It's clear that one of the major news stories of the generation is the developing schism within the worldwide Anglican Communion. As anyone with his or her eyes and ears open well knows, the cause is homosexuality. As homosexuality within the Catholic priesthood now is costing Roman Catholicism dearly, so (a) the imminent consecration as bishop of an openly practicing homosexual and (b) the blessing of homosexual unions are fracturing Anglicans - known in the United States as Episcopalians.
The U.S. Episcopal Church is clearly losing adherents as it loses relevance in its dilution of scriptural teaching and the upholding of standards of right and wrong. Its overall membership has declined by about one-third over the last 40 years. Today - at 2.3 million communicants - it is about one-thirtieth the size of the 64-million-member U.S. Roman Catholic Church and about one-fortieth the size of the 78-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion.
Buggery ought to be at best a peripheral issue in any church, but in a collapse of reason in the name of openness and diversity, the U.S. Episcopal leadership has made it central. In August, at its Minneapolis convention, clerical and lay Episcopal leaders voted nearly 2-1 in favor of (a) consecrating a practicing homosexual as bishop of New Hampshire and (b) acquiescing in the clerical blessing of homosexual unions variously within the church. Soon such consecration and such blessing will be routine - normal - in dioceses across the U.S. Episcopal landscape.
And normalcy is largely what the debate and developing schism is about.
Church liberals are embracing homosexuality as normal, church conservatives are not.
The liberals, all the way up to Frank Griswold, the presiding bishop, believe scripture sanctions not only homosexuality but also the consecration of homosexual bishops. He says:
"Homosexuality, as we understand it as an orientation, is not mentioned in the Bible. I think the confirmation of the bishop of New Hampshire is acknowledging what is already a reality in the life of the church and the larger society of which we are a part. And: I must say in the strongest possible terms that if I believed in any part of my being that the consent to this election was unfaithful to an authentic way of reading scripture and contrary to the leading of the Holy Spirit, I could no longer serve as the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church."
He says he supports and will attend the Nov. 2 consecration in New Hampshire.
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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