Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Presiding Bishop speaks to 815

I highly recommend that you listen to all she had say yesterday in her briefing to "the community of people who work at the Episcopal Church Center in New York on the recent Primates’ meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania." Html link here. She speaks for 25 minutes.

Some of things I heard her say:

1. One third of the primates were new, a "reminder that that body changes ... several high profile retirements coming [among the Primates]."

2. "Session where 3 other bishops of this church were present.... each of [us] expressed our own view ... significant part of the church where these issues are not [central] ... helpful for primates to see some of the emotion expressed."

3. "Those issues consumed the vast majority of our time [of the primates meetings]"

4. ABC " reflected in a nuanced way on the connection between slavery and our current controversies ... the role of the Anglican Communion in the end of slavery" Referring to the use of British Navy bombardment to end slavery in Zanzibar she said "I hope it doesn't come to that."

5. "Communique lists expectations... [Not meeting the expectations would take us out of the] councils of the Anglican Communion ... [Was seen as] helping this church resolve its differences."

6. "Entire communion is caught in our controversy.... The blessing in that .... can't deny homosexuals in their community ... TEC's gift is our 40 year conversation won't go away. ... God keeps bringing it back."

7. "Give strong evidence of our desire [to remain in the Anglican Communion] . Lambeth 1.10 teaching of the communion."

8. "My encouragement [to those who would say how dare they tell us what to do] is we might be able to see this as a container ... to continue to discuss " ... "my understanding of body of Christ is we can't say we have no need of you." [Referred to those on both sides of the issue who say let's divorce.]

9. "We are being invited to assert a desire to be full members of the AC."

10. "Change has already begun and I don't expect it to end."

11. There are "more developed churches whose provinces are close to [us]" [listed Brazil, Scotland, many others]

12. "Vast middle who don't see this as a defining issue."

13. "Few neuralgic provinces who have discovered this is their defining issue I think with encouragement from members of this church."

14. "The reality is change is happening in all those [provinces]. ... No where is there monochromatic opinion that the Primate may represent."

15. "Low point of the meeting when two of the primates reminded me of [how far we have to go] ... [One spoke of] homosexuality in same breath as child abuse in the Catholic Church, another said we don't study murderers why should we study homosexuality? ... We have a long way to go so that reason can be equal partner to scripture and tradition.

16. "I don't know what this church will decide ... I do know if we are removed from places [where conversation takes place we] lose opportunity to challenge thing like that."

17. Already in our "missional relationships [to other provinces] the conversation is changing people's understanding ... conversation opens some possibility of conversion."

18. "An enormous price is being asked of us. I don't know if we should pay that price. ... "

19. [paraphrase] This is a decision for the HOB. HOB will meet in March. Executive Committee will meet to discuss. Bishops will in September will come back informed about what they have heard in their own dioceses.

20. "I should clarify some misunderstandings... The reality is the ABC will respect what the primates decide ... official teaching. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York decide who is in communion with them and that's all that matters."

21. "Authorizing means official public ceremonies. ... Pastoral care [is still permitted - "the primates discussed that."]. ... Being asked to refrain from authorizing."

Jim Naughton has asked what the unintended consequences might be of accepting the requirements of the Communique. It appears clear the PB sees an unintended consequence of leaving the communion: it would slow the progress of justice for homosexuals in other parts of the communion.

I also see clear hints that the PB believes that the balance of power in the communion will have swung in a few years. A question one might ask is why not drop out and wait to be invited back when the communion has caught up with us. I can think of two possible reasons. The first is the point just made - the communion will move faster if we stay engaged. The second (paralleling the first) could be that by dropping out of the Anglican Communion's councils we spur divorce in The Episcopal Church.

Her premise of course is that she will not be changed by the conversation -- at least on her views about homosexuality. I don't believe she should. But conservatives will surely want to know what is in it for them to remain in conversation, and will even label her invitation as hypocritical. Actually they already have.

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