Monday, February 19, 2007

Bishop Schori's Initial Reaction

via Jim Naughton (h/t Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans)

Bishop Jefferts Schori's initial reaction

From Matthew Davies at ENS:

"It is clear that despite the subcommittee report, a number of the Primates were unhappy with General Convention's response, and clarification of that response is among the Primates' requests of the Episcopal Church," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, one of the Anglican Communion's 38 Primates, said after their meeting's final business session adjournedat 11 p.m. local time.

"There is awareness that these issues are of concern in many Provinces of the Communion, and that the Episcopal Church's charism is to continue to encourage the discussion," said Jefferts Schori, who will offer additional comment after further reflection and her nearly 20-hour journey back to New York.

Jefferts Schori said the Primates "have also acknowledged and supported" her November 2006 proposal to name a primatial vicar who would assume some pastoral duties at the Presiding Bishop's direction.

"The hope is that the proposed primatial vicar will provide enough relief on both sides that the property disputes can be resolved in a way that does not alienate property and allows congregations access," Jefferts Schori said.

She said the Pastoral Council has been requested "to provide accountability for the primatial vicar proposal, as well as for other Provinces that have intervened."

Overall, Jefferts Schori said the Primates' Meeting demonstrated "a positive sense of collegiality, especially in the Bible studies and among Provinces where these issues have been robustly discussed. In addition, a number of Provinces are engaged in the Listening Process, and that is positive."

(The story isn't online yet. Click "continue reading" to see it all.)

Primates endorse pastoral council, primatial vicar in closing communiqué

Presiding Bishop comments on actions; further reflection to follow

By Matthew Davies

[ENS] The Primates of the Anglican Communion have called for the formation of a "Pastoral Council" that would work in cooperation with the Episcopal Church to negotiate the necessary structures to facilitate and encourage healing and reconciliation for those who feel unable to accept the direct ministry of their bishop or of the presiding bishop.

The request came in a communiqué issued at the close of their February 15-19 meeting near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, during which the Primates devoted extended discussions of the response of the Episcopal Church's 75th General Convention to the Windsor Report, a document that recommends ways in which the Anglican Communion can maintain unity amid differing viewpoints.

The full text of the communiqué is available at http://www.anglicancommunion.org.

"It is clear that despite the subcommittee report, a number of the Primates were unhappy with General Convention's response, and clarification of that response is among the Primates' requests of the Episcopal Church," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, one of the Anglican Communion's 38 Primates, said after their meeting's final business session adjourned at 11 p.m. local time.

"There is awareness that these issues are of concern in many Provinces of the Communion, and that the Episcopal Church's charism is to continue to encourage the discussion," said Jefferts Schori, who will offer additional comment after further reflection and her nearly 20-hour journey back to New York.

Jefferts Schori said the Primates "have also acknowledged and supported" her November 2006 proposal to name a primatial vicar who would assume some pastoral duties at the Presiding Bishop's direction.

"The hope is that the proposed primatial vicar will provide enough relief on both sides that the property disputes can be resolved in a way that does not alienate property and allows congregations access," Jefferts Schori said.

She said the Pastoral Council has been requested "to provide accountability for the primatial vicar proposal, as well as for other Provinces that have intervened."

Overall, Jefferts Schori said the Primates' Meeting demonstrated "a positive sense of collegiality, especially in the Bible studies and among Provinces where these issues have been robustly discussed. In addition, a number of Provinces are engaged in the Listening Process, and that is positive."

The 11-page communiqué noted that, although the Episcopal Church has "taken seriously" its Windsor response, "at the heart of our tensions is the belief that the Episcopal Church has departed from the standard of teaching on human sexuality accepted by the Communion in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 by consenting to the episcopal election of a candidate living in a committed relationship, and by permitting Rites of blessing same-sex unions."

During a news conference at the close of the Primates' Meeting, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said that the response represented "a willingness to engage with the Communion ... Our first question is how do we best engage with that willingness, a stream of a desire to remain with the Communion?"

Meanwhile, the Primates have requested that the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops "make an unequivocal common covenant" that they will not authorize same-gender blessings within their dioceses and confirm that Resolution B033, passed at the 75th General Convention, means that a candidate for bishop who is living in a same-gender relationship "shall not receive the necessary consent unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion."

