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Re: [HoB/D] RE: re [hob d] re re [hob d] re [hob d] who can leave

> If, as you state, "Holy Matrimony is also Christian marriage, in
> which same-sex couples 'enter into a life-long union...'" why wasn't
> it stated as such in the BCP, in the same way it is in the Catechism
> and the rite for the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage?

As I intimated in my response, I doubt the authors would have agreed
with me.  Mercifully they did not bring it up.

Once documents are published, writers (as many of us learn painfully)
have no more control over what they mean or how they are used.

> Was it the intent of the authors/editors of the BCP, and the General
> Convention that approved the BCP, to use page 13 as a way to skirt a
> delicate issue,

I doubt they anticipated the same-sex issue, but undoubtedly they were
consciously trying to avert many other nasty disagreements by trusting
bishops to decide them locally.  That same reasoning was behind the
compromise in C051 (Blessings) at GC 2003.

> or not have to deal with a theology that would surely create
> "confusion" and consternation on the part of many in the church?
> Or, was it written, and approved, to mean what it says - that Holy
> Matrimony is appropriate only between a man and a woman.

I have said all along that I believe that it means what it says, and
the BCP does not use the word "only."  You have added that.

This is hardly the first controversy to cause confusion and
consternation on the part of many in the church.  Nor will it be the

> It seems to me that the page 13 rubric allowing bishops to approve
> special "forms" of worship has accrued a much wider meaning and
> authority than was intended by the writers of the 1979 BCP.

No doubt it has, and that is why our foundational documents survive to
continue serving us, because they allow flexible interpretation,
within the on-going constraints of those authorized to interpret them
(elections of bishops; votes on canons....)

John Henry Newman revered traditional catholic ways of doing things as
much as any Anglican of his era, but he left his own Anglo-Catholic
movement for Rome when his Anglo-Catholic movement rigidly rejected
change.  He knew that the church is dead, dead, dead if it can say no
new thing.  For all its delays and bureaucratic bungling and even
outright abuses of authority, Rome does change.  Anglicans must be
able to change to, or we will deserve to die.

The problem, of course, is in discerning what to change and what not
to change.  It has ever been thus.

I respect the bishops who did not allow blessings on the basis of p.
13 of the BCP even though they wanted to allow them.  Many will now do
so on the basis of C051, which more clearly states, "we recognize that
local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common
life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing
same-sex unions."  If p.13 had been more convincing in supporting the
same recognition, we would not have had to push for C051.  We are
better served by having more clarity, clarity that we agreed upon:
in the House of Bishops, C051 passed by a voice vote with very little
audible opposition.  The vote was closer in a vote by orders in the
House of Deputies. (see

> I'd be interested in seeing any reference to a discussion by the
> authors/editors that inferred the use of the page 13 rubric
> authorizing the blessing of same sex couples in the formative work
> leading up to the approval of the 1979 BCP by GC.

You won't find them.  Nor would we be bound by the writers' intent:
we are bound only by what the book says.  We are in a new era. Bishop
Swing, the senior diocesan, was ordained in 1979 and all other active
bishops were ordained after that GC.  Joncy Itty, who will be ordained
on Saturday, was 16 years old in 1979.

> As to your comment about the BCP being merely "silent" on the issue of
> same-sex couples, I shudder to think about what other possibilities for
> interpretation such silence might lead to.

We can rarely anticipate tomorrow's controversies.  We will die if we
'resolve them' legalistically before they arrive.  You can be certain
that those who use the rubrics on p. 13 in ways that offend you, did
not develop those offenses just to live into the license of the
rubric. That's not how change happens.  Instead, Christians (rightly
or wrongly) feel the movement of the Spirit toward a given change,
persuade others around them by their words and their actions, and
then, before trying to upset the larger group that may not have
considered the issue or may have come to another conclusion), look at
the texts already agreed on as binding to see whether there is
already room for them already to do what they feel called to do.

> And, while I agree wholeheartedly with you about the nature of
> ambiguity in the Anglican character, I believe it has its limits.
> I don't believe we promote ambiguity over clarity, when clarity is
> available to us.

No one is wise to promote ambiguity when there is clarity which all
agree on.  The problem arises when what is clear to one side is not
clear to another. Anglicans often promote ambiguity over rival claims
to clarity.

For example, the canons "clearly" state:

"No one shall be denied access to the selection process for ordination
in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, sex, national
origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age,
except as otherwise specified by these Canons.  No right to ordination
is hereby established." Title 3, Canon 4, Sec. 1. p. 64

"That clearly means that otherwise qualified lesbians and gays can be
allowed into the ordination process and if successful, may be
ordained," say many.

"No so!" rejoin others, "That does not counterstate demands that
clergy must refrain from sex outside marriage.....  We will not ordain
any homosexual person who is homosexually active."

The canon was supported by people who believed all gays must be
celibate and by people who believed they should be blessed in
committed monogamous relationships.

That's a classic Anglican muddle, and I think it has served us well.
It lets both groups stay at the same table.

I suppose it would be possible for yet another group to say that the
canon allows lesbians and gays to be considered but also allows people
always to reject them, regardless of whether celibate or in a
committed relationship.  That interpretation seems to be cynical
however, in that it invites people into a cul de sac.

Read the PB's column in the September issue of EPISCOPAL LIFE.  He
looks closely at the wording of one small section in the Eucharist in
the first three versions of the BCP in the 16th-century, noting how
the two warring factions were accommodated, neither being proved
right, neither being proved wrong -- both kept at the same table.

> It might require a lot of prayer and discernment,
> but I believe Anglicans have always been up to the task.
> Thank you, Louie, for your conversation on this point.  It has 
> been helpful to me.

And yours to me.  Thanks!


> God bless you.
> xxxxxxxxx  XXXXXXXX+

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