"Resolved, That the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report's invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further
Resolved, That this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."
The first resolve assumed that The Windsor Report's invitation was going to be engaged by others in some active way. Until Lambeth 2008 signs of such listening and reconciliation were few and far between. At Lambeth many of those bishops with whom bishops of The Episcopal Church might have engaged stayed away rather than "receive and embrace The Windsor Report's invitation. The first resolve mostly beat a dead horse.
The second resolve called on bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of unnamed categories of candidates, but meaning gay and lesbian candidates in committed relationships to persons of the same sex. It was never used. No challenging candidates were elected.
There were such candidates nominated, but elections being what they are and the secrets of all hearts being closed, the role of this resolution as an determining impediment to the consideration of particular candidates is hard to gauge. Still, the second resolution in B033 stands as a finely crafted impediment to any sort of open process of ordination. It encumbers and prejudges.
More importantly, B033 flies in the face of the directives of Title III.1.2-3 which concerns the full access to the discernment process by baptized persons of this Church. There may well be questions concerning the "good standing" of baptized persons, but that is determined to some considerable extent by the discernment process itself. A persons who is duly nominated and made a candidate for particular ministry is assumed already to have been subject to examination concerning their good standing and appropriateness to the office to which they are called. To admit persons in particular to the process of discernment regarding election as a bishop and then elected and then to request that bishops and dioceses withhold consent essentially voids the intent of the full and equal access canons.
Title III.1.2 does not assume the "right" of any person to particular ministries of the church. The canon states, "No right to licensing, ordination, or election is hereby established." There is nothing that would not permit a challenge to the "manner of life" of the possible candidate at that point. And electors, of course, do or do not vote for a particular candidate for all sorts of reasons, hidden, thank God, to all but God. What the canon does do is to affirm that all baptized persons have access to the discernment process.
It appears that B033 has never been needed to serve as a "check" against the election of a bishop. Rather it has served the anxiety out of which it arose. It has served as a caution to electors and in such a role it may well have undermined due process. It's role, if any, has been one of sabotage.
The history of just how B033 came to be and what ecclesial and political issues played into its passage has been hashed over again and again. As far as I can tell no good purpose is to be found in rehearsing the matter again. Enough people have been beat on on this. Suffice to say it is a resolution of Convention that has never seen implementation and has served no end except that of fear and anxiety.
It is time to put it to rest.
Here then is a possible resolution, not yet put forward, for the upcoming General Convention:
Resolved, the House of _________ concurring, that the 76th General Convention affirms the canonical commitment to full access by members of this Church to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, (Title III.1.2-3) and be it further
Resolved that this Convention affirms the existing canonical process for the election, consents and ordination of a bishop in this church, in which the Christ centered manner of life of candidates and later bishops-elect is tested by the theological, moral and psychological concerns of this church, understanding that determination of the appropriateness of such election and subsequent consents and ordination includes concerns for the challenges such election may present to members of this church or of other churches in the Anglican Communion, and be it further
Resolved, that this Convention continues its pledge to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation with member churches of the Anglican Communion who have declared themselves in a state of impaired communion with the is church, and be it further
Resolved, that the content of this resolution supersedes the content of resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention.
The first resolve commits General Convention to the intent of Title III.1.2-3. The second resolve affirms that we have in our canons a process sufficient to provide for election of bishops, one which includes concerns for those who might have objections in specific cases, both within and without The Episcopal Church. The third resolve takes the matter of healing and reconciliation out of the Windsor context where it was never engaged. The fourth resolve takes B033 out of the picture.
I suppose one could propose a shorter resolution:
"Resolved, the House of _____________ concurring, that the 76th General Convention rescinds resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention."
I don't particularly like this option because I believe B033 has sufficiently called into question our commitment to Title lll.1.2-3 to where we need to reaffirm that commitment. I am also concerned that we reaffirm that our process and intent is to ordain bishops who will take their place in the councils of the churches and we therefore take the concerns of this worldwide community of churches into reasonable account.
Which do you think is the better way to go, assuming you think anything needs to be done at all? Do you have yet another option?
Try to keep it civil.