Deputies are not delegates; that is, they are not elected to represent the electing dioceses.
Deputies vote their conscience for the good of the church. They cannot be instructed to vote one way or another, for to do so would preclude godly debate and preempt the work of the Holy Spirit. . . .
[There shall be a] Standing Commission on World Mission, whose members shall include persons broadly representative of jurisdictions outside the United States of America, as well as persons having direct engagement with and experience in world mission. It shall be the duty of the Commission, as to all mission outside the United States, to review and evaluate existing policies, priorities and strategies, and to promote partnership for global mission among the various groups within the church, to plan and propose policy on overseas mission, and to make recommendations pertaining to the Executive Council and the General
In a committee of the whole, which is suited to large assemblies, the results of votes taken are not final decisions of the assembly, but have the status of recommendations . . . Also, a chairman of the committee of the whole is appointed and the regular presiding officer leaves the chair . . .Does anyone else begin to see what the fog of confusion is doing here? Listen to how the President of the House Deputies describes what she thinks the House will be doing (I have added the bold to her words, for emphasis):
. . . The assembly votes to go into a committee of the whole (which is equivalent to voting to refer the matter to the committee), and a chairman of the committee is appointed. The committee considers the referred matter, adopts a report to be made to the assembly, then votes to "rise and report". Finally, the committee chairman presents the report and the assembly considers the committee's recommendations --- all as in the case of an ordinary committee.
It is my belief that the House of Deputies will benefit by having an opportunity to discuss B033 apart from the context of legislative procedure. Many deputies have indicated their longing to discuss B033 together as a House. The HOD Legislative Committee on World Mission (#8) has indicated their work will be aided by this conversation in the HOD prior to the committee’s open hearing on the topic.In the fog of her confusion, the President of the House of Deputies seems to think that the entire House, as a Committee of the Whole, can serve as a subcommittee of the HOD Legislative Committee on World Mission. She has not read her Roberts Rules --- or even the Rules of the HOD itself, Rule XIII:
XIII Committee of the Whole
52. Whenever so ordered by a vote of a majority of the members present, the House may go into the Committee of the Whole for the consideration of any matter.
53. The President shall designate some member of the House to act as Chair of the Committee of the Whole, which, when in session, shall be governed by these Rules, as adapted by the Chair, subject to appeal to the Committee, and also to the following provisions: rise and report to the House shall take precedence.
a) A motion to rise and to report to the House, with or without request for leave to sit again, may be made at any time, shall take precedence over all other motions, and shall be decided without debate by majority vote. No such motion shall be renewed until after further proceedings shall have been had in the Committee of the Whole.
. . .
d) The Committee of the Whole cannot alter the text of a Resolution referred to it, but may adopt and report amendments for action by the House.
Note especially that last phrase: a committee of the whole, like any other legislative committee of the HOD, reports to the House, for action by the House, and not by some other Committee. So in that sense, the report made by the committee of the whole House before the Legislative Committee on World Mission even takes up the matter will render the entire work of the latter Committee superfluous. For consider: if the latter Committee comes out with a report that disagrees with that of the Committee of the Whole, it knows already that any such disagreement will not be ratified by the House (because the members of the Committee on World Mission [except the bishops] were themselves sitting as members of the Committee of the Whole, and if their position had carried the day, then it would have made it into the report). And if it comes out with a report that concurs with that of the Committee of the Whole, then what good has that done?
Apparently, however, the President proposes to use the Committee of the Whole as a tool to give some guidance to the Legislative Committee on World Mission on the twelve-plus resolutions it will be taking up, without actually having to debate the individual merits of any of those resolutions in the Committee of the Whole itself. But how much can be said about a dead Resolution, which but expressed the momentary mind of a legislative body that can never again come into existence? For example, look at the utter vacuousness of one of the twelve resolutions, number C007, which reads in its entirety:
Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That this 76th General Convention affirms that standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction are not bound by any extra-canonical restraints --- including but not limited to the restraints set forth in Resolution B033 passed by the 75th General Convention-when considering consents to the ordination of any candidate to the episcopate.This "Resolution" states nothing more than a truism. The very nature of "extra-canonical restraints" is that they are not binding on anyone --- and passing a Resolution declaring that they are not binding is a meaningless act. Indeed, the deputies to GC 2006 recognized this very fact, when they voted to reject an amendment to Resolution B033 that would have inserted into it words purporting to place a time limit on its effects. As reported in these excellent notes on that last-day session:
The first amendment has been proposed to add the words "until the General Convention 2009" in order to give a time limit to this commitment of restraint in episcopal elections.Now contrast that (momentary) clear-sightedness about the limited effect any resolution passed by General Convention can have with the following delusionary proposal which is Resolution C010, also before the Committee on World Mission. I give its text below, and fisk it paragraph-by-paragraph:
Frank Wade, the chair of the Special Committee, said that the acts of one General Convention cannot bind another General Convention. We could add these words to every resolution the house passes. This amendment doesn't add anything and complicates much.
Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church recognize that the usefulness of Resolution B033 as passed by the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church has run its course . . .
Indeed its effect has run its course. Resolution B033, as a motion by a legislative body to make a recommendation, ran its course the moment it was passed. The act of passing it constituted the making of the recommendation it expressed. And as a recommendation only, it could not have any continuing force or effect on either bishops or standing committees.
and be it further Resolved, That the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church herewith repeal Resolution B033 as passed by the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church . . .
As a motion (and not a statute, like a canon, which has ongoing force and effect), Resolution B033 is incapable of repeal. Can we please understand that essential difference between a motion and a statute? The motion was to recommend something, and the recommendation was made. That act of recommending is now wholly in the past, and like any other past, one-time act, to speak of its "repeal" makes no sense. One might as well vote to "repeal" the Defenestration of Prague.
and be it further Resolved, That The Episcopal Church acknowledges with regret the further oppression visited on the lesbian and gay members of this church by Resolution B033 and its application; and apologizes for the potentially negative impact of said resolution on the ability to respond to the vocational call by the Holy Spirit to the episcopate of any members of this church . . .
Apologies, to be effective, need to be made by the persons committing the offense. General Convention 2006 is over and gone, and can live no more. Its sins (and they were many) are buried with it. "Leave the dead to bury the dead." If anyone must apologize, it should be any bishops and standing committees who took the recommendation to heart and acted on it. Volunteers, anyone?
and be it further Resolved, That The Episcopal Church expresses its appreciation to the lesbian and gay members of this church for their patience during this time of discernment for the church . . .
"Patience"? Did you say patience? And "time of discernment"? What time is that? --- oh, this must be referring to the present discernment going on about making it mandatory to extend holy orders without regard to "the expression of gender identity", whatever that means. (So if a man chooses to "express himself" as a woman --- i.e., be a transvestite and dress up in stockings, heels and padded bra --- does that mean we have to ordain him if he feels called? And does he thereafter lead women's retreats, or just men's? And if we cannot bar him from holy orders, can he be barred from joining the Daughters of the King --- if he is Episcopalian?)
and be it further Resolved, That in the call to see the face of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in each other, this church pledges its utmost effort to keep all parties "at the table" as The Episcopal Church continues to insure the full participation of all of God's children in the life of this church."This church pledges" is a perfect example of that anonymous, impersonal kind of feel-goodism for which we spend millions and millions of dollars to hold a General Convention every three years. Are the Deputies "this church"? They are not. Are the bishops "this church"? They are not. Have the 110 dioceses --- sorry, that's 106 dioceses now, plus the CACE --- each authorized their delegations to make "pledges" in their name? (Oh, wait --- that's right. Repeat after me: "Deputies are not delegates; that is, they are not elected to represent the electing dioceses.") So exactly how, please, do they constitute "this church (of 106 dioceses)" when they assemble for just two weeks out of every three years?
In summary: we have a proposal to convene the entire House of Deputies for two hours on two separate days as a legislative committee to discuss a now-long-dead resolution whose entire effect was over and done with as soon as it passed. (Why can't they equally well take up the Defenestration of Prague in 1618? It would accomplish exactly as much: "Should never have happened ---then we would never have had the Thirty Years War." "Oh, I don't know --- then we never would have had the Treaty of Westphalia, either." "That's true, but what about . . .?" ad infinitum [cue Monty Python and the debate about coconuts].)
That committee of the whole House, which includes the Committee on World Mission, is supposed to instruct the latter on what it should report to the whole House, if it wants the House to enact whatever it reports. That is, the House will decide in advance what one of its Committees should report to the House (because in reality, the jurisdiction of the Committee has almost nothing to do with the resolutions that have been referred to it). So, I ask you: why should the Committee go through the motions, when the Committee of the Whole can do the job just as well?
I note that over at the Covenant blog, Father Dan Martins has this observation:
The following was sent by email to all deputies and first alternates Monday evening. It follows recent calls on HoB/D for a way for the HOD to express its mind on controversial issues early in the convention without waiting for the usual legislative process to play out. I know of no certain connection between the two, but it is at least a coincidence from which one is tempted to infer behind-the-scenes negotiations.Indeed. It would appear that as far as "godly debate" and "the work of the Holy Spirit" are concerned, there is a certain lack of trust in the process. Veni, sancte spiritus . . .