Sunday, February 25, 2007


On Friday morning, February 23, 2007, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schorri spoke to the staff at the Episcopal Church Center here in New York. An audio of the talk is available here. My previous post was in response to discussion in the blogs of both the Friday talk and an earlier statement called A Season of Fasting.

Both of these statements were about the recent meeting of Anglican Primates in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and in particular about the communique and its ultimatum to The Episcopal Church. Tobias Haller posted a satirical paraphrase of the communique which is all you need to know except that it is in fact quite clear what nature of the unspecified consequences of non-compliance will be. As Bishop Katharine puts it, compliance means we "are asserting our desire to remain as a full member of the communion" and we will "retain our position in the councils of the Anglican Communion."

In listening to Bishop Katharine’s remarks to the staff at 815, I was paricularly struck by this almost afterthought:

“The reality, I believe, is that the Archbishop of Canterbury will respect whatever the Primates decide, whether or not that accurately reflects the polity of the Anglican Communion.
There was great attention paid to the teaching role of bishops and therefore of primates at this meeting and that this conflict in their minds is about an official teaching of Anglican Communion.
The reality is that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York decide who is in communion with them and that is really all that matters.”

There is a lot of meat here. I was first drawn to transcribe these words by the part about the “teaching role of bishops.” Bishops are seldom, if ever, chosen for their skills as teachers.
In the words of educational philosopher Oscar Hammerstein II,
It's a very ancient saying,
But a true and honest thought,
That if you become a teacher,
By your pupils you'll be taught.

I’m not at all sure that the average bishop is open to being taught by his “pupils.” Yet that is what is called for, surely.

I still have a backlog of posting about two bishops who I have recently heard -- first, the rest of of my post on Gene Robinson and then a post about Catherine Roskam's visit to St. Mary's last week.

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