Friday, May 27, 2005

HoB Covenenant Statement 2005

Criticism is easy of the recent Covenant Statement from ECUSA’s House of Bishops, their response to the recommendations of the Windsor Report and the ‘requests’ from the February meeting of the Anglican Primates. Simply to criticize is a cheap and easy imitation of true critical thinking; it demeans both the object of criticism and the critic. So, no criticisms here. The House of Bishops have taken a definitive position on the concerns churning the Anglican Communion. And they are to be commended.

In forming the Covenant Statement, the HoB has done something that actually borders on the courageous and wise. Our bishops have responded constructively and with integrity, graciously reminding folks (anyone who cares to pay attention) that they simply lack the authority that some wish them to exercise. They have nevertheless agreed to “withhold consent to the consecration of any person elected to the episcopate…until the General Convention of 2006” and to “encourage the dioceses of [the] church to delay episcopal elections….” Some see this response as petulant. But surely this is a narrow criticism. Simply put, there is nothing more that the bishops can do, constitutionally. And it’s a mark of courage that they have done no less. With regard to the Primates’ request that ECUSA withdraw its members from the Anglican Consultative Council, the HoB’s agreement to “defer to the [ACC] and the Executive Council…” reminds their critics again that the bishops of ECUSA have limits to their authority. The HoB has been both respectful and educative in their reply. They have responded from a renewed sense of the mutual accountability that all of us have in relationship with the wider Communion, and that the wider Communion has in relationship with us.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The HoB's Burdern of Irresponsibility

The Report of the Primate’s Theological Commission of the Anglican Church of Canada on the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions, also known as the St. Michael Report, is a document worthy of study, and an example of the kind of focused work that the Episcopal Church should be doing. It is available for review at . Whether or not the Church of Canada follows through is up to that Church. What ECUSA does is up to us. One hopes we’ll soon decide to take upon ourselves the responsibility that is ours, and if not from the episcopal order, then perhaps better still, this decision will emerge from the order of the laity.

It’s very disappointing to see that, stateside, something quite to the contrary has been unfolding. As recently reported in The Living Church, a scandalous number of our bishops have been busy demonstrating how well they are able to speak from both sides of their mouths. Rather than genuinely supporting a prayerful and reverent response to the call to enter into a sophisticated, credible, respectful, and respectable process of defining the theological groundings for what we do, and thus for who we are, they have been hiding behind a deceptive pretense.