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General Convention Outlook [ECUSA]
VirtueOnline-News ^ | 3/06/2008 | Auburn Faber Traycik

Posted on 03/09/2006 8:30:18 AM PST by sionnsar

General Convention Outlook - by Auburn Faber Traycik

Liberal Factions Compete, Second Gay Bishop
Among Possible Convention Wild Cards

Report/Analysis By The Editor The Christian Challenge

WASHINGTON, DC (March 6, 2006)--IF ONE BELIEVES the most common wisdom about it, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and his liberal allies will seek to avoid losing their place in the Anglican Communion or deserting their pro-gay agenda when they gather at the June 13-21 Episcopal General Convention in Columbus, Ohio.

Of course, the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) cannot have it both ways, if conservative Anglican primates have anything to say about it. Their patience has already been sorely tried by American liberals; they see General Convention as the deadline for ECUSA to choose between its support for homosexuality and its Communion membership, and most of them are no longer likely to be fooled by ECUSA's talent at saying one thing and meaning another.

Nonetheless, many think ECUSA's liberal leadership will proffer an obfuscating response and otherwise do whatever it can to discourage a primatial determination that it is "walking apart" from the Communion; currently, it appears that money and the endorsement of a sort-of "cove nant" (on which more later) could figure among attempted deterrents. More importantly, though, ECUSA liberals have had years of practice at slipping through the thicket with their program still in place, and should not be underestimated.

True, some think there are a number of revisionist Episcopal bishops who now believe that ECUSA went too far, too soon, in consecrating gay cleric Gene Robinson, and blame Bishop Griswold for exacerbating the backlash at home and abroad. "They don't want to see ECUSA dissolve into an isolated American sect, because they would lose all their credibility, and everything that made Anglicanism unique and special," said one seasoned commentator. Yet not even they are thought likely to proffer sincere assurances of repentance, at least without leaving an out for themselves.

"The revisionists really have their backs against the wall," but "I think they believe that time is on their side"; hence they are likely to go for "the great fudge," said one of the conservative leaders and spokesmen that TCC consulted for this story. "The goal is to change the mind of the Anglican Communion."

"There is no way the agenda is going to change at all, but there is a great commitment to deception," said a second source.

YET, ANOTHER REVISIONIST FACTION also appears set to vie for dominance in Columbus--one that would declare openly and firmly for the pro-homosexual side and let the chips fall where they may.

This "radical" wing maintains that "the time for decision is now to be fully inclusive," one conservative spokesman said.

"Two competing [liberal] strategies" are at work, said another. "One is to be low key and make it look like ECUSA is complying with the Windsor Report, and the other is to give an obscene hand gesture to the rest of the Communion, and say we've waited long enough."

In a recent article titled "Facing the Specter of Schism," for example, Maury Johnston, an author and gay Episcopalian from Richmond, Virginia, argues that "too much energy" is being expended trying to keep "a feigned appearance of unity" between parties who have "irreconcilable differences." After over 30 years of dialogue, it is time for "yea" or "nay" on the question of incorporating homosexuals at every level of church life. "This is a 'do or die'" convention, he says, explaining why "schism is sometimes the only sensible alternative."

Which liberal wing will prevail at the convention? One of TCC's sources believes it could go either way, depending on who is most persuasive, especially among clergy and laity in the House of Deputies.

But another believes the "radicals are going to win," because none of the nominees for presiding bishop signal a change in course, and "because people on both sides are fed up with waiting...Everybody I talk to now is hanging on by a thread," whereas "the deception requires that people believe that nothing's wrong."

But of course, liberals and conservatives alike are subject to developments that can upset their plans--or aid them.

If the dominant liberal strategy for General Convention is prestidigitation, for example, it will prove futile if the Diocese of California elects one of the two active homosexuals among its five recently-announced nominees for bishop. Since California's election is in May, the decision on whether to approve the bishop-elect's consecration would not go to individual dioceses but to General Convention, which would then be compelled to declare itself in black or white and not in shades of gray. Such a development would, however, serve the radical revisionists quite well.

Not surprisingly, unconfirmed reports maintained that California diocesan leaders were feeling pressure from some in the wider hierarchy not to pass this hot potato to General Convention. Much was also made of a comment by the Archbishop of Canterbury three days before California's candidates were announced, while

Dr. Rowan Williams was at the World Council of Churches in Brazil. "I believe if there is ever to be a change in the discipline and teaching of the Anglican Communion [regarding homosexuality], it should not be the decision of one [province] alone," he said in part. More recently, he warned of a "rupture" in the Communion over homosexuality.

