Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Report from the Joint Standing Committee

The Lead brings us the report. The full report, including footnotes, can be found here. Here are a few of the most noteworthy quotes:

Regarding blessings:

...These statements (Summary and Discussion), taken together, address the request of the Primates at Dar es Salaam. The bishops have pledged themselves not to authorise public rites in their dioceses. In giving this commitment with the proviso “or until General Convention takes further action”, the House of Bishops is acknowledging that it does not have the power to bind future actions of General Convention, in the same way that most of the general synods of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion cannot be bound by any part or section of their polity...

...It needs to be made clear however that we believe that the celebration of a public liturgy which includes a blessing on a same-sex union is not within the breadth of private pastoral response envisaged by the Primates in their Pastoral Letter of 2003, and that the undertaking made by the bishops in New Orleans is understood to mean that the use of any such rites or liturgies will not in future have the bishop’s authority “until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action ”, a qualification which is in line with the limits that the Constitution of The Episcopal Church places upon the bishops.

On this basis, we understand the statement of the House of Bishops in New Orleans to have met the request of the Windsor Report in that the Bishops have declared “a moratorium on all such public Rites” , and the request of the Primates at Dar es Salaam that the bishops should “make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses” since we have their pledge explicitly in those terms...
On the election of bishops:

...By confirming the interpretation of the Communion Sub-Group and quoting it explicitly, as well as making the explicit acknowledgement in the last sentence of their text that Resolution B033 does refer to “non-celibate gay and lesbian persons”, the Episcopal House of Bishops is answering the question of the Primates positively. They confirm the understanding of the sub-group that restraint is exercised in a precise way “by not consenting”, and that this specifically includes “non-celibate gay and lesbian persons”. They have therefore clearly affirmed that the Communion Sub-Group were correct in interpreting Resolution B033 as meeting the request of the Windsor Report...
Conclusion:

...By their answers to these two questions, we believe that the Episcopal Church has clarified all outstanding questions relating to their response to the questions directed explicitly to them in the Windsor Report, and on which clarifications were sought by 30th September 2007, and given the necessary assurances sought of them...
Regarding pastoral care for dissenting congregations:

Unless some measure of reassurance and security is given to those congregations, parishes, bishops and dioceses who are feeling an increasing sense of alienation from The Episcopal Church, there will be no reconciliation either within The Episcopal Church or within the wider Anglican Communion. We are also mindful of the increasing levels of litigation within The Episcopal Church and of the call of the primates at Dar es Salaam to bring an end to such litigation...

...We are dismayed as a Joint Standing Committee by the continuing use of the law courts in this situation, and request that the Archbishop of Canterbury use his influence to persuade parties to discontinue actions in law on the basis set out in the primates’ Communiqué...
Regarding incursions by uninvited bishops:

...As a Joint Standing Committee, we do not see how certain primates can in good conscience call upon The Episcopal Church to meet the recommendations of the Windsor Report while they find reasons to exempt themselves from paying regard to them. We recommend that the Archbishop remind them of their own words and undertakings...

...In early 2000, the Provinces of Rwanda and South East Asia proceeded to the ordination of three bishops for a “mission initiative” known as the “Anglican Mission in America” in the United States. At the time, the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to the consecrating bishops and expressed the opinion that he could not regard the bishops then consecrated as “bishops of the Anglican Communion.” At the subsequent meeting of the Primates in Oporto in March 2000, the primates stated that “The Archbishop of Canterbury's letter of 17th February 2000 to the bishops of the Communion expresses a view that is endorsed by this meeting. We are grateful for this clear and decisive response. ” Archbishop George Carey had written: “I cannot recognise their episcopal ministry until such time as a full rapprochement and reconciliation has taken place between them and the appropriate authorities within the Episcopal Church of the United States. ”

The current instances of consecrations which have been taking place in African Provinces with respect to “missionary initiatives” in North America would seem to fall into the same category. We understand that, in addition to contravening the authorities quoted above , the consecrations took place either without consultation with or even against the counsel of the Archbishop of Canterbury...
Conclusion:

...The life of the Anglican Communion has been much damaged in recent years following the tensions raised by the consecration in The Episcopal Church of a bishop living in a committed same-sex relationship and the authorisation in some dioceses of Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions. With the response of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in September 2007, the Communion should move towards closure on these matters, at least for the time being. The Communion seems to be converging around a position which says that while it is inappropriate to proceed to public Rites of Blessing of same-sex unions and to the consecration of bishops who are living in sexual relationships outside of Christian marriage , we need to take seriously our ministry to gay and lesbian people inside the Church and the ending of discrimination, persecution and violence against them. Here, The Episcopal Church and the Instruments of Communion speak with one voice. The process of mutual listening and conversation needs to be intensified. It is only by living in communion that we can live out our vocation to be Communion...
So, there it is. Please read the whole document, and then maybe read it a second time, before responding.

J.

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