Skip to comments.The Case For Discipline
Posted on 02/10/2007 5:21:03 PM PST by sionnsar
The Call to Communion
The Windsor Report makes three specific recommendations regarding the Episcopal Church. First, the Report recommends that:
the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire, and for the consequences which followed, and that such an expression of regret would represent the desire of the Episcopal Church (USA) to remain within the Communion (WR 134)
The second recommendation is as follows:
the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges (WR 134)
While we recognise that the Episcopal Church (USA) has by action of Convention made provision for the development of public Rites of Blessing of same sex unions, the decision to authorise rests with diocesan bishops. Because of the serious repercussions in the Communion, we call for a moratorium on all such public Rites, and recommend that bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorization (WR 144)
Resolved, That the 74th General Convention affirm the following:
3. That, in our understanding of homosexual persons, differences exist among us about how best to care pastorally for those who intend to live in monogamous, non-celibate unions; and what is, or should be, required, permitted, or prohibited by the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church concerning the blessing of the same.
5. That we recognize that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.
6. That we commit ourselves, and call our church, in the spirit of Resolution A104 of the 70th General Convention (1991), to continued prayer, study, and discernment on the pastoral care for gay and lesbian persons, to include the compilation and development by a special commission organized and appointed by the Presiding Bishop of resources to facilitate as wide a conversation of discernment as possible throughout the church.
7. That our baptism into Jesus Christ is inseparable from our communion with one another, and we commit ourselves to that communion despite our diversity of opinion and, among dioceses, a diversity of pastoral practice with the gay men and lesbians among us.
As the authors of the Windsor Report acknowledge in paragraph 157, the Windsor Report recommendations remain merely recommendations until accepted by the primates.
We would much rather not speculate on actions that might need to be taken if, after acceptance by the primates, our recommendations are not implemented.
And, as The Most Reverend Dr. Robin Eames noted in his introduction to the Windsor Report, The Lambeth or Windsor Commission was established in October 2003 by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the request of the Anglican primates.
The Windsor Commission obviously recognized that until such time as these three recommendations might be received and accepted by the primates that they would remain mere recommendations.
In February 2005, the primates and the Archbishop of Canterbury met at Dromantine to receive and consider the Windsor Report recommendations. At the end of their meeting they issued a Communique in which they accepted most of the recommendations of the Windsor report including the three requests or invitations above.
14. Within the ambit of the issues discussed in the Windsor Report and in order to recognise 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.
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. (DC14)
to use their best influence to persuade their brothers and sisters to exercise a moratorium on public Rites of Blessing for Same-sex unions and on the consecration of any bishop living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage. (DC18)
ACC 13 Resolution 10: Response to the primates Statement at Dromantine
The Anglican Consultative Council:
1. takes note of the decisions taken by the primates at their recent meeting in Dromantine, Northern Ireland, in connection with the recommendations of the Windsor Report 2004
2. notes further that the primates there reaffirmed the standard of Christian teaching on matters of human sexuality expressed in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which should command respect as the position overwhelmingly adopted by the bishops of the Anglican Communion
3. endorses and affirms those decisions.
The Episcopal Church began her response to the Windsor Report at the meeting of the House of Bishops in March of 2005 subsequent to the primates meeting in Dromantine in February and prior to the meeting of the ACC in June.
Tomorrow well take a detailed look at that response.
The Episcopal Church began her response to the Windsor Report at a meeting of the House of Bishops in March of 2005 subsequent to the primates meeting in Dromantine in February and prior to the meeting of the ACC in June.
The House of Bishops issued a Covenant Statement on March 15th which stated the following:
We express our own deep regret for the pain that others have experienced with respect to our actions at the General Convention of 2003 and we offer our sincerest apology and repentance for having breached our bonds of affection by any failure to consult adequately with our Anglican partners before taking those actions (HOB 2005, para 2)
This expression of repentance did not specifically acknowledge the actions, identified by the primates, which led to the breach for which the bishops suggested they were truly sorry. The House of Bishops expression failed because it was both non-specific and non-committal.
