Thinking Anglicans

WR: the exact responses

This note compares what the Windsor Report requested with what the ECUSA House of Bishops said.

WR wording in italics.
HOB wording in bold.
My comments in roman.
Numbering of points as in earlier posting (some points listed there do not require a corporate ECUSA response).

1. To ECUSA as a corporate body:

…the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire, and for the consequences which followed, and that such an expression of regret would represent the desire of the Episcopal Church (USA) to remain within the Communion.

In this spirit of intentional practice, we affirm that all need to repent, as the Archbishop of Canterbury reminded us in his Advent Letter 2004. We repent of the ways we as bishops have sometimes treated each other, failing to honor Christ’s presence in one another. Furthermore, too often we have also failed to recognize Christ’s presence fully manifest in our sister and brother Anglicans around the global communion. We honor their full voice and wisdom. We desire mutuality. We recognize our interdependence in the Body of Christ.

Moreover, we as the House of Bishops express our sincere regret for the pain, the hurt, and the damage caused to our Anglican bonds of affection by certain actions of our church. Knowing that our actions have contributed to the current strains in our Communion, we express this regret as a sign of our deep desire for and commitment to continuation of our partnership in the Anglican Communion.

This response appears to fulfill precisely this particular WR request. As I said previously, constitutionally speaking, only General Convention is able to represent ECUSA in making (or not making) this response and although the House of Bishops meeting this week can give a lead, it cannot answer formally for ECUSA as a whole, just as the English HoB cannot speak for the General Synod of the Church of England. So:

We note here that our decision-making structures differ from those in many parts of the Anglican Communion and that our actions require conciliar involvement by all the baptized of our church, lay and ordained. Therefore we as bishops, in offering our regrets, do not intend to preempt the canonical authority of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. At the same time, we are keenly aware of our particular responsibility for episcopal leadership.

3. To ECUSA in general

…the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited 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…

During this brief meeting we humbly struggled in our deliberations to discern how best to receive the Windsor Report. We had an extensive discussion about 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, paragraph 134). We have only begun a serious and respectful consideration of how we might respond.

…We commit ourselves to a more thorough consideration of the range of concrete actions identified in the Report at our House of Bishops meeting in March 2005. We do not wish to act in haste. We believe it is extremely important to take the time to allow the Holy Spirit to show us ways we can engage with people throughout our church in a consideration of all of the invitations for further reflection and the recommendations of the Windsor Report.

Concerning this, Bishop Pierre Whalon has written

One point must be clearly understood: the Primates’ Meeting in February will determine whether or not the Windsor Report as it stands will be what we must work with. It was quite impossible to decide anything about moratoria until that happens. The Bishops committed to engage the process outlined in the Windsor Report, insofar as our polity allows.

…Anyone who claims that the House in Salt Lake City rejected or accepted moratoria on blessings of same-sex unions or approvals to bishops-elect who live in committed same-sex partnerships simply wasn’t there. We have to wait and see what the process at the global level looks like as things unfold before we can take any action.…

4. To bishops who have authorized public Rites of Blessing of same sex unions

…we call for a moratorium on all such public Rites, and recommend that bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation. Pending such expression of regret, we recommend that such bishops be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion…

Further, we have not had sufficient time to give substantive consideration to recommendations in the Report calling for …a moratorium and further discussion of the authorization of liturgical texts blessing same sex unions.

(Here we note that there are those among us who do not agree with the statement in paragraph 144 of the Windsor Report that “the Episcopal Church has by action of Convention made provision for the development of public Rites of Blessing of same sex unions.”)

5. On care of dissenting groups

…we commend the proposals for delegated episcopal pastoral oversight set out by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) in 2004. We believe that these proposals are entirely reasonable, if they are approached and implemented reasonably by everyone concerned. We particularly commend the appeal structures set out in the House of Bishops policy statement, and consider that these provide a very significant degree of security. We see no reason why such delegated pastoral and sacramental oversight should not be provided by retired bishops from within the province in question, and recommend that a province making provision in this manner should maintain a list of bishops who would be suitable and acceptable to undertake such a ministry. In principle, we see no difficulty in bishops from other provinces of the Communion becoming involved with the life of particular parishes under the terms of these arrangements in appropriate cases.

