3/16/2005

"Technically and temporarily in compliance"....

That's the way Bishop John Howe of Central Florida described the Covenant reached at the House of Bishops meeting at Camp Allen, Texas - "technically and temporarily in compliance." (See the report from The Living Church, in which Bishop Howe is quoted.. click here )

It is of course incorrect to consider ANY action of the House of Bishops to be "in compliance" with the Windsor Report. That report has no binding authority to require compliance, technical, temporary or otherwise. What the report did was recommend actions that the writers thought would further the efforts to deal with the issues at hand regarding good order in the Communion, continued relations between Provinces, etc.

What the Bishops did was to take the matter of a moratorium under advisement and respond. Their response was within the realm of their own abilities as a body to make but does have consequences on the actions of other bodies, often in their own dioceses.

If an election were held and there was no majority consent from the Bishops within 120 days the election would be null and void. At least that is how I read Canon III.16.6, which states in part ..."in case a majority of all Bishops exercising jurisdiction do not consent within 120 days from the date of notification to they by the Presiding Bishop of the election, the Presiding Bishop shall declare the election null and void..."

Given the covenant I believe this means the Bishops would have to figure out how to delay new elections as well as new consecrations. That in turn would mean in several instances changing the date of election in dioceses already in process. That would in all likelihood engage the Standing Committees in the dioceses in question in a lively and difficult conversation with their bishop about the effect of the moratorium on a considerable amount of work done in the nomination process.

Still, I think the bishops have done a good thing here. It's the details that will require some working out. I am confident we will hold those dioceses, search committees, standing committees and nominees whose work, lives and ministries are made more difficult by this covenant in our prayers.

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