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.