Saturday, July 11, 2009Excerpt:
Let me make it perfectly plain for anyone to see, by quoting the current and the new language in parallel (the old is in blue, the new is in red):Current Language (Priest)
If . . . [a] Priest or Deacon . . . has abandoned the Communion of this Church . . .Current Language (Bishop)
If a Bishop abandons the communion [sic] of this Church . . .Proposed New Language (Priest)
If . . . a Priest or Deacon . . . has abandoned The Episcopal Church . . .
Proposed New Language (Bishop)
If a Bishop abandons The Episcopal Church . . .
They are proposing to drop just the three little words "Communion of this . . .", and to replace them with just one word: "Episcopal". To paraphrase Neil Armstrong, "That's one small step for a church, but one giant leap away from the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church."
With that single change, buried in the midst of thousands and thousands of words revising Title IV, the leadership of ECUSA will accomplish the goal toward which it has been striving ever since 1976: a complete and final divorce of its polity and orders from the rest of the Anglican Communion, and in consequence from the Church Catholic as well.
No longer will it be possible, after these changes are voted (and they will be, without any doubt: how could they go back on the strategy at this point?), for Episcopal clergy to avoid a charge of "abandonment" when they seek to transfer to another church within the Anglican Communion. No longer will anyone refer to these Canons as the "Abandonment of Communion" Canons; they become the "Abandonment of ECUSA" Canons. The Communion, as such, is through, as far as ECUSA is concerned. Finito. Not "Ite - missa est", but Ite - finis est.
It matters nothing that they are retaining the old words of the definition: "by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the same . . .". That language, as I explained in this earlier post, has been read out of the Canons by the depositions of Bishops Cox and Schofield, and by the deposition of literally hundreds of clergy since. It simply is ignored, and will continue to be ignored. All that future Standing Committees will ask, and all that the House of Bishops will ask, is: "Has the priest/deacon/bishop in question left the Episcopal Church?" If the answer is "Yes", then it will not matter in the slightest where the person went: he or she will be deposed. As I have written about the illogical consequences of such a stance before, there is no need to spell it all out again.
Instead, I will content myself with pointing out that by making this change, the Episcopal Church (USA) is aligning itself with one other church which also does not trouble to distinguish, for purposes of defining abandonment, between churches in the Anglican Communion and churches which are not: it will be making its abandonment canons exactly like those of the Anglican Church of Canada. the rest