questions, the trap had been set, and the Archbishop had walked right into it. Susan Russell is as good an example as any of this one-sided mindset:
When asked about ministering to the gays and lesbians in his province, the archbishop declared that he did not think there were any homosexuals in the Sudan as “none had come forward.” And when queried about his position on the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate said he “believed in women priests and bishops because they were human” – leaving listeners to wonder if the inference was that homosexuals were not.

. . .

What is news is that the Archbishop of the Sudan helped make the case on Tuesday that the schism facing the Anglican Communion is the direct result of hard-line reactionaries who will stop of nothing short of compliance with their narrow, exclusionist agenda as their criterion for being in communion.

What is news is that a bishop in the Church of God would deny the existence of gay and lesbian members of his province despite the call for listening to the experience of homosexual people throughout the communion.
Susan Russell, of course, is at Lambeth promoting the "gay/lesbian rights" agenda, and specifically the film "Voices of Witness: Africa", whose shallow and manipulative content has been fully laid out for all to see. Note that Susan accepts without reservation the questioner's blind premises, namely, that (a) Sudanese gays and lesbians, in the poorest region of the world, take their identities from their orientation, just as do those in the West, and see themselves as a separate segment of society; and (b) they would consequently come forward and expose themselves to punishment or death in that country's primitive, war-torn and religiously divided society. Making such assumptions is further evidence of the gap that divides those openly advocating gay and lesbian rights within the Church from the majority of the Anglican Communion. A commenter over at StandFirm echoed Susan Russell's views:

“When asked if he knows any gay people in the Sudan he replied, “They have not come to the surface. We do not have them.”

I commend the press from TEC for keeping a straight face. It would have been very hard to do!

So ... let me get this...; Some who post here are okay with the idea that someone who does not know a single gay or lesbian person can make statements like these and be lauded for his defense of orthodoxy? And you see nothing wrong with that...?

IMHO...maybe he needs to enlarge his list of acquaintances, or open his eyes...he comes across as poster child for someone in need of the “litsening process”!
As it was intended to do, this jibe drew several quick and sharp responses:

Your understanding of the situation in the Sudan seems rather uneven. One word from the Good Bishop that he knows homosexuals and the Muslims will be all over it, saying “See, we told you they are all demons!” So it doesn’t exist. And, from my Peace Corps understanding, it is not that homosexual acts don’t happen. No one, however, self-identifies as homosexual. To do so in that environment is suicide. The homosexual culture does not exist. It was that way 20 years ago and I assume it is even worse today.

Gee, . . . I can’t imagine why, if Sudanese Anglicans are being murdered on the grounds that other Anglicans merely support the gay agenda, that actual gay Sudanese wouldn’t be waiting in line to come out.

Life in the Sudan is not a Will and Grace rerun. People there are focused on life or death issues. They do not need to expand their circle of friends so that people in this country can feel better about who they are sleeping with.

To which last the original poster responded:
Should their own issues of life and death not be their focus at Lambeth? Or is it sermonizing from a position of relative ignorance about who people in the US should be sleeping with?

Consider how the point of view expressed here has isolated itself from the reality on the ground in the Sudan. The Archbishop comes to Lambeth because he is greatly concerned how the consecration of a gay bishop has led to the persecution and deaths of Christians in Africa, and particularly in the Sudan. It has also greatly hindered his mission, as we shall see. And when he speaks out at Lambeth, he is caricatured by Susan Russell and her ilk as a "hard-line reactionary" who is "sermonizing from a position of relative ignorance about who people in the US should be sleeping with." This is a case of projection in the extreme, of seeing everyone who proclaims the truth of the Scriptures as making a personal attack on one's lifestyle.

A while back there was a similar flapping of the jaws over the failure of Archbishops Akinola and Orombi at GAFCON to jump on the bandwagon of condemning violence against homosexuals in their respective countries---again in response to a baited question at a press conference. The usual commenters on the left could not avoid ascribing Western psychological terms like "homophobic" to the two African Archbishops. It is amazing to see how so much prejudice and anger can be projected onto two of the men most responsible for increasing the numbers of baptized Anglicans today---and who are doing so in the face of horrendous violence and difficulty---while the reporters and bloggers give a free pass to visiting Moslem leaders, like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the same subject.

