“Bishops are not intercontinental ballistic missiles, manufactured on one continent and fired into another as an act of aggression.”

So fumed Archbishop Michael Peers, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, in a statement quoted recently by the National Post. Archbishop Peers was referring to the January 29 consecration in Singapore of two U.S. Episcopalian (Anglican) priests – the Right Reverends John Rodgers and Chuck Murphy, as “missionary bishops,” by theologically conservative Archbishops Moses Tay of Singapore and Emmanuel Kolini of Uganda.

Archbishop Peers would doubtless be chagrined to learn that many of his traditionalist opponents have embraced his “missiles” metaphor with great relish. “I love the idea of orthodox bishops being guided missiles,” declared a friend of mine. “I wish they’d fire one into my diocese!”

Bishops Rodgers and Murphy are back in the U.S., where they intend to provide episcopal oversight to conservative parishes unhappy with the liberal attitude of their local bishop toward the homosexualism issue.

These allegedly “irregular” consecrations are the latest, but will be by no means the last volley in the war between Anglican conservative/traditionalists and liberals over a wide range of theological and political disagreements, especially the ordination of women, attendant liturgical innovations, ordaining non-celibate homosexuals, and the notion of blessing same-sex “marriages.”

Anglican traditionalists were hopeful that the homosexualism issue had been put to rest at the conclave of Anglican bishops at Lambeth, England, in 1998, where the assembly voted 526 to 70 to reject homosexual practice as “incompatible with Scripture” and to oppose the blessing or ordination of “those involved in same-gender unions.”

The overwhelming rejection of their gay advocacy agenda was a bitter defeat for the liberal bishops, who lashed out angrily at the largely African and Asian bloc who voted against them. American ultra-liberal bishop and theological gadfly John Spong denounced the Africans as “uneducated,” “superstitious,” “animist,” and “pre-Copernican.”

Defiantly pro-homosexualist Bishop Richard Holloway of Edinburgh declared that ordinations of homosexuals and blessings of their relationships would continue in the Church regardless of the Lambeth statement. And so they have, especially in New England and California, where Episcopalians have been ordaining openly homosexual priests and blessing same sex couples since 1989 – which is what provoked Archbishops Tay and Kolini to take drastic action.

Once again the liberal camp has struck back with venom. Michael Ingham, the Anglican bishop of Vancouver, who some believe is being groomed as Archbishop Peers’ successor, recycled some stale liberal innuendo left over from Lambeth, alleging that conservative American bishops bribed support from African and Asian delegates with chicken barbecues and hospitality suites.

“This is not only a lie it is racist as well,” says journalist David W. Virtue. “I was there. I attended all two of these chicken dinners and not more than a dozen African bishops [out of 220] showed up …. Ingham’s shameless chicken dinner charges are a sign of desperation. This revisionist bishop along with his boss Michael Geoffrey Peers … and a covey of American revisionist bishops, are trying once again to spin the Lambeth resolution on human sexuality to make African bishops look like theological nincompoops.”

And while North American Anglican liberals splutter indignantly about “irregular consecrations,” and “schism,” they are standing on very mushy ground from which to lob their criticisms. In July 1964, Episcopalian liberals arbitrarily jettisoned “regularity” by ordaining the so-called “Philadelphia Eleven” priestesses, an illegal action and a far more egregious break with Church protocol than anything the primates in Singapore did last month. The Americans’ unilateral revolt against catholic orthodoxy quickly mushroomed into the gerrymandered acceptance of both priestesses and bishopesses in the Episcopal Church, followed by the introduction of novel liturgies contrived to accommodate the innovation.

“Is it any wonder ‘irregular’ consecrations are occurring as a sign of the desperation of orthodox and evangelical bishops in the U.S. to salvage something from the moral and theological cesspool that is [the Episcopal Church]?” asks David Virtue.