4/21/2005

Eighteen Bishops and the dismal prospect of another Commission

Eighteen Bishops have requested the Archbishop of Canterbury to establish a bi-partisan commission. Good Lord, Deliver Us!

We live in hope: Hope that one day we will end the reign of eternal committee and commission meetings, a reign of terror for anyone looking for a life! I think the idea of yet another commission is a terrible one. However, committee and commission meetings can be the place of real contact and engagement, so maybe there is hope there. Still, I don't see too many occasions of such meetings becoming love feasts.

The 18 who wrote this document seem to link current shortfalls and future attendance in Episcopal Churches to the fact that there are "Those within ECUSA who continue to act in opposition to the normative teachings...." So the "crisis" they are concerned with here is related to their perception of the connection between what we do as a Church and how that might or might not effect Sunday attendance. This is a shaky place to go.

It is interesting that "Those within ECUSA etc..." constitute the majority of the Church's deputations and bishops who made legislative decisions at the last General Convention. These decisions do not stand for all time but are always provisional. If they don't like the decisions, come back with good arguments that persuade and steer the convention in a new direction. Bi-partisan commissions requested of the Archbishop of Canterbury do not do what must be done. They will only add fuel to this or that fire, the purpose of which is to effect those changes at General Convention.

This commission business is not easy. The devil is in the details. There has been the wide spread use of the advisory opinions of Windsor, the Primates Meeting as an argument for the necessity of doing this or that. If this commission is advisory and bi-partisan (whatever that means) sure as shooting it likewise will be used to attempt to bolster the realignment folk's position.

As I count it, of the 18 who asked for the meeting with the ABC, all are bishops who voted NO on Bishop Robinson. 10 are of the group of 11 Bishops who have identified themselves with the Network of Anglican Dioceses and Parishes. Together they represent 18 of 108 dioceses or 16% of Diocesans. I supposed that this might generously be considered the "almost" 20% suggested by the Living Church. But I think it is a bit of a stretch. This group of 18 is considerably smaller than the list of 42 diocesans who voted no at GC. Interestingly, not one of the diocesans outside the US are counted among them. As I say, we live in Hope (the Easter Season provokes such a response), and hope got me through the last miserable winter, and will get us all through these days. But another Commission seems on the surface not much hope at all.

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