Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Bishops Spar and Adopt Statement

Things got a bit lively at the House of Bishops meeting in Texas;

Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold identified by name six Episcopalians for having detrimentally influenced the course of the primates' meeting in remarks to the House of Bishops at their March 11-17 spring retreat at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas.

The devil is a liar and the father of lies and the devil was certainly moving about Dromantine, the site of the primates’ meeting in Northern Ireland, the presiding Bishop said, according to accounts from several bishops who spoke to THE LIVING CHURCH on the condition that their names not be revealed. The primates were "out for blood," Bishop Griswold told them.

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh; the Rev. Canon Bill Atwood, general secretary of the Ekklesia Society; the Rev. Canon Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Parish, Fairfax, Va.; the Rev. Canon David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council; the Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, canon theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina; and Diane Knippers, president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, were singled out for opprobrium by the Presiding Bishop for their behind-the-scenes roles at Dromantine.

Not present during the Presiding Bishop's remarks, Bishop Duncan was allowed a point of personal privilege at the evening session on March 13 to respond to the Presiding Bishop’s charges. Bishop Duncan told the House of Bishops he had not manipulated the global south primates nor used nefarious means to influence their deliberations. After Bishop Duncan finished, the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, rose and stated he did not believe Bishop Duncan, and repeated the charges of inappropriate meddling that had been leveled by the Presiding Bishop...
If you don't recognize the cast of six characters who were lurking in the shadows of Dromantine, I've mentioned some of them previously here and here.

So what was Bishop Griswold so upset about? This article sheds some light on the matter;

...Car traffic into Dromantine, however was busy throughout the week as conservative activists would take primates off-campus from the centre to dine and strategise...

...Bishop Griswold became perturbed after witnessing the departure of a number of global south primates with their American supporters to dine off-campus.

Bishop Griswold spoke with Dr Williams, who then dressed down the Primates upon their return for sneaking away. In rebuking the Primates, Archbishop Williams committed his first gaffe of the meeting, as his infelicitous tone offended the African leaders...
What did Bp. Duncan say? That he "had not manipulated the global south primates nor used nefarious means to influence their deliberations." Right Reverend Sir, in the future it may be wise for you to keep in mind that it is terribly poor form to tell a bold faced lie while standing accused before the entire House of Bishops. From the Guardian;

...Last night the leading critic of the Americans and Canadians, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, was said to be entertaining his supporters and the traditionalist American and English evangelicals, who have been circling the meeting semi-clandestinely all week, at what was described as a "celebratory" party, paid for by the Americans.

One of those in attendance was expected to be the US Episcopal bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, who has led the opposition and has been staying locally, apparently holidaying in Newry in February...
If you still don't quite get the picture of why Bp. Griswold was so upset, let me offer you some words from Mark Harris that paints it with clear bold strokes;

...It is clear from the Conger report that the "Conservative American and British activists" worked with the clear intention of influencing the Primates' discussions. What is surprising is the brazen way in which there seems to have been not even a minimal effort to hide the fact that the efforts of the "global south" primates were managed or advised by a sizable body of "activists" not of their number. If Conger is right in his reporting there is little question that the management of the confrontation was in the hands of these so called activists.

From this report it would appear that the lack of any mutual interdependence and responsibility among the primates, a lack of community trust, and a break in communion, was confirmed in all respects: there was no common Eucharist, often there seem not to have been common meals, and certainly there was a breach of any sense of community restraint...
The next day, the bishops did proceed with their task of putting together a statement;

1. We reaffirm our commitment to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888 and each of its individual points. We reaffirm our earnest desire to serve Christ in communion with the other provinces of the Anglican family. We reaffirm our continuing commitment to remain in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and to participate fully in the Anglican Consultative Council, the Lambeth Conference, and the Primates' Meeting, and we earnestly reaffirm our desire to participate in the individual relationships, partnerships, and ministries that we share with other Anglicans, which provide substance to our experience of what it is to be in communion.
We have no intention of walking away from the Anglican Communion.

2.We express our own deep regret for the pain that others have experienced with respect to our actions at the General Convention of 2003 and we offer our sincerest apology and repentance for having breached our bonds of affection by any failure to consult adequately with our Anglican partners before taking those actions.
Note that there is something new here; we admit that we were in error by taking "unilateral action." We were in error in this. We pulled the same stunt with women bishops; consecrating Barbara Harris before Lambeth instead of after as requested, so we could show up saying, "We already did it; too late!" This time, we got called on it. The apology is appropriate.

