First of all, it appears to the Primates who wrote this document that the "recommendations" are intended to be much more than that:
...The Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to the Primates by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007.That's an ultimatum, not a recommendation. Strike one.
If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion...
Then consider the makeup of the proposed "Pastoral Council." It will consist of four Archbishops who are not members of the Episcopal Church. As such, they can advise and recommend various things, but cannot exercise any authority outside of their jurisdiction. Yet look at a couple of the descriptions of the proposed role for this Council included in this proposal:
...authorise protocols for the functioning of such a scheme...take whatever reasonable action is needed to give effect to this scheme...Allowing foreign bishops to make authorizations and take actions that will effect the Episcopal Church? I think not. Strike two.
And then there's the actions demanded of our House of Bishops:
...In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal ChurchIt is certainly within the power of the House of Bishops to offer such a covenant and confirmation, but it is doubtful if they will, as to do so would be to attempt to trump the mind of General Convention, which includes a House of Deputies (a factor that the Primates repeatedly seem to ignore). Any response by the Bishops, without the support of the clergy and laity of TEC, would be empty and meaningless. In light of GC2006, in which B033 was a real stretch, and one that would never have passed if not for the intervention of Bishop Katharine, it is rather clear that the House of Deputies is not prepared to approve either of these ultimatums issued by the Primates. For the House of Bishops to bend to the will of the Primates in order to assure they can have tea with Rowan at Lambeth would be to run the risk of a further deterioration of the trust relationship between the Deputies and the Bishops. To expect our bishops to do such a thing, and to once again place them in such a position, was an error on the part of the Primates. Strike three. That's enough for this proposal to be outa there.
1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and
2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134); unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion...
Since the Primates took a couple of other swings, I would be remiss in not mentioning them. There is much concern expressed for "those groups alienated," which is clearly intended to be a reference to the extreme conservatives, yet not one note of concern for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters or the Via Media parishes trapped in extremist dioceses. Strike four.
And finally, there is this bit of twisted logic regarding border crossings:
...Those who have intervened believe it would be inappropriate to bring an end to interventions until there is change in The Episcopal Church...So, those Archbishops who are plundering the assets of TEC, in clear non-compliance with the Windsor Report, will be allowed to continue their plundering raids until TEC becomes Windsor compliant??? We live in bizarre times. Strike five.
It amazes me that the leaders of the Anglican Communion continue to believe that the Episcopal Church is so desperate to stay in their club that we will agree to anything to make peace. Peace at any cost is always a false peace. In this case, it seems to me that the cost is much too high.
This is no longer solely about issues of sexual diversity. That is the presenting issue; the canary in the coal mine. The foundational issue is about where the locus of authority will reside in the Anglicanism of the future. This proposal by the Primates is a direct challenge to our polity.
The Primates have not been, until now, like the Roman Curia. In our discipline, it is General Convention, with representatives from all four orders having voice and vote, that sets policy, within the confines of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. We believe that this process allows us to discern the movement of God within the Church quite well. We are not inclined to grant veto power to some outside agency.
Thanks for playing, Primates, and better luck next time.