On the other hand, a liberal "artful dodge" strategy would be ably assisted if, as some suspect, Bishop Gene Robinson's recently-announced treatment for alcoholism becomes--despite his stated expectation of returning to work--a pretext for his subsequent decision to step aside.

Such a move would--if no gay bishop-elect is waiting to replace him come General Convention--"afford ECUSA a way out of its dilemma [with] the rest of the Anglican Communion without admitting it was wrong to ordain an openly homosexual man or [precluding] another such ordination," one online commentator said.

"Going into treatment can be as much about evasion as ab out recovery," one priest asserted. "Robinson might come out of recovery and announce that he's gained a lot of new insights, and needs to step away from being a bishop for now to process them."

The alcoholism could be Robinson's way of "easing out of a situation that has become increasingly untenable," agreed another observer. "Even the liberals...are beginning to see that Robinson is a liability. That is why I predict that...Robinson will announce that he is resigning--not because of sexual perversion, rather multiple martinis. This will have the effect of keeping the homosexual campaign on track."

That is probable because--though Robinson's removal from the scene would hardly rectify the situation in ECUSA from the viewpoint of U.S. conservatives--it would likely diminish the international turmoil and the primates' current determination to discipline ECUSA, thus possibly creating a debilitating kind of limbo for conservatives. This would play into the hands of ECUSA's liberal obfuscators, and there would be little that their radical brethren could say to protest it.

Others believe that the gay lobby, and Robinson most of all, are determined not to relinquish their gain in New Hampshire.

"I think the pressure's there for Robinson to step aside, but I don't think he'll succumb to it," one conservative spokesman said, adding that such a move would likely increase chances that California would elect a homosexual to replace him. Nothing would thereby have been gained by Robinson's withdrawal.

Money Talks?

What if everything is status quo at the time of General Convention--Robinson remains in place, there are no further gay bishops-elect on which to vote, and the radical wing does not gain the upper hand--what are some potential components of the liberal "fudge"?

Not yet out at this writing (but likely to be where obfuscation will be most in evidence) was the work of a 14-member commission named last fall to prepare a way for General Convention to respond to the 2004 Windsor Report, the primates' 2005 communique, and the 2005 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). A key question is whether ECUSA will abide by the Windsor Report's call for moratoria on the consecration and public blessing of those in same-gender sexual relationships. Episcopal bishops last year agreed to a ban only until General Convention (and note that the moratoria requested say nothing about actively gay priests or deacons or private same-sex blessing ceremonies).

Beyond that, there are signs that revisionists hope that continued generous contributions to the Communion's budget will be a strong hedge against ECUSA's effective excommunication from the global church.

In January, the church's Executive Council approved a proposed budget of $152 million for the 2007-2009 triennium which includes an increase in funding to the international Communion of $550,000. That would make ECUSA's total contribution $2.350 million.

The Council did agree that the proposed additional ECUSA contribution--prompted by a request from the ACC for an increase in support from all provinces--should be separated out in the proposed budget so that General Convention could decide whether the church should comply with the ACC's full request.

But the Council doubtless knows that it is likely to hit a nerve here, that concerns about the loss or limitation of ECUSA's significant financial support are having some influence on the response to the Communion's crisis by some Anglican officials.

One suspects, for example, that it was not just theological sympathy that recently moved ACC's Chairman, Auckland (New Zealand) Bishop John Paterson, to apologize to ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada for the fact that Anglican primates asked ACC members of both churches to withdraw from last June's ACC meeting. (Both churches sent their members anyway, however, as observers.)

The Diocese of Newark (which most would put in the radical wing) has already urged the use of the money as a strong-arm tactic. Its convention voted in January to ask the General Convention to approve the $550,000 additional contribution to the Communion, but to put the increase in escrow until American and Canadian Church deputations to the ACC are reinstated as full members with seat, voice and vote, and until it is certain that all ECUSA bishops with jurisdiction are invited as "full and equal participants" to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Meanwhile, Newark Bishop John Croneberger told his convention that he does not support a moratorium on same-gender blessings.

