Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Back from St. Michael's Conference

Thank you to all who attended and all who did their part to make it a success. We had 65 Michaelites and I taught courses on Angels, Survey of the Apocrypha, and the History of the Prayer Book. Here are some pics and vids.

Above and below, yours truly opens up the talent show with a jazzy rendition of the national anthem.

Above, Austin DeLaVergne of Trinity Church in Dublin is beloved by the conference.

Above, the purgatorial council on the deadly sins game.

Above and below, yours truly celebrates a High Mass for a votive of Christ the King.

Our first St. Mike's wedding!!!! Actually, it was part of the seven sacraments segment of the pageant.

The light of truth shines down from above.

Above, prayers for healing on Wednesday at the votive of St. Raphael the Archangel.

Living in a fantasy land

There are people out there who believe all kinds of strange things. There are those who believe that anyone but Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy, that we never really landed on the moon, that President Obama is not a natural-born citizen, and that dioceses cannot dissolve their union with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, USA. Apparently those in that last group, at least, believe that people might appeal decisions they win in court.

Now while I would expect a news agency like the Associated Press to be unbiased (or at least try to be), I don't necessarily expect the press releases of the Diocese of Fort Worth and its counterpart to be unbiased reports. But I would expect them to not loose touch with reality.

So while I was amused by some of the spin in the press release from Bishop Ohl's group, I was totally blown away by the ending. This was the last sentence: "No decision has been made whether either the Episcopal faction or the Southern Cone faction will appeal the decision to the Texas Supreme Court." I could understand why the Episcopal faction would appeal, since their whole strategy has been hinging on this, but the Southern Cone faction appealing the decision they won? Are you kidding me?

Note what the Court of Appeals actually said in its conclusion:
"We conditionally grant the writ of mandamus and direct the trial court to modify its order of September 16, 2009 to follow the mandates of rule 12 and to strike the pleadings filed by Mr. Nelson and Ms. Wells on behalf of the Corporation and the Fort Worth Diocese and bar them from appearing in the underlying cause as attorneys of record for those named plaintiffs. If the trial court fails to do so, the writ will issue."

That means the pretender group (Bp Ohl, et al) will have their pleadings stricken by Judge Chupp (or by the higher court through the Writ if he does not take advantage of the opportunity). And attorneys Nelson and Wells are barred from representing the Diocese and Corporation because they were not hired by Bp Iker, et al.

If they still want to sue, they will have to file a new suit as a group of individuals, but they will not be able to bring the suit as THE Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth because none of those individuals are officers in these entities.

It would be best if, when they regroup and re-strategize, they just decide not to file the lawsuit.

UPDATE: The trial judge has now followed through with the ruling from the Appeals Court and tossed the TEC group out of court. But, of course, "No decision has been made whether either the Episcopal faction or the Southern Cone faction will appeal the decision to the Texas Supreme Court."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Christian History on the Holy Shroud

Here was a recent posting on Christianity Today's "This week in Christian History." While I'm inclined to believe in the authenticity of the shroud (the mere fact of the photographic negative image is a bit overwhelming to me), but the history and debate is fascinating.

Clement VII, one of the rival popes of the fourteenth century, after first trying to hush up those who would expose the shroud of Turin, signed papers declaring it a fraud. Supposedly, the artist who painted it acknowledged it as a forgery. According to contemporary documents, certain men, for hire, had pretended the "relic" cured them, giving it a reputation, because the forgers desired to make money off it. At that time Bishop Pierre D'Arcis excommunicated those who showed it, but they were raking in so much money they found ways to get around his decision.

The Dukes of Savoy guarded the lucrative object. In 1502 the current Duke requested and obtained papal permission to build a chapel to exhibit the "holy" relic. The Sainte Chapelle of the Holy Shroud was officially completed on this day, June 11, 1502. With great fanfare the Shroud was exhibited and then locked away. Pope Julius II established a feast and mass for the shroud. Countless pilgrims visited the site.

The shroud was reputed to have marvelous powers of protecting people. It could not, however, protect itself, and on December 4, 1532, its chapel caught fire. Brave individuals rushed in to rescue the cloth which had supposedly covered Christ in his burial. Before they could reach it, silver had melted and scorched the cloth and even burnt holes through it.

When the Dukes of Savoy transferred their headquarters to Turin, the shroud went with them, and it is as the Shroud of Turin that it is best known. A black marble chapel was built for it there.

The shroud was first photographed by Secondo Pia. He was astonished when he beheld the negative from his camera. It had reversed the negative image of the shroud and made it look lifelike. He claims he nearly dropped the photograph. This led to claims that the work must be an authentic negative image somehow made by the radiance of Christ at his resurrection.

More than one scientific committee studied the relic. The scientific conclusion, which it must be emphasized is by no means unanimous, is that the shroud is indeed a forgery, painted in tempera. Bits of paint were found on the cloth. The blood looks red; real blood turns brown or black. The tempera technique has been reproduced by several modern artists who claim to have created shroud-like "negatives" using only the materials available to the forgers of the 14th century.

