LAMBETH PALACE, VIA A FACEBOOK LINK FROM TWITTER DM -- A 500-member panel of theologians, experts, and leaders from throughout the 78-million-member Anglican Communion have pieced together a self-administered, online Ordinariate through which its own disaffected members will be able to be received into the arms of their own mother church, a thoroughly confused Archbishop of Canterbury announced yesterday.
The hastily called press conference produced more questions than answers.
"On this day, noted as Thanksgiving Day in the United States, and marked for the faithful there as the day in which all give thanks for freedom to worship God as they see fit, we are especially grateful for the way in which we have quickly established a new port in the stormy seas of global Anglicanism," Dr. Rowan Williams said as he was flanked by noted Anglican primates, scholars, and bishops. "From this day, the Anglican Communion is truly offering a place for all people on their life-pilgrimage to participate in the ongoing work, worship, and mission of the Anglican Communion, free from the hard restraints of the Bonds of Affection."
Under the terms of the Ordinariate - which Williams, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, stressed more than once was in the formative stages - requirements for membership would be based upon taking at face-value a model familiar to many: the Canons of The Episcopal Church.
Those Canons (particularly Canon I.17.3) state, in part, "All communicants of this Church who for the previous year have been faithful in corporate worship, unless for good cause prevented, and have been faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God, are to be considered communicants in good standing."
The idea for an Ordinariate came about when leaders were engaged an in email conversation over the Church of England's recent and seemingly painless commendation of the proposed Anglican Covenant to individual synods for their study and approval through its General Synod. The Covenant, ostensibly a set of governing principles intended to gather the church in unity, has been described by opponents as ill-conceived, coercive, and downright un-Anglican. The Covenant has been received by groups on both the left and right with disdain and skepticism.
"Running away from the way things seem to be going appeared to be a good strategy, even though my endorsements have gotten us into the way things seem to be going," Williams said as he looked around, shrugged his shoulders, and took a sip of coffee so strong its smell was detected in the back of the press room. Noted Anglican scholar and former bishop N.T. Wright then whispered something in Williams' ear for the next ten minutes.
While Wright continued whispering, The Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, took the microphone and laid out the particulars.
"There's only one place left to escape to, and that's cyberspace," she said. "We have therefore designated Facebook a jurisdiction-free zone with respect to territorial incursion. It is therefore its own jurisdiction."
At this point, a number of reporters left the room.
"All one must do, therefore, to belong to the newly constituted Anglican Ordinariate of Facebook is attend virtual services, give the equivalent of a dollar through a Paypal link, commit to a life of prayer, and work for any of the thousands of designated Facebook causes."
"Yes," interjected Archbishop of York John Sentamu. "Mission is, of course, primary for Anglicans. While we wish future members of the Ordinariate well and will pray for them as they go, we encourage them to remember that Facebook is rife with many ways to participate in the various causes of justice, from not eating all your french fries on the way home to not running out of hot water in the middle of a shower. All that requires is one click of the mouse."
Commensurate with the historic fourfold ministry, the Anglican Ordinariate of Facebook (AOF) will be served by a number of Virtual Episcopal Visitors - retired bishops, essentially, who will be assisted by priests and deacons, all ready to chat, comment on photos of members' grandchildren, or administer virtual sacraments. A number of competent, faithful, pastoral, tech-savvy female priests in the United states have been nominated AFO Provisional Primates pending their own consent through a complicating "Liking" process.
"No doubt the Americans would be overrepresented in this scheme, but apparently I have no say in the matter," Williams said. "I mean, these women - they aren't even bishops."
In the hours following the announcement, things grew strange; a number of power-plays occurred, none of which it is certain will prove fruitful for those involved.
Elizabeth Regina, who is Canon Theologian, Professed Life Member of the Order of St. Arbucks and Priest-Lecturer at Obnox College in the (Nonextrajurisdictional) Super-DioSynod of Llangolen-Upon-Whitby, was nominated by supersecret floor-ballot for Cosmopolitan of the emerging AOF, but, as with others whose names have come forward, "She is a she and therefore subject to her own her/men/eutic of suspicion," ACO Secretary General Kenneth Kearon noted.
The Primate of the Province of the Antarctic then posted the following to his blog, leaving open the question of his ability to handle matters confidentially.
We have had considerable experience in this part of the world of dealing with international claims which segment our territory. Ever on the lookout for godly growth and a slice of North American money we would be happy to offer hospitality.I'll have Archdeacon Penguin draw up a scheme. I can mention now, even before its promulgation, that joint (even multiple and overlapping) memberships will be possible and that membership fees may be paid in international red herrings.Confidentially, I have made an approach to the Diocese of Uruguay but have not yet had an reply.