Well, its official. The Archbishop proposed, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion disposed.
The ABC proposed that, "while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members."
Now just for the record, the General Convention adopted the following, drawn from resolution D025 at the 2009 Convention: "...Resolved, That the 76th General Convention ... come to recognize that the baptized membership of The Episcopal Church includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships "characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God" (2000-D039); and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst; and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church, and that God's call to the ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church is a mystery which the Church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church; ..."
Dear friends, let's be clear: There was nothing in D025 that "breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion." D025 did change policy: from that point on it would be the policy of this church that the call to ordained office by any member would be treated in the same way - by exploration with them of their call, by examination of the level of their spiritual, moral and intellectual lives, and by submission to the ecclesiastical processes required for affirmation by the church that their call was met by the Church's own call to ordain them in their vocation. More importantly the call of any person to ordained ministry would be understood as a matter of discernment, an engagement with a mystery.
The change in policy was not intended to "breach any of the moratoria," it was intended to affirm the dignity of the sense of call that is felt by faithful Christians when they are challenged by God working in them to vocation in holy orders.
But no matter. That is not what the ABC and the Secretary General seem to believe. The Secretary General took up the ABC's proposal and acted:
"Last Thursday I sent letters to members of the Inter Anglican ecumenical dialogues who are from the Episcopal Church informing them that their membership of these dialogues has been discontinued. ...
I have also written to the person from the Episcopal Church who is a member of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), withdrawing that person’s membership and inviting her to serve as a Consultant to that body."
Well, this settles the matter of who does the axing... The ABC proposes, the Secretary General disposes. These are all agencies of the Anglican Consultative Council and it is of course the SG's job to remove members from office. He is the one who decides that he ABC's proposal is in order.
So much for the process and its results. Two white guys in London make the decisions.
The Secretary General then wants further information about whether or not Canada has any official change in policies that run counter to the Moratoria, and whether or not there is reason to believe the Southern Cone continues interventions in the life of The Episcopal Church.
I guess he'd like to get the Anglican Church of Canada off the hook by deciding that the Diocese of New Westminster is a rogue diocese, and I guess he'd like to ignore Rwanda all together and if possible the Southern Cone as well.
But here is the question:
What makes The Episcopal Church so "special"? Canada and England ordain gay clergy and no doubt have gay bishops. Many dioceses in Canada and England as well as in the United States make pastoral provision for blessing same sex unions, whether formally or informally. And who really thinks that there is insufficient reason to exclude persons appointed from Canada and England. And what of all those incursions? Who really believes they are over?
This is nuts. What is going on that The Episcopal Church is especially chosen for action?
It's not about gay and lesbian persons - if so why not Canada and England? It's not about infractions or incursions in dioceses not one's own, if so why not Rwanda (in particular) and the usual suspects?
What is it about? Maybe it is about women.
Before the three moratoria there was the unwritten moratorium on splitting over the ordination of women. It was decided by non-decision (also thought of as a "reception" process) that women could be in one province ordained to all orders, in another to some and in others not at all. Since license was required for women to celebrate or practice in their orders, women would simply be frozen out of consideration in places where they were not accepted. This is known in the Anglican world has having your cake and eating it too - or keeping the women at home.
That moratorium was only broken by making a bishop of The Episcopal Church the Primate of that Church. The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church is a woman, and that means that at some meetings of the world body SHE stands as equal with men in orders. Her election broke the reception process.
And I believe that is what deep down and under it all is still reducing the Communion to drivel.
And if only The Episcopal Church is being singled out for exclusion, and if the reason for that is some policy decision that actually results specifically in decision against a moratorium, then this is it. This is our real sin. We put a women in the highest councils of the Communion.
Our policy of electing a Presiding Bishop from a pool of candidates that did not automatically exclude women from consideration or election, and the result - namely the end of the policy of keeping the women at home - must be in stirring around in the mix somewhere.
Well, TEC didn't exercise gracious restraint in not electing a woman to serve on a level where it was not yet agreed that women could be. We elected her. Our Presiding Bishop is a woman and unless there is some way that Primates who do not ordain women can come to grips with that there will be endless repeats of the snubs, ecclesastically diplomatic but horrid theological absences from the communion table.
There may still be major issues about sexuality in the Communion, and we may have to admit that our ways are not their ways, etc, but friends, it is high time we be clear that the matter of gender is done.
It is time for the moratoria of gracious restraint that allows for a communion in which some members in holy orders are not recognized or able to be licensed, considered for positions or otherwise respected in their orders, by virtue of their gender, to be over.
Then we might say, Dear Archbishop, thank your for your note. You will not be surprised to know that while we hold you personally in high regard, we wonder in amazement that you only spoke of a proposal and the Secretary General took the proposal as an order and hacked away. Either you were not strong enough to demand resignation yourself or were simply avoiding the reality of dismissing hard working and faithful Christians from work they loved. You were either dishonest or into avoidance.
We wonder why?