Comments: full text of American bishops statement

We, in America, rarely expect our bishops to be straightforward on any issue or to take a firm stand in principle. Now we have a House of Bishops which in clarity and charity has taken the firmest stand in defense of our church, especially of its decisons from 2003 forward. Our bishops have at last defended our polity and our solidarity with all who have been marginalized - especially gays and lesbians. They have also defended an old American principle - namely the distrust of centralized power. For others who so easily wish to accede power to unaccountable prelates (and how is this really different from a curial arrangement?) do listen to our bishops. The bishops have stood tall. It makes me proud to be an american Episcoplian.

Posted by William R. Coats at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 2:22pm GMT

Thank you twice!
To the bishops for their words
and to you for posting them.
Columba Gilliss

Posted by Columba Gilliss at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 2:24pm GMT

Doxa to Theo!

Posted by Dion at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 2:38pm GMT

It looks like TEC is going to emerge from this, strengthened. Standing up for what is true and good does strengthen those with the courage to do so. Standing up for your principles with clarity and energy too.

If TEC can be clear in this way Anglicansim itself and the AC will also be stregnthed. The fifth-columnsits and entryists have to realize that even though they are backed by the big bucks of right-wing political forces, in US society which care nothing for spiritual mission, nothing for oppressed peoples, the simplicity of witness and mission and integrity cannot be destroyed. Those who have a genuine disagreement with GC are free to stay for dialog and joint mission. If this is so against their consciences, that it would be intolerable, it would honourable to leave TEC.

Tes, the interference from England and Nigeria must be faced down. Have nothing to do with a knave. Stand up to a bully and he / they will collapse, crying, "Foul"..

'Resist the devil and he will flee from you.'

The TEC HoB have done something for episcopal / anglican diversity in every place. They have done something for all people of goodwill, who are prepared to live and let live. To live and let be.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 2:57pm GMT

I found 18 main points (there can be more or some joined):

1. We have no intention of choosing to withdraw: [inside] a way to participate in the alleviation of suffering and restoration of God’s creation...

2. We have responded in good faith to the requests we have received from our Anglican partners.

3. Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight: a favorable response in the Windsor Report: not accepted by the Primates

4. Refused to consecrate any additional bishops: not accepted by the Primates

5. Respond favourably to the requests made of us: a favorable response: [until] not accepted by the Primates in the Communiqué

6. Repeatedly assured that boundary violations are inappropriate under the most ancient authorities and should cease... Dar es Salaam Communiqué affirms the principle, but sets conditions for ending those violations that are simply impossible to meet without calling a special General Convention

7. Do our best to follow Jesus in the increasing experience of the leading of the Holy Spirit; we do not believe that Jesus leads us to break our relationships

8. Full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church [in TEC]including gay and lesbian persons

9. [TEC] welcomes diversity of thought and encourages free and open theological debate as a way of seeking God’s truth

10. We believe that to participate in the Primates’ Pastoral scheme would be injurious to The Episcopal Church...

11. A delegation of primatial authority not permissible under our Canons and a compromise of our autonomy

12 [It] fundamentally changes the character of the Windsor process and the covenant design process

13. [It] violates our founding principles as The Episcopal Church following our own liberation from colonialism

14. [It] sacrifices the emancipation of the laity for the exclusive leadership of high-ranking Bishops... replaces the local governance of the Church... with the decisions of a distant and unaccountable group of prelates

15. [The] pastoral scheme [represents] breaking relationships when we find them difficult

16. [But still recognise] intentional care for those within our Church who find themselves in conscientious disagreement with... General Convention

17. A diversity of opinion on issues of sexuality should in no way be misunderstood to mean that we are divided, except among a very few... [and] the continuation of [TEC's] life and ministry.

18. The essence of Christ’s own mission in the world... (Luke 4:18-19). It is to that mission that we now determinedly turn

The crux is 10 above.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 3:05pm GMT

Well it is pretty obvious now that the game is up. The Episcopal Church is not going to intentionally withdraw, but it is not going to accept the international oversight primatial scheme either.