The Bishops also made the following commitment:
Those of us having jurisdiction pledge to withhold consent to the consecration of any person elected to the episcopate after the date hereof until the General Convention of 2006, and we encourage the dioceses of our church to delay episcopal elections accordingly(HOB 2005 para 3)
While this certainly resulted in a temporary moratorium until the 75th General Convention as called for in WR134, it did so by unnecessarily prohibiting all episcopal consents. Moreover, the HOB moratorium ends with and is contingent upon the actions of General Convention 2006 rather than the more open ended moratorium called for in the Windsor Report contingent on the mind of the communion.
However inadequate, this action by the HOB demonstrates, despite protestations to the contrary, that the bishops themselves possess the power and authority to bring the Episcopal Church into conformity with the second Windsor request (regarding episcopal consecrations) by simply agreeing to a specific moratorium applying solely to non-celibate homosexual candidates to the office of bishop and by making this specific moratorium contingent upon the mind of the communion rather than the timing of General Convention.
The bishops of the Episcopal Church, then, have the authority and have always had the authority, to deny consent to non-celibate homosexual candidates for episcopal office.
Finally the House of Bishops pledged:
not to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, and we will not bless any such unions, at least until the General Convention of 2006.
This recognition is made more plain and evident in the bishop's subsequent pledge not to authorize any public rites and not bless any such unions.
As before, this final pledge is linked not to the mind of the communion but to the date of General Convention.
The House of Bishops obviously failed to adequately respond to the three primary Windsor requests.
And yet as inadequate as the House of Bishops actions were they represent the closest the Episcopal Church has ever come to adequately answering and meeting the requests of the Windsor Report as accepted by the primates and the Archbishop of Canterbury at Dromantine and the ACC in Nottingham.
The 75th General Convention met in June of 2005. The Special "Commission" on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion (SCECAC) had been appointed prior to Convention to formulate and submit a number of resolutions answering the Windsor requests. These recommendations were in turn submitted to the Special "Committee" on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion (again, SCECAC) which met at General Convention. The Special Committee met with the purpose of editing, amending and perhaps re-crafting the submissions provided by the Commission and in submitting them to the Convention floor for debate and action.
The Committee produced a number of Windsor related resolutions.
Resolution A159, for example, entitled: Commitment to Interdependence in the Anglican Communion concurred or passed through both houses reaffirmed, the abiding commitment of the Episcopal Church to the Anglican Communion and to the see of Canterbury and, as a demonstration of that commitment, pledged to explore ways that representative from other provinces might participate in the work or at least observe the work of standing commissions in the Episcopal Church.
Resolution A165 committed the Episcopal Church to engage in the listening process as described in Lambeth98 resolution 1.10 and urged the rest of the Communion to do likewise.
A166 articulated support for the Anglican Communion Covenant creation process and committed resources to that end.
Both A165 and A166 (along with A159 above) passed easily through both houses.
The first substantive response, however, is found in Resolution A160 which is General Conventions answer to the first Windsor request articulated above: an invitation to express regret:
A160 (Concurred): Expression of Regret
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, mindful of the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ (Windsor Report, paragraph 134), express its regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 and the consequences which followed; offer its sincerest apology to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion; and ask forgiveness as we seek to live into deeper levels of communion one with another.
This resolution addresses the invitation of the Windsor Report that "the Episcopal Church be invited to express regret" for breaching the proper constraints of the bonds of affection (Windsor Report 134). It concurs with and affirms the language of the House of Bishops' expression of regret, thus signaling our synodical intentions to remain within the Communion.
The language of the Windsor request is as follows:
the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire, and for the consequences which followed, (WR 134)
Resolution A160 fails to comply with the Windsor recommendations on several levels.
First, A160 fails to publicly admit that the proper constraints bonds of affection were breached. Rather, A160 asserts that they were only strained despite the clear warning of the primates in October of 2003 that the consecration of V. Gene Robinson would cause a tear in the fabric of the communion at its deepest level.
