May 7, 2009

Two New Moratoria

Over the past few years, we have heard much about the moratoria that various Anglican bodies have sought to impose. Member churches have been told to refrain from blessing same-sex unions, from consecrating partnered gay bishops, and from allowing bishops to operate in dioceses not their own without permission. It is likely that the Anglican Consultative Council, which is currently meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, will, yet again, endorse these moratoria. The principle behind the use of such moratoria, I’ll call it the Principle of Anglican Progress (or PAP), is that no change should take place in the Anglican Communion until every member church (most of them, anyway) agree that the proposed innovation is a good thing. PAP is part of our Catholic heritage, and it assures us that Anglicans will eventually do the right thing, even if they do so centuries after the rest of the world has concluded it is the right thing.

Since PAP has become a bedrock principle of Anglicanism, it is clearly time to examine if there are other arenas where it could beneficially be applied. This thought leads me to propose yet another moratorium—two other moratoria, in fact. For years, The Episcopal Church has been the major underwriter of the bureaucracy that is the Anglican Communion, a bureaucracy that, increasingly, has arrogated authority and grown increasingly hostile to The Episcopal Church. It is not an exaggeration to say that The Episcopal Church is financing an institution that is seriously considering gaining effective control over it or removing it from that institution entirely. Surely, we have been underwriting the undermining of The Episcopal Church.

Given our current relation to the Anglican Communion, a proper application of PAP would require that The Episcopal Church declare a moratorium on funding the Anglican Communion until such time as the mind of the Communion is settled on how it is going to treat The Episcopal Church and the “innovations” it sees our church as having instituted. Financing the subversion of our church is but another Episcopal Church innovation. Moreover, since The Episcopal Church has essentially been on trial in Communion councils since 2003, it hardly seems fair that we should participate in the decision of what the Communion should do with The Episcopal Church. Therefore, I suggest a second moratorium on participation in Anglican Communion councils until the mind of the Communion becomes clear. Like the matter of same-sex blessings, I’m sure the mind of the Commmunion will become clear in a century or so. Meanwhile, we can mend the net and keep peace in this great Communion that has been given us as a gift by God.

Happily, the General Convention meets this summer and promptly can adopt officially the moratoria I have suggested.

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