Monday, February 19, 2007

The Primates' Communique

You can read it here. Some sections to note:

Regarding TEC's response to the Windsor Report:

...20. We believe several factors must be faced together. First, the Episcopal Church has taken seriously the recommendations of the Windsor Report, and we express our gratitude for the consideration by the 75th General Convention.

21. However, secondly, we believe that there remains a lack of clarity about the stance of The Episcopal Church, especially its position on the authorisation of Rites of Blessing for persons living in same-sex unions. There appears to us to be an inconsistency between the position of General Convention and local pastoral provision. We recognise that the General Convention made no explicit resolution about such Rites and in fact declined to pursue resolutions which, if passed, could have led to the development and authorisation of them. However, we understand that local pastoral provision is made in some places for such blessings. It is the ambiguous stance of The Episcopal Church which causes concern among us.

22. The standard of teaching stated in Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 asserted that the Conference “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions”. The primates stated in their pastoral letter of May 2003,

“The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke for us all when he said that it is through liturgy that we express what we believe, and that there is no theological consensus about same sex unions. Therefore, we as a body cannot support the authorisation of such rites.”.

23. Further, some of us believe that Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention does not in fact give the assurances requested in the Windsor Report.

24. The response of The Episcopal Church to the requests made at Dromantine has not persuaded this meeting that we are yet in a position to recognise that The Episcopal Church has mended its broken relationships...
Regarding Alternative Primatial Oversight:

...32. Second, those of us who have intervened in other jurisdictions believe that we cannot abandon those who have appealed to us for pastoral care in situations in which they find themselves at odds with the normal jurisdiction. For interventions to cease, what is required in their view is a robust scheme of pastoral oversight to provide individuals and congregations alienated from The Episcopal Church with adequate space to flourish within the life of that church in the period leading up to the conclusion of the Covenant Process...
Regarding border crossings:

...33. Third, the Presiding Bishop has reminded us that in The Episcopal Church there are those who have lost trust in the Primates and bishops of certain of our Provinces because they fear that they are all too ready to undermine or subvert the polity of The Episcopal Church. In their view, there is an urgent need to embrace the recommendations of the Windsor Report and to bring an end to all interventions.

34. Those who have intervened believe it would be inappropriate to bring an end to interventions until there is change in The Episcopal Church. Many in the House of Bishops are unlikely to commit themselves to further requests for clarity from the Primates unless they believe that actions that they perceive to undermine the polity of The Episcopal Church will be brought to an end. Through our discussions, the primates have become convinced that pastoral strategies are required to address these three urgent needs simultaneously...
Lots to consider here. Let's chew on this a bit before responding. Keep in mind, as the Primates note in this statement, these are recommendations. They do not yet have the authority the draft covenant wishes to grant them.

UPDATE: The Schedule of Recommendations is here. The House of Bishops are given until September to respond. Once again, the Primates fail to recognize that the House of Bishops does not have the authority to respond by themselves.

There's a number of points that we cannot possibly agree to. No point in detailing them all right now. Once again, I wonder why only TEC is being asked to agree to such a cumbersome process? No mention of Canada or New Zealand. And no mention of how we are to meet the pastoral needs of our members under such recommendations.

I await an explanation from our Presiding Bishop.



  1. Dear God please tell me that ++Katharine did not sign this dreadful document.

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  3. The HOB cannot respond legislatively, but they can by agreement that they will not authorize or allow blessings of same sex unions in their dioceses. They can also agree to let the Primatial Vicar (or whatever you want to call it) process work and let those parishes who wish to be under the authority of a bishop who is in full communion (and desires to remain in full communion under the communion's rules, not his/her own) with the AC.

    Second, Why do you need an explaination from +Shori? Can't you just accept that God is doing a new thing?

    Phil Snyder

  4. It is also possible, Phil, that God is posing this test to the TEC to see if we can put seeking and serving Christ in all before being part of a club....

  5. plsdeacon -

    Prejudice, bigotry and oppression are not new things. Neither is valuing institutional survival over the Holy Spirit. I expect better from our church.

