You almost have to smile

You almost have to smile at the bishops of the Episcopal Church in the states. It would appear that they have managed to get Rowan Williams the headlines that he wanted without changing their policy on anything at all.

The BBC is reporting things particularly inaccurately.

They say today:

Leaders of the Episcopal Church in the United States have agreed to halt the ordination of gay clergy to prevent a split in the Anglican Church.

The Church will also no longer approve prayers to bless same-sex couples.

But neither statement is true at all. The bishops have not said they will halt the ordination of gay people. Some people think that they said that they would not ordain any more gay bishops. That is not quite right either. The polity lingers on. If any diocese elects a bishop who is in a partnership, it will still be for the other diocesan bishops with jurisdiction & Standing Committees to vote on whether to confirm the election just as they do for all bishops. We might presume that quite a few of them would vote against such an appointment at this time. We must also assume that quite a few would vote in favour. The process has changed not a jot as a result of this latest meeting.

As to the claim that they will no longer approve same-sex blessings, it is nonsense. They have not approved them previously so they can’t stop. There are no formal liturgies for such things in the States and never have been. Nor are there any in Scotland. Clergy in the US can still respond as pastorally today to gay couples seeking a blessing as they could yesterday. Again, almost the same policy as in Scotland.

Congratulations to ++Rowan and to the US House of Bishops.

One step ahead of the game as usual.

[You can read their actual words here]