"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Archbishop Venables Responds To TEC Bishops

Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone (i.e., most of South America) has issued a strongly worded response to the rejection of the Primatial Vicar scheme by the TEC House of Bishops. From his concluding paragraph it sounds like a resolution of the plight of the orthodox within TEC may not be very long in coming! (From Titusonenine--boldfaced emphasis added by me):

The decision of the House of Bishops of TEC to reject what the Primates of the Anglican Communion unanimously and very respectfully asked them to do is tragic but predictable. It is also totally unequivocal. Their protestation that they want to remain Anglican is specious when viewed in the light of their actions. In any other context it would be laughed at. The contention that the request of the Primates violates the polity of the Episcopal Church is just as hollow. It would have been very easy to say, “As bishops we will comply with what the Primates have asked and will seek the approval of other legislative bodies in TEC.” They didn’t. It dramatically demonstrates how far out of step TEC has gone. If there were any remaining doubt, the barrage of lawsuits against individual parishioners and new ecclesiastical charges against clergy (and even an aged and saintly retired bishop!) make their disdain for the rest of the Communion clear.

In all of their meetings and discussions, Episcopal Church leaders have failed to see that the issues involved are not just matters of disagreement about the order of the Church (though they are that). We are concerned because the Church has always taught and understood that the content of belief and behaviour impacts salvation. The great deal of energy, time, and money that has been expended in the meetings associated with this conflict has been invested because we are concerned that people not be led away from Jesus Christ. For that reason, as a Primate who has offered refuge to clergy and congregations, it is important to say that our support for the faithful remains undiminished. I know I am not alone among my colleagues in saying that we will not abandon those who remain committed to the faith of the Scriptures; the faith that Anglicans of every previous generation have received and believed and which it is our responsibility to teach and pass on.

Episcopal Bishops claim authority they do not have when they selectively apply Scripture and dispassionately ignore the pleas of those with whom they have been linked for years. That is not only manifest in what is said, it is writ large in bold letters as they reject the Panel of Reference and file new legal actions targeting individual church members. It is behaviour not even worthy of a social club, much less what is expected in the Church.

The reference to the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is a particularly painful illumination of the heart of the American leadership. To say, “Words mean only what we say they mean,” is not true and is more suited to Lewis Carroll than it is to the Body of Christ. The difference is that he wrote fantasy and knew what was real and what was ridiculous.

It is not possible to maintain relationship when one party unilaterally and coldly departs from previously agreed foundations. Now we must move to separation as quickly and as gracefully as possible. Of course, the realignment must take into account those in the United States who remain committed to historic teaching and Biblical Truth as it has been handed down. To limit further needless damage, may God have mercy on the Anglican Communion and help us come to resolution quickly.

–The Most Rev. Gregory Venables is Primate of the Southern Cone


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