Thursday, February 15, 2007

Matt Kennedy: Response to and Refutation of the Wholly Inadequate Communion Sub-Group Report

February 15th, 2007 posted by admin at 6:53 pm

Response to Communion Sub-Group Report Part 1 B033

From the Communion Sub-Group Report on Resolution B033: the selection of Bishops:

The resolution, which was passed by large majorities in both houses, therefore calls upon those charged with the giving of consent to the result of any election to the episcopate to refuse consent to candidates whose “manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion”.

In voting for this resolution, the majority of bishops with jurisdiction have indicated that they will refuse consent in future to the consecration of a bishop whose manner of life challenges the wider church and leads to further strains on Communion. This represents a significant shift from the position which applied in 2003. It was noted that a small number of bishops indicated that they would not abide by the resolution of General Convention, but in supporting the resolution the majority of bishops have committed themselves to the recommendations of the Windsor Report.

The group noted that while the Windsor Report restricted its recommendation to candidates for the episcopate who were living in a same gender union, the resolution at General Convention widened this stricture to apply to a range of lifestyles which present a wider challenge. The group welcomed this widening of the principle, which was also recommended by the Windsor Report[4] , and commend it to the Communion.

The Group completely misunderstands the general language employed in B033. The language is lifted directly from Resolution A161 which had been defeated the day before Resolution B033 was introduced.

Resolution A161 stated with regard to bishops:

“Accordingly, we are obliged to urge nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees, and bishops with jurisdiction to refrain from the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion…”

The published explanation provided for the language of Resolution A161 is as follows:

“The resolution does not specify what constitutes a “manner of life” that “presents a challenge to the wider church;” we leave this to the prayerful discernment of those involved in nominating, electing, and consecrating bishops. Concerns we discussed were by no means limited to the nature of the family life; for example, the potential of bishops to serve effectively as pastors for all within their diocese, and their level of commitment to respect the dignity of and strive for justice for all people are also relevant.”

Obviously, the “widening” or generalization of the Windsor language is not intended to provide for greater compliance to Communion principles but rather to provide greater space for diocesan nominating committees and conventions to decide for themselves what sort of lifestyle might pose a “challenge” to the wider church.

And at least one diocesan standing commission has already nominated a candidate living in a non-celibate homosexual relationship and it did so without any official consternation from the Executive Committee or the Presiding Bishop. Why? Because the standing commission in question had “prayerfully discerned” that the non-celibate homosexual candidate did not pose a challenge to the wider communion.

And yet at the same time while Resolution B033 has not prevented the nomination of non-celibate homosexual candidates, it has been applied by many bishops and standing committees to object to the election of South Carolina’s Bishop-elect Mark Lawrence whose candidacy, they have “prayerfully discerned,” poses a challenge to the wider communion.

Read Matt’s full article here.

The Rev. Matt Kennedy is rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, NY and a regular contributor at Stand Firm. He became a household name among Anglican blog readers during the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in June 2006 due to his feats of live blogging. It’s not an official title, but he definitely fills the role of “theologian in residence” at Stand Firm. The man not only types fast but thinks deeply! A true asset to the Anglican blogosphere.


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