A modest proposal

Considering the last post I made, I just read this post from the House of Bishops/Deputies listserv.

Date: Sat, 04 Sep 2004 16:52:31 -0400
From: Tobias S Haller BSG
Subject: [HoB/D] A suggestion for impaired communion
The recent meeting of the Provincial Secretaries of the Anglican
Communion leads me to believe that the predictions from conservative
columnists about the collapse of the communion may be somewhat
exaggerated. All but a handful of the 38 provinces of the Communion were
represented at this meeting, and of those, apparently only two (Uganda
and Nigeria) stayed away as an expression of their attitude towards the
Episcopal Church, with which they have severed “communion.”
In all of the discussions concerning the present crisis, however, I have
yet to hear a good and precise definition of exactly what “commuion”
means. I hope this may emerge from the work of the Lambeth Commission.
In the meantime, people talk about communion in “nominative” terms, that
is: what does our communion consist of; what is its nature; is it like a
federation or a coalition; and so on. My response is to suggest we treat
communion, or being in communion, in a more _verbal_ sense: What does a
communion _do_; how does it work?
As I have noted in the past, when determining whether one is “in
communion” or “out of communion” with another ecclesial body, the first
thing you look to is the mutual recognition of ministers and their
ability to _function_ as such within the various constituent member
churches or provinces of the communion. Thus we move from ontology to
action. And this is also where talk of “impaired” communion has
practical implications.

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breaking apart, and not just in the U.S.

I have been reading over the past few weeks of Episcopal priests and parishes who are jumping the Episcopal ship and seeking episcopal oversight outside the U.S. Now, we have “Anglican” bishops under the authority of Rwanda, priests under the episcopal authority of bishops in Uganda, Nigeria, and Bolivia, among others. Now, some British liberals who favor inclusion of homosexuals have said they will seek alternative episcopal oversight from American bishops if the Church of England sides with those demaning exclusion of homosexuals.
The bishops in countries from the global south are quick to get their foot in the door as the geographical territory of the current Anglican province in the United States is subdivided into geographical oblivion by their actions.
According to Anglican tradition and recent pronouncements by the world’s Anglican Primates, no bishop can enter another’s province or diocese to exercise episcopal duties or oversight without the prior approval of the diocesan bishop with jurisdiction. The primates who are feverishly opposed to Gene Robinson and the American Church’s decisions during General Convention ’03, declare that the American Church is infringing upon their territories and imposing upon them something that is sin and against 2,000 years of tradition, and that the American Church does not have that right. Yet, here are the same primates and bishops literally infringing upon the American Church’s authority and establishing their own beachheads of authority in the American Church’s territory. They are acting hypocritically, despite their justifications.
So, we have activist bishops from all over the world violating their own decisions and pronouncements, and I wonder what will happen when suddenly two, or perhaps three, new churches under the episcopal authority of different bishops start to compete with each other. What will the bishop from Bolivia do when it seems that the church under a bishop of Nigeria is luring parishioners away from his church? What will happen when the peculiar beliefs or activities of one foreign church conflict with those of another foreign church located in the U.S.?
This is no different than Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches and denominations that continue to splinter time and time again. The “Continuing” Anglican denominations in the U.S. simply continue this trend. Now, opportunistic bishops around the world are setting up their own mini-denominations/fiefdoms in the U.S. It will never end. As several conservative traditionalists have said – it is all about power.