Saturday, November 15, 2008
Fort Worth Votes with its Feet
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is still the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth but is no longer part of the Episcopal Church, having just voted to re-align with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone (South America).
Fort Worth has a rocky road ahead. ECUSA will most certainly train its considerable and well-funded legal firepower on the Diocese, seeking to strip it of its its real estate. While the Diocese will emerge victorious no matter what the courts decide (good luck, ECUSA, filling all those empty pews should you win), the legal bills will likely be huge. A much graver matter facing Fort Worth is the issue more than anything else responsible for the present-day morass, that could very well fracture Anglicanism beyond repair: women's ordination.
When the Episcopal Church voted thirty-two years ago to permit women to be ordained, the first bold steps were taken leading that institution from being a godly institution into a political one; the same for other Anglican denominations that later on voted likewise. Neither Fort Worth nor the Province of the Southern Cone ordain women to the priesthood (they do so into the diaconate, however, so the problem will come to haunt them in time) but until the Anglican Communion as a whole definitively resolves this contentious issue, on a theological rather than a civil basis, there will be no peace for the Diocese of Fort Worth, nor the other Anglican dioceses and provinces.
Just the same, let us all wish the Diocese of Forth Worth Godspeed! As a former Anglo-Catholic it it pleases me no end that diocese and the Dioceses of Quincy and San Joaquin, the only three "smells and bells," "bowing and scraping" dioceses in the Episcopal Church, have all fled that fallen institution. While a day does not go by without my thanking almighty God for being received into his Holy Catholic Church, I will never leave off praying for my Christian brethren in the Church where I worshiped most of my life. As an Anglo-Catholic I was taught to pray for the eventual reunification of the Anglican Church with the Church of Rome. As a Catholic, I pray for the same.