Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Letter from ++Rowan Williams and TEC Polity

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written a letter to the other Primates after their Tanzania meeting.

What I find most interesting is that he very clearly cuts through the fog about Episcopal Church polity:

To address these requests to the American House of Bishops is not to ignore the polity of The Episcopal Church, but to acknowledge that the bishops have a key role, acknowledged in the Constitution of that church, in authorising liturgies within their dioceses and in giving consent to the election of candidates for episcopal order.

As most of you know, there have been complaints that the House of Bishops can’t respond to the Primates’ Communique on behalf of TEC because TEC is an all-American democratic church that is one of the people. The whole church makes decisions, not just . . . :drowned out by swelling patriotic music:

It’s about the only time you’ll ever see some of our revisionist friends wave the flag with vigor.

But ++Rowan is right. Under TEC polity, liturgical innovations beyond the 1979 BCP don’t get authorised without the authorisation of bishops (though perhaps that works on a diocese by diocese basis). Nor do candidates for the episcopate get consent without the consent of bishops. Therefore, the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops has the power to do what is being asked of them.

++Rowan Williams has clearly noticed the protestations otherwise and has very succinctly pointed out that they don’t hold water.

UPDATE: The headline Christopher+ Cantrell gives to this letter is interesting and on target I think.

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