The ball is rightly passed back into the Archbishop of Canterbury's and other primates' court. It is up to them to remove TEC, if they will.

Curiously the TEC bishops' statement says that it can do nothing to meet conditions set on TEC for the removal of boundary violations. In one sense this almost gives the green light for them to continue. Except that it does not: it is saying that they are wrong and found to be wrong. They should stop, and without conditions having to be met.

Interestingly when Akinola and others carry on with the violations, if presumably allowed for by the rest of the Anglican Communion (because conditions are not met by TEC), it forces the issue further that TEC is not simply sidelined but is completely outside the Anglican Communion.

I cannot see that the Archbishop of Canterbury or most primates will accept this wholesale removal of TEC in this manner. Basically their bluff is being called. The only way to stop it an about turn by which the Communion has to act against Akinola and company against the violations. Obviously the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) will believe that it has every right to reset the Anglican Communion inside the USA.

There are many provinces who will be in fundamental agreement with the statement produced by TEC's House of Bishops: regarding what Jesus and the Holy Spirit means for inclusivity, about theological diversity as a means to truth, about the integrity of a Church and about no violation its Reformed aspects and local control. Other provinces will be more than uneasy participating in exclusion, but may well instead form a much more agreeable and compatible Anglican Communion than one offered by some in the Global South and some episcopal leaders of the Church of England. The disaster is pretty much home grown, forced by overplaying the importance of the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 3:27pm GMT

I think equally or perhaps more important is 14. Even speaking as an Anglo-Catholic, the Primates meeting has definitely gone too far in attempting to set itself up as a curia in general terms. Sexuality is only one issue - power cuts across all issues.

I'm an Anglo-Catholic because I don't believe some of the things the Roman curia says are essential truths. This method of formulating doctrine and discipline is _precisely_ what Anglicanism is structured to avoid. That's the whole point of it. If I have this stuff rammed down my throat, I may as well be a Roman Catholic (with all due respect to my Roman brothers and sisters in the faith).

Posted by Robert Leduc at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 3:56pm GMT

What a marvellous statement of principle, and expression of faith. I hope and pray that the Canadian Church will stand up and be counted with you, at its General Synod in June.

To those who might have been wavering after Dar Es Salaam, I hope this gives courage.

Posted by Andrew Innes at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 5:31pm GMT

They are wise men and women indeed as they realise what a can of worms would be unleashed.

Rowan and the English Bishops should clip the wings of the Covenant group too.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 6:02pm GMT

Wow. (!)

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 6:31pm GMT

Excellent document. This will prove to be the saving of the entire Anglican communion. This is a statement of clarity, charity and courage. I am very proud to be an Episcopalian today.

It is as good as Luther's "Here I stand - I can do no other."

Posted by Dennis at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 7:21pm GMT

Pluralist,

Thanks for that 14 point listing, it is particularly helpful.

Point 14 is profoundly important "...a distant and unaccountable group of prelates..." This has become a major issue. There is an element in the heirarchy that is not accountable for abuse, who colludes to hide abuse and prepares court cases to deny that abuse occurs. This element will put pressure on a soul to the level that they will become seriously depressed or commit suicide. They have no conscience about doing this because they think they are "exorcising" a satanic element, and that any soul who "dies" to the church belongs in hell anyway. There is no appeal process outside of a diocese to protect individuals (or parishes for that matter also) from an abusive heirarchy; which makes the highest level of the communion accountable for abusive dioceses.

The church might duck and weave to avoid its responsibilities. Secular states do not have the theological luxury of hiding behind Jesus' name. (Surely the time has past where flattery counts for more than true justice!) The abuses by the churches have been exposed and the secular states will have to ensure that they are not seen to be complicit with these kinds of abuse.

With the need for credibility in fighting "terrorism", the states will have to fight the "terrorism" within if they want to have any right to preach about stopping the terrorism around them.

