What if this is as good as it gets? –Jack Nicholson
A couple of weeks ago, The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles elected the Reverend Canon Mary Glaspool as one its two new Bishops Suffragan, both of whom are women. Mary Glaspool is not just a woman, but she is also a partnered lesbian. The predictable, end-of-the-Anglican-Communion refrains began immediately, the Right frothing that this was absolutely, positively, the very last straw up with which they would not put. This time they were really leaving or throwing The Episcopal Church out. Or something like that.
Even the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams got into the act. “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,” he said in a statement released by Lambeth Palace just hours after the election.
Meantime the Archbishop maintained his stony silence over Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law, which is being supported by Anglican leaders there. Finally, this week, he came forth from his medieval residence on the Thames to sip tea with a reporter from The Telegraph. In a wide-ranging interview, he finally said something about Uganda: “Overall, the proposed legislation is of shocking severity and I can’t see how it could be supported by any Anglican who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent decades. Apart from invoking the death penalty, it makes pastoral care impossible – it seeks to turn pastors into informers.”
So there you are, scoffers: the Archbishop says that Uganda’s law makes pastoral counseling impossible. Those Clinical Pastoral Education courses that clergy take really don’t prepare them to counsel someone who’s dead, I suppose.
Those of us who were hoping that the Archbishop might actually issue something approaching a prophetic statement on Uganda (this being Advent, after all—the season of John the Baptist) now have our prophecy from Anglicanism’s leader. It was paired with his comment about Mary Glaspool’s election and The Episcopal Church: “It confirms the feeling that they’re moving further from the Anglican consensus.” I suppose he added a bit of cream to his tea right about then.
The Anglican Communion is a worn-out remnant of the British Empire, with no more relevance to the needs, hopes and concerns of the world than a thousand year-old palace in downtown London. The Episcopal Church moved away from Lambeth when Samuel Seabury was consecrated its first Bishop without Canterbury’s permission in 1783. During the past two centuries, we haven’t prayed “God save the Queen” during Morning Prayer and we are not going to start now. So take us or leave us. This is as good as it gets.