Skip to comments."Forgetting" Dromantine
Posted on 06/10/2006 6:09:21 PM PDT by sionnsar
This is the moment weve been waiting for since the release of the Dromantine Communiqué. It was, if you recall, the Communiqué that specified GC2006 as the point of decision, the venue for ECUSAs collective response to the Windsor Requests:
Within the ambit of the issues discussed in the Windsor Report and in order to recognize the integrity of all parties, we request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference. During that same period we request that both churches respond through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion. (Dromantine Communique: Paragraph 14)
The only time the Episcopal Church meets as a constitutional body during the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference is General Convention 2006. Thus, it is beyond question that the primates along with the Archbishop of Canterbury did not intend to initiate an unending conversation but to schedule a definitive choice.
Of course, if you listen to almost anything emanating from the lips of various centrist and revisionist bishops you might be forgiven for thinking we are engaged in a great voyage of self-discovery: the great Windsor Journey that beckons us ever deeper into an unending labyrinth of listening.
This portion of a statement from the bishop Wayne Wright(PDF) of Delaware is standard fare:
The convention will continue the conversation about our role and relationship with the other churches in the Anglican Communion. Last year an international commission drafted the Windsor Report. This lengthy document was offered as a possible guide to strengthen future relationships between our churches worldwide. Episcopalians have prepared a response to the Windsor Report. It will be presented to the General Convention for consideration. At the heart of this complex discussion there lies a simple need and desire for our churches to work together. I trust and believe that the process we are following will ultimately lead to such a positive outcome.
Here we have it. At General Convention well converse and dialogue and listen and consider the Windsor Report, which of course, is only a possible guide to strengthen future relationships between our churches worldwide. General Convention is just one part of the Windsor process that will ultimately, far far far into the future, lead to a positive outcome.
Nevertheless, the Dromantine Communiqué could not be any clearer. To remain a full member of the Anglican Communion the Episcopal Church must, as a body, impose the necessary moratoria and express the necessary regret as requested in the Windsor Report.
And it must do so at this General Convention.
But, of course, the bishops words with regard to the imaginary Windsor process and conversation are mere echoes of the consistent drumbeat pulsating from 815 officialdom. Here is a portion of the Episcopal News Service (ENS) report on the submission of the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
In a joint cover letter, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and the Rev. George Werner, president of the House of Deputies, observed that the report is "first and foremost... a theological document" focusing on "our understanding of our participation as members of the Anglican Communion in God's Trinitarian life and God's mission to which we are called." The letter stressed that the report "is intended to start the conversation and not conclude" discussion about the Windsor Report's recommendations, and to be an invitation into "the Windsor Process and the further unfolding of our common life together in the Anglican Communion." (Toward Columbus: Special Commission releases Report on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, April 7, 2006)
Why is it that ECUSA bishops like bishop Wright and Presiding bishop Griswold and ECUSA hierarchs like The Rev. Warner (not to mention the Special Commission itself) speak and act as through weve been invited to join the theological/ecclesiological discussion set at the local pub rather than called to account?
For the same reason the same people will not admit that existing cross-jurisdictional relationships between Global South primates and ECUSA parishes do not represent a violation of the Windsor Report requests.
They have, it seems, collectively decided to forget the Dromantine Communiqué.
It is the Dromantine Communiqué after all, not the Windsor Report, that sets the GC2006 deadline.
It is the Windsor Report, not the Dromantine Communiqué, that embraces Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) and admonishes border crossing bishops and primates to cease, desist, and express regret for the same.
The Windsor Report together with the Dromantine Communiqué makes life difficult for the Episcopal Church. The Windsor Report alone can be twisted and spun into an open-ended document establishing nothing.
The Windsor Report is a free flowing journey. The Dromantine Communiqué defines the journeys end.
As ECUSA bishop upon ECUSA bishop told us after its release, the Windsor Report is just that, a report. It is, by itself, just another report published by a just another special commission. It has no authority on its own.
Here is the way bishop Parsley of Alabama put it days after the Windsor Report was published
...it must be pointed out that the report is a series of recommendations, not judgments or mandates or punishments or laws. It will take some months for the report to be apprehended, and its recommendations adapted and adopted by the various official organs of the communion charged with these tasks (Bishop Parsley: A Statement on the Windsor Report, Oct 22, 2004)
This fact is recognized in the Foreword to the Windsor Report written by Archbishop Eames:
We have come to a position which takes our differing views seriously and yet we are able to offer this Report together for the Communion's consideration. A process for the study of this Report is being established and there will be opportunity for the Communion as a whole to consider its findings.
The Report was offered to the Communion for consideration. It has no authority in itself. It merely represents a set of proposals, but, significantly, a set of proposals created by a mandate. As Archbishop Eames notes (in the above linked Forward):
The Lambeth Commission was established in October 2003 by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the request of the Anglican Primates. The mandate spoke of the problems being experienced as a consequence of the above developments and the need to seek a way forward which would encourage communion within the Anglican Communion.
What gives the Windsor Report requests authority, as Ive argued before, is first; that the Windsor Commission was commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the request of the primates at Lambeth palace in 2003 and second; that the completed report was received, accepted, and amended by the primates along with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Dromantine in February 2005.
Subsequently, the Windsor Report was received and accepted as amended by the ACC at Nottingham.
So the report itself is just a report, merely a series of recommendations and proposals, until you add three Instruments of Unity. After that, the report became a Communion mandate with a definitive time limit.
This is clear from one of Rowan Williams responses to a question he received at The South to South Encounter meetings last year:
Q5. Archbishop Eames have declared that the bishops of the Episcopal church USA met and even exceeded the requirement laid down by the Windsor report.
A5. I think the bishop of the Episcopal church has been attempting to respond. I dont think that we can say they have satisfied in a simple direct way what Windsor asks because that process is still continuing and will continue until the general convention next year. (Global South Anglican: Questions to the Archbishop of Canterbury)
Thus, with its reception and amendation by the primates, the ABC, and the ACC, the Windsor Report has become and mandate.
And yet a changed and amended mandate.
By the same authority with which the primates together with the Archbishop of Canterbury commissioned and accepted the Windsor Report, they also amended the Windsor Report in two ways.
First, as I argued here, they changed the language with regard to cross jurisdictional relationships. Whereas the Windsor Report requested that offending primates express regret for existing arrangements and that they cease and desist the creation of new relationships, the Communiqué dropped the request for an expression of regret and permitted the creation of new relationships on the condition that they are neither encouraged or initiated by the primates themselves.
Second, they set a date of decision: GC2006 (see above)
The Episcopal Church has yet to come to terms with these two facts.
Nor, for that matter, has it come to terms with the unamended Windsor requests accepted and endorsed by the primates: that the Episcopal Church express regret for breaking the bonds of affection and impose moratoria on public rites for SSUs and consecrations of non-celibate bishops.
Official pronouncements of many ECUSA bishops read as if the Windsor Report were written for the consideration not of the primates and the Archbishop of Canterbury, but of the Episcopal Church. Their historical memory begins with the creation of the commission and ends with the published report. The Dromantine Communiqué is ignored, spun, or downplayed.
Because the Dromantine Communiqué represents Communion accountability. Accountability is something Episcopal bishops and 815 hierarchs are used to demanding not giving.
But the tide has turned. Whether we choose to face it or deny it, the day of decision is drawing near.
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