7/17/2009

The Anaheim Statement, etc.

Bishops, mostly belonging to the Communion Partner Bishops group, have issued a statement regarding their support of continued Moratoria and an Anglican Communion Covenant. The other commitments made in this statement are shared by pretty much all the bishops, but these two are the differentiating points. Even there the differences are more subtle than supposed.

My sense is that D025 did not suppose that bishops would not exercise the restraint called for in B033 or the Windsor Report, but that The Episcopal Church would not itself call for that restraint. So the Communion Partner bishops are doing precisely what they are called on to do - exercise restraint as conscience and their reading of Scripture in the light of reason and tradition require.

The Anglican Communion Covenant, a work in progress, will shortly find final form and be distributed for final examination and acceptance. Again these bishops are of course free to hope for its adoption. The debate leading up to the next General Convention will be sharp and hopefully precise and the whole church will determine The Episcopal Church response to the Covenant. Again, bishops and all of us, are free to be hopeful and anticipatory or otherwise.

So what is this Statement about? It is about these bishops making it clear that they want in on Anglican Communion membership even if TEC gets thrown out.

What is unclear is just how much they want that. Do they want it badly enough to suggest that as dioceses "conforming" to the Covenant and obedient to the call for moratoria they are willing to be directly recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ACC as constituent dioceses in the Anglican Communion without reference to a provincial church? There are such extra-provincial dioceses and churches, not many but a few. They come under the direct metropolitical authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Good luck.


BabyBlue reports
, "It appears that this is a group aligned with the "Communion Partners," a group of bishops and rectors who support the Windsor Report, the Dar es Salaam Communique, and the Anglican Covenant, and have chosen prior to this General Convention to work within the Episcopal Church structures and consider themselves directly in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. They also released an influential legal opinion on how the current Presiding Bishops has overstepped her authority - that report may be read here."

She believes these bishops believe themselves to be "directly in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury." She also references "an influential legal opinion" the paper referred to by some of the bishops and theologians who signed off on it as the "McCall" paper. In an odd way this reaffirms the claim that it was written by a lawyer as a "legal opinion." That paper, if actually a legal opinion, loses its value as a scholarly paper written outside the legal fray of litigation. Rather than supporting an argument, it becomes part of the argument. But that's another story.

I believe the bishops who produced the Anaheim Statement are doing what they think best and I am glad they have done so. They have indeed pointed to the specifics of the areas of disagreement within The Episcopal Church: the moratoria and the extent of acceptance of the Anglican Covenant. As to the need for direct communion with Canterbury, that is a mixed bag indeed. If throughout the world dioceses were to make the plea for direct communion, diocese by diocese, the Anglican Communion would finally become a little reflection of Rome, with all bishops immediately legitimated by their direct connection to the big guy in the head office.

Do they really want that? I hope not.

Here is the statement:



The Anaheim Statement, General Convention, 2009

At this convention, the House of Bishops has heard repeated calls for honesty and clarity. As the conversation has proceeded within the HOB, repeated attempts to modify wording which would have been preferable to the minority in the vote were respectfully heard and discussed, but in the end most of these amendments were found unacceptable to the majority in the House. Many in the majority believed the amendments would make the stated position of this House less honest about where they believe we are as The Episcopal Church.

It is apparent that a substantial majority of this Convention believes that The Episcopal Church should move forward on matters of human sexuality. We recognize this reality and understand the clarity with which the majority has expressed itself. We are grateful for those who have reached out to the minority, affirming our place in the Church.

We seek to provide the same honesty and clarity. We invite all bishops who share the following commitments to join us in this statement as we seek to find a place in the Church we continue to serve.

  • We reaffirm our constituent membership in the Anglican Communion, our communion with the See of Canterbury and our commitment to preserving these relationships.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this church has received them (BCP 526, 538)
  • We reaffirm our commitment to the three moratoria requested of us by the instruments of Communion.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to the Anglican Communion Covenant process currently underway, with the hope of working toward its implementation across the Communion once a Covenant is completed.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to “continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship” which is foundational to our baptismal covenant, and to be one with the apostles in “interpreting the Gospel” which is essential to our work as bishops of the Church of God.

22 comments:

  1. I am concerned that we once again have those who do not wish to recognize the will of the Church.
    We have had bishops who have done that in the past with the "conscience clause". This Anaheim statement will have as much authority as its predicessor and will be trotted out whenever a bishop is afraid of teaching the radical Gospel of Christ's inclusion in his diocese.

    This means that the work isn't over. It means that generations after us will have to address these topics when the Church must take further radical steps to proclaim the Gospel. La lucha continua...

    comment moderation word MITAR

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  2. I'm assuming that the "three moratoria requested of us by the instruments of Communion" are consenting to the election of GLBT bishops, same-sex blessings, and border crossings. Will be interesting if they can prevent the last as well as the first two.

