Written by: Rev. Dr. Philip Turner
Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
The posting of a stream of private emails that came from an unnamed source, including the correspondence of senior Bishops of this church and their lawyer, has added considerable heat to the debate that has followed publication on the ACI Website of the Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of The Episcopal Church.
To date, the discussion that has taken place on the Web has served more to cloud than clarify the significant issues now faced both by The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. If one reads carefully the comments of those who find themselves in disagreement with the Bishops’ statement a number of questions come to mind—each of which deserves a clear and unequivocal answer.
- Why would one publish, without confirmation by the parties involved, a thread of private and privileged emails that came from a source not previously known?
- Is it not the case that priests’ publishing the private emails of bishops is a matter of grave pastoral disorder?
- How can one confirm that the source is not lying about how the private correspondence was obtained, and that instead the emails were stolen and a convenient alibi provided?
- Why did the published version of the emails rearrange them in a specific order and omit some; and why was this published on the website of an Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA, and also watermarked and published by a secular Gay publication in Washington, DC?
- Why is the version published on this Episcopal Church website now inaccessible?
- Why would one publish a version of the Bishops’ statement without verifying first that the list of signatories is correct? (The list in fact was not correct.)
- Why would one imply or directly state the signatories thought it permissible for a diocese to withdraw from The Episcopal Church when no such claim was made in the Bishops’ statement?
- Given the frequently repeated objection that a diocese is in fact not free to sign onto the covenant even if The Episcopal Church refuses to do so, and given the fact that The Episcopal Church is defined in its Constitution as being in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, is the claim being made that a diocese that wishes to remain in communion with Canterbury even in circumstances where The Episcopal Church status has been compromised must simply submit to seriously impaired or broken communion?
- To put the question another way, if The Episcopal Church were to refuse to sign the covenant and its status in relation to Canterbury and the other Provinces of the Communion were compromised, is it being suggested that dioceses that believe their Catholic character to have become questionable should not seek an uncompromised relationship?
- Some have questioned Dr. Ephraim Radner’s claim that use of the term “churches” in the draft covenant is understood to include non-provincial jurisdictions, which might (as at present) mean dioceses or other ecumenical partners, or even other ecclesial entities as Archbishop Williams has indicated in his discussion of this matter on various occasions. Are these persons saying that Dr. Radner is not telling the truth?
- If the claim is being made that he is not telling the truth, on what basis is such a claim being made?
- One person commenting on the Bishops’ statement wondered if the signatories should not be charged with Abandonment of Communion. On what basis would a responsibly stated objection to actions that appear either unconstitutional or contrary to the canons be grounds for charges of Abandonment?
- How can a claim about the proper meaning of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church be considered as grounds for having abandoned them?
It is a sad statement about the nature of our time when the private and privileged email correspondence of Bishops of the church, who are in fact seeking to underscore the place of The Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion, is sent to a secular publication for dissemination and discussion, published by an Episcopal priest, selected and rearranged, and all this justified by the claim that the people in question have been ‘outed’ and shown to be lovers of darkness. The entire logic of the Communion Partners fellowship is public and has been, so too the arguments of the Anglican Communion Institute, as well as the work of the Covenant Design members.
Answers to the questions above would begin to bring things before the light of God, if indeed that is what is desired by those who chose to act as they have in this matter.
April 28 2009 11:57 am | Articles