Letter to the Editor
San Diego, CA
I spent a portion of the day preceding Ash Wednesday catching up on the news from the Anglican Primate’s meeting in Tanzania. The primates (the leaders of our global communion) distributed a communiqué at the conclusion of their talks that contains several suggestions/demands that many in our church will surely find provocative. Some of the primates found the Episcopal Church’s recent response to their concerns regarding the ordination of gay/lesbian bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions to be deficient. They call on our bishops to unequivocally renounce both practices until there is greater consensus in the Anglican Communion on the topics, and they have set a deadline of 30 September, 2007 to receive our assurances. They ask that bishops not intervene in the affairs of other dioceses while these matters are being weighed and they also recommend that all civil lawsuits regarding church property be shelved.
Previous responses to similar demands were tempered by a broad commitment to the spiritual aspirations of gay and lesbian Christians and a desire to maintain the integrity of the communion. Many doubt that action in the near future will deviate wildly from actions taken in the recent past. This being the case, it appears the question has now been called; will we be a church that welcomes faithful gay and lesbian Christians, honors the role of women in leadership, strives for justice and peace, and respects the dignity of every human being (including immigrants, low-wage workers, those torn by war, the hungry and homeless, and those living with AIDS, among others), or will we be something less than that?
The Most Reverend Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria and a leader of the primates opposed to the position of the Episcopal Church, likens homosexuals to animals. What does it mean to be “in communion” with a leader who holds such views? Further, what does it mean when Archbishop Akinola and his followers refuse to worship with those who, persuaded by the gospel, stand by a contrary position? The beauty and strength of Anglican spirituality has always been found in our willingness to kneel next to the person with whom we disagree and say common prayers. We hope that this sacred sensibility will prevail in the days ahead. If that is not possible, then we pray that God will again do what God does best - announce the new creation.
The Very Reverend Scott Eric Richardson, Dean
Saint Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego