Andrew Carey: Further Troubles Ahead

The best that could be hoped for from the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans was clarity. In fact it was this that the Primates in the Dar-es-Salaam meeting earlier this year were particularly requesting after a decade of obfuscation.

Firstly, the General Convention resolutions of last year were ambiguous in their response to the call for a moratoria on same-sex blessings and the consecration of so-called ”˜partnered homosexuals’. As usual the Bishops and deputies of the Convention gave themselves a large amount of wriggle room to pursue their own agendas. Thus we had the spectacle at one of the House of Bishops press conferences this week of the Bishop of Los Angeles, Jon Bruno, earnestly informing the press that same-sex blessings had not been authorised in his diocese. It later came to light that they were routine in his diocese and he had even presided at one himself. In other words, they didn’t need authorisation because they were an accepted part of diocesan practice.

So in some senses, the eight-point plan adopted by the Bishops and thrown as a lifeline to the embattled Archbishop of Canterbury might be seen as a move forward towards this clarity and honesty that is so badly needed.
The Bishops reiterated the General Convention resolution which promised restraint in the election of bishops ”˜whose manner of life’ presented a challenge and spelled out helpfully that this included practising homosexuals.
They also promised not to authorise public rites of blessing, but clung to the get-out clause that allowed a diversity of pastoral responses to gay men and lesbians. In other words, plenty of wriggle room there.

Another crucial response which was required in the Primates’ Tanzanian demands was a scheme of alternative Episcopal oversight. It is here that the American Bishops chose to raise their two-fingered salutes to the rest of the ”˜Americans and Europeans are religious in different ways’ Communion by rejecting any notion of ”˜alternative’ oversight in favour of modifying their ”˜delegated oversight scheme’. The trouble is that this has never worked because it has never had the confidence of those it was established for. The Bishops accepted some degree of outward influence on the ”˜delegated’ scheme giving Presiding Bishop Schori the decisive role in taking this forward.

And then comes a list of demands from the House of Bishops. Find a place at the Lambeth Conference for Gene Robinson and we’ll send a delegation to the Archbishop of Canterbury to help him do so ””presumably the heavy brigade to twist Dr Williams arms behind his back. End incursions by African Archbishops onto American soil and protect the human rights of lesbians and gays throughout the communion. This latter point in a sense is the least controversial to western ears, but badly needs saying in parts of the world where homosexuality is still criminalised and gays face persecution and violence. However, with its credibility as a Church which values the opinions of the wider body in absolute tatters, I’m not sure that The Episcopal Church’s voice can be heard on this fundamental point.

The eight-point plan, endorsed almost unanimously [We now know this is not true, thought what is true exactly remains murky–KSH], promised no consent for any more gay bishops, no public blessings, and the adoption of a plan for Episcopal visitors to conservative parishes which cannot accept their liberal bishops. On reflection, the House of Bishops statement goes some way towards answering the demands of the Tanzanian communiqué, but probably not far enough. It will certainly not reassure Primates who are already marking out territory in the United States and will not roll back the incursions there.

We are left with chaos and we are all left with the blame. Firstly, so-called ”˜conservatives’ in the US and elsewhere have not stood united together in opposing changes in theology which have led us to our current pass. Secondly, liberals have played fast and loose with scripture. When they have failed to change the mind of the Church they have resorted to placing facts on the ground, and accomplishing their agenda by dishonest manoeuvres rather than open theological debate in the councils of the Church and communion. Sadly, the Archbishop of Canterbury and his advisers have made two recent catastrophic errors. In sending out Lambeth
invitations to all US bishops they ignored the weight of the Windsor Report towards a distancing of Gene Robinson, and the coconsecrators from the councils of the Communion.

This has introduced confusion into a process which was absolutely clear from the time that the Windsor Report was published. Secondly, during the time of negotiation last week with the House of Bishops, Dr Williams openly declared that September 30, which the Primates had set as a deadline for response, was no ultimatum but merely a convenient date following the House of Bishops meeting.

It is clear that this is not a view shared by many of his fellow primates and does not reflect the language of the communiqué itself. This declaration however gives an open signal that Dr Williams himself is not prepared to lead the Communion in any proper sanction against The Episcopal Church. We can therefore expect further tragic fragmentation in the coming months.

