ECUSA Diocese of Fort Worth plans to pull out

Here is the correspondence between Bishop of Fort Worth, Jack Iker and presiding Bishop-ette Mrs Schori. Tough talk from both sides as yet another Episcopal Diocese plans to pull out of the ECUSA. I like this line from Bishop Iker: “I must remind you that 25 years ago this month, the newly formed Diocese of Fort Worth voluntarily voted to enter into union with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. If circumstances warrant it, we can likewise, by voluntary vote, terminate that relationship. Your aggressive, dictatorial posturing has no place in that decision.”

What we are witnessing is the disintegration of the Anglican Communion. I predict that the alternative conservative global Anglican federation will never materialize. If it does it will not hold together for long. This is because among Anglicans there is no agreed central authority figure, governing structure or even agreed set of theological and liturgical principles.

It is all well and good that the conservative Anglicans want to separate from the increasingly non-Christian liberal ECUSA, but to whom shall they go? They are sheep without a shepherd. New alliances will doubtless be forged, but why should an Archbishop in Africa necessarily be the one to lead such a federation? How will he be chosen?

Anglicans need to ask the big authority questions. Where is an authority that is both historical and yet adaptable for the modern world? Where is an authority that is both universal and local? Where is an authority that is congruent with both Scripture and the 2000 year tradition of the Church? Where is an authority that is both intellectually satisfying yet accessible to the illiterate? Where is an authority that speaks with uncompromising candor yet is compassionate to the sinner? Where is an authority that transcends all national, historical and contemporary ideologies yet gathers the truth from them all into a new synthesis?

Anglicanism in its various national allegiances, ideologies, theologies, liturgies and spiritualities can never do this.

Catholicism can. Build on the Rock.

UPDATE: here’s a good article on the meltdown of liberal Christianity.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05810707774675254803 phbrown

    The alternative Anglican federation is already well on the way to forming—several of them, in fact, which really underscores your point. The sticking point for Anglicans isn’t really the excesses of ECUSA (or, as the title is now, The Episcopal Church). It’s really about binding union with anybody. The current Anglican wreck could have been avoided (or at least postponed) had the Americans (and the Canadians) been willing to submit themselves to the discipline of the Communion as a whole. But the 2003 vote was to tell the rest of the world, “We have no need of you,” and the rest has followed.But—as you note, Fr. Dwight—this unwillingness to submit isn’t limited to those who would change historic teaching. Those who want to retain the traditional teachings on sexuality, sin, and Christology have the same problem; they want to submit to traditional teaching not because it is traditional but because they agree with it. The fact that they often agree with traditional teaching because it is traditional does help a little, but not much, because the question “what is traditional?” is asked and answered in no truly systematic or agreed-upon fashion; in the end, it devolves back to the individual or the local congregation.Of course, the Holy Spirit can and does work in such groups. But such a congregational existence can’t make any truly serious claim to the unity for which the Lord Jesus prayed. That requires submission to an authoritative interpreter of tradition, one whose interpretations are charismatically (note, not epistemically) guaranteed free from error. And that submission is precisely what Anglicans can’t make without ceasing to be Anglican.Peace,–Peter

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07168723389553636372 John

    I grew up in the Episcopal diocese of Ft. Worth. Many, many good and faithful clergy and laity are active and doing good things. This is by no means easy on any of them. But, as I pointed out in a post regarding the diocese of Pittsburgh, the die has long since been cast in this Episcopal drama. Ft. Worth is one of three dioceses that still does not ordain women, if that gives anyone a view into the depth of their orthodoxy. The previously noted Bp. Pope, who earlier re-Poped (that still makes me laugh) was +Iker’s predecessor. While the diocesan convention has to actually vote on the matter to disassociate itself from the greater Episcopal Church, I don’t think anyone should be surprised when it happens.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09356738924839809045 Andrew

    Father, instead of ‘Bishop-ette’, I believe you have Bishop-ess in mind which is in line with priestess. A bishop-ette sounds like a little bishop rather than a female one. =)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07168723389553636372 John

    Andrew,If I may be so bold, a “little bishop” is pretty descriptive as well…!

  • Anonymous

    I thought I read somewhere that although Fort Worth doesn’t ordain women, Iker lets them transfer in and serve, etc? Is that true?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07168723389553636372 John

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07168723389553636372 John

    Anon,+Iker does not allow female priests to serve under his jurisdiction under any circumstance. That said, he does ordain women to the permanent diaconate (the mother of one of my best friends is one), and I believe there has been in place for the past several years something called the “Dallas Plan,” in which parishes who wish to call female priests may function under the episcopal oversight of the Bishop of Dallas, in this case, Bp. Stanton.However, what you might be referring to is the “Angel Project,” headed by the Episcopal Women’s Caucus. You can read about it here: http://www.everyvoice.net/archive/modules.php?op=modload&name;=News&file;=article&sid;=124. They came in and out in 60 days, the maximum time a priest may perform ministerial work without the approval of the local bishop. In my view, it was essentially guerilla ministry, intended to undermine a duly elected bishop’s authority within his own diocese….and the national church wonders how they got to this point.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Heh, heh!Why is it you traditional Christians – Catholics and Anglicans – get so uptight about who wears the trousers (pants to you Yanks) , or the mitre. The pic of the woman in her mitre, all smug and self-approving, is hilarious, but it don’t look that much better on a man either.Dwight, your rhetoric about unity in the Catholic church is nonsense. You are all so busy sniggering at the Anglicans, you can’t see the cracks in your own tradition. I was listening to Fr Corapi on EWTN the other night bemoaning the widespread division he sees in the Catholic church as he travels the world. He said once he could turn up at a Catholic church and meet priests he didn’t know and there was unity amongst their thoughts. Now, he never knows what awaits him. Recently, on one trip he said a priest had fixed a woman’s figure, called ’Christa’ on the cross in the parish church. At another parish, the priest had placed crystals with all their New Age attachments, in the holy water font.Then that great Catholic ‘apologist’ Dr Scott Hahn writes how the Holy Spirit is feminine and that Adam was not tricked by a snake but a dragon! Add on the traditional Catholics who describe the Mass in vernacular as ‘second class,’ and you’ll see a mirror image of the Anglicans you so love to criticise.Meanwhile down Brazil way, traditional Catholics are abandoning the tired, traditional Catholic church which has no answers for them, for the Evangelicals.But just you guys carry on with your sneering, point scoring debates – Latin, statues, Gregorian chant etc etc.Talk about playing the fiddle while Rome burns!BlessingsJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13752198020371163071 Catholic Mom

    Fr. Longenecker,Thank your for this post which truly goes to the heart of the issue–authority. I have referenced this post in my discussion of what a treasure we have and sometimes don’t appreciate in the Magisterium.


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