It's no news that the Diocese of Pittsburgh is poised to follow my former diocese of San Joaquin into the arms of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone when its next annual convention meets this fall. The first reading of a proposed constitutional amendment to remove the diocese's accession clause to the Episcopal Church has already been passed--the gun is cocked. All that remains is to pull the trigger with the second reading.
Partly through the vicarious experience of San Joaquin, no doubt, Pittsburgh is doing a better job of leaving. They have posted what might be called "utility resolutions" to make the mechanics of the realignment operate more smoothly and transparently. This is commendable. There is a spirit of charity and realism about the effects of the change that was lacking in San Joaquin.
Of course, I can't pass up the opportunity to say once again, "Please don't go." I sympathize with what impels them, but I think it's an unwise and destructive action. Yet, my protest is pro forma, and I won't waste any more pixels making my case. I've already said all I know to say. And I certainly don't rule out the possibility that they and my San Joaquin friends are "going to prepare a place" for this recalcitrant "communion conservative" who just won't wake up and smell the coffee.
No, tonight my energy is directed toward the predictable chorus of "Thieves! Scoundrels! Neo-Puritan bigots! Homophobes! Hypocrites!" that will no doubt be sung in the direction of the departing Pittsburghers. The billable hours at David Booth Beers' law firm are about to be kicked into overdrive. As satisfying as it might feel to hurl epithets and file lawsuits with righteous indignation, I, for one, would find it refreshing if a critical mass of Reappraisers were overheard to be asking themselves, "Hey, what the heck is going on here? Two whole (more or less) dioceses have left, with at least one more to follow. Hundreds of parishes are gone as well, including some of our largest. Anglicanism itself is falling apart at the seams. How did we not see this coming?"
I don't know whether this is typical or not, but in the last two dioceses in which I have served, part of the drill for a priest to get the bishop's permission to solemnize the marriage of a divorced person is to attest that said divorced person, even if he or she is clearly the "innocent party," soberly accounts for his or her share in the breakdown of the marriage. The most health-giving thing the majority party in the Episcopal Church could do in this time of exponential fissiparation would be to demonstrate some humility, and say, "The Episcopal Church is breaking up, and this is how we helped."