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  3. Mark+, what is your take on the bishops who both voted for the resolutions and signed the "Anaheim statement." To me it seems that the fence can cause a little crotch discomfort.

    "Let your yes be maybe and your no be maybe."

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  4. drdanfee

    This statement of the Common Cause Bishops is clearly a transitional phenomena, as indeed the entire global conservative realignment is transitional. Some states are slave holding, some states are free; that is just how we all are, together, right now.

    Pledging business as usual, but not really (since if business as usual has to be newly enshrined in a global covenant with police and punishment provisions, then something somewhere is changing already?). The pledge reads like a group of bishops trying to reserve a spot on the new global Anglican train without being quite sure of details concerning departure, direction, and other travel matters or implications.

    Though the bishops read as expressing confidence in such things as moratoria, covenant adoption, and of course the traditionally low-nasty-silent-invisible-powerless-defective place assigned to queer folks in our best available practices of straights only religion, the fact is that all of these domains have already shifted, are shifting, and will surely shift further in both near future and the long-term. Will shift, globally.

    So this transitional witness reads like the proud witness that straight holy men always make sure to blare on megaphones into the crowds that often include queer folks and others of lesser status.

    We are supposed to be able to rest easy, knowing their hands have never touched the dreaded queer stuff, nor touched anybody who touched - and all that.

    Insofar as their covenant adoption hopes involve that sort of freedom - indeed, covenanted protection - from alleged contamination; well the whole tilt is already speaking loudly for itself, and has been so speaking for quite a while now.
    In practical terms, I wouldn't want to have to figure out how to be a real alive, thriving queer member of any of their real extended families, just too dicey, too tricky, too vexed with flat earth belief systems and all that.

    What the good and pure traditional bishops do not have such a final, closed handle on, then, is how the various global audiences might hear their pledge of No Change, Never. A very great many more people are listening, than just their own special reference conservative realignment crowd, or Canterbury. I think they might get a place on the conservative train, all right; but in the long run not like all that much where it shows signs of ending up, on global arrival.

    Somewhere in their extended family or social networks, this or that queer person already exists; folk wisdom has it that we are all, just six degrees of separation or so from one another's realms. Those thriving queer folks are a whole lot closer than the good bishops think; and even a new global covenant is unlikely to change that reality by pledging to studiously ignore it, and police or punish anybody else who gets a glimmer of what is probably still, very real.

    The most important audience may turn out to have been the bishops themselves. Pledging a reality to construct a reality, all queer free and family of queer folks free and friends of queer folks free. Saying it, to make it be so. As Captain Picard often says in one of those Star Treks, Engage.

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  5. ".. our commitment to the three moratoria"? What planet are these people from? Talk about fiddling while Rome burns!

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  6. here is the PBS story done on the convention, and done pretty well, I thought.

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/july-17-2009/episcopal-convention-report/3604/

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  7. I think these folks must be of the "should I go, or should I stay" mind. But not knowing them, personally, that is just a guess based on their statement.

    It reads as if they love being IN TEC, but not a PART of church democracy. Oh and BTW, any purpose of the covenant other than so say, 'hey, do your own thing as God calls you to do, but do no harm' won't be okay with me.

    And I put those two seemingly unrelated sentences together for the reason that they have EVERYTHING to do with one another.

    Just as a thought, if the covenant REQUIRED, for instance, independent authority and respect for the differences of polity of national churches would they even BE interested in it?

    Um, no.

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  8. 2006 B033 called on bishops and standing committees to exercise restraint in consenting to bishops-elect that would cause issues in the wider AC by their manner of life. It was directed to lgbt folks living in relationships, but as we see in the election of No. MI, has extended itself into other interpretation. This resolution had no Use By date, so is still in effect.

    2009 D025 did not rescind 2006 B033. It has restated where TEC is today and reaffirmed the TEC canons regarding ordination, which is a process open to all of the baptised, with no guaranteed end result.

    Currently, both of these are held in tension with one another. But it is obvious that the bishops who signed this Statement, at least those with jurisdiction and so required to give or withhold consent to episcopal ordination, will probably continue to abide by 2006 B033 and continue to exercise restraint in consenting to bishops-elect that would cause issues in the wider AC by their manner of life. We should expect a No from anyone who signed this Statement on any glbt bishop-elect living in a relationship other than heterosexual marriage.

    As both the President of the HoD and the Presiding Bishop stated, 2006 B033 stands until it is broken by the ordination of a glbt bishop-elect in a relationship that is not heterosexual marriage.

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  9. The continuing silence from the GAFCON/FOCA bloc suggests that we are to expect a single, unified howl of horror and outrage from the Usual Suspects in the very near future. Care to bet on C. Sugden's being a very busy man right now?