In short, the inability of the gay rights activists to perceive the narrow selfishness of their point of view, and their utter disregard for the consequences of their actions on the wider Anglican Communion, are simply monumental. Let us return to the Archbishop, and let him spell out some of those consequences for us:
“This issue of homosexuality in the Anglican Communion has a very serious effect in my country. We are called ‘infidels’ by the Moslems. That means that they will do whatever they can against us to keep us from damaging the people of our country. They challenge our people to convert to Islam and leave the infidel Anglican Church. When our people refuse, sometimes they are killed. These people are very evil and mutilate and harm our people. I am begging the Communion on this issue so no more of my people will be killed.

“My people have been suffering for 21 years of war. Their only hope is in the Church. It is the center of life of my people. No matter what problem we have, no material goods, no health supplies or medicine; no jobs or income; no availability of food. The inflation rate makes our money almost worthless and we have done this for 21 years. The Church is the center of our life together.

“The culture does not change the Bible; the Bible changes the culture. Cultures that do not approve of the Bible are left out of the Church’s life; people who do not believe in the Bible are left out of our churches. The American church is saying that God made a mistake. He made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Adam.”

Not all Westerners are so blind to the significance of the Sudanese statement, however. Be sure to read Brad Drell's post, and watch the video of the Archbishop's press conference. And here is blogger Karen B., at Lent & Beyond:
It has come as something of a surprise in the last 24 hours to read of the bold statement passed by the Province of Sudan at the Lambeth Conference. The Sudanese bishops, and their new Primate, the Most Reverend Dr. Daniel Deng Bul have created huge waves at Lambeth by calling for the resignation of bishop Gene Robinson, as the press coverage today demonstrates. (Here are a few links to some of the articles that have appeared in the last few hours: Telegraph, Christian Today, Guardian, Times Online, Anglican Journal (how interesting to note the absence of US Press coverage so far!)) Archbishop Deng Bul gave a press briefing today which you can read here.

As I read this news and think about the stand taken by the Sudanese bishops, I’m reflecting on the crisis in Sudan. I have close personal friends who have worked in Darfur. I know quite a bit about the suffering and need in Sudan. How much easier it would have been for the Sudanese bishops to ignore the problems in the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion and be consumed by their own needs. How easy it would have been for them to close their eyes to the actions of TEC and NOT make waves, so as to continue receiving much needed gifts from wealthy Episcopalians. And yet, that is not what they’ve done. They have done the opposite.

And here is Derek the Ænglican, who usually sides with the left, but not this time:
* The real key quote: “Asked whether there were homosexuals in Sudan, Deng said, ‘They have not come to the surface, so no, I don’t think we have them.’” It’s one thing to look at homosexuality as it currently is lived out in the Western world, to analyze it as we analyze other behaviors, and to come to the conclusion that the Bible, Church tradition, and reasoned evidence in light of scientific and spiritual truths leads one to believe that Christianity does not and cannot sanction it. It’s another entirely to reject a thing without having a grasp on it. This statement shows that Archbishop Deng is speaking from a paradigm that fundamentally does not intersect the North American situation. (And I’d wager a great deal we do exactly the same when we shoot off our mouths about polygamy…)

* Some interviewer asked if conservative Americans were behind the statement; the archbishop denied it. Based on the people and clergy that I have personally known from the Global South… Actually, back up… From the African people and clergy I have personally known, all of them have been vehemently opposed to homosexuality. I do believe some Westerners are of the opinion that conservative Americans are driving African and other Global South bishops to say something that they wouldn’t ordinarily say. And I think that’s false. I think the Africans would be saying this even if there were no conservative American party. As we all know, however, there is and they are stirring things up in the sense that their support emboldens primates like Archbishop Deng and others to say what they believe with reduced fear of reprisals, financial and otherwise.
. . .


I think it’s important to include this. These further statements found at Anglican Mainstream give us a bit of background for the archbishop’s paradigm and some of the issues that make this whole situation harder:

“This issue of homosexuality in the Anglican Communion has a very serious effect in my country. We are called ‘infidels’ by the Moslems. . .

Globalization is a complicated force that we still have no clue how to handle.
Not only do we have no clue how to handle it, but the problem is exacerbated by assuming that our "advanced" civilization gives us the right to set the pace for all to follow. Look at the Presiding Bishop's response given to an interviewer from the Boston Globe:
"Where the protesters are, in some parts of Africa or in other parts of the Anglican Communion today, is where this church and this society we live in was 50 years ago, and for us to assume that people can move that distance in a year or in a relatively instantaneous manner is perhaps faithless," [+Jefferts Schori] said. "That kind of movement and development has taken us a good deal of pain and energy over 40 or 50 years, and I think we have to make some space so that others can make that journey as well."
"That kind of movement," indeed. "That kind of movement" is not going to happen in Africa---not while there is a life-and-death struggle going on in the Sudan and elsewhere with the forces of Islam. Instead, "that kind of movement", continuing in America, will serve only to widen further the gulf that now divides us from the rest of the Anglican Communion.

