Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Canterbury kerfuffle and the collapse of the Church of England

Well, I have been watching the fall out from the debacle in Canterbury, where the primates of the Anglican Communion (the leaders of each of the individual churches in this loose federation) , plus the leader of a schismatic American group met and an effort of dubious legality was made to censure the Episcopal Church because of Teh Gayz. (There is less to this than the headlines imply, however.)  This intended to placate the strident anti-gay voices of some of the African churches that advocate criminalization of homosexuality, or at least, homosexual acts.  A three year "punishment" is presumably intended to allow General Convention to come to its senses (not gonna happen.....)

Archbishop Justin Welby of the Church of England, the symbolic leader of the Communion, wrung his hands and apologized for hurting those poor LGBT people but really it came across as an abusive parent who apologises to his child as he beats her. There was no effort to scold the African primates for their anti-gay language.  By all accounts the only person to come out of this well is TEC Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

Here's a good summary of the whole thing.

Coincidentally, at the same time, a new survey was published about the collapse of the Church of England in the UK:
A POST-CHRISTIAN era has dawned in Britain, with most white Britons now saying they have no religion, according to a new survey. The increase is most pronounced among those aged under 40 and comes amid claims that they feel alienated from the church’s conservative social values.
There's a tendency here in the US to think of the C of E as a fellow traveller, but although many British Anglicans are very gay-friendly, the C of E institutionally is not.  The bishops argued in the House of Lords to prevent legalization of same sex marriage last year, and when that was inevitable, they put in place multiple legislative bits that actually prevent the C of E from marrying gay people (the so-called quadruple lock, which can only be undone with further parliamentary action).  And, gay priests who marry have lost their ability to officiate.

Andrew Brown (who has a new book coming out, That Was The Church That Was: How the Church of England Lost the English People) surveys the collapse  in the Guardian:
But at the same time as people have been growing less religious, the Church of England has been growing more religious: more exclusive, more of a club for self-conscious believers, prouder of being out of step with the people it once served. 
Only last week, Justin Welby was boasting to the other leaders of Anglican churches that the Church of England had secured exemptions from equalities legislation – and then complaining that he operated in an “anti-Christian culture”. What does he expect, when the church he leads systematically violates the moral intuitions of most of its own natural constituency?
How can the C of E continue as an established church (with, one might add, guaranteed seats in the House of Lords), when it has lost the British people?

In any case, I prefer to focus on the exemplary leadership and grace of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who truly is the right face and the right voice for this time.  And of course, all these Anglican shenanigans have exactly no effect on the average Episcopalian, who is far more concerned with getting on with doing what needs doing, than with hot air blowing in Canterbury.


Erp said...

The quadruple lock was announced by the government before the debate began. I suspect it was to undercut the bishops' arguments against allowing same-sex marriage in general since they would have no direct stake in the issue. It didn't stop most of the bishops from arguing against (with the notable exception of retired Bishop Harries who still has a seat since he had been made a life peer at retirement) but it made the arguments weaker.

BTW Parliament has to approve changes in canon law anyway, a side effect of being an established church.

JCF said...

MP, I think this link

"Here's a good summary of the whole thing."

is broken.

God bless and defend the Episcopal Church!

And God bless PB Curry! Also, TEC's delegates to the Anglican Consultative Council, who will show up at the next meeting, in a couple of months, expecting to exercise their full voice and vote. The [bleeping] Primates Meeting (recall, it was only supposed to be a "Gathering") has NO AUTHORITY over the ACC, or its members! [Because THAT "Anglican Covenant", which would have given the Primates more control, was REJECTED, inc by the CofE!]