Episcopal Church Flip-Flops, Makes Ass of Self

Many of you will no doubt be thrilled to learn that today is the last day of the 2006 General Convention of the Episcopal Church. And what a day it’s been….

Yesterday, resolution A161 (which, as amended by the House of Bishops, would have placed moratoria on both the consecration of GLBT bishops and the development or authorization of rites for blessing same-sex unions) was resoundingly defeated by the House of Deputies. The reaction from the House of Bishops makes me wonder if the Presiding Bishop hasn’t already had some sort of back-channel message from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the effect of “no resolution, no invitation to Lambeth”. So they managed to whip up a resolution (B033) originating in the HoB, which reads as follows:

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, that the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further

Resolved, that this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.

Frank Griswold++ (the current Presiding Bishop) presented this text to both houses at a special joint session (called by Bishop Griswold himself). At one point, it looked like the resolution was going to be stopped by procedural maneuvers, and all of the sudden the Presiding Bishop-elect asks to address the Deputies. Since the President of the House of Deputies can invite guests to speak, he extended an invitation to +Katharine, and this is what she said:

“Yesterday afternoon, the bishop of Louisiana spoke eloquently in our House about living in a church with two minds — one church, two minds. As he was speaking, an image was rising in my mind. It is a challenging image.

We have read many stories in the news about conjoined twins — two bodies or parts of body united in one being. …. Some parents have to wrestle with the decision of trying to separate or not trying to separate those twins. They operate with the assumption that it is wrong to attempt to separate those twins unless both can live full lives.

I think we are in a church much like that. this creature, this Body of Christ, is not wholly one and it is not wholly two. The resolution which stands before you is far from adequate. I find the language exceedingly challenging, but my sense is that it’s probably the best we’re going to do today, and at this convention. I am fully committed to the inclusion gay and lesbian Christians in this church. I certainly don’t understand adopting this resolution as slamming the door, and I do think that if you pass this resolution, you have to keep working with all your mind at finding a common mind in this church. I don’t find this an easy thing to say to you, but I think this is the best we’re going to manage at this point in our history.

Thank you.”

Apparently, the deputies agreed.

VOTING BY ORDERS IN THE HOD ON B033
VOTE RESULTS
LAY: yes 77.4 no 21. divided 11 carried

CLERGY: 75.8 yes 24 no divided 10 carried

RESOLUTION B033: CARRIED

I am feeling fairly inarticulate at the moment, so I’ll let Father Jake express just exactly what I’m feeling right now:

“..exercise restraint by not consenting…” How else can this possibly be heard except as a slap in the face to Bishop Robinson and all of our faithful glbt brothers and sisters?

The world was watching to see if at least one segment of the Body of Christ would reject the self-righteous bigotry that they have come to expect from those who call themselves Christians. And we have shown them that we’re not any different from the Falwells and Robertsons that regularly make a mockery of our faith. Most likely many will shrug and say they were not surprised, and then turn to the next page of the Wall Street Journal. We have crawled back into that box the secular world has built for us; a box that is quickly becoming irrelevant in many people’s lives anyway.

I’ll tell you one thing: I will never refer to myself as an Anglican again. We have created a golden calf that is not worthy of our worship, let alone our respect.

Keep in mind that this will not be enough for Anglican bigots like Peter Akinola. TEC is going to continue to be treated like a naughty child who must be disciplined. We have managed to not only compromise our integrity, but have also produced nothing that will be considered acceptable to the Communion. We blinked.

My heart is broken. Beyond that, I am outraged. There must be consequences created for this act of cowardice.

Not much to add to that, except to emphasize and concur with his point: this will not please the conservatives one iota. A quick survey of the popular conservative Anglican blogs shows that they’re already starting to howl and moan. We have sold our birthright for a mess of pottage.

Also, I wonder precisely what “manner of life” means? Does that include having a vagina? Or being divorced? Neither of those currently disqualifies one from the episcopacy in our church, but would disqualify one from the episcopal office in many provinces of the Anglican Communion.