    In the highly unlikely event that they do manage to engineer the admission of ACNA to the Anglican Communion or, more improbably, that they encompass TEC's expulsion from it, then what? Do they suppose the US courts will rule that being out of communion with George III's established church is grounds for handing over TEC's assets to another body?

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  10. I'm pleased that my bishop, Charles Jenkins, is not in the list of signatories.

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  11. Dah-veed: I know that 815 is trying to spin the resolutions, but this is what Bp Rickles of Olympia said (he voted for both resolutions):

    Third, this resolution does in fact, open up access once again to gay and lesbian people, to the discernment process for the episcopate. To interpret this any other way would be dishonest.

    Tom Sramek, Jr., the authors of the statement "can't prevent" border crossings other than asking that they cease. These dioceses are among the most affected.

    (Besides border crossings stopped with the advent of the ACNA.)

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  12. I haven't seen the name of my bishop (who is often allied with Bishop Jenkins) either...

    Mr. Arabin

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  13. Robert T. Dodd19/7/09 7:35 AM

    In response to Rob Roy:

    The signatories to the Anaheim statement include people of conscience who will continue to honor the moratoria but grant others the right to ignore them. They also include several "in it but not of it" Episcopalians who will continue to deny the Church even as they enjoy its benefits. It's those folks who may find the fence an increasingly uncomfortable perch.

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  14. Christopher (P.)19/7/09 2:30 PM

    Robroy--

    I regret to say that the border crossings have not ceased with the advent of ACNA. The CANA churches--most of which are within the borders of TEC's Diocese of Virginia--remain in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), even while also being in ACNA. To my knowledge, most of the Anglican African bishops who claim jurisdiction in North America have not had their memberships transferred to ACNA. (I welcome correction if this misrepresents the situation.)

    Strange as it may seem to those disturbed by the current developments, TEC is and remains fully "Windsor Compliant" in the letter of the law:

    * no gay partnered bishops since +Robinson;

    * no offically adopted liturgies for same-sex blessings;

    * no border crossings.

    This was stated by ++Eames, the chair of the Windsor report, as well as (I'm stretching memory here) a committee of the Primates before Dar es Salaam (if I remember right). There are about 6 Anglican provinces who are "Windsor Non-Compliant" and seem to be proudly so, in the name of "rescue."

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  15. Muthah+ et al, are you suggesting that those who, in good conscience, cannot embrace the "will of the CHurch" should be kicked out? Your comment suggests that only lockstep agreement with a majority view will be tolerated, and that only the "party line" will be acceptable. That's precisely what folks are accusing the ACNA and others of. Surely, you don't mean that. If so, then show me the door. I don't want to be in your church if that's how you view things.


    Pete

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  16. Christopher, actually, it is my understanding from talking to many under ACNA at the incredible Anglican Men's Weekend in May (would heartily recommend it next year to all!) that they are indeed canonically under ACNA, but they maintain their close relations with their provisional overseers. I definitely see this as a good thing. I have said before here that when I travel to the third world on mission trips, I am always shamed at their much greater faith. Thus, the continued ties only bring vitality and blessing to the parishes here. But if there is a new ordination here or a disciplinary issue, it would be under the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the ACNA.

    It is true their that there have not been any new homosexual bishops, but my prediction (You heard it here first, folks!) is that Tracy Lind will be elected within a year.

    Also, you misquote the second moratorium which was to refrain from the celebration of public rites of same-sex blessings. Now, we all know the sham that was being perpetrated. For goodness sakes, the wedding announcements were in the New York Times and California papers. But "these weren't sanctioned", I can hear you say. Well, now they are under the guise of "generous pastoral responses".

    Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

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  17. Forming a new ecclesiastical community called ACNA is one thing; still attempting to alienate Episcopal Church assets and take them into this new community is another, of course.

    If all the "border crossings" had, in the spirit of the Windsor process, truly been stopped, this would no longer be an issue.

    christopher+

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  18. Christopher (P.)20/7/09 12:34 PM

    Robroy--

    Many thanks for clarifying that there are no longer illicit boundary crossings, because the other Anglican provinces have given up their formal ecclesial presence within TEC's (and I guess also the Anglican Church of Canada's) juridictions. It's a small victory for proper order with respect to our sister Provinces.

    With respect, I still maintain that TEC is fully "Windsor Compliant." And this is not my assessment, but that of the Communion. Upon request of the Primates, the Joint Standing Committee provided a report in October 2007 to the Primates and to the Anglican Consultative Council on TEC's compliance; the report stated that TEC was indeed compliant, with 11 on the committee supporting, one dissenting, and one not heard from (according to the Anglican Communion website). A majority of the Primates who responded to the report, and a majority of the Anglican Consultative Council members who responded, agreed with the report's assessment (also from AC website). The mind of the Communion is that TEC is "Windsor Compliant."

