Sunday, February 25, 2007

On lesbians, gays, the Episcopal Church & desperate delusions

[updated 2/26 with new link]

By Diane Silver

Two articles published today provide perspective on the struggle between the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion over fairness and inclusion for lesbians and gays.

First, The New York Times does a good job of putting the battle into historic perspective in an article that, unfortunately, is stuck behind the Time Select paywall. The article doesn't come to any conclusions about who will win, but it does note that this could easily split the Anglican Church. The piece also provides context by comparing the current fight to church battles over slavery and the ordination of women.

[The Times article now seems to be more widely available here. Only free registration is required. If you have any interest in the Episcopal crisis, I would urge you to read it. The story is a eye opener.]

The historic roots of the Episcopal Church's obsession with unity are also detailed. In the battle over slavery, for example, the freedom of blacks was sacrificed. John L. Kater, a lecturer in Anglican Studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, in Berkeley, Calif., talked about this in detail, noting:
"I think it was shameful, that the church considered that unity was more important than slavery.”
Judging from this statement and from the rest of the piece, it does seem possible that the Episcopal Church could sacrifice its lesbian and gay parishioners on the alter of unity.

Meanwhile, a British site provides a podcast and written report of Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's defense of her actions.

What strikes me about her comments is that she seems to think something much different happened at the recent Anglican Primates meeting in Tanzania than the New York Times reports. Jefferts Schori defends signing a document by claiming that the agreement gives the worldwide communion time to talk and grow into accepting lesbians and gays. However, The Times reporters described the document as an ultimatum.
Last week, Episcopalians were handed an ultimatum by the top leaders in the Anglican Communion: stop authorizing blessings of gay couples and ordaining gay bishops -- or face banishment from the Communion. They were given until Sept. 30 to decide.
I remain baffled by Jefferts Schori. A few months doesn't sound like enough time for anyone to consider anything. It certainly isn't enough time for Americans to convince their conservative opponents to change their minds about homosexuality. Is she living in a dream world or merely refusing to state the truth?

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Jefforts Schori was speaking from the perspective of the House of Bishops approving the compromise set forth in Tanzania, therefore keeping The Episcopal Church within the Anglican Communion. If The Episcopal Church is able to remain in the Communion, then even provinces such as Nigeria - with the unhinged Archbishop Akinola - will be required to listen.

There are some loopholes. The ordination of gay priests is not really discussed. Same sex marriages are not to be given the authorization of either the denomination as a whole or by an individual bishop; however, already bishops have mentioned that they can either enforce this with their priests or not.

There is talk - just talk - about the idea that keeping The Episcopal Church in the Communion, while hurting the LGBT community in the USA, will encourage LGBT Anglicans in other, more conservative parts of the world. For them, a gradual change of the church's stance is all they have. I don't know how much weight to put on this idea, though.