This is yet another example of the Episcopal Church trying to buy peace with the conservatives for the moment at the price of a future of discord. It would have been better to have the courage of our convictions and say to the Communion, “we can’t commit to this because we are not of one mind”. Instead, they’ve put out this “call upon…exercise restraint” nonsense, which will almost certainly be challenged. The Bishops, being more collegial, will probably hold the line. I doubt the Standing Committees of the liberal dioceses will be so compliant, though, and where will that leave us? With the bishops refusing to consecrate those who have been chosen by the people?
My final thought for now is this: although I’m trying to have an open heart about this, it sure looks to me like the new Presiding Bishop-elect’s first act was to give the finger to the gay and lesbian members of her flock so that she can be sure of her place at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s little tea party.

UPDATE: The Archbishop of Canterbury is apparently wasting no time in letting up know just how little we’ve bought for ourselves by compromising our integrity:

Archbishop’s statement at the conclusion of deliberations on the Windsor Report and the Anglican Communion at the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America

Wednesday 21st June 2006

“I am grateful to the Bishops and Deputies of the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church (USA) for the exceptional seriousness with which they have responded to the request of the Primates of the Anglican Communion that they should address the recommendations of the Windsor Report relating to the tensions arising from the decisions associated with the 74th General Convention in 2003.

“ There is much to appreciate in the hard and devoted work done by General Convention, and before that, by the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, in crafting the resolutions. This and the actions taken today show how strong is their concern to seek reconciliation and conversation with the rest of the Communion.

“ It is not yet clear how far the resolutions passed this week and today represent the adoption by the Episcopal Church of all the proposals set out in the Windsor Report. The wider Communion will therefore need to reflect carefully on the significance of what has been decided before we respond more fully.

“ I am grateful that the JSC of the Primates and ACC has already appointed a small working group to assist this process of reflection and to advise me on these matters in the months leading up to the next Primates’ Meeting.

“ I intend to offer fuller comments on the situation in the next few days. The members of Convention and the whole of the Episcopal Church remain very much in our prayers.”

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13 Responses to “Episcopal Church Flip-Flops, Makes Ass of Self”

  1. midniter Says:

    I like the title…very FARK-like.

    That being said, I feel a bit sick to my stomach right now from this.

    On the bright side, I totally rocked out on putting in a new garbage disposal.

  2. Res Publica Says:

    Stick your hand in it. Then turn it on.

    Just kidding.  Mostly.  There is some good (or at least not too horrible) news here.  For one, the resolution makes no actual mention of homosexuality or gays or lesbians.  There are a lot of conversations going on right now about various “manners of life” that might “present a challenge to the wider church”.  I think an open homophobe (like Akinola of Nigeria), a bishop uncommitted to the discipline and canonical order of the church (like Duncan of Pittsburg), or a bishop who refuses to ordain women to the priesthood (like Iker of Fort Worth) are all good examples of candidates who might “present a challenge to” the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Anglican Church in New Zealand, just to name a few.

    Also, you will notice that there’s nary a peep about the blessing of same-sex unions.  That’s significant.  Although there are no official rites (yet), the Book of Common Prayer gives bishops the authority to set forth rites for such occasions as they deem pastorally necessary.  The short of it is that the blessing ceremonies that are already happening in liberal dioceses will continue.

  3. tiber jumper Says:

    This issue of the anglican communion splitting is yet another excellent proof in real life of why the church needs to be One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Without any final authority over issues of faith and morals and how to interpret the Bible, history will repeat itself again and again as the churches have been doing since 1517. It’s Deja Vu all Over again

  4. Res Publica Says:

    Or like 1054. Oops!

  5. Aron Says:

    I thought you might be interested in this email exchange…

    First, here’s an email sent from a member of the Diocese of Fort Worth to Iker…

    On Jun 19, 2006, at 3:32 PM, Susann Eller wrote:

    > As a member in good standing of the Episcopal Church not your church

    > apparently, I want to let you know that I do not agree with you and

    > your followers on the Resolution passed yesterday asking that this

    > Diocese withdraw from the Episcopal Church.

