Thursday, January 04, 2007

"Windsor Bishop"...A Species Yet to be Seen

From the ENS:

Second meeting of self-styled 'Windsor Bishops' begins...

A group of Episcopal Church bishops gathered beginning January 3 at Camp Allen Conference and Retreat Center, northwest of Houston, Texas, for a three-day meeting to continue discussing the church's relationship with the rest of the Anglican Communion's provinces.

According to a story in the January edition of the diocese's newspaper, Texas Bishop Don Wimberly sent a letter to the clergy of the diocese saying that his correspondence with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, following the first meeting of self-styled "Windsor Bishops" in September, "encouraged" him to hold the second gathering.

The "Windsor Bishops" are a group of bishops who have said they agree that the terms of the Windsor Report provide a roadmap for a way forward in the midst of disagreements among the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. They say they have come together in conversation about the church's future.

Wimberly is quoted in the newspaper as saying "the purpose of the gathering is not to form another 'group' or to issue proclamations, but to continue the conversation as requested in the Windsor Report...

In late November, (Archbishop) Williams, responding to a letter from the group Episcopal Majority, said that he was "not seeking to impose any new structure" on the Episcopal Church.

Williams wrote that he fully accepts that he has no jurisdiction in the Episcopal Church.

"I have had informal discussions with a number of parties in [the Episcopal Church], of very diverse opinions, as to what future possibilities there are, but I do not approach this with a pre-cooked agenda of my own," Williams wrote...
From the Rev. James Stockton, a priest in the Diocese of Texas:

I received the letter that Bishop Wimberly sent to all the diocesan clergy telling us about this meeting. He took some heat from us back in October for failing to inform us of the September meeting, of which we learned only through popular media. In his letter of December 19, he implies that, 'following a conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, [he was] encouraged to hold another meeting.' This, despite the fact that he'd already told us in October that he was holding another meeting with these dissidents in January. My guess is that he is trying to imply, as he did with the September meeting, that he is holding this meeting with the blessing of the Archbishop of Canterbury, despite the plain statements to the contrary from the Archbishop of Canterbury and our own Presiding Bishop...
From Richard:

...But yes, another group is being formed here, Wimberly's statement notwithstanding. This group is what they call themselves: Windsor Bishops. They have flown in bishops from other provinces, tried to get as close as possible with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and they meet outside the ordinary jurisdictional structures of The Episcopal Church and then issue a statement.

This time, in addition to Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies and Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt of the Diocese of Winchester (Church of England), they reportedly bring in Tanzania's Archbishop, Donald Mtetamela.

The House of Bishops in Tanzania recently anathematized The Episcopal Church, our Presiding Bishop, and a large number of Anglican Provinces...in one "foul swoop" as my grandmother used to say.

Forgive me, but I am indeed suspicious. Are these meetings at Camp Allen genuine discussions for the good of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, or just another ploy to lend "network bishops" and flying archbishops a platform to further their schismatic agendas?
So, less than two dozen bishops are meeting again, claiming the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury and flying in two foreign Primates (one wonders if our Presiding Bishop received a courtesy call). What will be the result of this meeting? I make one prediction; their statement will not be "Windsor compliant."

Let's review the five specific issues that the Windsor Report addressed:

The Commission regrets that without attaching sufficient importance to the interests of the wider Communion:

  • the Episcopal Church (USA) proceeded with the consecration of Gene Robinson

  • the 74th General Convention of the Episcopal Church (USA) declared 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”

  • the Diocese of New Westminster approved the use of public Rites for the Blessing of same sex unions

  • the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada issued a statement affirming the integrity and sanctity of committed same sex relationships

  • a number of primates and other bishops have taken it upon themselves to intervene in the affairs of other provinces of the Communion.
  • There's little doubt that there will be much discussion of the first two issues, and maybe a reference to the next two. But what about that last one? I suspect we won't hear one word about it, which is rather strange, as the Windsor report makes a clear recommendation regarding these "interventions":

    We call upon those bishops who believe it is their conscientious duty to intervene in provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own:

  • to express regret for the consequences of their actions

  • to affirm their desire to remain in the Communion, and

  • to effect a moratorium on any further interventions.

    We also call upon these archbishops and bishops to seek an accommodation with the bishops of the dioceses whose parishes they have taken into their own care.

    We further call upon those diocesan bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) who have refused to countenance the proposals set out by their House of Bishops to reconsider their own stance on this matter. If they refuse to do so, in our view, they will be making a profoundly dismissive statement about their adherence to the polity of their own church.
  • Without addressing the issue of foreign pillagers in purple, none of the bishops in this group can justify claiming the title of "Windsor Bishop."

    If that is not enough evidence that only select segments of the Windsor Report are being addressed by those championing "Windsor compliance", consider this quote from the document:

    We remind all in the Communion that Lambeth Resolution 1.10 calls for an ongoing process of listening and discernment, and that Christians of good will need to be prepared to engage honestly and frankly with each other on issues relating to human sexuality. It is vital that the Communion establish processes and structures to facilitate ongoing discussion. One of the deepest realities that the Communion faces is continuing difference on the presenting issue of ministry by and to persons who openly engage in sexually active homosexual relationships. Whilst this report criticises those who have propagated change without sufficient regard to the common life of the Communion, it has to be recognised that debate on this issue cannot be closed whilst sincerely but radically different positions continue to be held across the Communion. The later sections of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 cannot be ignored any more than the first section, as the primates have noted. Moreover, any demonising of homosexual persons, or their ill treatment, is totally against Christian charity and basic principles of pastoral care. We urge provinces to be pro-active in support of the call of Lambeth Resolution 64 (1988) for them to “reassess, in the light of study and because of our concern for human rights, its care for and attitude toward persons of homosexual orientation.”
    The incarceration of all gay and lesbian Christians, which is supported by some foreign Primates, and some of the extreme conservatives in the Episcopal Church, is a strange expression of "basic principles of pastoral care" and "our concern for human rights." Will we hear any condemnation of such "ill treatment"? I rather doubt it.

    Maybe I'm mistaken. Maybe these issues will be addressed. But, if they are not, then the ENS headline got it right; these are nothing more than "self-styled" Windsor Bishops.

    J.

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