I swear to God, the Episcopal Church in the USA must be trying
to piss off the entire rest of the world with this latest
dazzling, multicoloured display of snottiness. They appear to have hired Miss Emily Litella to explain it all to the Panel of Reference. Her letter wastes no time insulting its recipients, by drawing attention to their obvious ignorance in the very first line:
With great concern, I write to you to clarify apparent misconceptions regarding the polity of The Episcopal Church reflected in the content and recommendations in the panel's December, 2006 report.
Well, this sort of thing can happen when you let non-Americans get their hands on the keyboard.
Inherent to our shared call to follow Christ in mission and ministry together as members of the Anglican Communion is the need for mutual understanding of each other's polity and culture.
Everybody ready? Then here it comes, Remedial Anglicanism For Morons:
The General Convention of the Episcopal Church meets every three years in a bicameral legislative system. It consists of the House of Bishops composed of all our bishops, and the House of Deputies, composed of up to four clergy and four lay elected from each of our 111 dioceses. There are more than 800 members in the House of Deputies.
Did you write that down? Eight hundred!
How many is 800? No, Khotsu, it's more than the number of bananas on a tree! No, no, Maurice, it's even more than the number of cows the village headman has! I'll tell you: it's like the stars in the sky, when big round fire go to sleep at night.
It appears that the panel has misunderstood our polity regarding the primacy of General Convention and our overall structure that requires nearly every major decision in The Episcopal Church to have the agreement of bishops, priests and lay persons. The House of Bishops cannot alone make decisions for The Episcopal Church.
We not like you. We civilized. We have many chiefs, big chief, little chief - much talk, many moons before signing peace treaty. Not like African Church, big chief bang! bang! with curly stick on heads and making medicine!
The interpretation of The Episcopal Church's Canons is the responsibility of our ecclesiastical trial courts when a clergy person is charged with a violation of them and of the General Convention in all other matters. The same is true for the question of whether or not the "Dallas Plan" complies with the Canons. Only our ecclesiastical courts or the General Convention are authorized to make those interpretations. In the polity of The Episcopal Church, only the General Convention or the ecclesiastical trial court interprets our Canons.
I have your exams here, and I have to say, I'm VERY disappointed. Question number three was "What is the final authority in the Episcopal Church?" The correct answer is "General Convention or the ecclesiastical trial courts." Everyone repeat that three times. The answers you wrote were completely unacceptable! "God
." "Jesus Christ
." "The Bible
." Zero on that one.
Thirty years ago, through our representative legislative process, we voted affirmatively to allow the ordination of women. Generally at that time The Episcopal Church did not think the 1976 Canons were permissive or ambiguous. Nonetheless, to address any possible misunderstanding, in 1997 General Convention, with the concurrence of both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies adopted additional Canons intended to put to rest the question of whether a woman's gender could be used to disqualify her from ordination.
Sigh. I guess I'm going to have to start right at the beginning. OK, maybe THIS will make it clear to you
The panel appears to misunderstand the importance of the fact that our Church's ordination process is carried out at the diocesan level.
I don't care how you do it where you come from! It probably involves a lot of sweating and bodypaint and cutting each other with knives, but that's not the way we do things here!
If the percentage of people supporting or opposing the ordination of women is important to the panel's analysis, then the panel's incorrect inferences that a substantial number of people in the Church oppose the ordination of women should be corrected. If any of the panel's recommendations were influenced or based upon this misinformation then the panel should revisit those conclusions with the evidence that support for the ordination of women in The Episcopal Church is extremely widespread and strong and joyfully embraced.
Listen, we didn't teach you bunch to read just to have you turn around and start waving complaint letters from so-called "orthodox" Episcopalians at us. They don't exist! Do you hear me? They're all written by one guy in an attic in Fort Worth. Haven't you people ever heard of TV? Watch the film of Mrs. Schori's
consecration this summer, and that will tell you all you need to know about how happy we all are to have women priests.
In all these years no one, including Bishop Iker, has been brought up on disciplinary charges for the alleged violation of the Canons for refusing to ordain, license, accept into the diocese or approve women as rectors. We are clear that women are not to be denied access to ordination. We have been tolerant of Bishop Iker.
Yes, we are gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Why, even now, if Iker would return with all his heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning, rending his heart and not his garments, we may turn and have pity... What? Oh, I read it somewhere.
I further request that future bodies charged to make recommendations to the Archbishop of Canterbury on any topics that have to do directly with a particular province of the Anglican Communion, have adequate representation from the province directly affected by the recommendations of the panel.
Look, this is just too hard for you. You'll never be able to understand and appreciate our uniqueness, so why don't you leave it all to us? Just go outside and play, and we'll take care of everything. We'll just call it our burden.