Thursday, February 24, 2005

Primates' Communique on the Windsor Report

Thirty-five of the Primates of the Anglican Communion have been meeting since Monday to discuss the Windsor Report. This is the meeting in which the extremist conservatives had hoped that the Episcopal Church would be appropriately punished for the dastardly deed of confirming the election of a man in a committed, long term relationship with another man, and the Anglican Church of Canada would also be punished for the evil crime of providing pastoral care to gays and lesbians by offering them a rite of blessing. A statement was released this afternoon; a day earlier than anticipated. Here are the sections that refer specifically of the "sentence" handed down to ECUSA and the ACC and a couple of other "orders" that were previously "recommendations" included in the Windsor Report;

10. We also have further questions concerning the development of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and of a Council of Advice (x). While we welcome the ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury as that of one who can speak to us as primus inter pares about the realities we face as a Communion, we are cautious of any development which would seem to imply the creation of an international jurisdiction which could override our proper provincial autonomy. We ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to explore ways of consulting further on these matters.
No Anglican pope. No magisterium...yet. Good news indeed.

11. We accept the principle articulated in Section D of the Windsor Report concerning the universal nature of the ministry of a bishop within Anglican polity (xi). Although formidable practical problems would attend any formal process of wider consultation in the election and confirmation of bishops, we request that Provinces should themselves find an appropriate place for the proper consideration of the principle of inter-dependence in any process of election or confirmation.
We don't have to get permission from the rest of the communion before consecrating our bishops. More good news.

12. We as a body continue to address the situations which have arisen in North America with the utmost seriousness. Whilst there remains a very real question about whether the North American churches are willing to accept the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted elsewhere in the Communion, the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is obscured, and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered.

13. We are persuaded however that in order for the recommendations of the Windsor Report to be properly addressed, time needs to be given to the Episcopal Church (USA) and to the Anglican Church of Canada for consideration of these recommendations according to their constitutional processes.
Essentially ECUSA and the ACC are being told, "You're wrong, but we'll give you a bit more time to realize it."

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.
This is going to get spun a lot of different ways. It is putting in place the recommendation in the Windsor Report that those bishops involved in the consecration of Bishop Robinson remove themselves from positions of authority in the Anglican Communion. The Primates went a step further. All members of ECUSA and the ACC are asked to "withdraw." Is this a suspension? Or just being sent to our room to think about it for awhile?

15. In order to protect the integrity and legitimate needs of groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their Provinces, we recommend that the Archbishop of Canterbury appoint, as a matter of urgency, a panel of reference to supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions made by any churches for such members in line with the recommendation in the Primates’ Statement of October 2003 (xii). Equally, during this period we commit ourselves neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary interventions.
Canterbury will take over Alternative Episcopal Oversight. No one is going to like this. I hope the extremist foreign bishops hear that last part loud and clear; STOP PILFERING PARISHES IN THE USA. We need an Episcopal equivalent of the Monroe Doctrine to keep these scoundrels out, I think. But, at least the Primates put a line in there addressing this most unscrupulous behavior.

16. Notwithstanding the request of paragraph 14 of this communiqué, we encourage the Anglican Consultative Council to organise a hearing at its meeting in Nottingham, England, in June 2005 at which representatives of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada, invited for that specific purpose, may have an opportunity to set out the thinking behind the recent actions of their Provinces, in accordance with paragraph 141 of the Windsor Report.
A hearing...sounds to me like a trial. Why don't we just skip all that foolishness and plead guilty? To show up, biretta in hand, for this hearing suggests that the extremists have a valid case. They don't. It's nothing but bigotry, plain and simple. There is nothing "Christian" about it. I pray we refuse to participate in such a mockery.

17. In reaffirming the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 as the present position of the Anglican Communion, we pledge ourselves afresh to that resolution in its entirety, and request the Anglican Consultative Council in June 2005 to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process which has been the subject of resolutions not only at the Lambeth Conference in 1998, but in earlier Conferences as well.
Gentlemen, I'm sorry to inform you that you're a few decades late on this one. Peter Akinola has stated he can't even sit at the same table with a gay man, let alone TALK to one. There is no interest in dialogue among the extremists; never was. They have refused to abide by the Lambeth resolutions calling for this since the beginning, which has played a critical role in bringing us to the place we are today. This is nice trim for the statement, but will have little or no impact.

18. In the meantime, we ask our fellow primates 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.
Will there be a moratorium on foreign bishops crossing diocesan boundaries? I doubt it. Will there be a moratorium on hate speech from the conservatives that directly contributes to hate crimes against gays and lesbians? Not likely.

There's more, but I'll let you read the rest without my commentary.

Bottom line? ECUSA and the ACC are being treated as criminals. From the perspective of one inside ECUSA, I cannot see any other path we could have taken, and feel this is an unjust and thoughtless judgment that is not worthy of any response. Whatever we do, we certainly cannot backpedal now. The world is watching. Now is the time to stand up for Christian principles, regardless of the cost.

The Primates will do what they have to do, I suppose. Most likely, in the end, there will be a new federation of North American Anglicans. We'll have to make room for the Europeans eventually, I'm sure, once the extremists have turned their testosterone-laden rage in their direction.

So, that is that. Now can we quit talking about all of this, and move on to some other things, like maybe proclaiming the Good News, feeding the poor, visiting those who are sick and in prison and setting the captives free?


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