"I send my greetings to Bishop Katharine and she has my prayers and good wishes as she takes up a deeply demanding position at a critical time. She will bring many intellectual and pastoral gifts to her new work, and I am pleased to see the strength of her commitment to mission and to the Millennium Development Goals.
Her election will undoubtedly have an impact on the collegial life of the Anglican Primates; and it also brings into focus some continuing issues in several of our ecumenical dialogues.
We are continuing to pray for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church as it confronts a series of exceptionally difficult choices."
The main Windsor "response" resolutions came to the floor: one dealing with expressing regret for the pain caused by the election, consent to, and consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire, and another calling upon dioceses and the General Convention to refrain from consecrating openly gay or lesbian parterned clergy as bishops as well as refraining from having the General Convention authorize rites for blessing same-sex unions.
The first resolution, A160, passed with an amendment that progressives proposed. It now reads as follows:
"Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, mindful of “the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ” (Windsor Report, paragraph 134), express its regret for
Even though I voted for the amendment, I voted against the final resolution. I could not in good conscience ask forgiveness for something I don't believe was wrong. Still, the amendment was an improvement. It makes clear that relationships in the Communion are strained, but not broken. It expresses regret for the pain others experienced, not for the actions of GC 2003 themselves. And it gets rid of the language of "constraints" that implies the Windsor Report has an authority that it does not have. True, true, and true: and it is still disengenuous. Let's see how the bishops tinker with it.
The other resolution, A161, which was still being debated when the House recessed tonight, will be voted on tomorrow and currently reads as follows:
"Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church regrets the extent to which we have, by action and inaction, contributed to strains on communion and caused deep offense to many faithful Anglican Christians as we consented to the consecration of a bishop living openly in a same-gender union. Accordingly, we are obliged to urge nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees, and bishops with jurisdiction to
Resolved that this General Convention not proceed to develop or authorize Rites for the Blessing of same-sex unions at this time, thereby concurring with the
Resolved that this General Convention affirm the need to maintain a breadth of responses to situations of pastoral care for gay and lesbian Christians in this Church.
Resolved that this General Convention apologize to those gay and lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters hurt by these decisions."
Now, this resolution is truly a disaster. It completely capitulates to the Windsor Report as a binding document and casts a deep chill on the future election and consecration of bishops living openly in same-gender unions (I guess its OK if you're closeted). The language about authorizing rites for blessing is actually an improvement over previous proposals, as it speaks only to the General Convention's authorization of such rites and NOT to that of diocesan bishops. Thus, it enshrines C051, passed at GC 2003, as the status quo: acknowledging that local communities that experiment with blessing rites are operating within the bounds of our common life. It also drops the language of "private" responses to the pastoral care needs of lesbian and gay folks, so redolent of the closet.
The debate on this resolution so far has been painful to hear. So-called liberals like the Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas would have us believe that LGBT people must fall on their swords for the sake of the Communion, so that we can continue to serve the poor in the Third World. As if our oppression helps to liberate others. As if a number of those poor are not themselves gay men and lesbians (as I testified this morning on a resolution calling for support of LGBT asylum seekers). Rebecca Snow, a long-time, openly lesbian deputy and, like Douglas, a member of the Special Committee that proposed this legislation, spoke of the pain she felt in calling upon gay men and lesbians to bear this burden for the Church - to bear the marks of Christ crucified for the sake of the Body. I could feel her soul shriveling up as she spoke words that must have seared her conscience. Jesus said, "Go and learn what this means: I desire compassion, not sacrifice." I guess we still haven't learned what this means. At least, we are certainly quite ready to sacrifice gay and lesbian people for the sake of a unity that couldn't possibly be called Christian, rooted as it is in the dynamics of scapegoating.
One 18 year-old deputy saw right through the duplicity of it all. He noted that the last resolve apologizes to gay men and lesbians for the actions of this resolution, and pointed out that if we need to apologize for it, why are we doing it in the first place? Indeed. Why, if we believe that the election and consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire was of the Holy Spirit, are we apologizing for that? Bishop Doug Theuner was right in 2003. The issue here isn't homosexuality; its honesty.