Monday, September 17, 2007

About the House of Bishops Meeting

For those who want a good summary of the situation that will face our bishops as they gather in New Orleans this week, I suggest that you take a look at Jim Naugton's review. He touches on all the essentials, as well as providing links to all the relevant documents.

Regarding the bishops' response to the rest of the Communion, there will be three primary matters for them to consider:

1. Giving consents to a bishop-elect whose "manner of life" could make things more difficult for other parts of the Communion.

Most likely, the bishops will refer to resolution B033, and affirm that they meant what they said when they passed that resolution.

2. The bishops are going to attempt to see if they can come up with some kind of assurance that same sex blessings will not be authorized by TEC, until there is a larger consensus on this matter within the Communion. This is going to be problematic, for the reasons Jim notes:

...The committee is especially interested in understanding the state of play in Episcopal diocese on same-sex blessings. Can the bishops say that neither the Church nor any diocese will authorize a “public Rite of Blessing” (per The Windsor Report and the sub-group report) or a Rite to Blessing (per the Primates’ Communiqué from Dar es Salaam)? The meaning of the phrase (public) Rite of Blessing has been debated intensely. And as neither the Archbishop nor the Joint Standing Committee has attempted to settle the issue, it is possible that this ambiguity is intentional. If the question is whether Episcopal diocesan bishops are willing to postpone the development of an authorized text to be used in blessing same-sex relationships, then the answer, in all likelihood is yes. If the question is whether every diocesan bishop is willing to enforce a ban on the blessing of same-sex relationships, the answer is almost certainly no.

The first interpretation seems to be the one shared by the authors of The Windsor Report and the sub-group report (although, again, this has been hotly debated). Both documents attempt (with uneven results) to capture the current state of play regarding the blessings of same-sex unions in Episcopal dioceses, and each raises warning in instances when dioceses where steps toward the developments of authorized text or standards were under development. In addition, the Archbishop is no doubt aware that unions are blessed in a number of Anglican provinces, including his own, and an evenhanded Communion-wide ban would be both unpopular and impossible to enforce...
I cannot predict how the bishops will respond to this, but I cannot imagine some kind of local option, for pastoral reasons, being withdrawn.

3. The bishops will probably put forward some kind of plan for the pastoral care of conservative congregations. The Primates' recommendation for a counsel and a Primatial Vicar have already been rejected by our bishops, as it would have given final authority to a person or a group that is outside the Episcopal Church. But, such a rejection seems to require the offering of an alternative.

The Living Church is reporting that such an alternative will be presented. No doubt that some kind of plan will be considered. And no doubt that any plan will be immediately rejected by those bishops who have already packed their bags and are headed out the door.

A leaked document is being passed around with much fanfare that is supposedly from a group of lawyer bishops. Since the source of this document is about as trustworthy as David Virtue, I'm not going to be providing a link. I'm sure you can find it if you really want a look. It seems to be an expansion of this essay written by retired Bishop Joe Doss almost a year ago. It is built around the strange idea of an "unwritten" Anglican constitution. Needless to say, I was not terribly impressed. I found Canon Brook's suggestion that we look to the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council much more compelling.

A few other rumors are floating around, but they seem to be primarily an attempt to stoke the fires than based on anything of great importance. There probably won't be any real news to mention until the 25th, when the bishops conclude their time together.

I'm not sure how much attention I'll be paying to things Anglican over the next week. There's developments in other places of my life that I'm finding of greater interest at the moment. Beyond that, the level of negative emotion currently present in some places (Jake's place included, btw) seems to me to be approaching the point of being unhealthy for everyone involved.

If you really want some news. you may want to check in at The Lead from time to time. They will most certainly cover anything worth noting.

I'll be around. Thinking about doing a new book review on Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View by Richard Tarnas. I just picked it up yesterday. It is fascinating. Some will find it flakey. I prefer the description of "eccentric," but certainly understand that it will be gibberish to the more empirically minded. But, hey, wouldn't it be a real drag if we were all the same?


No comments:

Post a Comment