…We further call upon those diocesan bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) who have refused to countenance the proposals set out by their House of Bishops to reconsider their own stance on this matter. If they refuse to do so, in our view, they will be making a profoundly dismissive statement about their adherence to the polity of their own church…

There appears to be no direct reference to this in the letter.

6. To those bishops who have intervened in other provinces dioceses and parishes other than their own:

…We call upon those bishops who believe it is their conscientious duty to intervene in provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own:

  • to express regret for the consequences of their actions
  • to affirm their desire to remain in the Communion, and
  • to effect a moratorium on any further interventions…

We also call upon these archbishops and bishops to seek an accommodation with the bishops of the dioceses whose parishes they have taken into their own care.

Further, we have not had sufficient time to give substantive consideration to recommendations in the Report calling for a moratorium on diocesan boundary violations…

This presumably refers as much to those boundary violations that have occurred within ECUSA itself, rather than to those from outside the province.

7. To ECUSA

…We particularly request a contribution from the Episcopal Church bq. (USA) which explains, from within the sources of authority that we as Anglicans have received in scripture, the apostolic tradition and reasoned reflection, how a person living in a same gender union may be considered eligible to lead the flock of Christ. As we see it, such a reasoned response, following up the work of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA), and taken with recent work undertaken by the Church of England and other provinces of the Communion, will have an important contribution to make to the ongoing discussion…

We agree that one important expression of our communion would be a Communion-wide study and discernment process on matters of human sexuality as recommended by Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988 and 1998 and are eager to continue to respond to this challenge. This would be a sign of respect for gay and lesbian persons in our common life and of our ongoing pastoral care for them. We also believe that such a process would strengthen our communion. By doing so, we will be able to share more of the prayerful conversations and studies on the ministries and contributions of homosexual persons in the church that have enriched our experience for many years. The Presiding Bishop has already established a committee to offer a theological explanation of how “a person living in a same gender union may be considered eligible to lead the flock of Christ” (Windsor Report, paragraph 135).

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David Huff
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David Huff

Simon, A thorough and fair analysis – well done. However, I’m quite certain that *any* explanations based on facts and reason are bound to fail with the most reactionary “traditionalists.” They won’t respond in kind because they don’t argue from that stance. Instead, I’m quite convinced that their position was arrived at emotionally and “viscerally.” The most extreme and vocal aren’t out for renewed communion, they’re out for blood. You can talk about facts, reason and community until you’re blue in the face, but you aren’t speaking the same language (being old enough to remember both the Civil Rights struggles… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

I sincerely and earnestly pray your analysis is completely wrong. The Windsor report seemed to many to be a toothless wonder which delayed the clarity the Communion needed. And if we are now saying that ECUSA’s Bishops in this statement have satisfied the WR and at the same time made a (good) case for further delay in us obtaining that clarity, then heaven help us. Any normal person surely wants the Anglican Church to stand up and say something definite: it seems to me that we are being led into an incoherent confusion where the only definite thing that can… Read more »

Greg
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Greg

I agree with Neil in the post above – a clear statement from both the Windsor Report and the HoB would have helped. I am curious about point 4, though: (Here we note that there are those among us who do not agree with the statement in paragraph 144 of the Windsor Report that “the Episcopal Church has by action of Convention made provision for the development of public Rites of Blessing of same sex unions.”) vs Resolution C051 of GC 2003: …that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience… Read more »

David Huff
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David Huff

Greg wrote: “David’s comments can be expanded to include the reactionary “leftists”; after all, we surely are an “inclusive” church.” I certainly won’t deny it *could* be that way. I haven’t personally met any extreme “liberals” who want to split the church, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some out there with a complete “tough luck, if you don’t like it, then leave” attitude towards the anti-GC2003 crowd. I just hear and read *much* more unbending rhetoric plus threats, and acts, of schism from the extreme right than from the other side. Not to paint all, self-identified conservatives with… Read more »