[UPDATE 07/22/2008: Bishop Robinson has now responded to the Sudanese demands that he resign---not officially, but in a monologue on his blog (I have interspersed some editorial comments):
I have decided not to make any official kind of response. It seems to me that the challenge is not so much to me as it is to the Episcopal Church, and specifically to its House of Bishops, our polity as a Church, and the canons which were followed to the letter in my election and consecration.
To paraphrase the good Dr. Johnson, "polity is the last refuge of a scoundrel." No one takes issue with the fact that The Episcopal Church scrupulously followed its canons in electing and consecrating Bishop Robinson. The issue is whether TEC just as scrupulously followed scripture in doing so. By this same reasoning, TEC could "follow its canons" and elect a polygamist to be a bishop. (Nothing in the canons says that a bishop can have only one wife; that restriction comes from scripture.) The polygamist would have the title of a bishop, but he would not be recognized as a bishop by the churches in the Anglican Communion. Bishop Robinson continues:

First, this is also about the faithful people of New Hampshire who called me to be their bishop. Everyone seems to forget that I am not here representing myself, but rather all the people of the Diocese of New Hampshire, with whom it is my privilege to minister in Christ's name. They have called me to minister with them as their Bishop, and suggestions that I resign ignore the vows that I have taken to serve my flock in New Hampshire. I would no more let them down or reneg on my commitments to them than fly to the moon. We may be the one diocese in the entire Communion who is, for the most part, beyond all this obsession with sex and are getting on with the Gospel. They would be infuriated, as well they should be, if I entertained any notion of resigning. And it is not just Gene Robinson who is being denied representation at the Lambeth Conference, it is the people of New Hampshire who have been deprived of a seat at the table.
Once again, this is a resort to "church polity." To continue my analogy, if the good people of New Hampshire had elected a polygamist as their bishop, it would hardly make sense if they then complained about being "unrepresented" in the Communion, and of "being deprived of a seat at the table" when the Communion at large refused to recognize him. Never forget: TEC was warned in advance that this would be the consequence of consecrating V. Gene Robinson as a bishop, yet it went ahead and did so. For TEC's bishops now to complain about his exclusion from Lambeth is , as I have stated elsewhere, like robbing a house and then whining that you are "excluded from decent people's society" by being required to spend time in jail.
Second, those calling for my resignation seem to be under the impression that if Gene Robinson went away, that all would go back to being "like it was," whatever that was! Does ANYONE think that if I resigned, this issue would go away?! I could be hit by a big, British, doubledecker bus today, and it would not change the fact that there are faithful, able and gifted gay and lesbian priests of this Episcopal Church who are known and loved for what they bring to ordained ministry, who will before long be recognized with a nomination for the episcopate (as has already happened in dioceses other than New Hampshire), and one of them will be elected. Not because they are gay or lesbian, but because the people who elect them recognize their gifts for ministry in that particular diocese. We are not going away, as much as some would like us to. That toothpaste isn't going to go back into the tube! Not if the Bishop of New Hampshire resigns. Not if the "offending" bishops leave the Lambeth Conference. Not ever.
And so we get to the real reason for why V. Gene Robinson stood for bishop in the first place, and why the social activists champion his case at every opportunity: he is the embodiment of a "cause" for civil rights, notwithstanding that scripture itself makes him ineligible to be a bishop. (And please: let's not have an attempt at justifying his episcopacy by pointing to other bishops who have been divorced and remarried. Two wrongs can never equal a right, and there is already way too much argument from that premise. Besides, the language of Titus 1:6 ["one man of one woman"] excludes homosexual couples without question; its application to singles and to remarried couples is not by any means as clear.)

As the bishops learned during their retreat with ++Rowan, "bishops can never, however much they’d like to be, become the spokesperson of a single nation, or cause, or group, however worthy they may be." By turning himself into a cause, and by allowing himself to be used as its symbolic figurehead, V. Gene Robinson demonstrates each day he remains in Canterbury, giving interviews and preaching at services, how his gay-rights message is more important than his mission as a bishop in the Church. And the fact that there are many more behind him, willing to take on the same role if he steps down, spells nothing but trouble ahead for The Enabler Church.