An answer from the House of Bishops is to be conveyed to the Primates by September 30, 2007.

"If the reassurances ... cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at the best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion," the communiqué says.

Williams recognized that a substantial group of bishops in the Episcopal Church -- almost one quarter -- have committed fully to the Windsor Report and to providing a carefully worked out procedure for pastoral oversight.

"So we needed to see if there is an interim situation while the covenant is being worked out," he said. "That will provide a way of moving forward with integrity, a system of pastoral care ... a way of beginning to negotiate through the very difficult situation of interventions of provinces in the life of the Episcopal Church. We had some very moving testimonies of those, but it can only remain a very temporary solution."

The Primates said that there remains a "lack of clarity" about the Episcopal Church's stance, particularly on the issue of same-gender blessings, and called for some clarification.

They also acknowledged that interventions by bishops and archbishops of some Provinces "have exacerbated ... estrangement between some of the faithful and the Episcopal Church that this has led to recrimination, hostility and even to disputes in civil courts."

According to the communiqué, Jefferts Schori reminded the Primates that some in the Episcopal Church "have lost trust in the Primates and bishops of certain ... Provinces because they fear that they are all too ready to undermine or subvert the polity of the Episcopal Church."

The Primates are urging "the representatives of the Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation," and have requested the assurance that "no steps will be taken to alienate property from the Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny the use of that property to those congregations."

"None of us agreed that litigation or counter litigation can be a proper way forward for a Christian body," Williams said.

The communiqué said that once the "scheme of pastoral care is recognized to be fully operational, the Primates undertake to end all interventions" and that congregations or parishes in current arrangements will negotiate their place within the structures of pastoral oversight."

"I'd like to put all this within the context of a Covenant process," Williams said. "It's a scheme ... of nurturing those in the Episcopal Church and clarifying its position."

Upholding the bonds of affection that unite the Communion, the Primates supported the establishment of an Anglican Covenant, noting that it "may lead to the trust required to re-establish our interdependent life." They recognized that an "interim response" is required "until the Covenant is secured."

The full post is here
http://blog.edow.org/weblog/2007/02/bishop_jefferts_schoris_initia.html

5 Comments:

Anonymous David H said...

From the PB:

"It is clear that despite the subcommittee report, a number of the Primates were unhappy with General Convention's response, and clarification of that response is among the Primates' requests of the Episcopal Church," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, one of the Anglican Communion's 38 Primates, said after their meeting's final business session adjourned at 11 p.m. local time.

"There is awareness that these issues are of concern in many Provinces of the Communion, and that the Episcopal Church's charism is to continue to encourage the discussion...."

"many"? "a number"? I think the communique, with schedule, was "unanimous." Therefore the Primates should all be speaking with a common voice, if mutual responsibility and interdependence still mean anything. Now we need to see that what is of serious concern to many--most--is indeed a matter of concern for all. Presumably that's why ALL Primates signed off on the text. Right?

As for the particular charism of ECUSA, let's hope it includes more than talkin'. We know they can do that. Now they need to make a clear decision.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Libbie said...

Charism? Right there is the lack of humility: '...the Episcopal Church's charism is to continue to encourage the discussion.' This is embarrassing to me.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Libbie said...

Life 'on the ground' in the Episcopal Church here in the USA is something completely different than what is discussed at the 'higher' levels. The Bishops can agree that there will be no official rites for same-sex blessings, but the acceptance of blessings is long established in this high-speed 'Western' part of the world. It's hard for me to believe, knowing those who completely disagree with my more historical stance, that there can be any going back. It still seems almost impossible to be in the same denomination with them. And what will seven months tell? Unless there is widespread repentance and education, I'm afraid it will lip-service yet again.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous David H said...

Well, then, Libbie, we're back to the Existentialists' old mantra: Not to decide is to decide. And the Primates will accept that decision for what it is.

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Graham Kings said...

In The Guardian, Tuesday 20 February 2007, Stephen Bates writes an article headed 'No schism for now: Williams gets tough on liberals to save the church'.

The first paragraph runs:

'The archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, kept the worldwide Anglican communion together, at least in the short term, but at the cost of imposing unprecedented sanctions on the US Episcopal church to force it to abandon its liberal policies towards gay people.'

www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,2016971,00.html

8:56 PM  

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