–This article appears in the Church of England Newspaper, September 28, 2007, edition, page 15

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

23 comments on “Andrew Carey: Further Troubles Ahead

  1. Charley says:

    I think he meant a one-fingered salute.

  2. Andrew D. Buchanan says:

    In England, it takes the form of two fingers.

  3. Charley says:

    He’s spunky.

    I noticed he’s the only ABC in modern times not to have attended Ox-Cam. A little earthier than the rest, perhaps.

    The author is former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord George Carey’s son–ed.

  4. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    In the UK and much of the world … it’s two, palm away from the object of the insult. North American types prefer the old Roman [i]digitus impudicus[i] version, which though well-understood throughout the Anglosphere is more often taken to mean “up yours”. The two-fingered salute is of substantially harsher meaning, and Carey knew exactly what he was saying.

  5. Charley says:

    Love it. Were he a regular poster he I imagine he would be edited from time to time by the elves.

  6. Anselmic says:

    Carey writes – that TEC’s Bishops resoloution ‘promised no consent for any more gay bishops’

    It appeared to do this but in reality, it did not

    TEC’s bishops respond – that ‘This Resolution commends the Report… calling upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church… non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included’. On the face of it, this sounds like compliance, but in reality it is not. As any lawyer (or anyone who has been to a Deanery Synod) knows, commending a report is far from agreeing with it, let alone committing to abiding by it. The bishops have not agreed to not consecrate another bishop in a same sex partnership, they have merely agreed that this is where their General Convention resoloution has asked them to exercise restraint in not doing this.

    I’ve got a fuller analysis on my blog…

  7. Charley says:

    Thanks for the correction….

  8. Ross says:

    #4:

    I once saw a photo that had been taken from an American military airplane, of a passing Russian bomber — this would have been back in the Cold War days. In the picture, you could see that the Russian tailgunner was giving the “two-fingered salute” to the American plane.

    The caption read, “Russian gives peace sign to Americans.” 🙂

  9. Dale Rye says:

    Re #6: With all due respect, the request to the House of Bishops from the Primates was not that they independently decree that the Episcopal Church will not consecrate a gay bishop (since nobody thinks they have the constitutional authority to do that), but that they clarify what the General Convention resolution meant. They have done that by stating that the meaning of the resolution was that bishops and standing committees should not consent to the consecration of non-celibate gay or lesbian persons. Since nobody can be consecrated without majority consent, that is (and has been since the original passage of the resolution) an effective bar on such consecrations until or unless the Communion alters its opposition to the practice. Whatever the shortcomings of the other parts of the HoB resolution, at least this one complies with what the Primates actually requested (if not with what some of them wanted).

  10. Dale Rye says:

    My wife, who is English, has always found it amusing that Americans do not appreciate the ambiguity of the “V for Victory” gesture that Prime Minister Churchill often gave to the Axis Powers.

  11. Ross says:

    Dale, the problem with B033 — from the point of view of “Windsor compliance” — is that it requests that bishops and standing committees not consent to certain elections, but it doesn’t have binding force. The HOB did indeed make explicit that “certain elections” includes “non-celibate gay and lesbian persons,” but they did not make a pledge that they would, in fact, “exercise restraint.” They just agreed that GC had “called upon” them to do so.

    One of the bishops’ post-meeting statements — I forget which bishop — said that the house had debated whether such a GC resolution was binding on them, and it had been pointed out that in this particular case they could make it binding simply by a majority agreement to abide by it. But if there was any such agreement, it did not get reflected in the final statement.

    Given that some dioceses have passed resolutions condemning B033, and more than one diocese has nominated a non-celibate gay or lesbian person for bishop since GC06 — and even though technically nomination or even election are not under the B033 umbrella, clearly they’re not abiding by the spirit of the resolution — then I can’t say that I blame the Primates for not taking this is a rock-solid promise.

    The reason it isn’t a solid promise, of course, is that TEC isn’t in agreement amongst itself between the various factions. Which is why I was arguing for a statement from the HOB saying just that — “We can’t come to a consensus on this yet” — rather than language vague enough to be interpreted either way. It wouldn’t have satisfied the Primates’ requests either, but it would have been the simple truth.

  12. pendennis88 says:

    Nor is “exercise contraint” the same thing as “confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134); unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).”