I had a rather horrible dream the other week of giving birth to a baby boy and the newborn baby being snatched and sacrificed on an altar. I wept for a week because I felt like they were going to win at killing this new "baby" before it had even had time to be wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Tears of gratitude and prayers of profound thanks go to the US Episcolian Church for their faith and trust in committing to their vision. Those prayers ripple out to any and all moral people who understand that for peace to happen we must stop scapegoating and learn to live in cooperative interdependency, with both our friends but even more so with our enemies. That means affirming and giving dignity to the "least" of us.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 8:32pm GMT

Primatial Poker - close to endgame.
TEC - "call":
ABC - "fold", "check" or "raise"?

Not likely to fold or raise. His cards are better than the former - but not good enough for the latter. And at this stage, he'd better not be bluffing. So it's check.

Look for a meeting possibly around the Niagara Falls session with Canadian HoB in mid-April.

Then it's AKI+Donutboy+ragtags - "fold", "check" or "raise"??? If it's really communion they want it'll be "fold" If it's just "our sort" of communion, then they'll "raise" again. That just might be their biggest bluff.

Whatever! The game has to be over before the invitations go out - less than a year. All in all, it looks like we'll be twenty years sorting out the mess.

Personally, it helped me to think of this as just another poker game. I weary of all the pretensions to holiness.

Posted by cal mcmillan at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 8:35pm GMT

I stand with those who are happy to see TEC bishops refuse to be bullied any further.

But I'm not as confident as pluralist that Archbishop Williams and others will fight to keep TEC inside the Anglican Communion. If those Primates who refused to communicate with the Presiding Bishop at Dar es Salaam sense that victory is in their grasp won't they push all the harder to impose their views and authoritarian structures on the Communion? If TEC is absent has the pendulum not swung even further to the right?

Posted by Paul at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 8:54pm GMT

A rumour is being bandied about on Ruth Gledhill's blog (by a poster, not by Ruth) that:
_________________________________________________

* ten US dioeses - including Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, and South Carolina - are scheduling Special DIocesan Conventions as soon as their canons permit. The Network is leaving ECUSA forthwith.

* Several prominent GS Primates, and one rather prominent ex-ABC are expected in Pittsbugh shortly after Easter to consecrate an Archishop.
__________________________________________________

There is only one living ex-ABC.

If this is accurate, the question then arises, will the current ABC defend the integrity of Anglicanism, or will he let willful schism run the day?

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 9:36pm GMT

"we can turn our attention to the essence of Christ’s own mission in the world, to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19). It is to that mission that we now determinedly turn."

Amen, and again I say Amen! :-D (It's all my Lenten discipline to stifle an Alleluia! ;-p)

[And leave the dead A(kinolist)C to bury the dead...]

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 9:55pm GMT

I am in a position to scotch any rumour that an ex-ABC is going to be involved in any such consecrations. I suspect therefore that other elements of the rumour are probably inaccurate.

Posted by Andrew Carey at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 10:43pm GMT

The reason I think the Archbishop of Canterbury wants TEC in the communion was in how the Sub-group reported to the primates, and indeed in the way the Presiding Bishop was included. So he would want to keep them in - because sidelining means exclusion this time around.

I agree that the House of Bishops of TEC has effectively done a poker type "call" - and what I'm suggesting is that the Archbishop may be forced to fold.

He might, but others would not. In the boundary violations, the cards are still on the table - they have never been withdrawn. It is only the Archbishop's cards that may have to fold. And if the violation cards are played, I'm suggesting that other provinces will not want to be on this side, with no doubt a more restrictive Covenant, but will prefer to be associated with TEC. Look at what Barry Morgan wrote recently, look at recent Canadian words, there is the stance of Scotland... The idea that these would fall in with a Nigeria action and dominant ethos seems ridiculous, and would they stand by when a province is excluded because it includes people?

