Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Priest renounces ordaination in response to Resolution B033

From the comments at gc06-southern ohio

one Episcopalian’s response to General Convention’s late action on the Windsor Report

The Church came so close! The House of Deputies had rejected a resolution (A161) which would have called on Bishops and Standing Committees to “refrain” from consecrating bishops “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.”

But then, at the last minute the Convention passed Resolution B033, calling on Bishops and Standing Committees not to consent “to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” The language ‘manner of life’ is obviously code for ‘partnered persons of homosexual orientation’; ‘will lead to further strains’ is code for ‘offending those who would exclude such persons’.

In adopting this resolution, the Church in convention has chosen an illusory "place at the [Anglican] table" for the incoming Presiding Bishop, instead of standing clearly for justice and inclusiveness. The Church has tacitly sanctioned bigotry and discrimination against a whole category of people.

Many bishops and delegates of good will are asking us for patience, having created what they see as opportunity for conversation within the Anglican communion. There are at least two problems with this:

Appeasement is never effective. There are those in the Anglican Communion who would have us permanently block gay and lesbian persons from positions of leadership in the Church. Such Anglicans do not want conversation. They want compliance. To appease them only encourages them to continue to dominate.

Justice delayed is justice denied. In the public sphere, after centuries of racism, there were still voices counseling patience from the civil rights movement. Now with homophobic bigotry, as then with racism, how long must we wait? How long must we wait for justice? Is it not long past time?

I find myself crying out, How long, O Lord, how long!!

At my age (80), having tried for 30 years to educate my little corner of the church about the normalcy of homosexual orientation, and having battled a witless biblical literalism much longer than that, I am unwilling for my Church any longer to choose false unity instead of elementary justice.

The “unity,” on whose altar our Church’s latest equivocation is laid, is false and paper thin. There can be no unity with bigots, unless we settle for an unequal relationship of dominance and appeasement. Theologically, the case can be made that God has already made the human family one. Human institutions can build barriers that deny that reality, but can neither create nor destroy it.

General Convention took some actions for which I thank God: most notably the election of Bishop Jefferts Schori and the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals. We can proceed constructively on those fronts, despite distracting ourselves by attending to the ‘strains’ which some experience as a result of their uninformed homophobia. I trust that some time as a Church we’ll stop that distraction altogether simply by ending discrimination of all kinds.

I am renouncing my ordination, since I no longer in conscience can honor my vow as a priest to be subject to the authority of a church which persists in sanctioning bigotry and exclusion. Priesthood has been a great blessing, and to relinquish it is a very costly action for me. As a member of the laity, I intend to continue to proclaim the faith of Jesus and the prophets, and to work for peace and justice and love.

-- Paul Nicely

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