    So they only clarified that “manner of life” included SSUs. They did not say that those in SSUs would not be given consent. Really no change. And that is, of course, the one of the three requests (four, if you count the request to stop litigation) where they come closest to agreeing by agreeing half-way, though I would suggest that 50% is not nearly a passing grade. The answers to all the rest of the requests are resounding “no’s”. Pretending otherwise will not help.

  13. Anselmic says:

    I disagree Dale, the actual wording of the Dar communique is quite clear on what they are asking for, they call on TEC’s HOB to:

    ‘confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134); unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).’

    And the response in New Orleans was:

    This Resolution commends the Report of the Communion Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion as an accurate evaluation of Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention, calling upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” (1) The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.

    It seems quite clear to me that the Primates are asking for confimation that the passing of resoloution B033 means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134); unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).’

    The HOB could simply have responded as many orthodox clearly hoped they would with an unambiguos yes ‘This house affirms that the passing of resoloution B033 means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134); unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion.

    However, they did not, instead they chose rather dense, obfuscatory language, in which they simply affim that in passing the said resoloution the General convention called upon the Bishops to excerscise restraint in consecrating anybody to the Episcopate whose manner of life might present a challenge to the communion, and that clergy in same sex partnerships are among those whose manner of life would present such a challenge. Significantly, hugely significantly, they do not commit themselves as a body to abiding by this resoloution! Merely noted what it called upon them to do. Now it may well be that the Bishops in question now have a greater sense as to what is at stake in these matters (hopefully they do) and are unlikely to consecrate another bishop whose domestic relations are similar to Bp Robinson, but for the record, and for the sake of clarity, it should be noted that the New Orleans resolotion does not prohibit such a course of action.

    To be frank, you only have to watch the final press conference where Prime Bishop Schori is asked a direct question, regarding this very point and she gives an equivocal we have been asked for clarity about resolotion B033, we have given that clarity’ answer to see that this is about giving the appearance of being in the ‘spirit’ of the Dar Communique whilst denying the ‘letter’ of it.

    My personal view is that this resolotion is for domestic consumption, to say to the Epsicopalian in the pew who does not follow these matters too closely, look we’ve done all we can, you can’t blame us for what may come; and to give the ABC enough wiggle room to sell it to those the moderate, cental Primates like mine, who equally are likely to miss some of the subtleties of the language TEC has chosen to employ.

  14. Philip Snyder says:

    All,
    As we learned in the Righter trial, resolutions of General Convention or of the HoB or the Executive Council have no legal force. There are no local consequences for any bishop that decided to consent to the election of a non-celibate homosexual person – none, zero. So, B033 is a sham to begin with and it won’t be tested until another person sexually active outside of marriage is elected and the bishops need to consent.

    YBIC,
    Phil Snyder

  15. Dale Rye says:

    Re #13: With the exception of the Laws of the Medes and Persians as described in the Book of Esther, there are no laws that the lawmaker himself cannot alter. The General Convention (much less the House of Bishops) simply cannot promise that nobody will ever receive consent until the Communion says otherwise. To begin with, resolutions cannot be enforced as if they were laws. If you want an effective prohibition, it must be embodied in a canon, which would require the consent of both houses of General Convention voting by orders. Even then, a canon passed by one GC can be repealed by the next one. Amending the Constitution would require two GCs, but that action could readily be repealed by two further GCs.

    I suppose that the Constitution could be amended to remove the ability to make further amendments without the consent of the Communion, or to submit all episcopal elections to the Communion for confirmation, but I doubt that very many other provinces would welcome that incursion on provincial autonomy, since they might be next. Be that as it may, such changes would still require 6 years and two GC meetings, not six months and a single HoB meeting.

    The most that the HoB can ever do is express the sense of the House as to what the current members of the body regard as a breach of collegiality. A future majority could reverse course, and it would be a lie for the current majority to pretend otherwise. They can only make promises on their own behalf. When everybody but Bishop Bennison says that they will exercise restraint by not voting to confirm sexually-active unmarried persons, that means that a consecration is not going to happen for the foreseeable future.

    The bishops cannot bind nominations committees, so they cannot promise that no such person will be nominated; they cannot bind diocesan conventions, so they cannot promise that no such person will be elected; they cannot bind their Standing Committees, so they cannot promise how they might vote on confirmation; they can’t even bind a future majority of the bishops with jurisdiction. The bishops [b]can[/b] make promises on their own behalf, and have done so. I don’t know what else they could have done.

