broken communion

The proposed Anglican Covenant suggests that when we choose bishops, those bishops must be acceptable to Anglicans throughout the world. Quite apart form the fact that is it hard to imagine a time in the church’s history when every bishop would have been acceptable to all, it means that a bishop in (say) Uganda could object to a bishop chosen in (say) Glasgow because the person was deemed unsuitable.

Reasonable enough? Part of being ‘one family’?

Well, maybe — but if you haven’t had occasion to think much about the implications of the covenant yet, try reading this article by the Bishop of Karamoja in Uganda, and ponder whether you would seek his opinion on the worthiness of our next episcopal candidates.

11 thoughts on “broken communion

  1. Don’t need no stinkin’ covenant. Don’t want no stinkin’ covenant. We already claim inclusive ground (for ALL) here; if that’s not big-hearted enough for some then that’s not our problem.

    What a frightful article; I think just about every false argument I know on the topic is presented there:
    * assumption of pre-existing moral code applied to Bible, not the other way around
    * “illness” or “ailment”
    * turning of blind eye to the fact they obviously have LGBT folks in Africa already
    * “gay agenda”
    and probably more.

    In the long run, this will play out, and this weak view of the Bible as merely a book of moral code will be defeated. I’d just prefer not to live through the troubled times – nor have others suffer the injustice of living through them – until that’s sorted.

  2. The whole Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill thing has really made me pull back from the idea of Communion and dialogue at all costs. I don’t think we ought to validate the Ugandan heirarchy with our collusion through silence with their utter misguidedness. We should as a Church reason and urge the Church there to withdraw its support for this vile bill. But if they don’t, then our communion with them is as utterly impaired as it was with the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa during the era of apartheid. Non-existent, in other words.

  3. I agree that this emphasis on the global over the local is deeply troubling. Having to have bishops ‘be acceptable to the whole communion’ hamstrings the ability of churches to minister to their local communities. I think this whole covenant business is a seriously bad plan.

    This is from someone who has worshipped in churches in several different parts of the Anglican Communion and values the ‘bonds of affection’ highly. If the affection is no longer present (and I’m not arguing that it has entirely eroded), I have a hard time seeing how a contract is going to re-introduce it.

  4. The article comes from a different thought world. The whole culture is shown to be so totally different that it would be hard to know where to build any bridge on this issue. When I realise I are going to have to get involved in arguing that being attracted to people of the same sex is not remotely like being a wizard in order to make any progress with the argument, I realise I am so far out of any thought world into which I can readily enter that I despair. I am not even sure that the Bishop thinks of being a wizard as an illusion.

    I struggle with many aspects of the iron age culture of the New Testament, but the thought world of Jesus is infinitely closer to the 21st c. Scotland than this thought world.

    And I write this as somebody who believes they are usually rather good at translating things between one culture and another.

  5. And if their bishops aren’t acceptable to us because they support such vile legislation, then what?

    Well, we declare that we are in a state of impaired communion with them and withdraw financial support until such time as there is reconcilliation. “Money talks” as Milo used to say in the Bloom County cartoons!

  6. We don’t need the new covenant as proposed. It will make matters worse.

    We need the Anglican Communion in the same way that we need the Commonwealth (to which is bears many similarities). In other words, we don’t need it, but if it exists, it might be a useful tool for good at some time.

    The question of whether either the Commonwealth or the Communion are useful is not one which one can any longer presume any answer.

  7. But we don’t use money to force some kind of compliance. We fund projects which are good and responsible, and we do it regardless of the behaviour of those we fund outside of the projects.

  8. The Bishop of Karamoja is not such an idiot as he seems – he is just a product of the Balocale (East African Revival) which regards everyone outside their ranks with suspicion, when I taught in an East African theological college we were treated gently by some, shunned by others, the students were fine but we had an American who taught New Testament, in synod they said, “No more Episcopals from America” – -this was in the 1960s. A recent observer found no African member of staff at Bishop Tucker College (theological college) who did not believe the world was made in six days, literally, biblical studies at another seminary were taught by two primary school teachers from England — in addition the religious right in the U.S. wants to change the leadership of all denominations, cannot dominate their conventions, so dominates the Anglican Communion through Asian and African bishops – -almost all of whom are members of the Ekklesia Society which gives them a warped view of American Christianity. On homosexuality, which is found in Africa as elsewhere (and noted in all African languages) opinions in Africa are changing as in the rest of the world, but church leaders see it as part of their emphasis on God as creator – -he must have created everything just as it is in Genesis. Will such people change ? Of course, but the religious right must keep them from meeting Canadians or Americans – -by not going to Lambeth etc. When Trinity Church, New York, paid for thirty U.S. bishops to spend time in Spain with thirty African bishops, there were howls of rage from the right wing agencies. It is one of the major faults of the leaders of the Anglican Communion, including Rowan WIlliams, that they have treated these African bishops as fractious children and not as adults who can be brought to understand, even if they do not share, what others believe. But what is the Episcopal Church of Canada ? There is no such body.

  9. ‘they have treated these African bishops as fractious children and not as adults who can be brought to understand’. Point taken, Gavin. But the demeanour and language of some of the African bishops raises a reasonable question about how much they are open to dialogue.

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