  6. It may be possible, just possible, that TEC has been wrong and the rest of Christianity has been right. I know it sounds outlandish to think that over 3000 years of moral teaching and the universal teaching of the Church catholic today might be right and the ECUSA might be wrong, but for the sake of your soul, please consider that it might be possible.

    Phil Snyder

  7. Preudice, bigotry and oppression are never right... not under any circumstances... no matter the cultural context... no matter the theological spin. End of story. Once again we prove to the world that the "moral teaching" of the church is on shaky ground at best and the "universal teaching" is nothing more than a universal myth perpetrated by people who seek power and control over others. Then again, we should not be surprised. Jesus was murdered for daring the challenge the same kind of institutional religion.

  8. I have to agree with plsdeacon: how crazy is it to suggest that the ENTIRE rest of the ancient Church (East and West), may be onto something in their (continued) outright rejection of so many tenets that many of our brother and sister Episcopalians hold dear? As much as I want to voice my support for our church, reason and logic keep screaming at me that we just might be wrong on some of this stuff. If we are part of the historic and catholic church (as we so often like to profess), one can't help but take a snapshot of the beliefs of our Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic brothers and sisters to start to get the feeling that maybe, just maybe, over the past few decades, some of the beliefs which set us apart have been forced into the category of "Christian beliefs" as eloquently as a square peg fits into a round hole. Just the thoughts of one who believes that the Holy Spirit and the institutional church are intimately connected, even unseperable. To believe otherwise, one should cease claiming to be part of the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church."

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  10. If our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters have it right with regards to human sexuality, why has that denomination confronted so many difficulties with regards to its clergy abusing children? Could it be that men who cannot live into a vow of celibacy should not suppress their inherent human nature?

    The suggestion that the Church Catholic has never changed its position on orthodox tenets is misguided. Do Eastern Orthodox Christians still affirm slavery?

    Lastly, Jesus' commandments for all Christians to love one another and openly use their gifts and talents are classic, early Christian tenets. I'd quite ready to abandon the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church" when the Church fails to admit its duplicitous nature in terms of how it treats LGBT people.

  11. Jake et al.,

    How can we continue to say that the HOB can't do anything in our polity and then get to General Convention only to have the General Convention say they can't possibly dictate to a Diocese. Seems to me that we have to stop passing the buck and stop these things the same way they started, i.e. with the approval/disapproval of Diocesan Bishops. Or not, but if we don't, then we're at the very least choosing to continue in very strained relations with our brothers and sisters in the rest of the Communion, to say nothing of our ecumenical relations (who, for instance, really takes seriously the news today that RC's and Anglicans have endorsed a plan to reunite... like that will happen at a time when Anglicans can't even be united in their own communion.)

    Just a thought...

  12. A poster wrote:

    "how crazy is it to suggest that the ENTIRE rest of the ancient Church (East and West), may be onto something in their (continued) outright rejection of so many tenets that many of our brother and sister Episcopalians hold dear? "

    No crazier than Luther was to suggest that the entire Church had it wrong on salvation, etc. No crazier than Henry VIII was to assert that the State does not bow to the Bishop of Rome.

    Really, not terribly crazy at all.

  13. Sympathetic as I am to winning official recognition for same-sex unions, I would urge patience, pastoral care, and continued prophetic witness on the part of the bishops over any rash action of defiance. After all, prophets were seldom successful right away, and as these things go, real debate on the gay issue has lasted only a short time. Does anyone really believe the greater part of TEC will stop being an inclusive church?

  14. Please do not sign this ungodly document. There are plenty of progressive churches in the world. In Sweden, Canada, New Zeeland, Scotland, the US...
    We can walk together, hand in hand. God calls upon us from the future. Let the others follow us when they may, if they may.

  15. The HoB certainly can severally and collectively say, "We will not approve any Rite of Same-Sex Blessing in our Dioceses." This act is well within their authorities as a House and in their roles as Diocesean Bishops.

    I don't know what the HoB's role is in granting consents to the election of a Bishop. Do they vote as a House? Do they have a vote individually in their Dioceses when consent is sought?