Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Anglican Church Continues Frenzy Over Gay Rights

I can't say I envy Katharine Jefferts Schori. The (first female) head of the Episcopal Church here in the US just spent her weekend getting her head handed to her, thanks to a meeting of the worldwide Anglican Communion, held in Tanzania.

If you've been paying attention you know that there's a schism in the Anglican Church: Episcopalians make up the US arm of Anglicanism, and for quite some time now, most of those of us who call ourselves Episcopalian have found ourselves at odds with the Anglican leadership--specifically over the ordination of gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions (the majority of Episcopalians support those actions, while a very vocal faction of conservative Anglican leaders do not).

Things came to a head this weekend, according to the NY Times, which reports that "the Anglican Communion gave its Episcopal branch in the United States less than eight months to ban blessings of same-sex unions or risk a reduced role in the world’s third-largest Christian denomination." Jefferts Schori, who runs the Episcopal Church, also agreed to the appointment of
a special vicar to tend to the needs of conservative members who feel alienated by the fact that the mainline US church is moving in a more liberal direction.

What will it all mean? No one's exactly sure, but it's certainly not a good thing for those of us who believe that the church should be inclusive to all members, gay or otherwise. And the appointment of the "special vicar" (reminds one of the Ken Starr days, doesn't it?) is universally agreed to represent a major "check" on Jefferts Schori's powers. Add to that the fact that a number of bishops at the gathering refused to share communion with the US leader, and you understand why I say hers is not a position to envy. Still, I'm glad we've got her there. She needs all the support she can get.

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