Skip to comments.The Success of the Panel of Reference
Posted on 05/18/2006 5:49:24 PM PDT by sionnsar
Ive been somewhat at odds with my fellow orthodox bloggers with regard to the Panel of Reference (POR).
Im not at all disappointed with the POR; not because I think the POR has done good work (it hasnt); not because I think they just need more time(they dont); not even because the cast of characters on the panel made their task unworkable from the beginning (although it did).
Im not disappointed in the PORs work because the POR was never intended to work. From its inception it was a symbolic gesture aimed not to mollify the orthodox or correct injustice but to warn the Canadian and Episcopal hierarchy that the Communion means business.
Some orthodox initially placed high hopes in the POR. Their hopes were dashed when the names of the panel appointees were announced.
Since that time some have suggested that the PORs original purpose was to stall, to put off Global South demands for intervention and Communion discipline and give the Episcopal Church some breathing space to rebuild political capital in the Communion and/or find a sufficient fudge that would swing the moderate primates back into her camp.
That could all be true.
But I think not.
The creation of the POR was something of a surprise. Going into the Dromantine Conference, nobody expected a communion body of this sort would be established. It wasnt even on the table. The primates were simply expected to receive and approve/amend Windsor.
Moreover, the mantra from Episcopalian hierarchs leading up to the conference was: 1. The Windsor Report is just a series of non-binding recommendations that carry no weight or authority within individual provinces; and 2. Anglican primates have absolutely no authority to intervene in the affairs of provinces over which they have no jurisdiction.
There was, at the time, still some arrogance, a certain nonchalance, on the part of Episcopal Church leaders with regard to talk of discipline and the hurried series of post-GC2003 Communion meetings and get-togethers. ECUSA is now and always will be a part of the Anglican Communion and nothing and no one will ever change that seemed to be the attitude.
Dromantine was the attitude adjustment. The famous deer-in-the-headlight photos of ++Griswold standing uncharacteristically in the back-row in the primates official photograph said it all. The tables had turned. He was stunned, as was ++Hutchinson. The Global South primates were no longer content to do as they were told. Worse, the ABC was serious about discipline. The post-meeting accounts bear all of this out.
In that context, the POR combined with the Communique and temporary suspension from the ACC served as a very clear, if only symbolic, warning to ECUSA and Canada.
We are serious. The Communion means business.
The message got through. It was only after Dromantine that the House of Bishops began seriously revising their stand, placing a general moratorium on all Episcopal consecrations until 2006. And even in the most recently proposed resolutions (as pathetic as they are), there is a recognition that DEPO must change. On the whole the Episcopal Church has begun to take the possibility of discipline/expulsion seriously; at least seriously enough to churn out some fantastic fudge.
In this light it is fair to say that the POR is serving its function just fine because the actual function of the POR is not to be functional. It isnt supposed to work, it is supposed to warn. And it has served as a warning. The threat of discipline has been recognized.
Whether or not appropriate action will be taken has yet to be seen and remains highly doubtful, but the POR has accomplished its purpose.
If, after GC2006, ECUSA rejects Windsor, then a more serious, less symbolic body will likely be established as several ECUSA diocese may be considered vacant. But as things stand, the POR is doing, or, more correctly, not doing, what it was designed not to do.