The draft budget now goes to the General Convention's Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance for hearings and possible revision; it then will be presented to General Convention for approval in June. (Interestingly, though some areas of difficulty can be noted, overall, the proposed national church budget does not appear--as presented by Episcopal News Service--to reflect the serious financial pinch that has been evidenced in many dioceses in the aftermath of the Robinson's consecration.)

A SECOND POTENTIAL COMPONENT of the liberals' strategy involves the proposal the Windsor Report made for a covenant aimed at maintaining unity and accountability among Anglican provinces that make the pact part of their provincial regulations.

While the Report's own suggested draft covenant is problematic from the orthodox viewpoint, the concept of the covenant-- intended to help fill an authority and disciplinary gap in the international Communion without creating a central "curia"--seems to have drawn support from some on both sides of the divide. Even Archbishop Williams thinks it is the best hope the Communion has of avoiding future crises such as that it is now suffering due to the actions of ECUSA and Canada's Diocese of New Westminster. Hence, various efforts to formulate a viable draft covenant are getting underway.

Two separate gatherings of conservative prelates have endorsed the covenant proposal, the most recent of those a meeting of half a dozen members of the Global South Primates' Steering Committee in Singapore, in conjunction with the February 5 installation of South East Asia's new primate, Dr. John Chew. The Committee has established a panel to analyze each covenant proposal and identify common themes as well as unique contributions, with the aim of developing "a coherent proposal for an Anglican covenant."

The idea also recently inspired thoughtful comment at the "Mere Anglican" conference of faithful Anglicans in South Carolina, and a paper and suggested draft covenant from Anglican

Mission in America Bishop John Rodgers. His draft binds participating provinces to apostolic mission, worship, fellowship, and teaching, and proposes a means of discipline for those who violate the pact.

A big question, though, is whether a covenant can help alleviate the Communion's crisis in the near term. Many observers think the drafting and passage of such an agreement by the various provinces will take a number of years, though Rodgers' proposal presses for global South provinces, at least, to adopt a common covenant by early in 2007. However, even he thinks that goal is unlikely to be met.

But that, of course, is an upside of the otherwise-unappealing proposal for ECUSA's liberal hierarchy. A covenant is something it can support because it may buy time for facts to change or be changed on the ground, and because it could make ECUSA appear willing to submit to some international standards.

Just to make sure, though, the toughest provision of the covenant that ECUSA's Executive Council endorsed January 12 calls only for a willingness "to change in response to critique and challenge from others," without any means of discipline for those refusing to change.

Further, the covenant backed by the Council--a nine-point pact produced by the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Evangelism and Mission (IASCOME)--has no more than vague theological grounding or connection to authoritative sources of Christian belief. Key points instead admonish participants to "Recognize Jesus in each other's contexts and lives"; "Support one another in our participation in God's mission," and so on.

One source labeled the IASCOME covenant, commended by the ACC last June, "Barneyworld."

To be fair, the Council's proposed General Convention resolution urging widespread study of the IASCOME "Covenant for Communion in Mission" makes clear that the document takes a different approach toward "binding the Communion together" than the Windsor Report. It concentrates on mission and is "deliberately general in its principles." It parallels but does not supplant the Windsor Report's proposal for a Communion-wide Anglican covenant, said ACC Deputy Secretary General, the Rev. Gregory Cameron. However, there is no indication so far that

ECUSA is willing to sign on to anything more demanding in terms of doctrine and accountability.

What comes after General Convention? TCC will attempt to examine that topic in the next issue.

-Sources included Episcopal News Service, The Living Church, VirtueOnline. Permission to circulate the foregoing electronically is granted, provided that there are no changes in the headings or text.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: ecusa; generalconvention; homosexualagenda

1 posted on 03/09/2006 8:30:21 AM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; axegrinder; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; Condor 63; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar, Huber and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 03/09/2006 8:31:00 AM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006)
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To: sionnsar

Did he really say "go for the great fudge?"

3 posted on 03/09/2006 9:42:41 AM PST by ken5050 (Ann Coulter needs to have children ASAP to propagate her gene pool. Any volunteers?)
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To: TruthNtegrity

to finish later. There's only so much I can tolerate at one reading.

4 posted on 03/09/2006 10:05:38 PM PST by TruthNtegrity (What happened to "Able Danger" and any testimony by Col Schaffer?)
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