Sunday, September 23, 2007

Withdrawal Suggestion Becomes a Punitive Tool

Here is Ehraim Radner's version of a "voluntary withdrawal" from Lambeth:

...My own hope, in light of this limited sense of the Archbishop’s desires, would be this: that the “Windsor Bishops” resolution be voted upon, and that, following that vote, there be an agreement worked out by which those who cannot, in good conscience (and here Abp. Anis’ plea provides a concrete possibility of direction), abide by the acknowledged teaching and discipline of the Communion, by which they will temporarily withdraw from the Communion’s formal councils for an undetermined time (5 to 10 years was the suggestion of Prof. Grieb at the last House of Bishops’ meeting, a suggestion greeted with much appreciation); and during this time, those dioceses committed to the Communion’s teaching and discipline will move forward with the Communion’s life, and those congregations and clergy in dissenting TEC dioceses will be put under the oversight of Communion dioceses. When this is done, a formal request will be made to the Primates that those providing extra-geogrpahical oversight give up that role, and fold their congregations back into the Communion-linked dioceses and oversight of American bishops. TEC will not cease to exist (though, as with the Communion, not all will participate in its formal life); it will, rather, exist in a state of partition...
Apparently, in at least one place, this idea was considered a slight alteration of Kendall Harmon's suggestion that all bishops, conservative, moderate and progressive, withdraw from Lambeth. In my opinion, it is a completely different proposal, and one that I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.

But, this is the one that the bishops will be considering. From Bishop Howe:

To My Fellow Bishops:

We are deeply, tragically, horribly "stuck," not only in The Episcopal Church, but in the Anglican Communion as a whole. In the past three days we have heard again what we already knew, that we have damaged our relationships with many parts of the Communion by failing to give sufficient attention to "common discernment," and by moving ahead with decisions in the area of human sexuality before the rest of the Anglican family is able to accept those decisions. It is clear that the great majority of our Bishops cannot retreat from what they believe to be not only a matter of justice, but a "Gospel imperative." But, in the light of that, we are squandering members, finances, and energy in our deadlock.

What we need is a comprehensive solution that will end the international interventions, end the defections, end the property disputes, end the litigation, and end the ravaging of our witness and mission to the outside world simultaneously. I believe there is such a solution, but it will require great sacrifice on all sides.

I propose that we:

1) Put the Resolution of the "Windsor Bishops" to a vote. It calls for full compliance with the requests of the Primates in their Communique from Tanzania last February.

2) Those who cannot, for conscience' sake, abide by the acknowledged teaching and discipline of the Communion (Lambeth I:10) will then voluntarily withdraw (at least temporarily) from the official councils of the Communion (as per Professor Katherine Grieb's much appreciated proposal to us in March at Camp Allen).

3) Those committed to the Communion's teaching and discipline will continue their participation in the councils of the Communion.

4) Perhaps we will then adopt the Archbishop of Canterbury's terminology of "constituent" and "associate" membership for our dioceses. "Constituent" = fully Windsor-compliant. "Associate" = committed to remaining Anglican, but unable to accept the Windsor proposals.

5) Those congregations and clergy which are in "associate" dioceses, who wish to continue in "constituent" membership will be transferred to the oversight and care of "constituent" dioceses and Bishops - and vice-versa.

6) We will then request the Primates who have established extra-geographical oversight in this country to give that up, and fold any congregations under their care back into "constituent" dioceses.

7) We will endeavor to fold any American clergy who have been consecrated by international jurisdictions into Suffragan and Assistant Episcopal positions in "constituent" dioceses.

8) Without relinquishing their membership in The Episcopal Church, the "constituent" dioceses will elect their own Coordinator, and function as a parallel provincial entity for a period of 5 years (or perhaps 6 = two General Conventions, or 10 = the next Lambeth Conference).

9) After 5, 6, or 10 years we determine whether or not a "new consensus" has emerged within the Anglican Communion, and in the light of that determination -

10) We either recombine as a single jurisdiction, or we fully separate.
I have a much simpler idea, Bp. Howe. Why don't we just haul all those bishops who disagree with you into the village square and have them publicly flogged? It would amount to basically the same thing, and no one has to wait 5, 6 or 10 years.

I really thought that just maybe some of our bishops could rise above their petty party politics and do something grand and inspirational. But instead, we get this sorry excuse for a compromise, from a bishop who I really wanted to believe was beginning to see the light.

If this is to be the result of even entertaining the notion of some kind of voluntary withdrawal, then I am sorry I even brought the subject up.

On the off chance that any bishop is crazy enough to visit Jake's place....

Right Reverend Sir or Madam,

Regarding the two previous posts in which I suggested that a voluntary withdrawal from Lambeth might be a way forward; nevermind.

Although I do suggest that you strive to come up with some form of innovative public gesture that would express this significant moment in our common life beyond simply words on a page.

Might I suggest that as a group you toss your mitres into the Mississippi River while singing a rousing rendition of Anglican Pie?


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