    It may be that current practice of public blessings here is not what the Communion would approve of, but the Communion hasn't seen fit to revisit its assessment, so it stands.

    I also need to disagree with your assessment of C056 as now "sanctioning" same sex blessings. The resolution has great symbolic value, but it made no changes in what is allowed. C056, as it is not an amendment to constitution, canons, or prayer book, did not change anything, because it couldn't! Existing church policy allows current practice under the prayer book rubrics concerning the service of the church.

    I'm glad that you have found the faith of those with whom you work to be inspiring--always a good thing!

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  19. robroy, the text from the Windsor Report is "we call upon all bishops of the Anglican Communion to honour the Primates' Pastoral Letter of May 2003, by not proceeding to authorise public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions." (para. 143) This has been interpreted by Archbishop Williams (repeatedly) and the Joint Standing Commission of the ACC and the Primates' Meeting (2007) to mean authorization of a single rite for use by the whole national church. That has not happened. It might in 2012; and if it does, it will certainly be related to the collecting of resources and the experiences of "generous pastoral response" that can happen under C056 . However, C056 did not take that step.

    In fact the Windsor Report also said, "We urge all provinces that are engaged in processes of discernment regarding the blessing of same sex unions to engage the Communion in continuing study of biblical and theological rationale for and against such unions." (para. 145) This would be the real result of C056: real information based on systematic study.

    For that matter, the Windsor Report also says, "We remind all in the Communion that Lambeth Resolution 1.10 calls for an ongoing process of listening and discernment, and that Christians of good will need to be prepared to engage honestly and frankly with each other on issues relating to human sexuality." We're ready and willing to discuss with those who actually want to discuss, and not just cast aspersions.

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  20. Let your 'yes' be yes and your "no" be no. Anything is of the evil one.(That's Jesus speaking, by the way.)

    Sorry to be a pain, but...

    If B033 needed another HoB statement to clarify that it applied to homosexuals, I would say that it was a neither yes nor no statement, thus it was of the evil one. (I, like Jesus, happen to believe in the evil one.) Similarly, we have Bp Rickles of Olympia stating, To interpret this any other way would be dishonest. and now 815 and other neither warm nor cold bishops like Parsley saying that D025 means nothing - that is of the evil one as well.

    But, it doesn't really matter, we will find out soon enough whether B033 is in effect and the attempts to spin were simply duplicitous (and hence of the evil one).

    Marshall writes, "...to mean authorization of a single rite for use by the whole national church."
    That is just sad. So if we have a Rite I and Rite II service of homosexual marriages, that would be Windsor compliant?

    Listen what the HoB said:

    "We, the members of the House of Bishops, pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses ANY public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action."

    Well, General Convention has taken further action and it is reported in the Boston Globe is reporting today (Kendall+ has a link), the Northeastern bishops are indeed moving forward with same sex union blessings.

    I definitely prefer Bp Rickles integrity to this dissembling of other bishops.

    Let your 'yes' be yes and your "no" be no. Anything is of the evil one.

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  21. Here's what the Archbishop of canterbury said at the press conference at the end of the lambeth Conference, 2008:


    QUESTION On the issue of same-sex blessings is it your sense that it is good enough, far enough, for Churches to go to say they won't legitimise public rights of blessing – or is it your sense that Anglicans need to go further to prevent the sorts of blessings we've seen in the Church of England and elsewhere in recent weeks.

    ANSWER One of the problems around this is that people in different parts of the world clearly define 'public' and 'rights' and 'blessing' in rather different ways. I'd refer I think to what I said in the address this afternoon. As soon as there is a liturgical form it gives the impression: this has the Church's stamp on it. As soon as that happens I think you've moved to another level of apparent commitment, and that I think is nowhere near where the Anglican Communion generally is. In the meeting of Primates at Gramado in Brazil some years ago, the phrase 'A variety of pastoral response' was used as an attempt to recognise that there were places where private prayers were said and, although there's a lot of unease about that, there wasn't quite the same strength of feeling about that as about public liturgies. But again 'pastoral response' has been interpreted very differently and there are those in the USA who would say: 'Well, pastoral response means rights of blessing', and I'm not very happy about that.
    Posted by John Sandeman

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  22. Good for the Episcopal Church. We are moving forward and are going to be on the right side of history. Very soon right wing extremists will have to explain to their children why they so condemned a Church simply trying to treat gays and lesbians as full human beings. These uncomfortable conversations will be similar to those held here in the old confederate states about Jim Crow laws - Daddy, now why exactly did you think it right to treat people of color as second class citizens? Unlike the conservatives who are obsessed with attendance numbers and dumbing down their theology in the process to "make sales", we must emulate the love of Christ - seeking and serving Christ in all persons. If the constituent members of the Anglican Communion do not like their inability to impose their will on us, then so be it. Let the chips fall....

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