Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Who Is Right?

You be the judge: who is right --- Bishop Epting (who one may assume is giving the official ECUSA line) --- ?

DO25 Does Not Overturn B033

By ecubishop

The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops’ passage of resolution D025 does not overturn last General Convention’s call for care and “restraint.” That last resolution (B033) was never a “moratorium” on the ordination and consecration of gay and lesbian persons. It counseled care in approving any bishops whose “manner of life” would cause additional strain on the Anglican Communion.

Quite apart from the press’s (including Episcopal News Service) usual misunderstanding of such things, D025 simply re-asserts what has always been true — the ordination process in The Episcopal Church is governed by the Constitution and Canons of this church.

It would be perfectly possible for a bishop to have voted for D025 and still withhold consent for the election of any bishop-elect.

Access to the ordination process (though not guaranteed ordination!) is open to all. That’s part of what it means to be baptized — not that you are necessarily called to ordained ministry, but that your call may be tested by the Church.

----or Fulcrum?

Fulcrum Press Statement

on the decision by the House of Bishops of TEC to pass D025

The decision, by a 2-to-1 majority, of the House of Bishops of TEC to pass D025 represents a further determined walking apart by the American Church and must have significant consequences for the relationship of TEC to the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

Their decision to support, with a minor amendment, the resolution previously passed by the House of Deputies:

  • Ignored the repeated requests by all the Instruments of Communion, most recently the Anglican Consultative Council, to uphold the Windsor moratoria
  • Disregarded the explicit request of the Archbishop of Canterbury during his visit to General Convention when he stated “Along with many in the Communion, I hope and pray that there won't be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart”.
  • Failed to heed the Archbishop of Canterbury's warning at General Synod that “it remains to be seen I think whether the vote of the House of Deputies will be endorsed by the House of Bishops. If the House of Bishops chooses to block then the moratorium remains. I regret the fact that there is not the will to observe the moratorium in such a significant part of the Church in North America but I can’t say more about that as I have no details”.
  • Overturned the recommendation of the bishops serving on the World Mission committee who asked the House not to support the resolution, explicitly citing such reasons as that passing the resolution amounted to a rejection of the process commended by Windsor and jeopardizes the covenant, would not reflect hearing the concerns of the Communion and disregards Lambeth I.10
  • Withdrew the assurances given by the House of Bishops to the wider Communion in September 2007 in response to the Dar Primates' Meeting.1
It is important to recognise the multiple levels at which the resolution disregards the mind of the Communion both in relation to human sexuality and the nature of life together in Communion as expressed in the Windsor Report and the Anglican Covenant. It:

  1. selectively quotes from Lambeth I.10 and affirms only the Listening Process but not the teaching and practice of the Communion consistently reaffirmed by the Instruments since 1998 which is the framework within which the Listening Process should occur.
  2. contradicts the teaching of Scripture and the Communion by reaffirming that same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect and careful, honest communication display “holy love”.
  3. recognizes that “gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst” despite the clear statement of Lambeth I.10 rejecting ordination of those in same-sex unions.
  4. reaffirms they were right to consent to the election of Gene Robinson and proceed to his consecration by affirming “that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church” despite Windsor's request for a statement of regret for that action.
  5. asserts their right autonomously to determine the suitability of candidates for ordination “through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church” without reference to the discernment of the wider church or the requested moratorium.

In relation to the Anglican Communion and the Windsor and Covenant Processes, the Windsor Continuation Group stated that “A deliberate decision to act in a way which damages Communion of necessity carries consequences. This is quite distinct from the language of sanction or punishment, but acknowledges that the expression and experience of our Communion in Christ cannot be sustained so fully in such circumstances. A formal expression of the distance experienced would therefore seem to be appropriate” (Para 45). General Convention's actions clearly reject the Windsor Process and are incompatible with the affirmations and commitments agreed by ACC in the proposed covenant. A formal expression of distance, with consequent limiting of involvement in Communion counsels, must now follow if the Windsor and covenant processes are to retain credibility in the wider Communion.

In relation to the Church of England, it has recently been reaffirmed, with regard to the Church of Sweden, that “the teaching and discipline of the Church of England, like that of the Anglican Communion as a whole as expressed in the Lambeth Conference of 1998, is that it is not right either to bless same-sex sexual relationships or to ordain those who are involved in them” and that “changes in the understanding of human sexuality and marriage” will lead to impairment of relationships and limit the inter-changeability of ordained ministry.2 These consequences must now logically follow in relation to those bishops within TEC who have voted to support D025. They could be expressed by such means as actions under the Overseas Clergy Measure and a decision that the Church of England not be represented at future TEC consecrations.

Over coming weeks, in discerning a proportionate response to this latest development it is important that

  1. a clear differentiation is made between the majority in TEC who voted for the resolution and those – centred on the Communion Partners – who upheld the mind of the Communion within TEC. We hope that many Church of England bishops will clearly reaffirm their continued full communion with those TEC bishops who voted against the resolution.
  2. similar disregard for the moratoria in a significant number of dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada are not ignored
  3. critical attention also be given to the relationship of both the Communion and the Church of England with the Anglican Church in North America.

And now, the Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, weighs in --- from here:

In the slow-moving train crash of international Anglicanism, a decision taken in California has finally brought a large coach off the rails altogether. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States has voted decisively to allow in principle the appointment, to all orders of ministry, of persons in active same-sex relationships. This marks a clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion.

