Monday, June 19, 2006

Regret and Bishops

This afternoon two Windsor resolutions were considered by the deputies; A160 (expression of regret) and A161 (election of bishops).

A160 was amended and adopted. Here is its final form:

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, 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.
The insertion of the term "straining" in place of the phrase "breaching the proper constraints" was the amendment.

This may seem like a minor change, but the discussion that led up to it was quite revealing. The amendment was offered because it was argued that "breaching" was too severe of a term to use to describe our current situation. Some parts of the communion are angry with one another. We're having a family argument. What the deputies would not accept was the premise that there is a serious "breach" in the relationship. Some Deputies listed our many friends and supporters throughout the Communion. The amended resolution passed by roughly 500 to 200 votes. The significance in this is that a good majority of the Deputies seem to not be taking the prophets of gloom and doom seriously. Also note that among those who voted against this resolution were a mixture of those who wanted it in stronger terms (keeping in the "breaching" language) and those who felt that there was nothing to apologize for.

Next was the discussion of A161. This is the biggie. Here it is in its current state:

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 exercise very considerable caution 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 bolded italicized words were the amendments made by the legislative committee. The strikeout is the language originally proposed by the Special Commission.

There was no vote on this resolution today, although debate commenced, to be concluded tomorrow morning. I don't think this new language will be adopted. At least I certainly hope not. "Refrain from" is the very definition of the term "moratorium." This will place human limitations on the movement of the Holy Spirit. It will also go beyond what the canons of the Episcopal Church requires for one to be considered as a nominee to the episcopate.

There seems to be some desire to pass something in response to the Windsor Report. I don't know if this resolution will be defeated. I think the best hope is to amend it; possibly returning it to the original language of "considerable caution."

I heard that the House of Bishops may not accept the amendment to A160 (changing "breaching" to "straining"). This is curious, as A161 uses that kind of language to describe the situation ("...contributed to strains on communion").

Since the response to the blessing of same sex unions was combined into A161 by the legislative committee, this resolution will be the critical one. My plan right now is to point my pony for home as soon as the Deputies deal with this one.

To the right is a familiar face. Prior Aelred and I listened to the above proceeding together from the peanut gallery.

J.

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