Kendall Harmon points to a comment (#5) over at Leander Harding’s blog in which Dr. Harding says something (about the “Connecticut Six” controversy) that promises great possibilities: “this will be an extreme test of charity and require the willingness to live with uncorrected injustice for a defined interim period” (my emphasis).
I’m not going to say anything about the Connecticut situation since so far I haven’t heard anything that suggests even the thinnest rationale for applying the “departure from communion” canon, and charity forbids my thinking that Bishop Smith is acting without even a flimsy reason.
I will note Dr. Harding’s vision of an interval of uncorrected injustice — not because I’m in favor of injustice, nor because I don’t care about those who suffer it, but precisely because there’s a large group of people who care very much about the Anglican venture*, who as an aggregate do not know where our present path leads. In these circumstances, almost everyone needs to live with uncorrected injustice for a while, until we reach together a clearer vision of what “justice” entails. It would take a lot of persuading — the kind typically associated with biblical miracles — to convince me that justice in the church should involve one party prevailing over the other in an unambiguous way. Under the circumstances, though I know no one will like it and everyone feel wounded, it looks to me as though the only way that leads closer to God involves us all enduring for a while in uncorrected injustice, and having faith that the God in whose grace and love we put our whole trust will bring a church of frayed-but-bound-together affections to a fuller understanding of what justice requires of us.
* With regard to this affection for Anglicanism as a lived test of an ecclesiastical hypothesis, I quote John Henry Cardinal Newman: “I doubt not Roman Catholics themselves would confess, that the Anglican doctrine is the strongest, nay the only possible antagonist of their system. If Rome is to be withstood, this can be done in no other way” (“Retractation of Anti-Catholic Statements,” from the Advertisement at the beginning of Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, cited online at the Newman Reader). I have no interest in “withstanding” Rome, nor in acting as an “antagonist” to magisterial governance, but as I have been given to understand the call of Jesus Christ to follow in an articulated community of differentiated ways of serving, I share Newman’s estimate that the trajectory of the Church of England, at its truest, best serves the liberty and guidance of the people of God (thought I otherwise, I’d be a Roman Catholic, or Orthodox, or whatever).