Readers who have been following events in the Episcopal Church of the United States will not be surprised by the inhibition of Fr David Moyer (see pages six and seven). It was only a matter of time before the revisionist majority in that Church lost patience with the traditionalist rump. That time has come. The case of Fr Sam Edwards demonstrates that revisionist bishops can and will refuse to appoint orthodox clergy. The case of Fr David Moyer serves to show that revisionist bishops can and will remove orthodox clergy from their posts. The work of the Task Force of the General Convention, in enforcing the canons on women ’s ordination, will eventually ensure that there is no place left to run.
But Forward in Faith North America should not despair. Fr David Moyer ’s wise and measured response to Bishop Bennison has ensured that it is the Bishop, not the Rector, who is now on trial.
Moyer has asked Bennison to affirm some basic core doctrines: the uniqueness of Christ, his bodily resurrection from the dead, the supremacy of scripture in the determination of doctrine, and the restriction of genital sexual activity to Christian marriage.
If the bishop can affirm those doctrines (and so recant his errors past) Fr Moyer will have won a soul for Jesus and the parish of the Good Shepherd Rosemont will have gained a bishop whom it can truly take to its heart. If Bishop Bennison cannot or will not affirm those doctrines then the world will surely conclude that it is he and not David Moyer who has abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church.
The Anglican Communion has often, in the past, been compared to the British Commonwealth. The comparison has not been flattering to either institution. But, in a surprising turn of events it now appears that it would do well to take a lesson from the British Commonwealth of Nations. To general approbation the troika of heads of state charged with the task has suspended Zimbabwe from membership. The Australian Prime Minster, speaking on their behalf, said that the purpose of that suspension was to uphold the basic principles on which the Commonwealth was founded.
The Instruments of Unity of the Anglican Communion must now find ways similarly to suspend or even to expel dioceses and Provinces which fail to uphold the principles on which the Communion is founded. The price of not doing so is immense, both in terms of internal cohesion and of ecumenical credibility. Why should the orthodox wish to continue in communion with the apostate? Who would wish to conclude ecumenical agreements with a Church which cannot discipline its own bishops, or demand of them allegiance to core doctrine? The Primates meet soon in Canterbury. They will have before them the pathetically inadequate Covenant entered into by the ECUSA House of Bishops for providing Sustained Episcopal Care for those, like Fr Moyer, who can no longer in conscience receive the ministry of their diocesans. It is to be hoped that they treat those belated proposals with the contempt which they deserve.
But we also hope and pray that the Primates will learn from the events at Rosemont the real nature of the problem. It is not a problem about how to care for an orthodox rump, it is a problem about how to mitigate the rapacity of a revisionist majority, and in particular to restrain the actions of unbelieving bishops.
The time has come to assert the simple principle that Bishops must be Christians.
T he Prime Minister, in his quest to fill the throne of Augustine with a suitable candidate, is getting a little more helpful advice then he really needs. It is rumoured that the Vacancy in See Committee of Canterbury diocese has asked for someone in favour of the ordination of women (that is, NOT Richard Chartres). They are at liberty to do so and perhaps it is no surprise that they should. After all Dr Carey was generous with his advice to fellow bishops about honouring the Act of a Synod but deliberately ignored it in all the appointments in his own diocese. The Committee was, therefore, never likely to reflect the spirit of that Act in seeking the best candidate regardless.
But Mr Blair is being showered with other unsolicited and highly organized advice. It comes, no surprise, from our old friends in GRAS, a small group of militant feminists and a bizarre collection of political fellow travellers. They urge their supporters to deluge the Prime Minister with mail demanding that neither David Hope, Richard Chartres or anyone else opposed to their agenda be appointed. They are to warn Mr Blair that ‘it would not do New Labour ’s reputation any good to appear to be supporting discrimination against women ’. . They are to tell him that the Church of England as ‘while it remains established ’ should be sent ‘strong messages by the government ’ about the ‘embarrassment ’ caused by its exemption from equal rights and sex discrimination legislation! The lobbyists are instructed to send these letters to the Prime Minister ’s office to avoid the Patronage Department which might water them down ’. . (The Patronage Department has been the last place, in recent years, to water down the liberal agenda. It is also difficult to imagine any Christian writing, with equanimity, a letter encouraging yet further state interference in the life of the Church. ) As Archbishop Hope is 61 and, in any case, would have to be in a severely masochistic mood to put his hat in the ring, this campaign is designed specifically to sink the candidacy of the Bishop of London. This is odd because Bishop Chartres has done no favours to traditionalists in his appointments to the episcopate and has been a model of inclusivity. He is also very unenthusiastic about the flying bishops ’ ministry. Traditionalists are fond of him but there will be no dancing in the street if he is appointed.
Most people, however, recognize that there are really only two considerable candidates, men with the presence, wisdom and gravitas to hold the office and Chartres is one of them. To seek to remove him from consideration is a cheap and unworthy trick.
Most traditionalists recognize that the Establishment never had the slightest intention of keeping its word, under the Act of Synod, on appointments. If this is shown to be the case yet again and at the highest level we will have to draw the obvious conclusion.
We genuinely desire that God ’s choice, whomsoever he may be, take his place on that throne at Canterbury in one last, and possibly vain, effort to bind up the wounds of our communion. Those who seek to inhibit this process demonstrate again that they do not love the Church and they are careless of the Gospel. Their priority is an alien creed and their loyalty in another place.
The Prime Minister should listen to these people and see what they have done to the Church of England. He might note that, as he accompanies his wife to her Church, the Magisterium has already spoken on this matter and it reaffirms the historic teaching of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.