3. The Windsor Report has invited the Episcopal Church "to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges" (Windsor Report, para. 134). Our polity, as affirmed both in the Windsor Report and the Primates' Communiqué, does not give us the authority to impose on the dioceses of our church moratoria based on matters of suitability beyond the well-articulated criteria of our canons and ordinal. Nevertheless, this extraordinary moment in our common life offers the opportunity for extraordinary action. In order to make the fullest possible response to the larger communion and to re-claim and strengthen our common bonds of affection, this House of Bishops takes the following provisional measure to contribute to a time for healing and for the educational process called for in the Windsor Report. Those of us having jurisdiction pledge to withhold consent to the consecration of any person elected to the episcopate after the date hereof until the General Convention of 2006, and we encourage the dioceses of our church to delay episcopal elections accordingly. We believe that Christian community requires us to share the burdens of such forbearance; thus it must pertain to all elections of bishops in the Episcopal Church. We recognize that this will cause hardship in some dioceses, and we commit to making ourselves available to those dioceses needing episcopal ministry.
Excellent! If we are barred from consecrating specific types of bishops, we will not consecrate any. Note that once again it had to be pointed out to the Primates that the House of Bishops does not have the authority to mandate anything. We include the laity in our deliberations; a novel idea to those of a more hierarchal inclination, but we are Americans, after all. We like democracy. The bishops can, however, withhold their consents, which acts as a veto. No new bishops until 2006. Brilliant move.

4. In response to the invitation in the Windsor Report that we effect a moratorium on public rites of blessing for same sex unions, it is important that we clarify that the Episcopal Church has not authorized any such liturgies, nor has General Convention requested the development of such rites. The Primates, in their communiqué "assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship" (Primates' Communiqué, para. 6). Some in our church hold such "pastoral care" to include the blessing of same sex relationships. Others hold that it does not. Nevertheless, we pledge not to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, and we will not bless any such unions, at least until the General Convention of 2006.
Some folks keep on confusing us with the Canadians. We don't have any rites for such blessings; that's your beef with our northern neighbors, remember? We're the ones with a duly elected bishop who had the audacity to be honest about his sexual orientation.

5. We pledge ourselves not to cross diocesan boundaries to provide episcopal ministry in violation of our own canons and we will hold ourselves accordingly accountable. We will also hold bishops and clergy canonically resident in other provinces likewise accountable. We request that our Anglican partners "effect a moratorium on any further interventions" (Windsor Report, para. 155; see also 1988 Lambeth Conference Resolution 72 and 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution III.2) and work with us to find more creative solutions, such as the initiation of companion diocese relationships, to help us meet the legitimate needs of our own people and still maintain our integrity.
Once again, a very clear admonition to those foreign bishops who come to America to do some plum picking; STOP LOOTING OUR CHURCH!

6. As a body, we recognize the intentionality and seriousness of the Primates' invitation to the Episcopal Church to refrain voluntarily from having its delegates participate in the Anglican Consultative Council meetings until the Lambeth Conference of 2008. Although we lack the authority in our polity to make such a decision, we defer to the Anglican Consultative Council and the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church to deliberate seriously on that issue.
It's that democracy thing, again. The bishops cannot make such a decision. Neither can the Primates, which is why they worded it as a "voluntary withdrawal."

Read the whole statement. It's a good, solid piece of work. Note that it was not approved unanimously. Those who are working to take over the Episcopal Church won't sign it, as it will buy the rest of us some time until the General Convention of 2006, and throw off their plans for a coup. I think the majority of the Primates will find it acceptable, however.

More news will be out in the morning. It's late, and I'm going to bed. I had hoped that Frank would show us that he knew how to stand up when the time came. Past time, in my estimation. But better late than never.


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1 comment:

  1. Go here:

    Go to Case Search
    Enter Case No. GD-03-020941
    Scroll to 11/12/2004, Response to motion to vacate stipulation.
    Download PDF and read appendices F thru L.

    You can read the conniving words right out of their mouths.