I never imagined the Archbishop of Canterbury would remind me of my grandson, but then I never imagined the Archbishop of Canterbury would so cave in to threats that he would resort to them himself.
My grandson Gavin is five years old.
Like all young children, one of the biggest events of his young life is his birthday, or more specifically, his birthday party.
To his mind it is the grandest most excellent event one can imagine, and therefore, an invitation to this event is a prize beyond price.
Because we adults who adore Gavin are not idiots, we say “no” to him when he asks to do something that’s dangerous or inappropriate, or wants something of us we are not prepared to give to him.
As a result, Gavin sometimes gets really really really really really angry with us. When this happens, he pulls out his ultimate threat: “If you don’t do what I want, I won’t love you anymore and I won’t invite you to my birthday party! So there!”
Which brings me to Williams’ statement about the historic election of the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool as bishop suffragan of the diocese. [Glasspool’s election was preceded by another historic election, that of the first woman bishop suffragan in the diocese, the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce.]
If you have somehow missed this fact, in addition to being a superbly qualified candidate for bishop, Glasspool is also honest and open about the fact that she’s been living in a committed relationship with her partner Becki Sander for 22 years.
Here’s what Williams wrote:
“The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.
“The process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications.
“The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold.”
Paraphrased this means, “if you don’t do what I want and refuse to consent to this election, I won’t love you anymore and I won’t invite you my Lambeth party.”
It’s a threat, folks, and interference in our polity that is breathtaking in its arrogance. What’s more, any “bonds of affection” that can only hold if bolstered by threats don’t have much to do with affection and a lot to do with bondage.
The Episcopal Church at General Convention made a very clear statement about where we are on the issue of human sexuality and priests and bishops in Resolution D024. We are committed to the Anglican Communion AND we are committed to following our canons.
So here’s some questions for the bishops and Standing Committees of the Episcopal Church:
Are we going to consent to the election of bishops based on the gifts they bring to the church, or are we going to consent to their election based on threats from bishops in other Provinces, including the Archbishop of Canterbury?
And if we give in to this threat in the guise of exercising "gracious restraint," what kind of communion will we find ourselves part of? And at what price?