Some breaking news

The report of the group that advised the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report is online here.

Updated: Ok, I’ve read it through once, so here is a quick response that I may, no doubt, live to regret: In general it seems a positive evaluation of the Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report. As in:

“The response of the 75th General Convention to the Windsor Report as a whole in its resolutions was positive – Resolution A159[1] affirmed the Windsor Report, and its vision of the interdependent life of the Communion, including the appointment of a person to carry forward work on this proposal; the proposal for an Anglican Covenant was welcomed (Resolution A166[2] ); resolutions reflecting what the Windsor Report had had to say about the pastoral care of dissenting groups, and provincial autonomy were passed (A163[3] ).”

Regarding the requested moratorium on the election of gay bishops, the group weighs several factors, cites Resolution B033 and says: “The group believes therefore that General Convention has complied in this resolution with the request of the Primates.”

On offering an expression of regret, the group notes that there was a lack of clarity in what was asked of us, and then says: On the one hand, there does not seem to be any admission of the fact that the action of consenting to the particular election at the centre of this dispute was in itself blameworthy. On the other, there is the use of the strong language of “apology” and the request for “forgiveness”. These words are not lightly offered, and should not be lightly received. Taken with the apparent promise not to repeat the offence (Resolution B033 discussed above) we believe that the expression of regret is sufficient to meet the request of the primates.

The Group feels that the reality of the change of direction that some see in the resolutions of the General Convention can only be tested however by the way in which the Episcopal Church lives out these resolutions.

Now for the tricky part. On the matter of public blessings, the group wrote: “It is therefore not at all clear whether, in fact, the Episcopal Church is living with the recommendations of the Windsor Report on this matter. The Primates in their statement of March 2003 did admit that there could be “a breadth of private response to individual pastoral care”, but it is clear that the authorisation by any one bishop, diocese or Province, of any public Rite of Blessing, or permission to develop or use such a rite, would go against the standard of teaching to which the Communion as a whole has indicated that it is bound. We do not see how bishops who continue to act in a way which diverges from the common life of the Communion can be fully incorporated into its ongoing life. This is therefore a question which needs to be addressed urgently by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.”

I think this passage will be argued over pretty vehemently. As I read it, it forbids the authorization of a rite of same sex blessings, but doesn’t require a bishop to forbid his or her clergy from performing such blessings. We will see what others have to say.

Two points in closing. 1. Archbishop Bernard Malango of Central Africa, who wants us out of the Communion, was a member of this not particularly large committee. There is a certain dissonance here, I think. 2. Excluding Bishop Jefferts Schori from the meeting when the sub-committee had basically endorsed her role at our General Convention–remember that she supported B033, and was instrumental in getting it passed–would have made no sense.

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