A series of essays in the Episcopal Church
By The Very Rev. Canon James Newman
To: Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon
Sent: Monday, October 25, 2004 11:45 AM
Subject: subsidiarity -- a response to http://anglicansonline.org/resources/essays/whalon/diocesan_boundaries.h tml
Dear Bishop Whalon,
An excellent article linked in the HOBD list! In the case of the Diocese of New Hampshire, since the election of a Bishop requires confirmation by the larger church (as does the call for an election in the first place), doesn't this mean that the national church has thereby assented in the action? Also, is sexual orientation a matter of doctrine that requires inter_communion assent? As I argued in a sermon yesterday, was not the time for protests 1979 or the 1980's, when the canons were revised (or resolutions were passed) stating the inclusion of homosexual persons and/or their fitness to be considered in the ordination process? Was not +VGR's election and confirmation simply the logical extension of those several actions?
There is also a false (or I thing mis-guided) dichotomy in the ongoing definition of homosexuality, namely that is that it is OK to be a homosexual, but not OK to practice, or rather that having a partner is equivalent to "practicing" and being single is equivalent to being a non-practicing (or "theoretical") homosexual person. On a functional level that is observably in error and on a pastoral level , a misguided one. We define celibacy as a "vocation". In the heterosexual community, we have separated sexual intercourse from procreation (through the miracles of modern science), do we not need to have some more realistic conversation about the place for adult humans not called to the charism of celibacy.
Again, we have already canonically and pastorally accepted homosexual persons both into the Body of Christ and into the community of clergy (deacon, priest, & bishop -- since +VGR is not the first gay bishop). If the issue is "openly gay", then we are not talking about ethics, we are talking about public relations.
Archbishop Akinola has said that he would not be in the same room with a homosexual person (I do not think he differentiated between partnered and/or practicing or not). That puts him officially outside the floor of any meeting of ECUSA since 1977 (when Paul Moore ordained Ellen Barrett) or whatever convention it was that the Diocese of (I think) Rochester NY elected its first openly gay lay alternate deputy or the same convention at which Patrick Waddell of El Camino Real was the first openly gay alternate to be seated (or was it speak) on the floor of the GC.
Also, for a sense of fairness, we do not have a litmus test for our wardens, vestry members and delegates to diocesan convention or deputies to the General Convention regarding either sexuality or partnered status. In ECUSA (unlike I would think the Church in Nigeria), the senior house is the House of Deputies. Democracy and parity is written into our doings (look at votes by order in Diocesan conventions). The President of the House of Deputies has parity with the Presiding Bishop.
I think that ECUSA made the decision in at least 1979 that has led to the current problems for "the conservatives" (to lump them for the sake of argument into one cohesive group -- a problem, I admit). The time for protest was 1977 or 79 or 82 or 85. +VGR is very representative of ECUSA in the last 25 years, not an American aberration. I think that Bp. Griswold's statements of late have essentially recognized that fact. As Bp. Alexander noted in his recent book on homosexuality, this would not have been an issue if +VGR had simply chosen to lie (or be silent).
Now, who should Abp. Akinola leave the room because of -- an open homosexual or an acknowledged liar?
The Vy. Rev. Canon James Newman
St. Bede's Parish, Diocese of Los Angeles
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