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Matthew Hay Brown's fine article about the election of my colleague, the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool, as a bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles ("Annapolis cleric's election is making waves and history," Dec. 9) adds to the joy felt by those of us those in Maryland who have been graced by her ministries among us since 1992. She will take office when approved by a majority of the other dioceses and consecrated by our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori. Our loss will be California's gain.
It is unfortunate that one element of her story has been made an object of controversy. She would not be the first woman, nor the first bishop living in a committed same-sex relationship, to be elected, but some Episcopalians in this country and many Anglicans elsewhere oppose her election.
There is no question of the canonical procedures having been observed in Los Angeles; it followed the Constitution of our Church as adopted in 1789. What many people do not know, and others, I'm afraid, choose to ignore, is the legal independence of the Episcopal Church from other jurisdictions. In fact, it was in Chestertown, Maryland, in 1780, that a convention of clergy and laymen began the process of making an American Church separate from the Church of England, in the spirit of our declaration of political independence of 1776.
After that, the Archbishop of Canterbury had no more legal jurisdiction in this nation than King George III, the "Supreme Governor" of the established Church of England. So when Archbishop Rowan Williams says that he regrets Canon Glasspool's election and urges the American church to reject her, he does not speak in any official capacity.
"The Anglican Communion" exists as a fellowship of very diverse national churches with a common English reformed catholic heritage. We join for conversations and consultations in "mutual responsibility and interdependence" as a community of faith in Jesus Christ rather than as members of a corporation.
The Rev. Kingsley Smith, Towson
The writer is a retired priest who has been serving in the Diocese of Maryland since 1956.
"After that, the Archbishop of Canterbury had no more legal jurisdiction in this nation than King George III, the "Supreme Governor" of the established Church of England. So when Archbishop Rowan Williams says that he regrets Canon Glasspool's election and urges the American church to reject her, he does not speak in any official capacity."
Yes, Rowan's grasp of the history of the past couple of centuries or so seems shaky at best.
I read the AoC's statement and I don't recall that he claimed any legal jurisdiction. So the premise for these comments seems rather shaky to me.
Given that the AoC feels competent to at least advise or exhort TEC, it's worth looking at what our relationship to him is. Here's how we ourselves define it in the Preamble of TEC's Constitution and Canons:
The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America,
otherwise known as The Episcopal Church (which name is hereby
recognized as also designating the Church), is a constituent member
of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy,
Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses,
Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of
We claim ourselves to be a constituent member of the Anglican Communion and in communion with the See of Canterbury. It seems to me that such a bond recognizes some kind of spiritual bond with the AoC, even if the authority the AoC carries as a result is debatable. In any case I cannot see anything else but that we have a bond with him and are obligated to at least listen to him with some seriousness and respectfulness - even if we disagree.
"I read the AoC's statement and I don't recall that he claimed any legal jurisdiction."
Good, then the jerk can butt the hell out of the affairs of our Church!
". . constituent member of the Anglican Communion . . . "
We are part of what constitutes an Anglican Communion. I say withdraw, let it die.
In any case I cannot see anything else but that we have a bond with him. .
I have a bond with my crazy Pentecostal aunt.
Abused children have a bond with their parents.
Abused spouses have a bond with the abusing spouse.
"Bond" is used to cover sins.
. . and are obligated to at least listen to him with some seriousness and respectfulness - even if we disagree.
He lost his authority because of what he said and did, not because we just didn't like him.
Maybe you weren't listening to us in seriousness and respect. We know that Williams has not.
I have two points:
1) I quite agree that a) the proposed bill that I last saw had serious faults. I don't condemn it wholeheartedly because it does criminalize some things that are not currently criminalized in Ugandan law (their rape laws, for example, currently specify male-on-female rape only and this would fix that) and that should be criminalized. But to criminalize sex among consenting adults - and especially to set the death penalty for it - is immoral. And the AoC should speak out on that.
2) We are a part of the Anglican Communion and have a defined relationship with the AoC. As long as that exists we have to honor it. If you think it's no longer honorable, put it before the Church and seek to change it.
She would not be the first woman, nor the first bishop living in a committed same-sex relationship, to be elected, but some Episcopalians in this country and many Anglicans elsewhere oppose her election.
Thus fudging the point. The issue is not that a sinner has been elected bishop, regardless of whether that sin is adultery, homosexuality, greed, etc., etc. The problem is that these two bishops are elected under the assertion that what is held sinful throughout the Communion and the history of the Church is not sinful. All bishops are sinners. Not all assert that their sin is in fact NOT a sin.
So when Archbishop Rowan Williams says that he regrets Canon Glasspool's election and urges the American church to reject her, he does not speak in any official capacity.
Why, yes he does. He speaks as "first among equals" and as the personification of the Anglican Communion. We in own Constitution define our corporate existence as being dependent on being in communion with the See of Canterbury. So the holder of that See's opinion on what we are doing is important.
I do wonder what would happen if the AoC put out a brief statement some day to the effect that "I no longer consider TEC in communion with the See of Canterbury."
"Bond" is used to acknowledge (among other things) love, respect and authority.
what is held sinful throughout the Communion and the history of the Church
If that "what" is supposed to refer to the committed spousal relationship of two people who happen to be of the same sex, then your assertion is a bald-faced LIE, RonF. This "what" has NEVER been "held sinful" "throughout the [Anglican] Communion", and in "the history of the Church" only, what? A few decades AT MOST?
The "wishful thinking" of homophobes to read their prejudice into Scripture, Tradition and (rarely!) Reason, never ceases to astonish me...
"Bond" is used for many things, including unhealthy relations, like those homosexuals have with the "orthodox"(as opposed to our relationships with faithful Christians) and the relationship of Anglicanism to Williams, who has forfeited any basis for respect or affection.
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