Both the bishops and deputies (lay and clergy) of TEC knew exactly what they were doing. They were telling the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other “instruments of communion” that they were ignoring their plea for a moratorium on consecrating practising homosexuals as bishops. They were rejecting the two things the Archbishop of Canterbury has named as the pathway to the future — the Windsor Report (2004) and the proposed Covenant (whose aim is to provide a modus operandi for the Anglican Communion). They were formalising the schism they initiated six years ago when they consecrated as bishop a divorced man in an active same-sex relationship, against the Primates’ unanimous statement that this would “tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level”. In Windsor’s language, they have chosen to “walk apart”. . . .

The question then presses: who, in the US, is now in communion with the great majority of the Anglican world? It would be too hasty to answer, the newly formed “province” of the “Anglican Church in North America”. One can sympathise with some of the motivations of these breakaway Episcopalians. But we should not forget the Episcopalian bishops, who, doggedly loyal to their own Church, and to the expressed mind of the wider Communion, voted against the current resolution. Nor should we forget the many parishes and worshippers who take the same stance. There are many American Episcopalians, inside and outside the present TEC, who are eager to sign the proposed Covenant. That aspiration must be honoured.

Contrary to some who have recently adopted the phrase, there is already a “fellowship of confessing Anglicans”. It is called the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church is now distancing itself from that fellowship. Ways must be found for all in America who want to be loyal to it, and to scripture, tradition and Jesus, to have that loyalty recognised and affirmed at the highest level.

Bishop Wright's exasperation with doing theology by majority vote comes through in his piece, which he must have dashed off for the Times to use as a counterweight to the paper's liberal (but unsigned) header endorsing the ECUSA move. Over at his blog, Scott Gunn+ fisks Bishop Wright's article in another standard rendition of that liberal hit tune "It's not us, it's you, that's who", which is sung in response to every attack from the right. (He even makes the outlandish claim that "A very good case can be made that the Episcopal Church is one of the only 'Windsor Compliant' provinces in the Anglican Communion" --- as though same-sex blessings and nominations of LGBTs for episcopal positions were not occurring in ECUSA, despite B 033.)

And so it goes, round and round in circles. One needs to return to the Fulcrum piece above for a grounding on what ECUSA's adoption of D025 actually does within the context of the Anglican Communion. Or allow me to do what the Fulcrum Statement does, but in a more direct way:

Here is a passage from the Windsor Report (2004, paras. 124-129; footnotes omitted):

Anglicanism has always maintained that a bishop is more than simply the chief pastor to a local church. Bishops are consecrated into an order of ministry in the worldwide Church of God. They represent the universal to the local, and the local to the universal. Their acceptability to the wider Church is signified through 'confirmation of election' undertaken by the metropolitan bishop in consultation with the other bishops of the province . . . .

The Communion has also made its collective position clear on the issue of ordaining those who are involved in same gender unions; and this has been reiterated by the primates through their endorsement of the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution. By electing and confirming such a candidate in the face of the concerns expressed by the wider Communion, the Episcopal Church (USA) has caused deep offence to many faithful Anglican Christians both in its own church and in other parts of the Communion. . . . [B]ishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) subsequent to the Primates' Meeting in October 2003 must be taken to have acted in the full knowledge that very many people in the Anglican Communion could neither recognise nor receive the ministry as a bishop in the Church of God of a person in an openly acknowledged same gender union. This inevitably raises the question of their commitment to the Episcopal Church (USA)'s interdependence as a member of the Anglican Communion to which its own Constitution and Canons makes reference.
And now here, for contrast, is part of Resolution D 025 as finally enacted:
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church . . . .
That's about as "in your face" as it gets. Forget what the Anglican Communion recognizes; it's what we recognize that counts. (Or as the Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon so succinctly puts it: "Those involved in pastoral care know that a relationship is deeply frayed when one or other party insists “this is who I am”[, and] the outcome will be disastrous. The same will be the case with D025, both inside the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.")

The fig-leaf is off the statue, and all can now see exactly how ECUSA ranks its priorities. At least the other members of the Anglican Communion now have clarity. (Bishop Wright gets the picture, loud and clear: "[S]aying 'we want to stay in, but we insist on rewriting the rules' is cynical double-think. We should not be fooled.")

As the other items on the LGBT agenda clear General Convention, one by one, the picture inevitably fills in of a church that chooses to walk apart. (See previous post.)


  1. Epting is either delusional, deluded, or spinning falsehoods.
    Institutionalist moderate Bishops are going to try to spin this as nothing new and "B033 remains in place" when talking to the folks back home.

    If it is nothing new, then why did +Henderson of Upper SC lose sleep over his vote after he cast it?

    And what about that "holy love" part of D025 that refers back to 2000-D039? Thanks GC 09 for dredging that up.

  2. I think that's the new party line. Kendall Harmon is linking to a simialr post by Holly Hollerith of Southern Virginia.

    I guess they are hoping that no one reads what they are writing too closely.

  3. +Bauerschmidt of TN says is quite candidly:

    I think it is fair to say that the Episcopal Church will exercise restraint in the ordination of a partnered gay or lesbian person to the episcopate until that moment when such a person is elected by a diocese and receives the necessary number of consents from bishops and Standing Committees in the rest of the Church. Neither Resolution B033 nor D025 make any difference to the process, except in as much as they reflect the mind and intention of the Church.