To the editors:
I was not the source of inaccurate information on the 1979 Prayer Book text (in Bryan Miller’s “Is Nothing Sacred?” June 9), such as the alleged removal of the laying-on of hands from the ordination service [Letters, July 14]. Nevertheless, the revisers perpetrated something nearly as disastrous: the removal of these words which used to accompany the laying-on of hands: “Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained”–John 20:23. (This omission occurs, of course, in the same Prayer Book that contains a rite of penance that may be administered by a layman.)
What does the change mean? One of the saintly leaders of the nineteenth-century Oxford movement, Edward Bouverie Pusey, offered these thoughts, in response to a rabid low churchman of the time who proposed it. He said that such an omission probably would not render the sacrament of ordination invalid, but it would be legitimate grounds for schism, since it amounts to a denial of an article of the Creed: namely, “the forgiveness of sins.” These are, however, the thoughts of a dead white male heterosexual who owned property, and as such carry little weight with rulers of the Episcopal Church.
Let me add that the fascinating series of letters has vindicated Ms. Miller’s portrayal of both sides of the issue. I thank the Reader for breaking a conspiracy of silence on continued use of the 1928 Prayer Book in the Diocese of Chicago.
T. John Jamieson
Chicago Chapter Chairman
The Prayer Book Society