The cards in the Archbishop's hands are twos and threes, simply because the stronger cards are elsewhere. He will fold, they will go on playing.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 11:14pm GMT

While the rumors of an ex-ABC being involved are spurious, the other parts of the story are plausible. For Duncan & Co., the game is up. They are too proud to back down and accept a Primatial Vicar on TEC's terms (as opposed to the Primates' terms, if they were even willing to do that). Sooner or later they will walk. And they will set up an alternative, "Anglican" structure in the US, with someone styled Archbishop or Primate.
They do not need an ex-ABC (or an ABN) to do that, although it would be a nice PR stunt for their assertion to be the legitimate Anglican presence in the US.
I would have much more respect for them if they resigned their sees, negotiated with their dioceses and TEC are process for parishes to leave TEC, and set up a new church structure. But unfortunately, I think we are going to see a lot of litigation.

Posted by Jim Pratt at Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 12:31am GMT

Paul

They will swing the pendulum as far to the right as they can. They have no intention of consenting to allow a "liberal" theology to develop. If they can keep us in the same communion and silence us with sanctions and intidmidation, they will do so. If they can not keep us silent within their communion then they will attack us openly from without.

What is being done to us is not changing. The only thing that is changing is the tactics and thus the transparency of what has been going on for centuries.

If we want to stop "tit of tat" tribal gang violence; then we need to end theological justifications that deny elements of humanity citizenship and obligations. We can not demand that others get their house in order when we do not work to get our own in order too.

It's not a case of being perfect before you work, but it is a case of not demanding a higher standard for others than you would attempt for yourself. Similarly, if you want to be forgiven for your own fallabilities, then you need to forgive others for theirs.

Puritans and fundamentalists will always be with us, we just need to understand the risks of their extremes and where the counterbalances need to be enforced to retain resilient stable societies.

I am sure we will not have a problem of them telling us what our weaknesses and pitfalls are. That's fine. They just need to understand that it is a two-way street and the same applies in converse.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 6:04am GMT

From Paul's comment above:
"They will swing the pendulum as far to the right as they can. They have no intention of consenting to allow a "liberal" theology to develop. If they can keep us in the same communion and silence us with sanctions and intidmidation, they will do so. If they can not keep us silent within their communion then they will attack us openly from without."

Strange - silenced, intimidated, and attacked is exactly how I feel conservatives are treated in the Episcopal Church.

Posted by David at Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 10:19am GMT

Dave,
the difference is that the conservatives are feeling upset at not being allowed to discriminate. They're not actually the ones whose personal life choices are being criticised, despised and discriminated against.
My sympathy is very limited!

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 11:02am GMT

Dave,
the other difference is that liberals are happy to live and let live, wheras the conservatives are only willing to co-exist if liberals accept their particular brand of Christianity.

The one thing liberals cannot do is to discriminate against others. And that's the one thing the conservatives insist is imperative.

I'd happily share a church with you just as you are - if only you were willing to accept me in it just as I am!

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 11:19am GMT

If this controversy had been about the admission of LGBT members to the higher orders of the Freemasons, say, or the Honorable Order of Buffaloes, no doubt some of the theological terms appearing in the bishops' statement would have been absent. But apart from that, how would it have been different?

Assuming that minimizing anti-LGBT discrimination was an important aim, could this have been better served by seeking consensus, perhaps through dialogue or debate? How has unilateral action helped?

If Akinola and TEC can both be described as Anglicans (in some sense), would it now be right to say that Anglicans, as such, are extremely polarized with regard to anti-LGBT discrimination? How, therefore, should lesbians and gays see their standing vis a vis anglicanism (if it is an "ism")?

Finally, taking the last four words of the statement in isolation: a "turn" implies something turned-to, and something turned-from. What, in essence, is the "to", and what the "from", and how do they differ?

Posted by CPK Smithies at Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 4:45pm GMT

"Strange - silenced, intimidated, and attacked is exactly how I feel conservatives are treated in the Episcopal Church."

I affirm that you feel how you feel, David.

And I furthermore affirm that it is "strange."

...then again, the Bible is FULL of strange feelings.

[The one that quickly comes to my mind this time of year, is the strange feeling that prompted a crowd of people to shout "Crucify him! Crucify him!" at the Prince of Peace. :-( ]

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 6:16pm GMT
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