In effect, the bishops Hill and Hind (oh, so diplomatically!) threatened the Church of Sweden with ecumenical repercussions if the Swedes wouldn't desist accepting gays as Christians and full members of the Body of Christ. This has created quite an uproar in Sweden, where some see it as an interference in internal matters, while others (happily saying "I told you so") predict the downfall of the Church of Sweden and of the Porvoo Communion.
I think the English bishops have every right to communicate with the Swedes and inform them of their thoughts in a matter where the Swedes first took the initiative. The Swedes, however, have an equal right to ignore the English, if they choose to do so. Ecumenism doesn't mean that everyone should do the same thing, but that we all should look to what unites us, rather that to that which divides us. The other Anglican news was that on 17 July, the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA), which is part of the Anglican Communion, authorized bishops to bless same-sex unions and research an official prayer for the ceremonies. This moved the church closer to accepting gay relationships despite turmoil over the issue in the Anglican family. The Anglican spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has struggled to keep the communion unified.
Anglican leaders had pressed the ECUSA for a moratorium on electing more gay bishops than Gene Robinson, elected in 2003, and asked the church not to develop an official prayer for same-gender couples. But the measure adopted Friday by the Episcopal General Convention noted the growing number of U.S. states that allow gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships, and gave bishops in those regions discretion to provide a “generous pastoral response” to couples in local parishes.
The 2 million-member Episcopal Church earlier in the week approved a resolution opening the doors to ordain gay men and women as clergy. These and related issues have already prompted some congregations to leave the Episcopal fold and form the rival Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) that claims 100,000 believers. Anglican churches in regions like Africa have broken ties with their more liberal U.S. brethren.
Here, too, the split is unfortunate, but the Episcopalians must do what they think is right. As must their opponents, of course.
The Bishops' letter, dated 26th June 2009
Engelsk oro över svensk äktenskapssyn (Kyrkans Tidning 15.7.09)
USA-kyrka bryter anglikanskt löfte (Kyrkans Tidning 15.7.09)
Gay clergy eligible for all Episcopal ministry (365 Gay 15.7.09)
Episcopal Church USA to ordain homosexual bishops (Spero News 16.7.09)
"Vi kan vara på väg att bli isolerade" (Kyrkans Tidning 16.7.09)
Anglo-Swedish rift over church gay marriage (The Local 16.7.09)
”Klipp banden med England” (Svenska Dagbladet 16.7.09)
Chans till besinning (Dagen 16.7.09)
Könsneutralt äktenskap (Från prästgårdsfönstret 16.7.09)
Engelska kyrkan i genuspanik mot Sverige (Trollhare 16.7.09)
Gay bishops more likely after US passes ‘nuanced’ motion (Church Times 17.7.09)
English bishops say Swedish proposal redefines marriage (Church Times 17.7.09)
Koskinen svarar på "anglikanattacken" (Kyrkans Tidning 17.7.09)
”Vi viker oss inte men bör ändå be Engelska kyrkan om ursäkt” (Dagen 17.7.09)
Episcopal Church moves toward blessing gay unions (Reuters 17.7.09)
Vad är viktigast? (Karin Långström Vinges blogg 17.7.09)
The Church of England Condemns the Church of Sweden (Aqurette 17.7.09)
Auf Wiedersehen! (Dagblogg 17.7.09)
Brevdebatt förvånar anglikansk biskop (Kyrkans Tidning 18.7.09)
Episcopalians: Bishops can bless same-sex unions (AP through 365 Gay 18.7.09)
Den västerländska kyrkan splittras (Dagen 21.7.09)