Monday, February 19, 2007

First Reponse: Kendall Harmon

Kendall Harmon: Early Reaction to the Communique

The first thing I want to say is that people have no idea of how much sacrifice it took by those involved for the document to reach this point. This really was a contract negotiation (look at the appendix/Foundations section).

I have said a number of times that I thought the most important piece written in the Episcopal Church in the last year was by Michael Smith, Bishop of North Dakota. He basically said this: When I got home from General Convention 2006, I thought even though TEC had not satisfied the letter of the Windsor Report, we had satisfied the Spirit. Then he read Roman Williams letter to the primates and decided he was wrong.

Well, what this Communique says to the Episcopal Church leadership is: you thought you did enough but you were wrong. The central headline I would write would be "we are not yet persuaded...." That is significant. TEC remains on the hot seat with a clear and short deadline and two very clear and specific requests. The consequences are very serious if they do not:

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.

Please also note that the two requests include B033 being clarified because:

23. Further, some of us believe that Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention [8] does not in fact give the assurances requested in the Windsor Report.

What that means is that the early report in this meeting about B033 did not persuade enough of the primates that its evaluation was accurate, and therefore its determination of what occurred and what was intended was in question and has to be revisited. That is very good news indeed.

Sure, there are lots of questions. Sure it is not everything I would have wanted. But they came to an agreement and they made specific calls and gave specific deadlines with real consequences. That looks like the possibility of a Anglican Communion with discipline could emerge. A genuinely catholic church that acts catholic and has not simply faith but order--globally.

My hat is off to all in Tanzania who worked so hard during this meeting--KSH.

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