Dan Martins
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It seems to me that that Simon’s analysis fails on one critical points, and this is the basis for the Bishops’ expression of “regret.” The WR called for regret “the proper bonds and constraints of affection were breached” in what the Episcopal Church did. The HOB statement expresses regret for the consequences of those actions, not for the actions themselves. There is a crucial difference, which is made all the more glaring by the fact that, in the very days leading up to the Salt Lake City meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury himself (building on earlier comments by Robin Eames… Read more »

Greg
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Greg

>> I haven’t personally met any extreme “liberals” who want to split the church, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some out there with a complete “tough luck, if you don’t like it, then leave” attitude towards the anti-GC2003 crowd. I just hear and read much more unbending rhetoric plus threats, and acts, of schism from the extreme right than from the other side. >> Ahh yes of course. All the blame with the conservatives, and the “liberals” are a model of restraint and respect. I would have to disagree and it appears to me that more than a… Read more »

David Huff
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David Huff

Greg wrote: “Ahh yes of course. All the blame with the conservatives, and the “liberals” are a model of restraint and respect.” No, that’s not what I said. Go back and read the comment again 🙂 “Having lived through the Civil Rights struggles, please explain the parallels that you see.” During the 1960’s, the issue of whether people could fully participate in the life of the church regardless of their racial/ethnic background came to a head. In the 1970’s, that same issue erupted again over gender. The parallel is, of course, that now we are dealing with whether a group… Read more »

J. Collins Fisher
Guest

“The WR called for regret “the proper bonds and constraints of affection were breached” in what the Episcopal Church did. The HOB statement expresses regret for the consequences of those actions, not for the actions themselves. There is a crucial difference” Is it really, Dan? I think it’s a subtle one . . . no, maybe a *paradoxical* one is the best way of putting it. Jesus: fully God, fully human. _Good_ Friday. “When I am weak, then I am strong.” “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” _We worship a paradoxical God_. In the same… Read more »

Greg
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Greg

“but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some out there with a complete “tough luck, if you don’t like it, then leave” attitude towards the anti-GC2003 crowd. I just hear and read much more unbending rhetoric plus threats, and acts, of schism from the extreme right than from the other side” I think both sides have the “tough luck, if you don’t like it, then leave” crowd. The threats are no less from the “liberals” and you can spin it however you want. I just don’t see a difference between the extreme right fundamentalists and the liberal fundamentalists – both… Read more »

David Huff
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David Huff

Greg wrote: “So unless you can prove (beyond a reasonable doubt) that homosexuality is entirely innate like the color of your skin, there is no bias.” So it’s OK to be a bigot about something that’s not entirely innate ? Cool! now I have an excuse to be a complete horse’s a** to any extreme rightwing conservative I meet! (sarcasm concluded 🙂 “Even with the entire human genome decoded, no one has found a homosexuality gene” The human gene structure was just completely decoded, what ? a year or so ago ? That’s not enough time to discover the genertic… Read more »

Greg
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Greg

Hmmm: “The parallel is, of course, that now we are dealing with whether a group of people who are also segregated by society based *solely* on an *innate* characteristic (sexual orientation this time, vs. race or gender before) are to be allowed to fully participate in the life of the church – or society itself for that matter So it’s OK to be a bigot about something that’s not entirely innate ? Cool! now I have an excuse to be a complete horse’s a** to any extreme rightwing conservative I meet! (sarcasm concluded 🙂 “ First, you stated that society… Read more »

J. Collins Fisher
Guest

“So unless you can prove (beyond a reasonable doubt) that homosexuality is entirely innate like the color of your skin, there is no bias.” That’s your standard, Greg? Because I hear other conservatives who say that even IF it’s proven (to their satisfaction) entirely innate, they *still* won’t accept it as a natural expression of human sexuality (I hear the “Alcoholism Analogy” invoked: “someone may be genetically-predispositioned to be an alcoholic, but a drunk is still a stinkin’ drunk!”). “The best explanation scientists have come up with is that homosexuality is not all genetic and therefore not innate.” Like the… Read more »