Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Plano, We Have a Problem

In early October, orthodox American Episcopal bishops (yes, that's a redundancy) will meet to consider what course to take. Unfortunately, there's a problem. There are two groups within ECUSA and one group outside of it that are primarily in play. The two groups inside are the American Anglican Council (AAC) and Forward in Faith (FiF), the latter being an international organization. The group outside is the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), co-administered by the Province of Southeast Asia and the Province of Rwanda. So, if you were like me, you simply figured "oh, the AAC, FiF, and AMiA will all band together outside of ECUSA, seek alternative oversight, possibly from the Archbishop of Nigeria or someone similar, and the rest of the Anglican Communion will excommunicate ECUSA, replacing it with this orthodox quasi-province." I had overheard something about the AAC and FiF co-existing, but it didn't register with me what the problem was. It occurred to me a few days ago.

The American Anglican Council and the Province of Rwanda believe that ordaining women, at least for the priesthood if not the episcopacy, is okay. Forward in Faith and the Province of Southeast Asia are opposed to this. This is a problem. FiF has more ties internationally, but the AAC is stronger over here. Several FiF parishes in England requested oversight by the Archbishop of Sydney recently, which means that he is likely opposed to women's ordination. Meanwhile, the Bishop of Pittsburgh, perhaps the most outspoken of the bishops opposed to the ordination of Gene Robinson, is First Vice President of the AAC. The rector whom he sheltered from persecution by his local bishop is President of FiF-North America and is overseen by the Archbishop of Kenya, leading me to believe that the archbishop is opposed to women's ordination.

What this means is that we've got a mess. The only solution I can see, if all these are to band together, is for them to agree that women may not become bishops, but it is up to each individual parish whether or not to ordain female priests. Thus, those who are opposed may simply not attend a church with a female rector, while remaining secure in a parish with a man as rector. As their shared bishop would be a man, everyone should be happy, or at least placated.

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