Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 15 January 2016

The ECUSA of our brethren

So the US Episcopalians - the ECUSA of our brethren as we used to refer to them in my Anglican days - have been suspended from the Anglican Communion for three years over their attitude to same-sex marriage. There are the predictable howls of protest from the predictable people and interest groups.

Despite their small numbers, but great number of bishops, the US Episcopalians have wielded a disproportionate influence in the affairs of the Anglican Communion in the post-Second World War era.

It is a pity that similar sanctions were not taken agains those Anglican provinces which first ordained women in order to discipline them.

Homosexual acts are condemned as sinful in the Bible and by the tradition of the Church - but personal sins may be forgiven. That's why there is the Sacrament of Confession.

Altering the sacramental structure of the clerical orders is destructive of the future authenticity of the ecclesial body concerned. It is not a sin that a visit to the confessional can wipe away, it is structural and enduring.

By changing the received tradition about Orders the Anglican Communion made infinitely more difficult the possibilities - such as they were - of reconciliation with the Catholic and Orthodox communions.

That is something to think about as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity approaches.

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