The Living Church has published a short statement by the Communion Partner Bishops and the Communion Partner advisory committee lamenting the election and consents for Bishop elect Mary Glasspool. The Communion Partner Bishops is a group of bishops who claim a commitment to stand both IN The Episcopal Church and WITH The Anglican Communion. This group as primarily used the Anglican Covenant and the Windsor Report as a measure of that joint commitment.
The website for the Communion Partner Bishops lists 19 bishops as members. Twelve bishops signed the statement. It is hard to say what significance this reduction in numbers means, but there are some differences worth noting.
Eight bishops, James Adams, Jr., Aldan Hathaway, Mark Lawrence, Gary Lillibridge, David Reed, Ed Salmon, Don Wimberly and Geralyn Wolf, all members of the official list, did not sign.
There is one new signature: Bishops Francis Gray.
The valiant 19 are now the noble 12.
Here is what they had to say,
“March 19, 2010
It is with profound sorrow that we, the Communion Partner Bishops and Rectors, express our deepest regret to our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion for the action of the majority of the diocesan bishops and standing committees of the dioceses of The Episcopal Church in voting to consent to the consecration as a bishop of a woman living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage.
Unfortunately, where restraint was respectfully requested by the leadership of the Communion, it has been ignored. Where the General Convention has counseled study of the Anglican Covenant, this action has rendered that counsel moot.
Therefore, we disassociate ourselves from this action and grieve the state of separation that exists in The Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.
This separation is a witness to the need for the Anglican Covenant as the means through which dioceses and congregations in The Episcopal Church can affirm their commitment to the Anglican Communion.”
Lest we forget or are too lazy to notice, the Communion Partner Bishops once again are making the argument that (i) The Episcopal Church is unwilling or incapable of following through on the Anglican Covenant process leading to a meaningful vote on affirmation of the Anglican Covenant, and (ii) it therefore rests with parishes and dioceses to affirm the Anglican Covenant themselves in order to express their commitment to the Anglican Communion.
The bishops state that the election and consent to Bishop elect Glasspool renders the counsel that TEC study the Anglican Covenant, expressed in 2009 GC, resolution D025, moot. But of course that is malarkey.
What the election and consents do is express the reality of our synodical life that must be brought to bear on the analysis of the several sections of the Anglican Covenant. What the election and consents do is help us understand that the restrictive nature of the Covenant lies not in its own wording, but in its historical rootedness in the Windsor Report and the intended or unintended consequences of its mechanisms for adjudicating concerns that arise in the Communion.
Interestingly the Windsor Report is not mentioned in the final text, nor is moratoria, moratorium, restraint, etc. But the whole of the text is meant to address matters growing out of the “Windsor Process,” the process of examination of what it means to be Anglican that grew out of the recommendations of the Windsor Report. This is why the whole of the Anglican Covenant material is included in the section of the Anglican Communion website called, “The Windsor Process.”
The consequences of signing the Anglican Covenant would indeed bring back the Windsor Report request for moratoria in that the adjudicating body, namely the new Anglican Communion Standing Committee, would be strongly urged to use the continuation of the moratoria on ordination of partnered gay or lesbian clergy to the episcopate and blessing of same sex relationships, as a basis for determining inclusion or exclusion from the Communion. At the same time the moratorium on cross boarder incursions would be effectively ignored.
Far from rendering the study of the Anglican Covenant moot, the decision by a majority of bishops and standing committees of The Episcopal Church to consent to the election of Canon Glasspool opens up a conversation about the Windsor Process itself and the bazaar use of the Anglican Covenant as a litmus test for true allegiance to the Anglican Communion.
The Communion Partner Bishops, small in number, is making a small minded point.
Let’s get on with the discussion of the merits of the Covenant and its intended and unintended consequences. Let’s not be taken in by the attempt to make the Anglican Covenant a mechanism for asserting minority purity in the face of majority decision. The Anglican Covenant is either for the whole of TEC, or for none of it. Of course dioceses will stand for or against it, but not now. Now is the time for consideration of the issues. General Convention is the time for decision, by all of us.