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).