"this was the "take away" quote from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori -- in response to a question from AP reporter Rachel Zoll about the likelihood of "repealing B033."
My hope is that we not attempt to repeal past legislation at General Convention. It's a bad practice ... a bad legislative practice. I would far more prefer us to say where we are today in 2009 ... to make a positive statement about our desire to include all people fully in this church and that we be clear about who we are as the Episcopal Church.
We can not only live with that ... we can WORK with that. A positive statement about our desire to include all people fully in this church is EXACTLY what we mean by "the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments" -- and it is exactly what we are going to Anaheim to help our deputies and bishops both craft and implement."
Absolutely. Susan Russell once again gets it right.
I think we ought to do precisely that: "move on."
I hope we will consider a resolution that (i) assures the Church and the Communion that TEC makes its decisions regarding elections to the episcopate and ordinations to all orders of ministry mindful of our participation in the life of the Anglican Communion, and (ii) reaffirms the existing canons regarding ordination as sufficient to assure that persons nominated, elected and for whom consents are secured are suitable for the ministries to which they have been called.
Hopefully this sort of resolution will pass in both Houses. It will no doubt be seen as a "reversal" of B033 in spite of it being a statement of where we are in 2009. It will make a number of bishops a bit nervous and they will attempt some sort of revised standard version of B033, or a substitute for the resolution above, or something.
One of the more dreadful possibilities is that some group of bishops will propose a common pledge to continue B033 as a matter of shared individual decision - signing on to continue a de facto moratorium. If they get a majority of bishops with jurisdiction to sign on they would then have the proof of TEC continuing the moratorium, not by common decision at General Convention but by diocesan bishops.
While this might satisfy some in the international community -including the Archbishop of Canterbury- who are looking for precisely a continuation of the moratorium, it is a move that would play into the hands of those who want the authority of the church to devolve (or evolve) to the bishops of jurisdictions and to the dioceses and completely away from the General Convention. This would include bishops who want to sign on to the Covenant as dioceses, those who believe that dioceses can determine if they wish to continue as part of the "General Convention Episcopal Church" or not, and those who believe that the Presiding Bishop has so few powers that she is not and cannot be a Metropolitan - that is the equivalent of the Archbishop of a Province.
It might be of some importance to bring to General Convention a resolution to the effect that mememoranda of agreement for common action by members of either house taken outside the proper constraints and directions of General Convention itself, such that limitations are imposed on the actions or decisions of members of a house are effected, are not morally or legally binding on the church or any of its bishops or deputies. Further, it might also be necessary to resolve that such memoranda of agreement attempt to override the constitutional freedoms of members of either house to independent action and are therefore contrary to the Constitution and Canons.
Of course the real problem with an agreement among a majority of the bishops to continue B033 in some form independent of the actions pro or con of the General Convention is that such an agreement is on the face of it prejudicial against a class of people. This class is immediately gay and lesbian persons not celibate, but could easily include divorced persons and women. It no longer does (but could) include persons of color. It could be applied against any group.
Whether or not it is appropriate to distinguish a class of people (non-celibate gay or lesbian persons elected as bishops) and uniformly agree to deny consent to their election is of course the up-front issue. But behind this issue is that it snips out the gray cells, the thinking, between the presented situation (here is the bishop-elect, who is gay and in relationship) and the action (to consent or not.) It reduces the consent to a formula - if A then B.
That was not the situation that held concerning the consent to Bishop Robinson's election. There considerable energy went into "connecting the dots" between the abstract presenting case and the concrete action required. There, at least, people were asked to consider the matter in its concrete and specific context. There, at least, people were asked to think.
An organized pledge to continue the moratorium, without reference to action of General Convention, would be a mistake and the damage done a constitutional system of church governance would be immense. We already have plenty of churches in which the necessity to think things out has been removed. Why would we want another?
By the way, this thinking business cuts many ways. If in fact a majority of bishops or standing committees withhold consent for whatever reason, prejudicial against those who have problems with the matter of the oath of conformity or who practice meditation informed by Buddhism, or whatever, we are stuck. People did think it through and voted against the bishop-elect. Then we either have to get the electors to reconsider by electing the bishop again or we have to move on. Thinking does not guarantee one sort of result or another. (Sound familiar?)
Under the heading of where we are in 2009 we need also to state by resolution that this church is ready to consider public rites for blessing with the understanding that this is a process that would require at least six years to complete, in which there would be significant time for comment and input from our sisters and brothers in the Anglican Communion.
(i) My sense is the Presiding Bishop is right - we need to state where we are in 2009. So where we are is, "We make our decisions under the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church and mindful of our life in the Anglican Communion." We need to state that at this General Convention.
(ii) We need to dissuade or dismiss private arrangements among bishops independent of or contrary to the common and public context of decisions as General Convention.
(iii) We need to request the beginning work by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music on rites and include in that request the desire to consult widely on the content of such proposed rites.
There it is. Time to get on with the work.