Most conclusive of all were three carbon dating tests done by separate laboratories which first carefully cleaned off the samples. The church announced that the results placed the shroud's earliest possible date at 1,000 AD and most probable date between 1260 and 1390, the very time period in which the shroud had emerged into human view. One of the arguments for the shroud's authenticity was that pollens were found on it which originate only in the Mid East. Experts replied that the microscopic power used was insufficient to resolve the grains which could have been of several types found outside the holy land. Bishop D'Arcis' warnings and Clement's declaration appear to have been vindicated by modern technology, but the issue remains hotly contested and new arguments and tests are constantly suggested by each side.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

TEC does not share Anglican faith and order

The clarity from The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, at a press conference in Halifax on Monday during the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada was astounding. Here's an excerpt:

"Given that the development in Los Angeles [the consecration of a non-celibate lesbian] meant that gracious restraint was not being exercised, I think the Archbishop did have to act. What I think he’s done is say, 'Look, the consecration of Mary Glasspool is a full, well-thought out decision of the Episcopal Church. There are implications to that decision.' In that action, it is clear that The Episcopal Church does not share the faith and order of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion as expressed through the Instruments of Communion time and time again. They’ve made that decision and that’s fine. But if they don’t share the faith and order, then they shouldn’t represent the Communion on faith and order questions and that’s why ecumenical dialogues are the obvious ones where issues of faith and order are discussed and they ought to be discussed by bodies that share that faith and order. At the very minimum to be honouring to our ecumenical partners so that they know who they are in conversation with. Similarly on the Standing Committee on Faith and Order, if you don’t share the faith and order of the Anglican Communion then it’s an odd position to be in to be making decisions on faith and order. So we’ve asked the people to serve as consultants not as decision-making members. I think that’s an obvious working out of a decision not to exercise gracious restraint."

I wish a reporter would have followed up by asking that if they do not share the faith and order of the Anglican Communion, then why are they a part of it at all?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Does ACNA look upside-down to you?

The recent change of AMiA to the status of a "ministry partner" for the Anglican Church of North America got me thinking. The one major problem with ACNA, of course, is that it was formed in impaired communion. That is, a quarter of the dioceses (6 of 28 was the last data I could find; it might be out of date) ordain women as priests which means that the orders of clergy are not recognized and interchangeable across the church. The was the same situation we left behind in the Episcopal Church (though the ratio was reversed). ACNA was formed out of ex-Episcopal Church groups making common cause. Which makes sense. But what finally was put together doesn't make as much sense. It looks a little upside-down to me.

Archbishop Mark Haverland of the Anglican Catholic Church put it better in a letter to Bishop Duncan at the Inaugural Assembly of ACNA, declining an invitation to attend. He wrote:

". . . Already now at the beginning of your enterprise, your dioceses and bishops are only in a state of impaired communion with each other. Some of your bishops do not recognize the validity of the priestly ministry of a significant body of clergy in other dioceses. Such divisions and problems at the beginning will not resolve themselves in time, but rather will grow. Ambiguity, or local option, or silence cannot undo the damage of essential disagreement concerning Holy Orders and authority in the Church.

In summary, then, we see in the ACNA the fundamental alterations in traditional Anglican faith, worship, order, and practice that led to the formation of our own Continuing Church in 1978. We would be glad to establish conversations with your ecclesial body in hopes that you may, having freed yourselves of the Episcopal Church, continue further on the same path by decisively breaking from a corrupt Anglican Communion and by returning to the central tradition of Christendom in all matters, including the male character of Holy Orders, the evil of abortion, and the indissolubility of sacramental marriage. We recommend to your prayerful attention the Affirmation of Saint Louis, which we firmly believe provides a sound basis for a renewed and fulfilled Anglicanism on our continent."

Now back to the "ministry partner" thing. It seems to me that the way this whole thing should go together is for ALL the ex-Episcopal Church groups who continue the orthodox practice regarding Holy Orders to form the Anglican Church in North America (ironically, the original name of the continuing Anglicans in the 1970s). This would include those who are in ACNA now as well as the Anglican Catholic Church, Anglican Province of Christ the King, Anglican Province of America, etc.

Then the ex-Episcopal Church groups which ordain women (like the Diocese of Pittsburgh, the Canadian Network, etc.) could be "ministry partners" of the ACNA. Also, I don't see why Communion Partner dioceses of the Episcopal Church could not become ACNA "ministry partners." We have already seen "dual citizenship" work in ACNA and there could (should) be no depositions of bishops and clergy because those dioceses would not actually be joining anything. It could perhaps be compared to the companion diocese relationships that exist now.

Sounds great, doesn't it? Looks more right-side up, doesn't it? Maybe that's why it will not likely come to pass. The continuum churches have a lousy track record of working together. And one of the major differences between the common cause partnership and the continuum has been the attitude toward the Anglican Communion, with the former striving to be a part of it and the latter having given up on it. Of course, it's looking more and more like there may not really be an Anglican Communion to be a part of much longer.

Also, I don't know if the Affirmation of St. Louis might be an obstacle by deeming post-1970 ECUSA orders invalid. However, I believe there is an intercommunion agreement between the FIF/NA diocese, the dioceses of the FIF/NA bishops and at least some elements of the continuum, like the Diocese of the Holy Cross. I'm not sure. Maybe the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (FACA) is a start. There are a number of issues that need sorting out. But then, maybe if the people stood up and demanded, we could see the impossible become a reality. What say you?

Update: Apparently FACA already is a "ministry partner" as the AMiA has become. In his address to the ACNA assembly, meeting now at All Saints' Cathedral in Amesbury, MA, Archbishop Duncan stated: "We are 811 congregations at Amesbury, not yet including all the congregations of the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (a Ministry Partner) that are now requesting inclusion in our church data base and online Church Finder."

The members of FACA are: The Anglican Church in America (ACA), The Anglican Mission in America (AMIA), The Anglican Province of America (APA), The Diocese of the Holy Cross (HDC), Episcopal Missionary Church (EMC), The Reformed Episcopal Church (REC). It is said to represent nearly 600 congregations in North America and the patron is Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone of the Americas.

Perhaps the Anglican Catholic Church and the Anglican Province of Christ the King will become members of FACA. And as time goes by, we can sort out exactly who ought to be a full provincial member and who ought to be a "ministry partner" to allow for the highest degree of communion and cooperation for the work of the gospel that is possible.

A view from 630 feet