Susan Wood, filing for the [Carson City] Nevada Appeal News Service, detects an irony that has, to date, escaped the attention of church historians. Writing about a visit of Katharine Jefferts Schori, who will become the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church on Nov. 4, Wood offers this stunning collection of direct quotes and sloppy paraphrases:
[Jefferts] Schori has a new set of challenges to confront with a church in a state of crossroads -- including the clergy's attitude about global warming, which [Jefferts] Schori believes is a real crisis. Old ideals about divorce, contraception and same-sex marriage have given way to a new way of dealing with the modern world.
The latter issue provided the Episcopal [Church] with much discourse during a recent convention when it appeared to relax its rules on alternative lifestyles.
"We did say as a church that it's appropriate or acceptable for individual congregations to bless couples as a matter of pastoral practice," she said.
Then, there are other changing signs.
"We're changing attitudes about divorce," she said. The church finds it appropriate to encourage divorce for the safety of the people involved.
"We're more flexible than the Catholic church," she said.
The irony is, Catholicism was part of the Episcopal Church before a split in the 1500s.
At last the truth is out! Perhaps this irony makes the Episcopal Church (which held its first General Convention in 1785) the honorary largest Christian communion in all the world. Oh, if only those schismatics in the Roman Catholic Church had not separated from the Episcopal Church before it existed.
On a note only a bit less prone to cause spit takes, Tina Kelley of The New York Times reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury has proposed forcing the Episcopal Church to change its mind on sexuality:
At the end of June, the Diocese of Newark named the openly gay priest as one of its candidates for bishop, defying a plea for restraint by a vote of the bishops and delegates at the Episcopal Church's triennial General Convention. The selection came only a day after the archbishop of Canterbury, the nominal leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, proposed a plan that could force the Episcopal Church to renounce gay bishops and the blessings of same-sex unions or lose full membership in the communion.
For an ever so slightly more nuanced perspective on the Archbishop of Canterbury's plan, let us turn to, oh, the Archbishop of Canterbury, describing responses to his public reflections in "The Challenge and Hope of Being Anglican Today":
In spite of some interesting reporting and some slightly intemperate reaction, this [reflection] contained no directives (I do not have authority to dictate policy to the provinces of the Communion) and no foreclosing of the character and content of such a covenant. Were any such arrangement to be proposed, it would of course have to be owned by the constitutional bodies governing Provinces. The proposal has already been dismissed in some quarters as a capitulation to fundamentalism and in others as a cunning plan to entrench total doctrinal indifferentism.
Both characterisations are nonsense.
Photo by Gianluca Casponi via Flickr.