Second A160 fails to specify which events in particular caused the breach. It generally points to the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 but does not mention the consent to the election of the bishop of New Hampshire which was given in that venue as specified by the Windsor Request.
Third, by pointing generally to the events surrounding General Convention rather than the events surrounding the election, consent and consecration of the bishop of New Hampshire, resolution A160, significantly, excludes the consecration itself which took place in November 2003, approximately three months after the events General Convention were long over. Perhaps the event of the consecration might be identified by implication in the phrase, and consequences which followed, but such an implication is impossibly oblique and thus such a reading tenuous at best. The phrase seems far more consistent as a referent to the consequent strain in relations.
Fourth, the apology offered in the second half of the resolution to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion recognizes that some were offended and, further, recognizes that the Episcopal Church did not accord sufficient importance to the impact of her actions. But the strength and adequacy of this apology is significantly reduced because the nature of the impact to which it refers is cast in doubt by the context of the preceding sentences discussed above. Given its context, at best the expression represents an apology for taking actions without due consideration that ended up straining the proper constraints of the bonds of affection.
Finally, the explanation makes it clear that this resolutions expression of regret concurs with and affirms the language of the House of Bishops expression of regret which, as we have already seen, is itself inadequate.
Though clearly inadequate, Resolution A160 won approval in both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.
Tomorrow we will closely examine the floor debate and ultimate rejection of omnibus resolution A161 which sought to address same sex blessings and the consecration of bishops, the explicit rejection of a substitute motion containing precise Windsor language, and the final acceptance of B033...
A161 Election of Bishops
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church regrets the extent to which we have, by action and inaction, contributed to strains on communion and caused deep offense to many faithful Anglican Christians as we consented to the consecration of a bishop living openly in a same-gender union. Accordingly, we are obliged to urge nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees, and bishops with jurisdiction to refrain from the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion; and be it further
Resolved that this General Convention not proceed to develop or authorize Rites for the Blessing of same-sex unions at this time, thereby concurring with the Windsor Report in its exhortation to bishops of the Anglican Communion to honor the primates Pastoral Letter of May 2003; and be it further
Resolved that this General Convention affirm the need to maintain a breadth of responses to situations of pastoral care for gay and lesbian Christians in this Church.
Resolved that this General Convention apologize to those gay and lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters hurt by these decisions.
The Windsor Report has invited the Episcopal Church to "effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges" (Windsor Report 134). Within the parameters set by our Constitution and Canons, this resolution frames a response encouraging caution regarding "nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion." The resolution does not specify what constitutes a "manner of life" that "presents a challenge to the wider church;" we leave this to the prayerful discernment of those involved in nominating, electing, and consecrating bishops. Concerns we discussed were by no means limited to the nature of the family life; for example, the potential of bishops to serve effectively as pastors for all within their diocese, and their level of commitment to respect the dignity of and strive for justice for all people are also relevant. Finally, the Special Commission was not of one mind on the use of the words "exercise very considerable caution in," with some instead recommending the words "refrain from." As a group and in a spirit of cooperation and generosity, however, we decided to offer the resolution as it stands for debate at the 75th General Convention.
LAY: 38 yes 53 no 18 divided: Motion fails
CLERGY: 44 yes 53 no 14 divide Motion fails
Resolved, the house of--------concurring, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until [and unless] some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges (WR134) and be it further
Resolved that the 75th GC effect a moratorium on the authorizing of all public rites of blessing of same sex unions (WR 144), and be it further
Resolved that the 75th GC call upon those bishops who have authorized public rites for blessing same sex unions, because of the serious repercussions in the Communion to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorization (WR144)
Harmon: First, when a community wants to do something it can do it. The House of Bishops did it a year ago. Second Before we left for lunch the ruling was that the first resolve was not in order but the second and third resolves stand. Now the ruling is that the first resolve is out of order so they are all out of order. The problem is that all three resolves use similar language.
B033: On Election of Bishops
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Reports invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further
Resolved, That this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.
Very helpful, thank you for posting this.
Ping to read later
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