Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Bishop's take on the House of Bishops response

From the Bishop of Central Florida's column for the April newsletter:

I believe all of us wanted to signal to the rest of the Communion that we are taking the Primates’ requests very seriously, and this highly nuanced response is truly the most we could fashion together.  It is the result of a greater cooperative effort than I have seen in this House since becoming a Bishop!

Did I vote in favor of the Bishops’ statement?  Yes, because even this rather strange and limited response is better than no response at all.

Interestingly, our Presiding Bishop shared with us an email he received from the Archbishop of Canterbury within a few hours of our statement being issued.  The Archbishop thanked us quite profusely for our “generous and costly” response to the Primates.  So perhaps the glass is half-full, rather than half-empty!

I believe that for the moment we are technically in compliance with the Primates’ requests.  And our work this week may have bought us a year and a half (until General Convention).

What will happen during this time?  A delegation of Bishops and theologians who believe that our decisions in the last General Convention were right will be invited to “make their case” at the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in June.  There will be much international consultation (as there should have been previously). 

But frankly, I cannot envision any scenario in which a majority of our Anglican partners will change their minds in so brief a time.

The clear expectation of nearly everyone (in my opinion) is that when GC 2006 rolls around, all of these moratoria will be lifted.  General Convention will then have to decide whether to affirm in a clearer way than it has to date the legitimacy of same-sex blessings and the consecration of non-celibate gay and lesbian persons, or to back away and reaffirm the teaching and practice of the rest of the Anglican world.

And then we will have to answer the question of whether we will “walk together” or “walk separately.”  Again, thank you for your prayers.  Please continue to offer them.

The net effect probably is to buy more time. While the Bishop doesn't think the more conservative bishops in the union will change their minds, neither do I think the more liberal bishops in the union will change their mind between now and General Convention 2006.

While the Bishop doesn't think the agreement will stop some bishops from blessing same-sex unions, I don't think it will stop interfering foreign primates from crossing lines, either.

I don't see Presiding Bishop Griswold "making his case" i.e. "making his defense" of the actions of the last General Convention. It's like telling a child, "Explain yourself," implying guilt from the get-go.

Myself, I'm really tired of being told my church has "chosen to walk separately." It hasn't. Others want it to walk separately.

So I guess we're in for general sniping and arguing until the next convention.

It will be interesting to watch, though interesting is not always a good thing.

The Network supporters probably figure they can make more inroads into more dioceses in the meantime. "Liberate" more parishes from the evil liberals. But maybe more people will have their eyes opened about the Network/AAC and the intentions of some of these parties between now and GC 2006.

We can only pray.

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