Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Trigger? What trigger? For what? By whom?

From the Communique (emphasis in the original) -

In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church 1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134); unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).

The Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to the Primates by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007. If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion.

The consequences are not stated. Are they tangible? Ruth Gledhill thinks so:
The bishops of the Episcopal Church have been given until September 30 to respond. If they refuse to comply, action is certain to be taken to suspend in some way the province's membership of the central councils of the Communion. It would be doubly embarrassing for the province given that their Primate, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, was also elected onto the Standing Committee of the Primates, a highly-prestigious seat which places her at the right hand of the Archbishop of Canterbury and at the centre of the structures of power in the Anglican Church.
Doubly embarassing, or doubly unlikely? I would not be so quick to conclude "if they refuse to comply [by September 30], action is certain to be taken to suspend...." First, drop dead dates can always slip when there is evidence progress is being made. Second, will the Primates really want to carry out the threat? Third, if the punishment is to remove KJS from the Standing Committee we are simply back to where we were yesterday. I don't believe the lady gives a damn about embarassment over losing a battle over inclusion. Fourth, KJS just got closer to the levers of power in one of the instruments that would play a role in deciding guilt and punishment of TEC.

The comments of Charles Hohenstein are cogent:
ECUSA was not punished at all--the decision was simply postponed until after September 30th, when no doubt there will be more meetings and more obfuscation and another extension of the deadline for compliance. Note especially that ECUSA bishops don't have to ensure that no blessings of same-sex unions take place in their dioceses. They only have to give their assurance that no formal, public rites for the same will be adopted. ... ECUSA was not required to depose Gene Robinson. The bishops requesting alternative primatial oversight didn't get it. Instead they will get a sort of Vichy solution with the Presiding Bishop nominating two of the five members of the council, and deciding what powers to delegate to the vicar. Note well that nominations for the position of vicar will come, not from the Anglican Communion Network, but from the whole pool of so-called Windsor bishops, most of whom are only orthodox on paper....
Reading around the Episcopal blogosphere it seems my assessment is contrarian. See here and here for example.

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