28 July 2008

The Report -- much ado about nothing new

Reports regarding the “bomb shell” that was delivered at Lambeth today are coming in. The report can be summed up in two double letters: SSDD (Same stuff, different day.) No surprises at all. The full text is here.

The bombshell is exactly what we have been hearing for several years.

The Windsor Report sets out requests for three moratoria in relation to the public Rites of Blessing of same sex unions, the consecration to the episcopate of those living in partnered gay relationships and the cessation of cross border interventions.

There have been different interpretations of the sense in which "moratorium" was used in the Windsor Report. Our understanding is that moratorium refers to both future actions and is also retrospective: that is that it requires the cessation of activity. This necessarily applies to practices that may have already been authorised as well as proposed for authorisation in the future.

The request for moratorium applies in this way to the complete cessation of (a) the celebration of blessings for same-sex unions, (b) consecrations of those living in openly gay relationships, and (c) all cross border interventions and inter-provincial claims of jurisdiction.

The three moratoria have been requested several times: Windsor (2004); Dromantine (2005); Dar es Salaam (2007) and the requests have been less than wholeheartedly embraced on all sides.

The failure to respond presents us with a situation where if the three moratoria are not observed, the Communion is likely to fracture. The patterns of action currently embraced with the continued blessings of same-sex unions and of interventions could lead to irreparable damage.

The call for the three moratoria on these issues relates to their controversial nature. This poses the serious question of what response should be made to those who act contrary to the moratorium during the Covenant process and who should make a response.

Notice that the request for moratorium, by the way it is worded, gives tacit approval to the ordination of non-celibate heterosexuals. I wonder how that one slipped though?

Also, note that this report completely ignores the fact that a previous committee said TEC had met all the requests of the Windsor Report.

This is, of course, dead on arrival.

Our bishops cannot sign on the dotted line; they do not have that authority. If they do (and some probably think they can and will), GC 09 will take care of all of that. If the bishops go for this, I believe we will see a GC that the bishops will wish they had never seen.

I cannot see a majority of the AC’s bishops supporting of a curia of inquisition that will have supremacy over any and all autonomous provinces.

Gafcon sympathizers won’t believe this goes far enough nor will they cease border crossings

Rowan has once again shot himself in both feet.

I suppose the only “bomb shell” was in the members of the committee chosen.

The Most Rev’d Clive Handford, former Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East (chair)
The Most Rev’d John Chew, Primate of South East Asia
The Right Rev’d Gary Lillibridge, Bishop of West Texas
The Right Rev’d Victoria Matthews, former Bishop of Edmonton
The Very Rev’d John Moses, former dean of St Paul's, London
The Most Rev’d Donald Mtetemela, Primate of Tanzania

You will notice that these folk are to the right of the original Windsor commission. There is not a single via media Anglican in the bunch. None is evenly overly friendly to women’s ordination (Well, Matthews may be). Talk about a stacked deck! Only one side of the debate is represented. What was the bomb shell in the list? Well, there is at least one adulterer in the bunch passing judgement on GLB folk. I guess that statement by Jesus forbidding divorce doesn't apply?

Keep in mind that this is a "work in progress" and not the final document. This is just a glimps of the direction things might go. Many things will change as the church's bishops make their feelings known.

I asked earlier, “Is this the last Lambeth Conference?” After reading the reports and seeing who the committee is, the answer is, "probably"—at least the Lambeth Conference as we have known it. Thank you cards should be addressed to Rowan Williams chief architect of the death sentence.

I don’t think there will be three communions, though. Moderates have far more in common with the progressives than they do with the Gafconites. The progressives and moderates will form the continuing AC and the Gafconite sympathizers will go off on their own. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

Now, go read the document and tell me what you think.

UPDATE: Bishop Matthews biography can be found on Wikipedia here.