Saturday, February 24, 2007

Read this excellent point-by-point response to the TEC House of Deputies president's recent statement on the Primates' Communique

BB NOTE: Read the Rev. Dan Martin's response to House of Deputies president, Bonnie Anderson's recent statement on the Primates' Communique. It's excellent and helps clarify points that perhaps some in the TEC will wish to blur. Here's an excerpt:

BA: The polity of the Episcopal Church is one of shared decision making among the laity, priest and deacons and bishops. The House of Bishops does not make binding, final decisions about the governance of the Church. Decisions like those requested by the Primates must be carefully considered and ultimately decided by the whole Church, all orders of ministry, together.

DM: I would gently suggest that Bonnie needs to read the request of the Primates more carefully. It is addressed to the House of Bishops, through the Presiding Bishop. They haven't made a request of the Episcopal Church; they have made a request of the House of Bishops. Individual Episcopalians, including the PHOD, might question the wisdom of their decision, but they're the Primates and we're not. So they get to decide who they want to talk to.

BA: Some are asking ... Is it a good idea for our House of Bishops to do what they have asked? Is the House of Bishops the right body within the Episcopal Church to respond to the Primates’ requests?

DM: See above. If the request has been made of the HOB, then the HOB is clearly "the right body" to provide an answer. Anything else would be...well...impolite.

BA: Our baptismal promise to seek and serve Christ in all people must be very carefully considered when we are being asked as Episcopalians to exclude some of our members from answering the Holy Spirit’s call to use their God-given gifts to lead faithful lives of ministry.

DM: This statement makes all sorts of suppositions that are neither self-evident nor universally shared. They are, in fact, contested, and they are contested in good faith. The attempt to exploit our baptismal vows to shame Episcopalians who share theological and moral convictions with not only a majority of the world's Anglicans but the vast majority of the world's Christians is itself shameful. We (numbering myself with the majorities I just identified) would answer that we are not endorsing the exclusion of any who are called by God to the episcopate, but that we operate from a premise that God does not call to leadership positions in the church those who are involved in relationships that by their nature inherently fall short of God's own moral vision--a vision of which we have no proprietary knowledge, but which is revealed by God for all to see. Rather than subverting our promise to "seek and serve Christ in all people," then, we are being true to our promise to remain faithful to "the apostles' teaching and fellowship."

BA: Our promise to strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of all people binds us together.

DM: I would respectfully disagree. It is our being "in Christ" (per St Paul) that binds us together.

BA: The Episcopal Church has declared repeatedly that our understanding of the Baptismal Covenant requires that we treat all persons equally regardless of their race, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities, age, color, ethnic origin, or national origin.

DM: This begs the question. To comply with the Primates' request would not cause the violation of any of the non-discrimination canons. The Primates are not asking the HOB with withhold consecration of episcopal candidates who are merely of a homosexual orient. They are speaking of anyone who is living in an intimate relationship outside of marriage as the Communion understands marriage (cf. Lambeth I.10).

BA: To honor all of the Primates’ requests would change the way the Episcopal Church understands its role in the Communion and the way Episcopalians make decisions about our common life. Our church makes policy and interprets its resolutions and Canons through the General Convention and, to a lesser extent, the Executive Council.

DM: Bonnie is mostly correct here. But, as I have said, I think the changes she fears are good and necessary. For the sake of the long-term wholeness of the Episcopal Church, we need to submit to this discipline.

BA: As president of the 800-plus member House of Deputies, it is my duty to ensure that the voice of the clergy and the laity of our Church will be heard as the Church discusses and debates the Primates’ requests and that that process will not be pre-empted by the House of Bishops or any other group. I have already begun to work toward that end.

DM: Well, to borrow a phrase from Ronald Reagan, "there you go again." The Primates are talking to the Bishops. If other parties get involved, they are horning in uninvited. If the Bishops desire the counsel of the House of Deputies, it is their prerogative to ask for it, either by calling a special General Convention or allowing the Executive Council to act as proxy, which is not completely outside its scope of responsibility. But the Bishops are under no moral or canonical obligation to do so. Something has been asked of them, and it is up to them to respond.

Read the whole thing here.


Padre Wayne said...

I am distressed -- no, appalled -- that no one of any authority -- primate, ABC, a provincial synod or house of bishops -- has introduced into the conversation (re: communique and response) the terrible, terrible bill put before the Nigerian government. A bill which would, in fact, disallow the very conversation we are all requested (by Windsor and Dromantine) to have...

"U. N. Human Rights experts have spoken out against this bill, noting that it violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and have urged the Nigerian government to withdraw it."

So much for the "athiestic" (quoted from another blog commenter) United Nations. It seems that sometimes secular morality can move more forcefully than the moral stance of any church.

Kevin said...

All the commentaries so far don't surprise me. They're saying what they're supposed to be saying, GLBT community is 'who needs the AC,' CANA is saying 'we have some official status and TEC must do so things by 9/30 -- this is good,' ++KJS is saying 'spin, smug, spin,[slight of hand], blur, spin.'

This one is most intriguing, at base level I read, 'we don't like the content, but we REALLY are upset the primates didn't recognize us!!! We're important in TEC governance, how disrespectful.' This is the most "loose cannon" I've seen in the mix (including many of the bombastic one {I'm considering the source and thus pretty predictable}) This group is the one ++KJS must court seriously (albeit probably not in open letter but privately). We shall see.

Kevin said...

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every
good and perfect gift: Send down upon all Anglican bishops, and
other clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their
charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace: and, that they may
truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy
blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate
and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen

Unknown said...

I looked through the Communique and didn't see any mention of the war in Iraq or Afghanistan either. Let's see, I don't see anything about the horror going on in the Sudan or anything about Global Warming either. Wait, let me go get the Communique. Nope, don't see any of those issues on it either. Does that mean it's dismissed? Do we think that the old Obtuse Deflector will work this time? We think not.

The issue is very clear - will the TEC bishops do what the Communique requests or will TEC walk apart from the Anglican Communion? Or, to borrow from Hamlet, to be or not to be - that is the question.


Anonymous said...

Or to borrow from Sinatra,
"Doo-bee doo-bee doo. . . "

(from Strangers in the Night)

Padre Wayne said...

You're absolutely right about what was and was not included in the communique, BB... I point out this omission because it is germaine to the issues of sexuality, sexual expression, and the "listening process" -- and the directive of Windsor (if one chooses to call W's recommendations directives).

Perhaps, just perhaps, if the Primates were less concerned about how I live my life as a Christian and openly gay man they might have had the energy for robust and spiritually guided conversation (and communique) about Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur. Such, sadly, was not the case.

Kevin said...

RE: The issue is very clear

I wish it were BB, but the Communiques official interpretation is done by a group of bishop, whom ++KJS gets a say who's on. Kind of like the sub-committee report on WR compliance ... sometimes clarity is obvious to everyone but those with authority ... [sigh] ...