    Again, whatever the remaining ambiguities regarding same-sex blessings and alternative pastoral oversight, the statement says just about all that the House of Bishops possibly could say about the future consecration of gay or lesbian bishops.

  16. Ross says:

    Dale, I really don’t want to argue the reasserter’s side here; but the problem is that the HOB did not “say that they will exercise restraint by not voting to confirm sexually-active unmarried persons.” They said that B033 meant that GC06 had called upon them to exercise such restraint. Nowhere that I am aware of has a majority of the HOB ever stood up and pledged to actually exercise such restraint.

  17. Passing By says:

    Mr. Carey is not wrong and I note he writes with the same clarity as his father, whom I have met and for whom I also have the utmost respect. Were the latter still AB of C I can assure you we would not be in this pickle.

    “This declaration however gives an open signal that Dr Williams himself is not prepared to lead the Communion in any proper sanction against The Episcopal Church”.

    And this sort of laissez-faire, “whatever happens happens, while I just hang out trying to keep my head low” leadership never results in ANYTHING except a fragmented, unproductive, catfighting, chaotic mess of an organization.

    Better think twice, Your Grace…

    TS

  18. libraryjim says:

    Dale (#10)

    we saw the same thing, after years of watching ‘Britcoms’ on PBS, in an old news-reel footage from the meeting of Churchill and FDR on a ship. In the scene, Winston gives the ‘backwards V’ two fingered salute to the reporters, who gleefully state:

    “Here Winston Churchill is seen giving the “V for Victory” sign to the American reporters!”

    We got a good laugh at that one!

  19. libraryjim says:

    PS,
    I also heard that he wasn’t really giving the Victory signal, but telling his aides he wanted another cigar. 😉

  20. Dale Rye says:

    Re #16: Again, the GC resolution did not say “exercise restraint about consenting,” but “exercise restraint by not consenting.” I cannot imagine that anyone who calls on another not to consent (as a hefty majority of the HoB did) could then vote to consent himself.

  21. Anselmic says:

    #20 Not even in EpiscopalEpiscopalianland? A place where Griswold did exactly this when he stood with the Primates when they called on the Episcopal church not to consecrates Robinson, and then a couple of weeks later was chief consecrator. Schori did exactly this when she gave her agreement to the Dar communique at the Primates meeting and then came back saying ‘but I didn’t sign’.

    We can argue back and forth about how the bishops will use the NO resolution. Or the implications of change to the laws of the Medes! But on the actual wording of the resolution referring to B033 I really think there’s not much to talk about it. It says what it says. In passing it, all the bishops do is acknowledge that the GC has asked them not to consecrate partnered homosexuals. You may infer as others do that this means that they will not give their consent as bishops to such a consecration, but that inference is not necessitated by the resolution itself.

  22. Sherri says:

    #20 Not even in EpiscopalEpiscopalianland? A place where Griswold did exactly this when he stood with the Primates when they called on the Episcopal church not to consecrates Robinson, and then a couple of weeks later was chief consecrator. Schori did exactly this when she gave her agreement to the Dar communique at the Primates meeting and then came back saying ‘but I didn’t sign’.

    What does it say about a church when two leaders, in succession, behave in this way? What trust can there be?

  23. D. C. Toedt says:

    Sherri [#22] writes: “What does it say about a church when two leaders, in succession, behave in this way?”

    Sherri, it says (A) that these leaders are comfortable with nuance, and (B) that some of their critics (1) are less so, and (2) are quick to assume facts not in evidence.

    • If memory serves, the joint statement +FTG signed said merely that consecrating VGR+ as bishop would cause problems in the Communion. +FTG would have to have been pretty thick not to agree with that statement. Traditionalists later creatively reinterpreted his agreement, followed by his consecration of VGR+, as his going back on his word. But (again, assuming memory serves) there was no factual basis for that spin.

    • Similarly, traditionalists conjectured that +KJS had signed, viz., assented to, the Dar communique. I don’t recall seeing any actual evidence to that effect — +KJS reportedly said later that she had merely told the primates that she would take the communique back to the House of Bishops — but that didn’t stop our trads from excoriating her for allegedly being two-faced.