    > I along with many others in this Diocese will remain affiliated with

    > the Episcopal Church of the United States not you and your followers.

    > How dare you speak for us?

    > Susann M. Eller

    > Member of Trinity Episcopal Church

    And then here’s the good Bishop’s response…

    —–Original Message—–

    From: Bishop Jack L. Iker [mailto:jliker@…]

    Sent: Monday, June 19, 2006 9:29 PM

    To: Susann Eller

    Subject: Re: Member of Episcopal Church

    You are mistaken in your notion that our Diocese is withdrawing from the Episcopal Church. Please stop spreading lies. Stick to the facts.

    I am your bishop – and I speak for this diocese, whether you like it or not.

    Grow up.

    JLI

    =-=-=

    Nice, huh?

  6. plover Says:

    Wow. I don’t know what to say. That finale … was contorted to a fare-thee-well? Gives the impression of back-channel intrigue worthy of the Vatican?

    An Anglican commenter at Pharyngula mentioned the construction of religious community out of Tradition, Reason, and Scripture. Is this just centrifugal force of the Tradition thread of the bola?

    From the outside, it seems so inward-turning. It would be astonishing if the bishops – at least the ones that would be concerned about such things, and it seems like that would be true of many of them – don’t realise that this position will most likely be used as a kind of silent assent by conservatives and fundies in their attempts to make their bigotries synonymous with piety and morality. However, while balancing the internal demands of maintaining integrity and cohesion within a religious community with the problem of ensuring that the church’s mission can be seen clearly in a pluralist society is obviously an issue, it’s certainly not one I have any concrete knowledge of.

    I hope, Res, that the qualified optimism you offer in your comment bears out.

  7. Res Publica Says:

    How did these guys even make it through seminary and CPE? I’m so sorry that a Bishop in this church would ever speak to a parishoner like that. I suppose they’re feeling fairly triumphant right now, and not in the mood for any complaining.

    I’m praying for your diocese.

  8. Res Publica Says:

    Aron, may I post that email exchange? Not that I have many readers, but I feel that a communication like that should be posted publically…especially in light of the reports of some bishops’ behavior at GC.

  9. Aron Says:

    Absolutely. No problems here. I pulled it from the Fort Worth Via Media Yahoogroup.

  10. plover Says:

    Wow. I don’t know what to say. That finale … was contorted to a fare-thee-well? Gives the impression of intrigue worthy of the Vatican?

    An Anglican commenter at Pharyngula mentioned the construction of religious community out of Tradition, Reason, and Scripture. Is this just centrifugal force of the Tradition thread of the bola?

    From the outside, it seems so inward-turning. It would be astonishing if the bishops – at least the ones that would be concerned about such things, and it seems like that would be true of many of them – don’t realise that this position will most likely be used as a kind of silent assent by conservatives and fundies in their attempts to make their bigotries synonymous with piety and morality. However, while balancing the internal demands of maintaining integrity and cohesion within a religious community with the problem of ensuring that the church’s mission can be seen clearly in a pluralist society is obviously an issue, it’s certainly not one I have any concrete knowledge of.

    I hope, Res, that the qualified optimism you offer in your first comment above bears out.

  11. plover Says:

    For some reason, I apparently turned into spam today, and, just as mysteriously, I now appear to be human again. Just ignore all my earlier attempts to post the previous comment and the other various messages wondering why WordPress hates me that are cluttering up your moderation queue or spam box or whatever.

  12. Res Publica Says:

    Plover, you rock my comment threads!

    Also, I finally got the details on the whole crossed-and-names thing. You will undoubtedly not be surprised to know that I had it wrong. Here’s how it goes:

    If I am a priest, I can sign my name as William+

    When I get consecrated as a bishop and piss off everyone for being a big gay liberal, I then become +William.

    When I get elevated to Presiding Bishop or Archbishop, thereby precipitating a split in the worldwide communion over my controversial views on emus, I become ++William.

  13. Madder Still at Three Bulls! Says:

    […] Dedicated to Res Publica and his fine series on the Episcopalian/Aglican Church. […]

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