Skip to comments.“Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight” -- An Alternative Proposal
Posted on 04/26/2004 6:40:16 AM PDT by r9etb
Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight
-- An Alternative Proposal
Following the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in November 2004, the Anglican Communion Institute issued a statement calling for those who had variously supported his consent and consecration to declare themselves independent of the Anglican Communions Instruments of Unity and of their constraints upon common life. This call, however eccentric it may have seemed at the time, was made for the sake of demonstrating honesty and freeing the Episcopal Church from the agonizing turmoil of limping between two opinions: Robinsons election, consent, and subsequent consecration took place in the face of well-established and carefully articulated Communion teachings, pleas, and admonitions to the contrary, which had detailed the damage going forward with the consecration would cause to the Communions bonds and witness. By still insisting on going through with the consecration, supporting American bishops had clearly testified to their own lack of respect for the Communions integrity and common mind. Rather than permitting an ongoing and debilitating debate about this within ECUSA, it seemed reasonable and charitable true and just that supporters of Robinsons consecration simply embody the courage of their convictions and willingly disengage themselves from the Communion and from the structures of ecclesial life tied to the Communion that the Episcopal Church has enshrined in its Constitution.
Although no one heeded this call, the past few months have demonstrated, it seems to us, the wisdom of its initial issuance. Rather than encouraging honesty, charity, clarity and harmony within the American church and within the larger Communion, the leadership of ECUSA has resolutely pursued a course of response to evangelical outrage over Robinsons consecration (and other related matters) that has furthered obscurantist denial, malicious accusation, ecclesial confusion, and discord something we might have been spared had disengagement from the Communion by these leaders been pursued vigorously and openly from the start.
We would have been spared, for instance, the most recent House of Bishops plan for dealing with disagreement in the Episcopal Church, which studiously avoids any mention of the Communions concerns at all, demeans disagreement to the category of divisive minority dissent, manipulates truncated references to Lambeth 1998, the Primates, and the 39 Articles with the apparent intention of actually denying their real import and eviscerating their actual purpose, and seeks to maintain a position of powerful control, rather than exposed service, in ordering ECUSAs life in complete and continued disjunction from the teaching of the Anglican Communion in its coherence with traditional Anglican Christian doctrine and discipline.
We might have been spared the Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswolds affrontery in addressing the Lambeth Commission by accusing small ideologically motivated groups within ECUSA of single-handedly perverting the consciousness of bishops around the world by, as it were, fabricating their opposition to his own unilaterally-promoted agenda, and thereby derailing the spreading of the Gospel and the living of the Good News of Jesus Christ. These are assertions that would seem not only to malign the motives, faith, and demonstrated generosity of conservative Episcopalians, but also to accuse the formal statements of the Primates and Provinces of Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Central Africa, the West Indies, South-East Asia, the Southern Cone and others of disingenuousness, weakness, and duped religious sensibilities.
We would have been spared the embarrassment of publicly committing ourselves to the service of the poor world, even while we are treating its members and leaders as unable to think for themselves. We would have been spared the shame of self-serving pretense. We would have been spared the bleeding taking place at the heart of our church.
But instead, the past few months have seen us enter more deeply into the hole of offense and acrimony, and have frayed yet more drastically the Communions own inner life, and mainly because many American bishops and their followers simply do not have the honesty and grace to admit their lack of interest in and indeed their antagonism towards their Communion responsibilities and identity.
Now, in the context of the search for some kind of peaceful resolution to the growing divisions within ECUSA and the Communion and in particular in response to the knotted matter of Alternative Episcopal Oversight, ACI would like to reiterate, in a new form, our plea to Episcopal congregations, clergy, and bishops who are intent on going their own way with respect to the Anglican Communion, to declare this desire openly and follow through with it formally and clearly, and so provide others in the Episcopal Church and Communion the grace of an honest peace and the basis for some future relationship of mutual concern. Mutual forgiveness and reconciliation are not outside our common desire and hope; but they are realistic desires and hopes only if based on honest self-declaration.
We have seen the Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight plan coming out of the ECUSA House of Bishops meeting at Camp Allen 19-23 March 2004 and have noted the responses on the internet.
We believe it might be helpful to work from a different direction, and we offer this alternate plan for Adequate Episcopal Oversight. We hope it might break up the impasse that presently holds sway.
If a parish in ECUSA is unhappy with the Diocesan Bishop; or if it opposes the resistance of the Diocese to new teaching and innovation (consent to Gene Robinson and GC C-051); or if it wishes to stand aside from the Dioceses involvement in the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, then it shall
1) request an Episcopal visitor from any other Diocese in the ECUSA;
2) formally confirm its support for the consecration of Gene Robinson and the resolution C-051, and thereby its solidarity with the 2003 General Convention;
3) formally declare its own readiness, with that of the Episcopal visitor it calls, to be recognized by other Anglican churches as a national and autonomous denomination of the United States and no longer constrained by the Anglican Communion Instruments of Unity; and therefore
4) acknowledge that the Preamble to the existing Constitution and Canons of ECUSA does not apply to its common ecclesial life.
We can assume that bishops who voted at the 2003 General Convention in favor of Robinsons consent and of C-051 have, by their explicit votes, already made the formal declarations noted above, and will be treated as such by the Communions other churches as the Lambeth Commissions recommendations are taken up in the coming months.
We see no reason for the Anglican Communion to prolong discussion or engage in further acrimony or debate over the decisions of the 2003 ECUSA General Convention. Those parishes and those Bishops who wish to separate themselves from the Anglican Communions life and practice should be free to exercise their right of conscience and freedom of choice and organize themselves accordingly.
In this way a measure of peace and good will can be secured. We believe that the Communion, in its Instruments of Unity, could continue to have ecumenical relations with the new ECUSA.
We also believe that the work of the Lambeth Commission might be made more effective if the decisions regarding Communion participation were made clear by the ECUSA Presiding Bishop and House of Bishops. This plan for Adequate Episcopal Oversight would help clarify matters considerably and free the Communion to move forward in mission and reconciliation, of which there has been much talk of late.
We commend the plan for serious consideration by the House of Bishops of the present ECUSA.
Anglican Communion Institute
1 April 2004
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